By Mike Ratliff
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Matthew 24:36-44 (NASB)
Jesus Christ is returning to this earth. However, if you look at the havoc the enemy is causing in the visible Church in our time it would appear that many, if not most, professing Christians are unconcerned about it. When certain Christian leaders can dismiss clear teachings from God’s Word and replace them with what the unregenerate want to hear then we must know that they do not believe that what the Word of God teaches us is literal in any sense of the word. Instead, they go on about in their lasciviousness in utter disregard for what awaits those who are guilty of making light of the direct commands of God. However, our Lord made it very clear in His Word that He was returning and with Him He will bring both reward and judgment.
When Christ returns He will not appear the way He came the first time. He was born into poverty and came from obscurity into His ministry in the 1st Century AD. No, He will not come that way when He returns. His “second coming” will be a royal visit. It will be both personal and physical as we read in the passage I placed at the top of this post as well as in these passages (Acts 1:11; Colossians 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 9:28). It will also be visible and triumphant as we see in the following passages.
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38 (NASB)
5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 (NASB)
When He returns, Christ will make an end to history. The dead will be raised and He will judge the world (John 5:28,29). He will impart to God’s children their final glory (Romans 8:17,18; Colossians 3:4). Our Lord will then deliver the kingdom and become subject to the Father ( 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ) in that He has completed the plan of God assigned to Him for redeeming the elect. The elect will honor the Lamb who opened the book of God’s salvation (Revelation 5).
We learn in the following passage that Christ’s coming will be a descent from the sky. A trumpet, a shout, and the voice of the archangel will herald it.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NASB)
Those who have died in Christ will be raised, and Christians living on earth will be caught up to meet our Lord in the air. This will end life on earth as we know it. Those in Christ will enter into unbroken communion with God. Some teach that Christians will be taken out of this world for a period after which Christ will return to earth a third time for the real “second coming.” This view lacks scriptural support.
What about the period between Christ’s first and second comings? Does God’s Word tell us anything about what takes place during what many refer to as the “Church Age?” It does not give us any method or way to determine even a approximate date for Jesus’ second coming. We learn from the New Testament only that there are ongoing processes ordained by God that concern the Gentiles coming to faith (Matthew 24:14) along with many Jews before Christ’s return (Romans 11:25-29). It also tells us that false prophets and false christs will plague the Church (Matthew 24:5,24; 1 John 2:18,22; 4:4). Unfortunately, there will also be apostasy from the faith and tribulation for the faithful (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 7:13,14; cf. 3:10). We also learn that the “man of lawlessness” must come onto the scene (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). However, we cannot deduce a date for our Lord’s return through any of this (Matthew 24:36).
What we do know for certain, however, is that our Lord’s return will be a tragic disaster for those who are not ready (Matthew 24:36-51). The Christian should mediate on and pray a great deal about our Lord’s return. Those who know Him and serve Him should be anticipating His return with great joy. This should help us and encourage us to continue in our present Christian service (1 Corinthians 15:58). We should live our lives in such a way as to be ready to meet Christ at any time (Matthew 25:1-13). My brethren, if we allow the temporal to rule our lives then we will live just like the world does instead of how we should as Christians whose eternal destiny is far above the experiences of this life.
Soli Deo Gloria!