Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jesus Will Return - When and How?


Let me say as a preamble to this post that there is immeasurable and unfathomable suffering right now throughout the world. Thousands upon thousands will die this very day due to hunger and curable disease. Many will be children. And most will go into eternity without Christ. I find people who are obsessed with times and dates and who self righteously champion their view of end times chronology as distasteful and repugnant. Many do not reflect the Spirit of Christ and live constantly with some ax to grind. They should be avoided and denied fellowship.

The Bible is replete with references to what is generally referred to as the “second coming of Jesus Christ” with Bethlehem being His first coming. To ignore prophecy is to ignore a large segment of Scripture. However we can get so obsessed that we lose the essence of these prophetic glimpses and even enter into a doctrinal clique which loudly professes a sort of prophetic inerrancy concerning its views. There are many people who believe their view concerning the end time events is unassailable and all other views are not only wrong but seem to carry some precarious implications in the future. And lost in all this is usually the two main points of prophecy which are that Jesus will come back and everyone must be prepared. The exact time or place is in God’s hands.

When we say that Jesus is coming back many evangelicals mean that there are two revelations of His coming. The first being the catching away of the church or the rapture, and the second being the literal coming of the Lord Jesus Christ back to this planet. The word “rapture” is a Latin term used to denote the secret return of Christ in the clouds where he translates His true followers from the earth and unto Himself. I am not going to spend the time to go into a verse by verse study here. You can google hundreds of thousands of sites where it is taught and also where it is denied.

There are two major views concerning the rapture of the church. One is called pre-millennial and the other post-millennial. Many Christians believe that there is coming a thousand year period upon this earth called the millennia. Most pre-millennial views call it the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. There is also an a-millennial view which denies a literal millennia at all. Are you beginning to see that colossal jungle concerning prophecy and the end time’s chronology? Good, because it gets worse. And like a man who becomes obsessed with fixing the lock on his car’s trunk but never gets around to driving the car, so is much of the verbiage and arguing over when the rapture will take place or how to line up the events or even which events are literal and which are allegory. And if you suggest certain views you will step right into the crosshairs of many ungracious opinion holders.

Generally my view is two fold. Jesus is coming back, and you must be prepared. But if pressed I hold to a per-millennial view. And another event called the Great Tribulation comes into play here. There are three major views about the rapture within the per-millennial perspective. They are called the pre-tribulation view, the mid-tribulation view, and the post-tribulation view. Those labels are self explanatory. I hold loosely to the pre-tribulation view which suggests that the rapture will take place just before the Great Tribulation period begins. Again, there are many teachings on the internet or in book stores on this subject. Please remember that prophecy is filled with imagery and metaphors and in my opinion is the least exact revelation. When we deal with salvation or the Person of Christ we see a multitude of clear and unambiguous Scriptures. But when we deal with prophecy there are many verses that are difficult to piece together. I believe God did this so that He receives all the glory and that men cannot claim to be wise in their own conceits.

I could list the verses that are generally used to support a pre-tribulation perspective however since I believe they generally provide a platform for argument and most often do not generate a deeper love for Christ and a more intense looking for His return I will not. And although there are verses that suggest that view, there is also something outside of Scripture that seems to provide a template.

In the Hebrew culture at the time the New Testament was written the marriage of a bride and a bridegroom was very interesting. The engagement was arraigned and agreed upon by the two fathers many times even before the man and woman ever met. Now after the contract was made, the father of the man went home and told his son. Now it was the son’s duty to prepare a place for his bride, but only the father could give his permission for the son to go and get his bride. That would insure that everything was ready and the son was not carried away and go prematurely.

Matt.24: 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

The bride to be was supposed to be preparing for her bridegroom’s arrival. She, of course, did not know when he was coming. She would even stay up late because many times the bridegroom came at midnight.

Matt.25: 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

So when the father of the man said that his son could go and get his bride, he would take some of his friends and then would head out for the bride’s home. When the man came close to the house his entourage would call out, “The bridegroom is coming!” The bride, who was supposed to be waiting, would ready herself to leave.

Matt.25: 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

And it was the custom to have a week lone wedding feast after the bridegroom brought the bride home.

Rev.19: And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
3 And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

And so I believe the chronology of the Lord’s return will generally mirror the Jewish culture as it pertains to marriage. Now let me also say that I could be wrong, and in general I do not consider a difference in eschatology a reason for breaking fellowship unless the person is arrogant and judges everyone else according to their endtimes chronology. Does a person believe that Jesus will return literally? That is the vital question. As soon as we make almost everything an allegory or imagery than we eviscerate the Scriptures.

So have a healthy view of the Second Coming and the rapture, and allow the Spirit to use it to guide you into a deeper commitment to the Lord Jesus. But refuse to make it your gospel and thereby enter into self righteousness. Discussions are good and many times exhort us to study the Word. Think about this: What has been ordained to happen as it pertains to the events surrounding the end times are ordained and already set in place. No man can change them. So do not become obsessed with dates and chronology and the particulars of the Second Coming. Be obsessed with Jesus and all things will be in God’s hands. He is coming and He is calling all men to repent and believe the gospel. And to His Bride He says sanctify yourselves and submit your lives to the cleansing of the spirit and the flesh.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.


Terry said...

This reminds me of a piece by A.W Tozer, which I quote part of here:

Are you ready for the appearing of Jesus Christ or are you among those who are merely curious about His coming? Let me warn you that many preachers and Bible teachers will answer to God some day for encouraging curious speculations about the return of Christ and failing to stress the necessity for "loving His appearing"!

The Bible does not approve of this modern curiosity that plays with the Scriptures and which seeks only to impress credulous and gullible audiences with the "amazing" prophetic knowledge possessed by the brother who is preaching or teaching! I cannot think of even one lonely passage in the New Testament which speaks of Christ's revelation, manifestation, appearing or coming that is not directly linked with moral conduct, faith and spiritual holiness.
The appearing of the Lord Jesus on this earth once more is not an event upon which we may curiously speculate - and when we do only that we sin. The prophetic teacher who engages in speculation to excite the curiosity of his hearers without providing them with a moral application is sinning even as he preaches.

There have been enough foolish formulas advanced about the return of Christ by those who were simply curious to cause many believers to give the matter no further thought or concern. But Peter said to expect "the appearing of Jesus Christ." Paul said there is a crown of righteousness laid up in glory for all those who love His appearing.

From "I Call It Heresy: 12 Timely Themes from 1st Peter"

Cherie c. said...

Pastor Rick

=D (smiley face)

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...


Hello dear brother. I ran into one such preacher/teacher. All he did was cause me confusion and fear because I look up almost every day to see if Jesus is arriving.

There are some that say someone will try to create the second coming, but we will know the difference.

Thank you for the Tozer quote. I will spend my time in the Word, praying and preparing for His return. Even so come Lord Jesus!
Amen and Amen!

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

In 1 Thess. 4 verse about the coming of the Lord where we shall be caught up together, says in verse 18, "therefore comfort one another with these words".

I assume we are to speak about it to one another every so often for comfort, and it does comfort. But, with that comfort, comes uncomfort too, because we know so many aren't prepared and so many are too preoccupied with hunger and living in misery in the world around us. I don't know if being prepared means we should be jumping for joy or weeping for the world that will be left behind. And will we stay ready in this maze of delusion that creeps faster and faster around us waiting to pounce, to fool, distort the Word and cause mass confusion about the Word of God. But God does have it pre-ordained and it is in His hands.

I love the song by the Gaither band, "The Midnight Cry".

I agree too, and like Bro. Rick think it may be a pre-tribulation rapture, and 'loosely'. Good way to express it.

Also love the two-fold view. "Jesus is coming back, and you must be prepared."
I agree with the parallel of the Hebrew marriage ritual appearing like the way Christ will join with His Bride.

It's hard to understand why discussing different views make christian opinion holders ungracious and cantankerous.

I had a dream right after my husband and I were saved; we heard the trumpet, and I felt an intense chill up my spine, and we went outside and saw the stars in the sky all move around and I saw three bigger distinct stars in a line. I felt like I was literally being lifted up in the Spirit and felt like we were floating up in the air. I couldn't see the Lord - my two young sons were with us. I woke up. This was in the summer during the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait. I noticed a few days later that the Iraqi flag had those same 3 stars lined up on their national flag like the ones in my dream. It may be that my subconscious mind I remembered the image of their flag during news reporting of the events, but I sure had a shiver up my spine when I realized how vivid and real my dream felt like.

It seems to anger post-tribulationists that pre-ers want to avoid persecution and suffering. But, I believe that we are now starting to feel the effects of persecution in all forms, here and abroad, and certainly many in the world are suffering. And many in the rich western nations are suffering, not so much physically, but are suffering delusion which is causing them to become fearful, paranoid, obsessive and despondent. I believe that we, here in the richest nations, are not fulfilled and at peace at all. We are under demonic attack from all sides and are having to fight the good fight against bigger and badder principalities of the air. If the Lord doesn't come sooner, the prosperous christians will lose their already tormented souls, because right now so many are angry and bitter and curse governments, men, and agendas and have a wicked unforgiving spirit. I believe we are so close to His coming. But only the Father knows.


Anonymous said...

The prophecy sites are interesting reading, but they miss the point of the instructions Jesus gave about before He went back to heaven to prepare a place for His believers. And that was:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Mark 16:15-18 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

Luke 24: 46-47 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

John 21: 15-25 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep. 18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me." 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?" 22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me." 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?" 24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen

Just like you wrote in a previous sermon, “John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease”.
A servant must be found busy doing the work that he was instructed to do when his Master returns.


Reine Gnade said...

God's witness of Christians is that they are good and faithful. Goodness and faithfulness are attributes of love!
Children of God understand that the joy of the LORD God is their strength. They have the wisdom to rebuke wickedness, bitterness and unforgiveness. Their souls are not tormented and they don't waste time bad-mouthing those who work for the government!

Cherie c. said...


Sorry for the shouting, just filled with unspeakable Joy!

Love you all,

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

As believers we must be prepared for our Lord's return but sadly many will not be prepared. Jesus warned of deception as well as Peter and Paul and the other apostles and how it would grow worse and worse. We need to be discerning of false doctrines and teachings that tickle the ears, that if possible, would deceive even the elect. There are many doctrines of men out there...the pre-trib rapture doctrine and millennial reign doctrine, perhaps being 2 of them. Beware, where did they originate from?

Each believer needs to seek the truth by searching the scriptures for themselves and letting the Holy Spirit give understanding and he will. We don't need any other book to learn from but the bible..the truth is all in God's word.

Michelle said...

From some of the things I have read, it seems like the anger of some post-tribbers is because they fear that many people will not be prepared for the possibility of personal suffering. If I am convinced that God will rapture me before the Great Tribulation, and that I will only have to endure the sort of tribulation I am already experiencing, I may not be prepared. I may shrink from death and I might love my life rather than overcome.

In Matthew 24:45-51, the master returned sooner than the servant expected. In Matt. 25:1-13, half of the virgins did not get in because they had been unprepared for a long wait. They didn't have enough oil, because they assumed the wait would not require it.

Could it be that what we are supposed to understand is that we need to be doing what God wants of us always, because Jesus could return at any time, AND we need to be prepared spiritually to withstand a wait that goes much longer, and much deeper into the night than we hoped it would.

I pray for Jesus to return soon, because the darkness is growing deeper. But I also pray for His strength to overcome whatever I might face.