“For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37).
The rule and reign of the Antichrist is going to look like the final triumph of man without God. It will look as if God has been defeated, and the church will look as if it’s been destroyed. But what the Antichrist and his forces are not counting on is the supernatural, omnipotent power of God! God is going to get His greatest victory out of the seeming greatest of all defeats.
Just at the hour when the fiendish Antichrist thinks he has everything under control, at last he’s worshipped by the whole world and he “sitteth in the temple of God, as God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4), suddenly like a bolt from the blue, Jesus comes and snatches all of His children out of this world.—All believers who refused the Mark of the Beast in either their forehead or their hand and refused to worship him, but preferred to love and live and even die for Jesus.
Just after that darkest hour in world history will come the brightest dawn. Jesus is going to come back and rescue His own, His church, His people, all those who love Him and know Him and have Him in their hearts, who believe He is the Son of God, the Messiah. He’s going to come back and He’s going to rescue His own out of this world. He’s going to say, “Stop the world! I want them to get off.” And they that are alive and remain are going to be caught up together with Him in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
We will rise in immortal victory over the forces of the Devil and the Antichrist, right before their eyes, out of their reach forever as we rise to be with Jesus. So, beloved, although the outlook for us in this world and our future here could hardly be darker, the uplook could hardly be brighter or more glorious! As the world gets worse and worse in those days and the fires of hell get hotter and hotter, His children are going to have to keep fleeing from that old Dragon and his crowd (Revelation 12), until one of these days He’s going to stop the world so we can get off!
Jesus’ Second Coming is the major prophetic endtime event for Christians, as it will signify the end of this world as we now know it, as well as our place in it in these present physical bodies. Following His Coming will be our complete translation and Rapture as we’re caught up together with Him in the air and taken off into heavenly places. His Coming is the pivotal point, the end of this present life and work on earth, when “time shall be no more” for us, and we will enter the great eternal now (Revelation 10:6–7).
The times and seasons of the Second Coming
According to the scriptures we covered in our previous chapter on the Antichrist, the coming of the Lord marks the end of the Great Tribulation, that last three and a half years of the Antichrist’s seven-year reign, during which time all Christians and believers in God will be hounded, hunted, persecuted, and even killed by the bestial Antichrist and his anti-God forces.
But thank God, He has a set time and schedule for the return of His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to rescue His people. He’s going to come right on the button, just like these space launches which have a pre-set countdown. Only there aren’t going to be any problems to delay His countdown. Jesus is going to fulfill His Word. You can rest assured that He is not going to change plans and come contrary to all the things that He taught and that the prophets and the apostles wrote. He is not going to misfire, but is going to fulfill the specific, detailed prophecies of His Word regarding endtime events which must come to pass before He returns.
The final countdown to Christ’s Second Coming will start after the Antichrist has been revealed as the great world leader who “confirms the covenant with many for seven years” regarding Jerusalem and Jewish temple worship (Daniel 9:27). It’ll be exactly 1,260 days until he breaks it and abolishes it and begins the “Great Tribulation” period by setting himself and his image up in the holy place to be worshipped, and commanding that everybody receive his Mark in their forehead or hand. (For more details on this covenant and the Great Tribulation period, see part 4, “The Rise and Reign of the Antichrist.”)
Jesus Himself said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:15,21). When that image of the antichrist is set up in the temple at Jerusalem in the midst of that seven-year covenant period, then will begin the Great Tribulation period for which His Word gives us the exact 3½-year length over and over again in so many different ways that you cannot possibly misunderstand it—three and a half years (Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:7; Revelation 12:14), 42 months (Revelation 11:2; 13:5), 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3; 12:6). It is repeated so many times in so many different ways—days, months, and years—so that we can know exactly how long it’s going to last.
Why do you suppose the Lord revealed this so specifically and so exactly in His Word? Because it’s going to be such a terrible time that we’re going to be counting the days. That’s one thing that will help to keep you going, to know that it is not going to last much longer. The fact that you’re able to count the days is going to be tremendously encouraging. “Look up,” He says, “for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
“The sign of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:30)
Jesus warned us not to expect His return any sooner than has been predicted. He also warned that there will be false Christs and false prophets who will try to deceive people into thinking either that they are Christ or that Christ is coming nearby somewhere, that He is here or there. “If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:23–24).
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matthew 24:26). He says, “Don’t believe any of them, because when I come, you’ll know it.” The sky will light up like permanent lightning from one end to the other, and there will be such a sign in the heavens that you couldn’t possibly mistake the fact that Jesus is coming.
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27). He says there’s going to be light shining from the east to the west in the sky like lightning. The whole sky’s going to light up and stay lit when Jesus comes, while we’re gathered up to meet Him in the air, and the whole world is going to watch it.
“For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:28). He’s speaking in cryptic, very puzzling language, saying, “Wherever the body is, there are those going to be that feed on Christ.” A rather unsavory comparison that we, like vultures, feed upon the body of Christ. But He said, “Except you eat of My flesh and drink of My blood, you’re not going to have any part in Me” (John 6:53–58). So here He’s speaking of our gathering together or Rapture unto Him.
And that’s the surest way you’re going to know when Jesus comes, because you’re going to be there. Wherever you are, you’re going to be drawn like a magnet, like the eagles to the carcass, like vultures to the body, as those who have to eat and feed upon Christ to live spiritually. Wherever the carcass is, there will all of us little eagles be gathered together.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all of the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29–31).
What could be more cataclysmic, catastrophic, noisy, dramatic, terrific, and more obvious than the coming of the Lord as described here by Jesus Himself? The whole sky will be lit up like lightning, the saved of all ages will be literally “gathered together” in the air, the sun and the moon will be darkened and meteors will be falling, and Jesus Himself will appear in the atmospheric heavens, causing the unsaved to mourn and weep as they see His coming in the clouds “with power and great glory.”
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 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” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–3).
It will be like a sudden destruction, suddenly, without warning. Their false prophets have been telling them, “Everything’s okay now; you don’t have to worry about anything. We have our world government, we have our Antichrist, we have our messiah, we have our superman to run the world now, and everything’s going to be okay. Peace and safety.” And then sudden destruction hits them. Jesus returns, rescues His Bride, and God begins pouring out His final wrath and judgments on the Antichrist’s world empire.
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day (of Christ’s Second Coming) should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4). Christians who know His Word and have “discerned the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3) are not going to be surprised. You may not know the precise day or hour, but you’ll certainly know when approximately 3½ years has passed after the placing of the abomination of desolation, and will be looking for and anxiously awaiting Jesus’ return.
“Ye are all the children of light and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:5–8).
Jesus’ magnificent Second Coming won’t catch His children by surprise, like a thief in the night, as it will the rest of the world. They won’t be expecting it. They’ll be surprised, especially when Jesus comes. They will be shocked when they see the graves open and the bodies of the dead rise in the Resurrection. And the people they’ve been persecuting and trying to kill and torture and imprison, trying to make them take their Mark of the Beast and worship his image, will suddenly rise up in the air.
It says that “They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Our rapture, our resurrection, is part of our triumph, our Godgiven victory, our great exodus from this world. In Revelation it says, “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him” (1:7). That’s going to be our great, glorious day of victory when we rise right out of the hands of our persecutors and the forces of the Antichrist. What greater witness could there be than the Resurrection and the Rapture? That’s the final witness, when they actually see Jesus and see us rise from the dead and from the earth to meet Him in the air.
“And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). Then they’ll know that they have been wrong. They’ll know that Jesus has come to rescue us and to save us out of their persecution and the terrible tribulation that they have caused us.
Don’t let anyone fool you with the so-called “secret rapture” doctrine. When Jesus comes, this world is going to know about it. Suddenly the sun’s going to be darkened and the stars will fall from heaven. On the day side of the earth the sun will be darkened, and on the night side of the earth the moon will not give her light and the stars will be falling. No matter whether it is day or night, no matter which side of the earth you’re on, there are going to be signs in the sky, signs in the heavens. God’s going to blot out all the other lights so that Jesus can shine.
“And the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29). There’ll be a great earthquake. Let me tell you, people will know something’s happening. They’ll see the whole sky light up with permanent lightning from one end to the other, and then Jesus is going to appear in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory. The whole world’s going to know something very unusual and very apocalyptic is happening. It’s going to be the Apocalypse—the revelation of Jesus Christ Himself coming in the clouds.
“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Lights. Trumpets. Voices. Thunder. Earthquakes. Noises. Dead rising from the graves. Live saints rising from the ground, floating right up through the ceilings and the buildings and the cars and right up into the clouds to be with Jesus. That’s no secret rapture.
“The Resurrection of Life” (John 5:29)
When Jesus comes, a wonderful miracle takes place—the Resurrection. All of those who belong to Him, all the saved, will then have a glorious resurrection—either from the dead or from the living, instantly changed and raised from the face of the earth. Then we will all go to be with the Lord to have the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb, while the wrath of God is being poured out upon those who remain on the earth.
His return and our consequent resurrection is spoken of many times throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Many times we’re told in various ways of this great, apocalyptic event. Although the word “rapture” is not to be found in the Scriptures, it is a handy little word because it sums up the coming of the Lord in the clouds, the sounding of the trumpet, the dead being raised, the living saved being translated, and all of us being gathered together to be with the Lord.
The apostle Paul gives a very revelatory insight into this marvelous event in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4. “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (verse 13). He says, “I don’t want you to be so ignorant that you don’t know what’s going to happen when Jesus comes. I don’t want you to sorrow over death, not realizing there’s going to be a resurrection.”
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). “Those who are asleep in Jesus” is an expression meaning “the dead in Christ,” as explained in verse 16 of this same chapter—those who have died in the Lord, born-again Christians who have already gone on to be with Jesus.
All our dear loved ones who have departed from this life are already with the Lord. Their bodies, you might say, are asleep and have gone back to dust if they’ve been there long enough. But their spirits are not sleeping in the grave. They’re with Jesus. For to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). They’ve “departed to be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).
Jesus comes back with the spirits of all these departed saints so that they can pick up their new resurrected bodies. It has something to do with that old buried body. God wants to prove that He can raise the dead, so He’s going to raise them from the dead, literally, but in a new body—a new resurrected body like the one He had when He rose. Their new, glorified, supernatural, resurrection bodies are going to rise and are going to get together with their spirits at the moment of Christ’s coming.
So the dead in Christ are going to come back with the Lord, and He says that “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord”—those of us who are still living when Jesus comes—“shall not prevent them which are asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). The literal meaning here is that we will not precede, or go before, them which are asleep. The Lord’s not going to let us beat them to the punch or jump the gun in this race to be with Jesus. He’s going to let them be resurrected and rise first. Those who have died in the Lord and have gone on to be with Him, go first.
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first.” We who are still alive are probably going to watch the resurrection of the dead. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16– 17).
With one sudden, supernatural, miraculous, mighty stroke of God, He waves His wand of power, and presto. We who are alive will be changed, translated, and raised incorruptible, to meet the Lord in the air. People talk about the thrill of skydiving! Your body will be changed right on the spot, from a body that’s merely alive to a body that’s going to live forever.
“Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep”—we’re not all going to die in the Lord; some of us are still going to be alive when the Lord comes—“but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). He says it’s a mystery, since it’s pretty hard to understand and explain. Because how can you explain that an old, corrupt, rotten body that’s been in the grave for hundreds or even thousands of years is going to come to life and be perfectly whole and even better than it was before?
“We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump”—as quick as you can bat your eye, as quick as you can wink or blink your eye. “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Somehow through a miracle, God is going to do for our bodies what He did for Jesus. Of course, Jesus wasn’t dead for nearly as long as many people have been. “He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Philippians 3:21).
Do you want to know what it’s going to be like, or what you’re going to be like, after the resurrection? You’re going to be like Jesus was after His resurrection. He walked with His followers and talked with them. He even ate with them and drank with them. He cooked for them once (Luke 24:43; John 21:9–14). In your new resurrection body you’ll be able to eat, sleep, drink, and do whatever you can do now. But you’ll also be able to do some things you’ve never been able to do in your natural body.
Jesus was not only able to do these natural things, but when they were in a locked room with all the doors barred, all of a sudden He appeared (John 20:26). You’ll be able to walk through walls, doors, fly up through ceilings and appear and disappear just like Jesus did. You’ll be able to travel not just with the slow speed of sound or light, but with the speed of thought from one place to another!
When Jesus suddenly appeared to His disciples in that locked room, it says, “They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37). They were almost scared to death, as they thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus said to them, “Touch Me, feel Me, see that it is even I Myself, not a spirit; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have” (Luke 24:39). He didn’t say flesh and blood, “for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (1 Corinthians 15:50; Leviticus 17:11).
His resurrection body was made of flesh and bones, but of course it was quite a bit different from the bodies we now have. When He told doubting Thomas, “Put your fingers into the nailprints in My hand and thrust your hand into the wound in My side, and be not faithless but believing,” it showed that it must have been like the same body He died with if the wounds were still there (John 20:27).
So when Jesus comes and that great trumpet sounds, you’re going to trade in your present, old, worn-out, fleshly, earthly model for an entirely new heavenly model, like the body He had after His resurrection. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). When Jesus comes, we shall see Him as He is, face to face, and be like Him.
The body of the future, the supernatural, miraculous, resurrected, transformed, fleshly bodies of the future are going to be like the angels of God. “Neither can they die anymore: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36). But although you’ve received your new resurrection body, remember, it’s still going to be you. You’re even going to look a lot the same, only better, much better. But it’s going to be you, the same body; otherwise it wouldn’t be a resurrection. And if someone’s natural, fleshly body has completely returned to the dust, or if they were cremated and their ashes were sprinkled over a vast area, if God has to take every single proton, electron, and neutron and make up the atoms again and bring them back together from the dirt or from the ashes or from the smoke or from whatever and wherever it is, He will bring it back together.
“For if the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. For God, who hath raised up the Lord, will also raise up us by His own power. And when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:54–55, 57).
“Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:6)
Back in Matthew chapter 24 we read that when Jesus comes, His angels will “gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). This word “elect” here simply means the saved, His “ecclesia,” which means His set-apart ones, His church, His Christians, His children. When He starts collecting His children, He’s certainly going to collect them all and not leave any behind. He’s going to gather all the saved together.
Nobody’s going to be left behind who loves Jesus. Nobody’s going to be left behind who has received Jesus as his Savior. No one is going to be left behind who is saved. Not a single, genuine, Bible-believing, Christ-trusting, Jesus-loving Christian is going to be left behind, not one. For “we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). And we will all be raised. He’ll send His angels out to gather us from everywhere, from all around the whole earth, and He won’t leave one behind. He won’t forget one, not one!
In Revelation, John saw Christ’s gathering of His children as a great harvest. “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown.” He’s not coming as a babe in the manger this time, but as the King of kings, to rule and reign forever. “And in His hand a sharp sickle. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:14, 16).
This resurrection is spoken of as the first resurrection, of all those who belong to Him. He says, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6). So this “first” resurrection will be a resurrection of only the saved, of those who love Jesus.
If there’s a first resurrection, this seems to indicate that there must also be a second resurrection, and if you read Revelation chapter 20 about the Great White Throne Judgment of God, you’ll find out that, of course, there is. But the next resurrection, the resurrection of the unsaved, the second resurrection, is not going to occur until after the thousand-year rule and reign of Christ on earth known as the Millennium.
“Watch therefore: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh” (Matthew 24:42, 44). Will you be ready when Jesus comes? Are you one of His own? Have you received Him personally into your own heart? If so, then you can look forward to that great day of His Coming with hope and faith and eager anticipation.
Give Him your heart and your life, and love and serve Him “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” today (Matthew 22:37).
When Jesus comes, the earth will shake and hearts will quake,
When Jesus comes, His face we’ll see eternally, be ready.
Has your soul been filled with the fire of His Holy Ghost?
Are you saved and ready to meet the Lord of Hosts?
When Jesus comes, don’t hesitate, don’t be too late,
Be ready.—Author Unknown
- A More Sure Word of Prophecy (2 Peter 1:19)
- From Here to Eternity
- “Signs of the Times”
- The Rise and Reign of the Antichrist
- The Great Tribulation
- The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
- The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
- The Wrath of God and the Battle of Armageddon
- The Millennium
- The Battle of Gog And Magog
- The Great White Throne Judgement
- The New Heaven and The New Earth