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By Norman Manzon
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is part of an extended series of studies in support of the We Believe statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations. We will begin by quoting the entire Last Things portion of the Statement to provide context, much of which has already been covered, particularly in our last three studies, The Destinies of the Dead, The Rapture and The Great Tribulation, and then present that portion of Last Things that will be the focus of this study.
Much groundwork has been laid for this study without
which many a reader of this study may be beset with doubts and questions
that have already been addressed. It is therefore urged that
the three previous studies be studied or reviewed
In our Last Things series, we have thus far seen that every member of the church, whether living or deceased, will be lifted from the earth and given a glorified body in an event called the Rapture. At some point after the Rapture, the Lord will bring judgment upon the earth during a seven-year period of time called The Great Tribulation, which the prophet Daniel described as a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time (Daniel 12:1), and which the Lord described as a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Matthew 24:21). During this period, the Lord will destroy every ungodly human institution, and all who will not repent will be killed. Multitudes from all over the world will repent in response to the preaching of 144,000 Israelites, and multitudes from among that multitude will be martyred. In mid-Tribulation, Antichrist will claim divinity, prohibit all Temple worship, and engage on a campaign to destroy every believer still alive, every Jew, and even the Lord Himself. His persecution of the Jews will continue almost until the end of the seven years by which time he will succeed in killing two-thirds of them. (Psalm 2:2; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Ezekiel 20:36-38, 36:22-27; Zechariah 13:8; Matthew 24:15-28; Acts 4:26; Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 12:1-17, 17:14)
We'll review our AMC Statement, and then pick up from there.
"Second Coming" is not a term that is found in Scripture. For that reason, a theological definition of the term cannot be found there. It is a term whose meaning must be agreed upon by those engaging in conversation about the event or events that they have in mind. Unfortunately, many use it to include two significant future events, and many use it to refer only to the second, breeding confusion.
There are at least three good reasons
for viewing the
coming of the Lord in the air for
the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and the actual feet-on-the-ground
Return of the Lord to Earth, as two aspects of the Second Coming:
Dr. Chafer takes this view:
There is also good reason for viewing only the second of the two events as the Second Coming because it is the only event of the two in which the Lord will actually touch down on earth as He did for His first advent. It also conveniently distinguishes it from the Rapture.
For clarity's sake, then, let it be known that for this study what will be referred to as the Second Coming will solely be the actual feet-on-the-ground Return of the Lord.
It is not the intent of this study to parse every scripture relevant to the Second Coming. However, we will examine its prophetic placement, situational trigger, manner, location and significance. We will also do some comparisons and contrasts between the First Coming, Rapture and Second Coming.
With the Law of Moses, the Lord chose to highlight seven epochal events from the cross to the Kingdom in the seven annual prophetic feasts of Leviticus 23, namely, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles. The first four have been fulfilled by the crucifixion, the sinlessness of the sacrificed Lamb of God, the Lord's resurrection, and the formation of the church on the Day of Pentecost. Yet to be fulfilled are Trumpets by the Rapture, the Day of Atonement by the Great Tribulation, and Tabernacles by the Millennial or Messianic Kingdom.3 Inasmuch as the Lord's Return will bring the Tribulation to an end, it will, of necessity, be "pre-millennial," as our Statement declares.
We have seen that the Lord will Return very near or at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation; but what specific event will be His cue, the "trigger," for His Return?
The Lord made a covenant with Israel that has come to be known as the New Covenant.
The New Covenant was not made with mankind in general, but specifically, with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, that is, with all Israel. Even after the crucifixion and the formation of the church at Pentecost, Paul spoke of my kinsmen according to the flesh who are Israelites, to whom belongs - present tense - the covenants . . . and the promises (Romans 9:3-4). Though God opened the door of salvation and membership in the body to individual Gentiles as Paul explained in Ephesians 2:12-13 and 3:16, there can be no question that, in Romans 9:3-4, that same Paul was speaking specifically of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.
There is a promise in the Jeremiah passage that God has not extended to the Gentiles in general or to any Gentile nation: they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, which Paul reiterated in Romans 11:26-27:
Speaking specifically of Israel, Paul declared to the Romans believers in the next verse, From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
Why were they, at that late date, still beloved for the sake of the fathers? Verse 29: for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable - speaking specifically of Israel.
To sum up, there is a promise that God made solely to Israel that He has yet to fulfill: they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. See also Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:25-29.
2. The Offer of the
Kingdom to Israel
Mark 1:14-15: 14. Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15. and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."4
Both John and Jesus announced to
Israel that the Kingdom is at hand,
or as other translations have it, is near.
It was this literal, physical Kingdom of God on earth that John and Jesus preached to Israel, and it was offered to Israel on condition.
b. The Condition for the
Matthew 3:2: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mark 1:14-15:The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
Jesus offered to establish His Kingdom if only Israel would receive Him as their Messiah. This is brought out clearly in Matthew 23:37-39 in His rebuke to the spiritual leaders of Israel:
They were unwilling to allow Him to gather them, and their house, their temple, their heart and hearth of national life, would be left desolate until they receive Him as Messiah, saying, "BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" And indeed, instead of Jesus establishing His Kingdom, He allowed the Romans to destroy both the Temple and the political nationhood of Israel in the dual military blows of 70 and 135 AD.
What did Peter say to Israel in his sermon shortly after Pentecost?
He called upon Israel to repent of its sin of having rejected Jesus so that their personal sins may be forgiven in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, that is, so that the Kingdom would be established for which purpose God will send Jesus . . . whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things, that is, until it was time for Him to establish His earthly Kingdom. However, Israel as a nation did not repent. Chapter 4 begins with the priests and the Sadducees arresting Peter for preaching Jesus.
The condition for the Lord's Return is brought out again in Hosea 5:15, where the preincarnate Son prophesied, I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face.
To sum up, the condition that Israel must meet for the Lord's Return to establish His Kingdom is the acknowledgment of their guilt in rejecting of Him, and in their plea for His forgiveness and favor.
When Israel Will Meet the Condition
In their affliction. During the terrible time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7, ASV) - they will earnestly seek [His] face.
In mid-Tribulation, Antichrist will launch a furious campaign to annihilate all Jews once and for all, and will succeed in killing two-thirds of them. They will be the rebels of Ezekiel 20:36-38 who will reject the spiritual insight that the Lord will offer in regard to the seven-year treaty of protection that Antichrist will propose to make with Israel. They will successfully lobby for its passage in the Knesset (Parliament) and, in mid-Tribulation, take the number of the Beast (Antichrist). The remaining third will receive the insight that the Lord will offer, lobby against the treaty, though unsuccessfully, and will refuse the number of the Beast. Whereas the Lord will allow Antichrist to kill the rebels, He will protect the non-rebels from Antichrist's slaughter, and will, near the end of the Tribulation, reveal His messiahship to them, and they will believe in Jesus. They will acknowledge Israel's guilt in their rejection of Him at His first advent, and will earnestly seek [His] face. (Ezekiel 20:36-38; Zechariah 13:8-9; Matthew 24:22. Also, The Great Tribulation.)
Immediately following Hosea 5:15 is 6:1-3:
Also Zechariah 12:10:
And their lament shall be
He who spared them physically from the wrath of the Beast will now save them spiritually.
In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity (Zechariah 13:1).
He will save every last one of them: "for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more"; and He will return.
Let us return to the Zechariah 12:10 passage. The clause, they will look on Me whom they have pierced implies that they are looking on the Lord's physical Person, meaning that He had already returned. But the Lord said He would not return until after they repent - so how could they look on Him before they repent? The answer is in the translation of the word often translated on (as in the NASB) or upon (as in the King James). Dr. Fruchtenbaum points out that it should be translated unto,5 which does not necessitate His presence on earth; and indeed, that is how the acclaimed American Standard Version and the Revised Version have it: they shall look unto me whom they have pierced. Also Young's Literal Translation: they have looked unto me whom they have pierced. The Jewish Publication Society Bible: they shall look unto me because they have thrust him through. The Complete Jewish Bible, the Easy to Read Version and the International Standard Version render it they will look to me, which also does not necessitate His presence on earth.
Thus, the "trigger" that will move the Lord to return to earth will be the national repentance of Israel for having rejected Him at His First Coming, and their longing for Him to return and be reunited with Him. He left when they rejected Him, and He will return when they embrace Him. They will look unto Him in repentance, and He will return.
Manner is a rather tame word; yet it is used in certain translations of Acts 1:11 to describe certain aspects of the Lord's Return. However, the word lacks the drama and the passion that so many passages exude when describing His Return. Manner, though, seems to be the best English word to cover all the bases. In our use here, it will certainly include the "mechanics" of His Return, but my prayer is that, by the grace of God, through the descriptions of His Return in the passages presented, the reader may be captivated by those intangible aspects of Scripture that theological studies often fail to convey. May this presentation impress upon the reader the dignity, the deportment, the regality, the glorious bearing, the divine demeanor of the Lord upon His Return. May we not smother ourselves in the dry nuts and bolts of this amazing event and render ourselves impervious to its vigor, its vibrant life and its fiery spectacle. The anticipation of the Lord's Second Coming should move us to our core. Grasping the "mechanics" of the Lord's Return is important. It's like locking oneself into a roller coaster. As one must not allow himself to be thrown out of a roller coaster, neither must he allow himself to be thrown out of the safety of sound theological thinking. For this, the nuts and bolts are important. Yet, one rides a roller coaster for the enjoyment of it. As servants of the Lord our priority is not enjoyment, but service. Nevertheless, Scripture does say, for the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Therefore, in our effort to grasp the "mechanics" of the Second Coming, let us also be swept above the mundane cares of our present world system by the drama and the passion of the Lord's Second Coming and by its song of hope.
Before the Lord's Ascension, He met with His disciples on the Mount of Olives and gave them their final instructions before His departure.
The Lord will return from Heaven in just the same way that His disciples saw Him ascend into Heaven.
In what way (or manner, ASV, KJV, etc.) did He ascend?
One thing to note is that the passage makes it clear that the Lord ascended from the Mount of Olives, but it does not say that He will touch down on the Mount of Olives. It merely says that He will come in just the same way. He will, indeed, stand upon the Mount of Olives, but it will not be the location at which He will touch down. Where He will touch down will be examined shortly.
The following passages will be presented in groups. At the end of each group comments will be made.
The Lord will come for the purpose of fiery purging and purification. One of the objects of His purifying fire will be the members of the tribe of Levi, those Levites who are among the non-rebel survivors at the end of Jacob's Trouble, so that when the new order of Temple worship is instituted in the Kingdom, the Levitical priesthood will be in place to serve. (cf. Isaiah 66:20-23; Ezekiel 40:1-46:24)
Matthew 25:31: But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him . . . .
Matthew 26:64: You will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."
IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who
pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it
is to be. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 2:8: Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.
From the vantage point of Antichrist's will, it will be he who will gather the world's armed forces on the vast plain known today as the Jezreel Valley near Mount Megiddo (Hebrew: Har-Magedon), some sixty miles north of Jerusalem (Revelation 19:16), and it will be for the purpose of destroying the Jews; but from the vantage point of the divine will, it will be God who will gather Antichrist's forces (Zechariah 14:2), and it will be for a different outcome altogether. It will be God, not Antichrist, who will orchestrate the outcome. The Lord will come as a conquering king to strike down the armies of the nations gathered against Israel and Himself. He will be coming not only with the entire company of the holy angels, but with His raptured saints, as well: And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. Though myriads of angels and saints will accompany Him, Scripture provides no description of them assisting Him. There will be no "contest" between the combined forces of puny man and the omnipotence of God, and He will handle Antichrist like a rag doll. He will slay him with the mere breath of His mouth. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. He will resurrect Antichrist, and throw him and the False Prophet alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. He will rain down great hailstones on human populations to the accompaniment of lightning and thunder, and will strike the planet with an earthquake so great that the cities of the nations will be leveled. Jerusalem itself will be split in three, and Antichrist's world capitol, Babylon the great, was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. When the forces of Antichrist are vanquished, the Lord will ascend the Mount of Olives in victory.
Thus, with the outpouring
of this last series of Tribulation judgments, the Great
Tribulation comes to an end. Then
the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a
loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying,
"It is done,"
a cry that is reminiscent of the Lord's final cry on the
cross: It is finished
(John 19:30). Though the Greek words are different, the
basic concept is the same: In each case, the Lord declares
the completion of an epochal work for which He had waited
and prepared for millennia of earth time. Indeed, the first
purchased the second, and the second will constitute a major
portion of the fulfillment of the purposes of the first.
We are now in a position to examine where the Lord will first touch earth upon His Return.
To the east of Israel across the Jordan River is a long series of mountain ranges that extends far beyond Israel's northernmost and southernmost points and passes through the territories that touched Israel's eastern biblical border, namely (from north to south), they are Bashan, Ammon, Moab and Edom. In regard to the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the Lord warned, But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Luke 21:20-21). It was to these mountains that the Judean believers fled in 68 AD during a break in the Roman siege of Jerusalem, specifically to Pella, a city of the biblical Decapolis in northern Jordan, between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. In a manner similar to which He warned that former generation of Israelites, the Lord also warned the Tribulation generation through His apostles,
It will be to these same mountains to which the Judean non-rebel Jews will flee for refuge from Antichrist, but it will not be to Pella. It will to be to a place called, in Scripture, Bozrah. It is known today as Petra, in southern Jordan, half way between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Eilat (Israeli name) or Gulf of Aqaba (Arabic name). It is here to which the Lord will return to save the believing Israelites from the hand of Antichrist. (Isaiah 34:1-7; 63:1-6; Habakkuk 3:3; Micah 2:12-13 and Judges 5:4-5)
Three major points come to mind.
Since the Fall, the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Satan has been the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4); but the Second Coming of the Lord will mark the deliverance of this world system with all of its grievous evils from the hand of the evil one. When this happens it will be joyously declared, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15).
With the Lord's Second Coming, God will prove to be a keeper of His promises to Israel, to the church, and to every believer from Adam to the last believer in the Millennium.
His Coming will prepare the way for the establishment of His thousand-year Millennial or Messianic Kingdom on Earth, for the form of this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31).
The Lord came to earth before His conception in Miriam's
womb. He came as the Shekinah Glory in the form of a light, a fire or a cloud
(e.g., Exodus 13:21-22). He also came as the Angel of the Lord on a
number of different occasions, as with Abraham (Genesis 18:1-3). But the
Lord's comings via the womb of Miriam, the Rapture and the Second Coming
are comings in human form, and are of immense significance in the
outworking of God's plan for ages. We will therefore do some comparisons
and contrasts regarding the three.
"Events of the Future" Sequence
The Destinies of the Dead
The Great Tribulation
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
The Millennial Kingdom: Introduction
The Inhabitants of the Kingdom
The Millennium: The Two Foundational Realities
The Kingdom Environment
Israel in the Promised Land
Worship in the Kingdom
Significance of the Kingdom
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By Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum
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The Second Coming