The Bible is very clear that The Lord Jesus will be returning to this earth in full bodily form. In fact we are commanded to watch for and be constantly alert to this fact.
As we notice the world seemingly spinning out of control it is important to remember what God’s Word says about our attitude. First, we must without any reservation believe that Christ will come for us as He promised. Next we look to Scripture for our direct instructions as we wait for our Lord to come for us. We have the blessed assurance that what the Bible tells us will come to pass and we must follow its instructions to achieve its blessings.
1. BELIEVERS SHOULD BE WATCHFUL AND ALERT
Matt 24:42-44; Mark 13:33-37: Luke 12:35-40; 1 Thessalonians 4:4-
6; Revelation 16:15
2. BELIEVERS SHOULD BE MOTIVATED TO GODLY LIVING
Matthew 24:45-51; 1 Peter 31:13-15; 2 Peter 3:11-14; 1 John 2:28
3. BELIEVERS SHOULD CONSIDER HIS COMING VERY SOON
Romans 13:11-12; Philippians 4:5; James 5:8-9; 1 Peter 4:7
4. BELIEVERS SHOULD EAGERLY AWAIT IT
1 Corinthians 1:7; Phil 3:20; Titus 2:11-13
5. BELIEVERS SHOULD ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER
Romans 8:23-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
6. BELIEVER SHOULD LONG FOR IT
2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:12; Revelation 22:20
7. BELIEVERS SHOULD PERSEVERE
Matthew 24:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:5;
1Timothy 6:12-14; James 5:7-8
As we celebrate our Lord’s first arrival this Christmas it is important that we be mindful of this fact that He will return bodily to this earth. He told His inner circle of apostles, Peter, James, John and Andrew that he would be back. While He was speaking to Him they asked: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age”(Matthew 24:3).
29“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (ESV).
Jesus is talking about the Tribulation (Revelation 6:1-19:10) after which He will return (Revelation 19:11-16) to establish His Kingdom on this earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6). Now the text clearly says that all on the earth will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. He will come exactly as He left, visible on clouds. The gathering of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other is a reference to the regathering of the nation Israel not the Church. The Old Testament Jewish prophets spoke frequently about a regathering of the nation Israel from two locations, Heaven and earth (Isaiah 27:12-13, Deuteronomy 30:4 etc.). The Jews who are regathered from the earth (four winds) will be living in Israel. Those from one end of heaven to the other will be resurrected Old Testament saints. Acts chapter one describes the Lord leaving after His resurrection.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (KJV).
The book of Revelation describes His return right after the Tribulation.Revelation 19:11-21
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (KJV).
Just as the angels told the apostles when Jesus left He will come back visibly and bodily from heaven. We know that the tribulation will last for seven years (Daniel 9:27; Revelation 13:5, 12:6). Therefore we clearly know that after the seven year Tribulation Jesus will return visibly and with great fanfare. Some confuse this return with the catching away commonly called the Rapture (I Thessalonians 4:16-18) of the Church when Jesus returns for Her. In this instance He does not descend to the earth and He raptures us to Heaven with no warning. These are some of the distinctions between the Rapture and the Second Coming. Some verses that support this distinction are:
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh (KJV).
I Thessalonians 5:1-6
1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober (KJV)
Many passages in the Old Testament reveal exactly why the Tribulation is coming on the earth. It is to punish the nation Israel for their unbelief in Jesus. Without making a distinction between the nation Israel and the Church it is difficult to separate the rapture from the Second Coming. For example Jeremiah 30:4-6, states that it is the time of “Jacob’s Trouble,” and is compared in its sufferings to the “birth-pangs” of a woman. In Ezekiel 26:34 it is spoken of as the time when-Israel shall “Pass under the Rod; ” and in Ezekiel 22:19-21, we read how that God is going to cast Israel into His “Melting Pot, ” where they are to be refined as “gold is refined.” Also Malachi 3:1-3, and Zechariah 13:9. Daniel speaks of it as a “Time of Trouble” for his people, the Jews. Daniel 12:1. The Second Coming of Jesus will be after a known seven year Tribulation and it will be announced, not as a thief in the night.
Jesus ReturnsThe Location
There will be a call to all the nations. God is very indignant toward the nations and specifically their
armies. He has destined them to a slaughter by the sword and the earth and heavens will shake. When the sword of God strikes all the armies of the nations it will be in the land of Edom. The specific location is the city of Bozrah (Isaiah 37: 1-7). Presently, this is the city of Petra located in Southern Jordan.
He will be on an elevated terrain in Israel looking eastward toward Edom. He appears as a magnificent bloodstained character approaching. The character is glorious and splendid in His appearance. Isaiah asks this splendid character a question. He says Who is this coming from Bozrah with dyed garments, in greatness and strength (Isaiah 63:1a)?
Interestingly the figure what is approaching him is coming from the land of Edom and the city of Bozrah. His features are reflecting His glory and His strength is apparent. This character is clothed with gloriousness and strength. This is analogous to the view the apostle John had of the Lord Jesus in His resurrected glory, which is described in the first chapter of the Revelation. This is man is arrayed with the Shekinah glory. He is the Messiah.
The Lord then gives Isaiah an answer to his question.Isaiah 63:1b I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save
There is only one person in all of creation and Heaven who can “speak in righteousness” and has the power to save. It is our Lord Jesus. He is marching toward Israel from the city of Bozrah.
Isaiah then responds to the Lord with another question.Isaiah 63:2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
Isaiah sees that the garments of this person are stained with blood. Isaiah then asks how is it that He received these stains.
Isaiah 63:3-6 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
The Lord’s bloodstained garments were caused by the battle fought in the land of Edom within the city of Bozrah. He fought against the nations alone. During the course of the battle the blood of the combatants were sprinkled on His clothes staining them red. He had to conduct the fight to redeem the nation Israel. He fought all alone as there were none to help Him. Clearly the battle is initiated at Bozrah and by the time Christ reaches Israel He has stained His garments with the blood of the enemy.
All these passages pinpoint the place of the Second Coming as being in the land of Edom and the city of Bozrah. This matches the place where the Remnant of Israel will be located in the last days of the battle. The gathering at Bozrah and the Second Coming are coupled together in the fourth passage of Scripture.
Micah 2:12-13 I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.
Therefore the Remnant of Israel will be gathered at Bozrah where they will be besieged by the forces of the Antichrist. Finally, they will be able to break the siege because Jesus the King is leading them. The breaker, the King and Jehovah are all the same. At the Second Coming the Christ will enter into battle with the forces of the Antichrist, which have gathered at this city.
Christ’s Second Coming: The Approach.
The approach of the Second Coming is with the clouds of Heaven (Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:9-11). The angels didn’t speak of the place of His Second Coming just the manner in which He would return.
The apostle John describes the Second Coming.Revelation 19:11-16 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
This account of the Second Coming begins by describing Christ as the Judge. It then shows similarities to what we saw in the Isaiah passages. It is the same image of Jesus presented in the first chapter of the book of Revelation as the Risen Glorified Lord began to reveal Himself to the apostle John on the isle of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.
- The war He engages in is the result of His judgment as one who is faithful and true.
- He wears a diadem on His head indicating royalty that is natural, not given.
- His garments are stained with blood, just as Isaiah 63:1-6 described. This is indeed the Second Coming of Christ the Judge and the Incarnate Word of God returning to judge the nations in His righteousness.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works
Another army that will return with Jesus is the army of the Church saints who were raptured prior to the Tribulation. Jude the Lord’s brother relates this event.
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard [speeches] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (This quote that Jude uses is from the pseudegriphacial book of Enoch in which great detail is given of the cause of the Flood and the Lord’s redemptive measures?.
The Second Coming is also clearly described elsewhere in the Old Testament (Habakkuk 3:1-19). He has a vision of the second Coming. The prayer opens with a pleading of the Remnant to be saved physically (revive your works) and spiritually (in wrath remember mercy). In answer to the Remnants request God is seen coming from Edom in all His shining glory. At His coming He will begin to render judgment against the gathered nations by different means. Nature will also be greatly affected by the Second Coming as will the heavenly sphere. Christ is then viewed as marching in indignation and threshing the nations on behalf of the nation of Israel. The head of the armies who is the Antichrist will be smitten and the soldiers too. Habakkuk trembles at this knowledge the Lord has given Him to record and pass one. (Prophesied to Judah in the 7th Century B.C.) The world has had this prophecy at least 2700 years. Habakkuk takes comfort in the knowledge that his personal salvation rests in the Lord who will make all things right at the Second Coming.
The Final Ascent Up the Mount of OlivesWhen the actual fighting finally comes to a close, Christ will then and only then ascend to the top of the Mount of Olives.
Then shall Jehovah go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.
Notice that it is only after He has completed the fighting will His feet stand upon the Mount of Olives. Along with the victory ascent a number of major earthly convulsions will happen (Revelation 16:17-21). Zechariah gives us additional information regarding the earthquake.
Zechariah 14:4b-5:and the mount of Olives shall be cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee by the valley of my mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azel; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah; and Jehovah my God shall come, and all the holy ones with thee.
The earthquake, which Jesus caused by His victory ascent from the Valley of Jehoshaphat to the Mount of Olives, will cause the mount to split into two parts causing a cleft, which will allow the Jerusalem Jews to escape the destruction of Jerusalem. They will be rescued in this way as Jesus rescued the Jews at Bozrah when He descended in clouds there. The text finishes with a comparison to the earthquake that occurred during the reign of Uzziah one of Judah’s kings.