CHRIST'S RETURN
All Bible references are from the World English Bible unless otherwise noted

After His death and resurrection Jesus Christ continued to associate with His disciples for forty days, after which He ascended to heaven in full view of His disciples (Acts 1:3). Before ascending He promised His disciples He'd return in the future:

John 14:3

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also.

This is supported by the messengers' words later:

Acts 1:10-11

(10) While they were looking steadfastly into the sky as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white clothing, (11) who also said, “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky.”

 

PRECURSERS TO HIS RETURN

To begin with, the Bible makes it clear that upon His return Jesus Christ will have already received the heavenly throne from the Father:

Daniel 7:13-14

(13) I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. (14) There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

The Bible reveals many signs that will precede the return of Christ. Much of the information regarding the timing can be gleaned by reading Matthew chapter 24:3-20:

    (3) As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Two separate questions: 1 – when will these things happen? And 2 – What is the sign that it is the End Times?) (4) Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. (5) For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. (6) You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren’t troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. (8) But all these things are the beginning of birth pains. (As verse 6 pointed out, these aren't the signs of the actual End, these are only the beginning sorrows that precede the end) (9) Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake. (10) Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. (11) Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. (12) Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. (13) But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved. (14) This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (15) “When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (This refers to Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11) (16) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (17) Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take out things that are in his house. (18) Let him who is in the field not return back to get his clothes. (19) But woe to those who are with child and to nursing mothers in those days! (20) Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, nor on a Sabbath, 24:21 for then there will be great oppression, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be.


GREAT TRIBULATION

Then the passage at Matthew 24 goes on to tell of the Great Tribulation that follows these things, continuing from Matthew 24:21 -28:

    (21) for then there will be great oppression, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be. (22) Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved. But for the sake of the chosen ones, those days will be shortened. (23) “Then if any man tells you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There,’ don’t believe it. (24) For there will arise false christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones. (25) “Behold, I have told you beforehand (26) If therefore they tell you, ‘Behold, he is in the wilderness,’ don’t go out; ‘Behold, he is in the inner rooms,’ don’t believe it. (27) For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (28) For wherever the carcass is, there is where the vultures gather together.

In other words, false Christs will continue to exist through this Great Tribulation; do not follow them, for the Real Christ is not come yet. When He does come, it will be known simultaneously everywhere, just as flashes of lightning are seen everywhere across the sky, not solely at the points of origin (Since this is a metaphor please don't get stuck on looking for actual flashes in the sky). This is a key piece of information needed for knowing the difference between a false Christ and the real Christ.

Let me bring this closer to home:

Any person who claims to be the returned Jesus Christ, and yet is not recognized by the entire world, is not legitimate. In other words, Jesus Christ's coming will be so great, so incredible, so Vast, that every single person in the world will recognize that it is Him – no question! It won't be this group over here and that group over there recognizing Him – It will be everybody and everywhere. Meaning every person on the earth will see the sign of His return – Atheists, Bahai's, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Shintos, Taoists...EVERYONE!

Unfortunately, there are some groups that believe it is impossible for Christ to be seen everywhere on both sides of the globe simultaneously. Such people are making the mistake of forgetting that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Let me explain this better:

    We are all familiar with sunlight. Although it is a mere speck of power compared to Christ it is still powerful enough for an entire hemisphere to view on the "daylight" side of the earth, while at the same time reflecting off the moon for those to see on the "night" side of the earth. In truth, this means that the light of the sun can be physically seen by "every eye" on both sides of the globe simultaneously. If a mere speck of power such as the sun can be seen world wide at any time, how much more so will the power of Christ be seen simultaneously worldwide!

Make no mistake – He is much more powerful than the sun! Although we may not be seeing a literal, physical light, the point is that His return WILL be recognized worldwide in whichever miraculous way He chooses.

Another thing that needs to be addressed is the point that some groups believe God will protect them during this Great Tribulation. Is this teaching correct?

According to the Bible, those who are true followers of Jesus will have even more danger during the Great Tribulation, not less! For example, true believers will be delivered into death by family members (Luke 21:14-16), delivered into courts and kicked out of places of worship (Matthew 10:17, Mark 13:9), and killed (John 16:2). The Bible also warns that we will be hated and persecuted just as Jesus Christ was (John 15:18-20). True believers will be killed for refusing to worship the Beast and its Image and refusing its identifying mark (Revelation 20:4). In other words, if even Jesus Christ Himself was not protected from such abuses, why would the entire body of true believers be as protected? This is not a matter of Jesus brutally beating up His “Bride” as some perceive; this is actually a scriptural process: Having such trials is what tests the quality of our faith and sifts out the false followers from the true followers (Romans 5:3, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:7). It is the same reason that Jesus Christ Himself needed to undergo the intense persecution he endured – He had to prove faithful under extreme test! And, since Christ has proven Himself to be extraordinarily faithful, AND since the Church is Christ's Bride, He will only accept an extraordinarily faithful Bride. This is why it is important for us to be thoroughly tested as to our faithfulness, so that when He comes for His Bride only faithfulness remains. But do not fear the tests; Jesus Christ Himself prayed that God would protect us from Satan (John 17:15). In other words, keeping close to God equates to keeping your faithfulness.

THE ANTICHRIST

Just before the Second Coming actually occurs The Antichrist will be revealed -- Let's read 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2: 1-4 and 8-12:

 (1)Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him, we ask you (2) not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, saying that the day of Christ had come. (3) Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, (4) he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God...

(8) Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming; (9) even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (10) and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn’t receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (11) Because of this, God sends them a working of error, that they should believe a lie; * (12) that they all might be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

* This is not to be misconstrued as though God is deceptive; God only allows deceptive spirits to deceive as a way of separating true worshipers from false worshipers (1 Kings 22:19-23) in order to sift out those who will truly listen to Him, and who will not. Because God give permission for the deception, this is written as God "sending" the deception.

 

THE SECOND COMING

Getting back to the passage at Matthew 24, we see that at this end of this Tribulation period the sign of Jesus Christ appears; His coming is at hand:

Matthew 24:29-31

(29) But immediately after the oppression of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; (30) and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. (31) He will send out his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

*Note that this passage states that the signs of the Second Coming and the gathering of Christ's followers don't occur until after the Great Tribulation.

Signs of this event being shown in the sun and the moon are a consistent theme in prophecy:

Isaiah 24:23

Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Yahweh of Armies will reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before his elders will be glory.

Luke 21:25-27

(25) There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and on the earth anxiety of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the waves; (26) Men fainting for fear, and for the expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (27) Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.


Acts 2:20

The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.

Revelation 6:12

I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as blood.


KEEPING ON THE WATCH

Returning to the passage in Matthew chapter 24:

Matthew 24:32-44

    (32) “Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near. (33) Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (34) Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished. (35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (36) But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (37)As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (38) For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, (39) and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (40) Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left; (41) two women grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left. (42) Watch therefore, for you don’t know in what hour your Lord comes. (43) But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. (44) Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don’t expect, the Son of Man will come.

Note the underlined part: This passage states that, much like in Noah's time when all the evil people were taken away, likewise the evil ones be taken away during the Second Coming. Many people misread this passage to mean the ones taken away are taken to heaven; however, the context at verses 38-41 shows this to be quite the opposite.

THE SEPARATION WORK

When Jesus Christ returns He will gather His people together and separate the wicked out for destruction. This is supported in the Bible:

Ezekiel 34:11-13

    (11) For thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. . (12) As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day . (13) I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited places of the country .

Matthew 25:31-32

(31)“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  (32) Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

SUMMING IT UP

Essentially, Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ will return to redeem His followers. Before this time comes, we will endure a 3 1/2 year period of tribulation when the End Time Antichrist arises. We are given the signs of when the End Times will occur and when the return of Christ is at hand. And, do not forget, we are told to keep the faith and stay encouraged during this time. Each of us will have our personal faith thoroughly tested, and those who remain faithful will be gathered unto Christ. God will not abandon those who cling to Him, so be sure to keep your faith alive by keeping close to Him.


CONCLUDING COMMENTS

So, let us all continue in constant prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and encourage one another as we see the day coming near (Hebrews 10:25). Search for the narrow gate to life (Matthew 7:13-14) and call on the name of our God so as to be concealed from His anger (Zephaniah 2:3).



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