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The return of Jesus Christ and the following events

24 December 2018

The return of Jesus Christ and the following events

ESCHATOLOGY

After Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to witnesses chosen before by God. He was seen by them during forty days and He spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. When the forty days were over, Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven at the right hand of God as it is written: “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3 – NIV). This took place to fulfil what David had said: “The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool” (Psalm 110:1 – NKJV).

However, one day Jesus will come back from heaven. He Himself promised His disciples that He will come back, as He said to them: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:2-4 – NKJV).

How will He come back?

He will come back in the same way He went into heaven, that is to say, in a visible way

For in the book of the Acts of the apostles it is written: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). Therefore, as those who were present at His ascension to heaven saw Him go into heaven, so, at His coming, there will be people who will see Him come back from heaven. However, unlike His ascension to heaven, His coming again will be seen by everybody, as it is written: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7 – NKJV).

He will come back on the clouds of heaven, with great glory and power

For in the Gospel according to Matthew it is written: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30 – NKJV). In the book of the prophet Daniel (which was written several centuries before the Gospel according to Matthew) there is the following prediction concerning the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, 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” (Daniel 7:13-14).

What will happen at His return?

The dead in Christ will be raised from the dead and those who are alive will be changed

Paul said to the saints of Corinth that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 – NKJV), and to the saints of Thessalonica he said: “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 ….” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Among the dead in Christ who will rise there will be also those who have been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who have not worshiped the beast or his image and have not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands (Revelation 20:4).

As for the change of those who are alive, Paul says to the Thessalonians: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Therefore, as Paul says, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52NKJV), in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet blast, which will be sounded by the Lord Jesus Christ. On that day Jesus Christ “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21 – NKJV); on that day we will be clothed with our heavenly habitation, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life (2 Corinthians 5:2,4). Therefore the day on which Jesus Christ will come is a great day because both the dead in Christ and those who are alive will obtain the redemption of their bodies (Romans 8:23), or the full redemption (Ephesians 1:14 – IBRV), which all Christians of past generations waited patiently for and which we also are patiently waiting for.

Those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel will be destroyed

For Paul says to the saints of Thessalonica: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

Among those who will be punished there will be also those believers who will not be found ready at the coming of Christ. For Jesus made it clear that those who will not be found ready at His coming will be punished by Him. For instance He said in a parable: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51). Notice the destiny which awaits that servant who has been made ruler by his master over his household to give them food in due season, but begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards; he will be cut in two and assigned a place with the hypocrites. In other words he will be cast into the fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus spoke also this parable, which shows that the Lord will punish at His coming all those who will be found unfaithful: “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury [interest]. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30). Notice even in this parable the terrible punishment the Lord will inflict upon the unprofitable servant, he will be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The man of sin will be destroyed

For Paul says to the Thessalonians that that day (that is, the day on which the Lord will come and gather us together to Him) will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, whose coming “is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 – NKJV), whom (that is, the man of sin) the Lord Jesus will consume “with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 – NKJV).

In the book of Revelation the apostle John confirms that when the Lord Jesus comes back from heaven he will destroy the man of sin. Here is what he says: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast [the man of sin], and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:11-21). Therefore, at His glorious coming, the Lord Jesus Himself will destroy the antichrist and kill many people.

The millennial reign will be established on the earth

For John says about those who will have part in the first resurrection (that is, the resurrection of the just): “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). Therefore Christ and His saints will reign on the earth for a thousand years. The thousand-year reign will be characterized by peace and righteousness because the devil will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit, where he will remain till the thousand years are finished, as it is written: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:1-3)

When will He return?

Jesus will come back at God’s appointed time, for Paul says that God will manifest Christ’s appearing “in His own time” (1 Timothy 6:15NKJV). Therefore, as the first coming of Jesus Christ took place at just the right time, as it is written: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6), so His second coming also will take place at just the right time. Nobody knows of that day and hour, as Jesus said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Jesus told us to watch and pray for we know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man will come (Matthew 24:44; 25:13).

The apostle Paul wrote to the saints of Thessalonica about the times and the seasons: “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). Obviously the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night for those who are in darkness and not for those who are in the light, that is, the sons of God who walk in the light, because the sons of light are waiting for the Lord while those who are of the night are not waiting for Him. Paul explains this to the Thessalonians in this way: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 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” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6). However, it is obvious that if a son of light ceases to walk in the light and begins to walk in darkness, the day of the Lord will overtake him also as a thief and thus he will not escape the punishment of God. Did Jesus not say to His disciples: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35 – NKJV)?

According to what I have said, it is evident, therefore, that anyone who makes calculations to set the times and the seasons of the return of Christ, does something which is contrary to the will of God. God wants us to prepare to meet Christ (at His coming), so that we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming; but He does not want us to make calculations to set the date of His return. We know that the coming of the Lord is near (James 5:8), we know that “in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37 – NIV), we know that many of the things that (according to the words of Jesus) are to happen before the coming of the Lord have already happened and are happening in this generation, and we know also that the day of the Lord will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed. But it is not for us to know the day and the hour in which the Lord will come, because Jesus said to His disciples: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7 – NKJV). However, there are some who, ignoring what the Scripture says, take delight in setting times and seasons concerning the return of Christ. I exhort you to beware of anyone who makes calculations to set the date of the coming of the Lord; know this, that such a person troubles with his words the heart of believers and this shows that his words are not of God. I say it again, brothers, beware of all those who have come to the conclusion (no matter what kind of calculations they have made) that the Lord will come on a particular day (or in particular month or year); their words will prove to be profane babblings in due time, and both they and those who follow them will be put to shame.

What will happen after His return?

There will be a thousand-year reign on the earth and when this period of time is over the devil will be released from his prison

The second coming of Christ will usher in the millennial reign, which will be a reign full of peace and righteousness because at His return the devil will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit to keep him from deceiving the nations any more till the thousand years are ended. However, when the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will deceive the nations. Here is what John says: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).

Therefore, when the millennial reign is over, all those who will be deceived by the devil will surround the saints to fight against them, but God will punish them by raining fire on them (as you know God punished also Sodom and Gomorrah by raining fire on them). The devil also will be punished, for he will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where he will be tormented forever and ever; he deserves to be punished in this way. Therefore both the deceiver and those who will be deceived will be punished.

The present heavens and earth will be destroyed

For John says that after the devil was cast into the everlasting fire, he saw “a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11NKJV). God will make a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1)

The wicked will be raised from the dead and judged according to their works

This is the second resurrection, that is, the resurrection of those who have done evil (John 5:29), who will rise to be judged according to their works and be cast into the lake of fire. The apostle John saw in a vision the resurrection of the unjust. Here is how he described it: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12-15).

The lake of fire, which is the final abode for all the ungodly and the devil and all of his co-workers, is also called “the everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41), “the gehenna” (Mark 9:45 – YLT) or “the gehenna of the fire” (Mark 9:47 – YLT). It was initially created by God for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). The torments of the lake of fire are eternal, for it is written: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46), and also: “… the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, … ” (Revelation 14:11), and again: “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). Therefore those who will be cast into the lake of fire will suffer endless torments, that is, they will be tormented forever and ever.

The New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven

Here is what John says about the coming down of the New Jerusalem and about the heavenly city: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away…… And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 21:1-4, 9-27; 22:1-5).

Conclusion

This is the hope that the saints have in God, that they will be raised from the dead or changed at the coming of Christ from heaven, they will reign with Christ upon the earth for the following thousand years, and will live forever with their immortal, incorruptible and glorious body in the New Jerusalem, which will descend upon the new earth. Let those who have this hope rejoice and glorify God, and let them purify themselves just as Jesus is pure; instead, let those who don’t have this hope repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ, that is, let them believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again the third day for our justification, that they also may have this glorious hope.

To Christ Jesus, the One who is and who was and who is to come, be the glory now and forever. Amen.

Giacinto Butindaro

[From: The New Way]

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