March 29, 2020
We’re on a collision course with destiny. Soon and very soon the King is coming. The same Jesus who was born at Bethlehem, walked the shores of Galilee, hung naked on a cross, was buried, rose again, and ascended to Heaven is coming again. We live between two mountain peaks: His first coming and His second coming.
What a glorious time to be alive! Yet so many people are perplexed—and with good reason. Sorrow looks backward, worry looks around, but friend, faith looks upward. The King, the Lord Jesus Christ, is coming. We can’t afford to be indifferent, and certainly not ignorant, as we await our Lord’s soon return.
In Revelation 19:11-16, John the Apostle gives a description of our glorious coming King:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
What will the Second Coming be like?
Some “chimney corner theologians” claim Jesus’ second coming is a past event in history. Nonsense. Others try to spiritualize His second coming by saying when we die, Jesus comes and carries us to Heaven. Now, we do go to meet Him when we die, but that’s not His second coming. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, an angel said to the disciples,
Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)
He ascended literally, actually, bodily, and visibly. Friend, He’s coming back literally, actually, bodily, and visibly. How many will see Him? “And every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7).
The greatest prophecy preacher of all time, Jesus Himself, said this about His coming from Matthew 24:
At this point, you may be saying, “Wait. This sounds like the Rapture. But every eye will see Him? I’m confused.”
There are two aspects—two phases, if you will—of the Second Coming of Christ. You must understand this or you’ll be hopelessly confused. There are two different, separate events.
The armies with Him, clothed in white linen, are the saints, the Bride of Christ.
These descriptions of the return of Jesus Christ would be antithetical, contradictory, if we didn’t understand the two phases of His coming: He comes for His church (the Rapture), and we’re taken out before the Tribulation. Then at the end of the Tribulation, we come back with Him.
The Old Testament prophets didn’t know anything about the Rapture. It was a mystery, revealed in the New Testament, just as the Church itself was unknown to them then, and “Christ in you, the Hope of glory” (Colossians 1:25-27) was also a mystery.
In the Bible, the word mystery refers to a truth previously unknown, but now revealed. Paul said, speaking of the Rapture,
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
But the word rapture isn’t in the Bible.
Rapture is an English word. The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Raptio is the Latin word used to translate harpazo, both of which mean “to catch up,” to snatch away.” See 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
But doesn’t the Church go through the Tribulation?
No. If you don’t learn anything else from the book of the Revelation, learn this: Jesus may come at any moment. We’re not waiting on any signs to be fulfilled. If you don’t understand that, you’re going to think the Church has to go through the Tribulation before Jesus comes.
If the church were going through the Tribulation, then when we see the Antichrist desecrate the temple, we could just start counting the days. The Bible teaches we’re going to be caught out beforehand in the Rapture, which marks the end of the Church Age, to experience the Judgment seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Meanwhile down on Earth, seven years of Tribulation are happening, at the end of which the Lord Jesus returns with His Church in power and great glory.
We’re not waiting for the Tribulation; we’re looking for Jesus. It’s very important to understand that.
For God did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
Friend, if I’m looking for the Tribulation, that’s no comfort to me! The Tribulation is the great day of His wrath. God will chastise His church, but He doesn’t pour His wrath on the church. The wrath of God is for the unsaved.
Speaking to the church at Philadelphia, Jesus says:
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
God is not going to beat up His bride with His wrath. Now He will chastise us (“in this world we will have tribulation”), but wrath is poured out after the bride is taken out, after the Rapture.
He comes in conquest. He’s riding a white horse, a symbol of honor. On Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem, He rode a donkey. At His second coming to Jerusalem, He’ll be on a white charger.
He comes in mystery. “He had a name written that no one knew except Himself” (Revelation 19:12). There’s a mystery about Him we’ll never fathom. Even in Heaven, we will be like Him, but we will never be as Him.
He comes in majesty. His is the regal crown of a king, but He has many, for He is King of kings. No longer does He wear a crown made by the briars of this world but by the jewels of Heaven.
He comes in ministry. His vesture is dipped in blood, a reminder of the precious blood of Calvary. The Lord Jesus Christ wears forever an emblem of His sacrifice on Calvary. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb. The victory He’s about to win over Antichrist is based on the blood.
People don’t like the idea of vengeance, of judgment. God is too good not to punish sin. God is Holy. He is infinite, perfect love, but if you preach the love of God to the exclusion of His wrath against sin, you don’t have the whole Gospel.
If you refuse the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, trample under foot His precious blood, reject the spirit of grace; if you turn from His longing hand reaching out to you, if you ignore that, spurn that, refuse that, deny that—I don’t say it with malice—you’re going to face the wrath of God. He is the righteous judge who is going to make all things right.
The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ. If you’re saved, you’re on the winning side. If not, you’re following a loser.
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