By David West
Faith in the eventual second coming of Jesus is a fundamental tenant of Christianity. Around it, our lives are built. Wrapped up in it are all of our hopes and dreams. Interest in that momentous day is always high; but presently it is once again rising to fever pitch. As the year 2000 draws near, so does the air of expectancy among those who see prophetic significance in that date; even the curiosity of casual observers is whetted.
Bible students have always wanted to know what the Bible says about the end of the world (as well they should). Some freely confess ignorance on the subject; others are confident in their thorough knowledge (though their complex theories are riddled with errors which flatly contradict plain statements of Scripture). More than any other aspect of the scheme of redemption, eschatology (the study of “last things”) is presently the primary focus of denominational preaching and writing. Nearly everyone I approach about having a Bible study asks “Don’t you think we are living in the last days?”‘ or “What about the book of Rev-elation?” A suggestion that we study “What must I do to be saved?” or “How can I live godly in this present world?” evokes little enthusiasm. Studies on the nature of authority, the nature and work of the church, etc., are “boring” compared to man’s fanciful imaginations regarding the future.
As prominent as the Second Coming is in the New Testament, it is doubtful if any Bible teaching is as little understood or more perverted and abused. This is largely the result of man’s prophetic speculations concerning “what will happen and when it will happen” which flood the “Christian” media. We need to avoid two dangerous extremes: (1) “Eschatomania” (a preoccupation which makes this subject the only one of importance) and, (2) “Eschatophobia” (a fear resulting in complete avoidance of the subject). Balance requires that we neither avoid this subject nor make it our only concern. A search for the truth on these subjects is valuable for its own sake. More importantly, such knowledge is vital to understanding our true relationship with this world so that we might know how to make adequate preparation for that day.’
Much of modern religion seeks to make a materialistic world-view compatible with Christianity. Cults anchor their hope, not on heaven, but on an eternal habitation on this earth. The social gospel seeks to save mankind by means of social and political reform. When the Christian’s mission becomes focused on the here-and-now happiness of people as opposed to the eternal salvation of their souls (with an improved world perhaps coming as a by-product) it is based on a materialistic view of our King’s purpose. Such a mind set may make us vulnerable to millennarian movements such as dispensational premillennialism.
Two classes of people disturbed the early church regarding the Lord’s return: The skeptic (2 Pet. 3:1-18) and the speculator (2 Thess. 2:1-5).
Answering The Skeptic: Jesus Is Coming Again
During World War II, General Douglas MacArthur left the Philippine Islands with the solemn promise, “I shall return.” He kept his word and what a welcomed return it was. Jesus, likewise, left his disciples behind with a promise to return for them. He will.
Those who take the verbal inspiration of the Bible seriously have no doubt concerning the certainty of the second coming of Christ. It is not wishful thinking or man’s vain speculation. It is rooted in the promise of the God who cannot lie (Heb. 6:18; Tit. 1:2; 2 Tim. 2:13; 1 Sam. 15:29). Jesus said, “I will come again. . .” (John 14:1-3). “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when He comes shall find watching” (Luke 12:35-42; see also Matt. 25:31). It is a question of when, not if, he comes!
Some see a threefold outline to the Bible: Jesus is coming (Old Testament), Jesus is here (Gospels) and Jesus is coming again (Epistles).
Much of Jesus’ teaching in parables addressed this subject. For example: the tares (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43), the dragnet (Matt. 13:47-50), the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), the household watching (Mark 13:33-37), the servants watching (Luke 12:35-48), and the nobleman and the pounds (Luke 19:11-27).
Angels witnessed his coming to earth and also his return back to heaven (Luke 2; 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9-11). They sang songs of praise when he came and when he returned (Luke 2; Psa. 24; Rev. 5:9-13). They announced that he would come back in like manner as he left (Acts 1:11).
Jesus’ promise to return was also a basic theme of apostolic preaching (e.g. Acts 17:31; 1 Cor. 1:7; 15:23; Phil. 3:20, 21; Col. 3:4; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 John. 3:2, 3; James 5:7, 8; Jude 14, 18-21; 1 Pet. 1:7, 13; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4, 12; 3:10-12). If they can be trusted as inspired spokesmen, we have their assurance of this event. The Lord’s supper speaks not only to the death, but also the second coming of Christ. We are to remember his death until he comes again (1 Cor. 11:23-28). Paul promised those whose loved ones had died in faith that Jesus would return to raise them from the dead. They were to comfort one another with those words (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
Scoffers may deny that Jesus is coming again and that this earth will be burned up, but such persons “willfully forget” about the flood, and that God always keeps his word (2 Pet. 3:3-12). For over four thousand years men anticipated the promised first advent of the Messiah to deal with sin; now we have waited nearly two thousand years for his second coming when he will return to take his saints home. Does 2000 years seem like a long time to wait? It may seem so to us, but not to God.4 Thus far, it has not been half as long between promise and fulfillment as was the case between the promise of the first advent of the Savior and his birth.
What will the second coming be like? It will be personal (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 3:19-21; 1 Thess. 4:16,17; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:4), visible (Col. 3:4; Acts 1:11; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Pet. 3:10), sudden and unexpected5 but with warning,6 audible (John 5:28; 1 Thess. 5:2, 3), glorious (Matt. 16:27; 2 Thess. 1:10; Rom. 14:1-12; Acts 17:31), and heavenly.’
Answering The Speculator: The Time is Unknown
The fact of Christ’s return is certain; the time is not. There are no signs by which we can discern the time of the end prior to the end; not even Matthew 24.8 That chapter proves Jesus’ trustworthiness as a prophet. Everything he said was going to happen did happen in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. I confess that a superficial reading of Matthew 24 might lead one to conclude that Jesus is talking about the end of the world. But a simple comparison of this language with the “judgment” language of the Old Testament prophets should change your mind .
The apocalyptic language used by the prophets to predict the downfall and destruction of various nations is of the same type used by Jesus in Matthew 24. Though unfamiliar to us, it was easily understood by the Jew of Jesus day. We have been told so often that “God says what he means and means what he says” that we are tempted to insist that he confine himself to literal language and avoid the use of figures and symbolism. We are unprepared for metaphors which appeal not only to the mind but also to the emotions and imagination.
Other apocalyptic symbols are common in the judgment language of Hebrew prophets. How about the sun, moon, and stars? Does the fact that they are still up there prove that this was not a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem? If so, it also nullifies the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Babylon, Edom, and Egypt. If the Bible is al-lowed to be its own interpreter, and prophecies using the same metaphors are seen as talking about similar things, we should have no trouble seeing this prophesy fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D.10
To understand this passage, we must keep its purpose and context in mind. The real purpose was to inform Christ’s disciples of what they would need to know if they were to escape Jerusalem’s terrible tribulation and devastating destruction. When they saw these things, they would know the time is near and that they should flee to the mountains for safety (an exercise in futility if the second coming were under consideration). Why would it matter if the second coming were in the winter, or on the Sabbath, or while one was nursing a baby, or up on a rooftop? These would be obstacles to a hasty flight from a city facing an advancing army. That generation would not pass away until all these things be accomplished.” History demonstrates that it accomplished that very purpose. Josephus, a Jewish historian who was no friend to Christianity, reported in his fascinating account of the fall of Jerusalem that not one Christian lost his life.
To challenge man’s theories provokes anger and invites scorn. Thinking the purpose of Matthew 24 is to provide “signs” whereby we may know when the second coming is near is vital to millennial schemes. Throughout church history, self-appointed prophets and sects have arisen pro-claiming the return of Christ imminent and themselves God’s special agents to warn the world. Time has proven each a false prophet. But it doesn’t seem to discredit them or discourage their successors.
Date setters make merchandise of gullible people (2 Pet. 2:3). Most cults were built on time setting.12 In the past many “believers” have quit their jobs, given away all their possessions, and waited in vain for a date they have erroneously set by mistakenly thinking they have mastered some key to biblical interpretation heretofore not under-stood. When will false teachers quit engaging in baseless and vain speculation? Not so long as there are people on earth to be deceived!
Paul’s second letter reveals that the Thessalonians missed the point of the first one.13 Some apparently concluded that Christ’s return must surely be any day, and consequently went so far as to quit working to devote them-selves to waiting (see 2 Thess. 2:1, 2, 8 and 3:10-13). In the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians, Paul openly declared that at that moment the second coming was not imminent. First there must be a falling away and “the rev-elation of the lawless one, the son of perdition, the man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3, 4).
Why leave the date uncertain? (1) So that all believers in every generation can know the joy and hope that Christ will return in their lifetime, if not at any moment. Thus 2 Thessalonians 2 can be seen as a departure from the standard way the second coming is presented.14 Think of when you are expecting a visit from loved ones you have not seen in ages. There is joy and enthusiasm in the preparation; the excitement builds only to be exceeded by their actual arrival. And so it is with our Lord’s return. “Every one that has this hope in himself purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3). (2) To test our faithfulness (Luke 12:41-46). It is easy for people to tire of the wait, and fulfill such adages as “Out of sight, out of mind” and “When the cat’s away, the mice will play” with regard to their preparation for eternity. “Where-fore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, give diligence that you may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight” (2 Pet. 3:14). Should we look for him to definitely come in our generation? No! He might come today; He might come a thousand years from now. The fact that we do not know the date should not lull us into complacency.
The Purpose of His Coming Again
To destroy the world (2 Pet. 3:10). Some think that after the return of Christ, the world will last another thou-sand years as a renovated permanent dwelling for the righteous. Not so. The world is going out of business. This old heaven and earth will be dissolved, rolled together like a scroll and changed (Heb. 1:10-12; Isa. 34:4) There will be new heavens and a new earth.”
Premillennialism expects Jesus to reign in Jerusalem for 1000 years in fulfillment of Revelation 20.16 Revelation is a highly figurative book employing the same type of language used in Matthew 24. We must not make its symbolism mean something contradictory to plain statements of fact as revealed in the passages we have already listed.”
Premillennialism teaches that God still has a special purpose for the nation of Israel. The scheme calls for it to play two roles: (1) being regathered into Canaan in preparation for a material physical reign of Christ on earth, and (2) they will be given a second chance to accept Jesus as their Messiah, resulting in their national salvation. Premillennialism sees the 1948 establishment of the nation of Israel as the fulfillment of prophecy and as a necessary prerequisite to the second coming of Christ.
However, the Bible teaches that God has fulfilled all of his promises to the Jews.18 (I will deal with the second point the salvation of Israel later under the heading “Judgment of All.”)
To Resurrect all the dead (John 5:28-29; 6:39, 40, 44; 12:38; Acts 24:15; 1 Thess. 4:16). Premillennialism usually puts a thousand year reign between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked. The Bible puts them both at the same time.19 But, what about “the Rapture”? The way some preachers talk, one might expect to find it in almost every verse.20 Actually, their main proof text is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. But, here the wicked dead are not under discussion. Paul is dealing with those who died in hope. The contrast is between the righteous living and the righteous dead. The issue is, what about the Christians who die before Jesus returns? The righteous living will have no advantage over the righteous dead. The dead in Christ will be raised first, then both they and the living saints will be changed (1 Cor. 15:51, 52) and caught up in the air to meet the Lord and be there with him for-ever (i.e., never to set foot on earth again). These words were designed to comfort those who were grieving (1 Thess. 4:18).
What about the fact that Revelation 20:5 speaks of the “first resurrection”? This resurrection is obviously a figurative one (cf. Isa. 26:12-19; Ezek.. 37:1-14; Rom. 11:15). This was not a resurrection of bodies, but of “the souls of them that had been beheaded” (v. 4, cf. 6:9-11). “The rest of the dead” cannot be limited to the wicked dead. We have already seen that the Bible does not teach two bodily resurrections.
The Judgment of all (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:31-46; Acts 17:30, 31; Heb. 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Dan. 12:1, 2). The second coming will be the end of preparation for eternity. God’s patience will have run out (2 Pet. 3:9). The door will be shut. The prepared will go in; the unprepared will be shut out (Matt. 25:1-13). All will give an answer for their own life (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-12; Matt. 25:31). You will be there and Jesus Christ will be your judge (Rev. 20:10-15; 22:12). There will be no escape, no excuses, no blaming someone else. An eternal reward of heaven will be given the righteous and a formal sentence of eternal punishment will be given to the wicked (Mat. 25:31-46).
Premillennialism teaches that, at the second coming, the Jews will be given a second opportunity to accept Jesus as Messiah and that the nation, as a whole, will be saved. But, the Bible offers no hope of further opportunity for anyone to obey Jesus after he comes 2′ The hope of Israel is spiritual deliverance from sin in Christ. “And so (i.e., “in this way”) shall all Israel be saved” (Rom. 11:26, 27). Salvation is personal, not political. There is only one hope (Eph. 4:4-6). The true hope of the Jew is not a homeland in the Middle East, but a home in heaven.”
The Kingdom Given Back To The Father
(1 Cor. 15:23-28)
Premillennialism expects Jesus to be crowned as King when he returns. But, that is not what the Bible says. At the second coming, the reign of Christ will not begin, but end. He is reigning now and will continue to do so until the end of world. Then, when death has been destroyed and all the dead are raised, he will return the kingdom to the Father. He was resurrected from the dead to sit on David’s throne in the heavenly Jerusalem where he is now King of kings and Lord of lords! (Acts 2:29-36; 2 Sam. 7:12; Gal. 4:26; 1 Tim. 6:15).
In Luke 19:12-27, my Lord told the parable of a noble-man (Jesus) who went away into a far country (heaven) to receive his kingdom. Daniel, in a vision, saw this event from heaven’s perspective as the Son of Man came to heaven to receive an indestructible kingdom (Dan. 7:13, 14). His return to earth is not to set up a kingdom.23
The kingdom promised in the Old Testament was repeatedly said to be “at hand” in the lifetime of Jesus.24 Was it a false alarm? Jesus said that many who heard him speak would still be alive when the kingdom came (Mark 9:1). Surely all of those people are now dead! The kingdom was to come with power and power with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit came with power on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:1-4; Mark 16:20). After this point, the kingdom is spoken of as a present reality.” Jesus was prophesied to be our Priest and King at the same time (Zech. 6:12, 14; Psa. 110:1-4). He is now our High Priest.26 He must therefore also now be King. Christ cannot be priest on the earth (Heb. 8:4; 7:14). Therefore, he cannot be King on earth. Being the seed of Jeconiah, he cannot prosper reigning here on a literal throne on earth.27 Why would we want to remove him from his throne (heaven) and seat him on his foot-stool (earth)? (Acts 7:49; Isa. 66:1) If David’s house has not been repaired and does not now have a legitimate heir sitting on his throne, then the gospel ought not to be pro-claimed to the Gentiles (Acts 15:13-17).
Based on my study of the New Testament, I believe that the following summary accurately conveys the true sequence of events surrounding the second coming of Jesus. Jesus, with his angels and the spirits of the saints who have previously died, shall come in glory with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God. All the dead, both righteous and wicked, will be raised together. Those still living will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. The righteous will be caught up to meet the Lord. The heavens will pass away and the elements will dissolve with fervent heat. Jesus will sit on his throne of judgment. All nations will be gathered before him to be judged by his word. Jesus will pronounce the eternal destinies of all men (to heaven or hell) persuading each of the justice of his judgment. He will then deliver the kingdom back to his Father. The new heavens and new earth (fellowship with God in heaven) will begin.
Are You Ready For That Day To Come?
The “Day of the Lord” was always a day with dual con-sequences. For the righteous it was a day of joy and deliverance; for the wicked it was a day of terror and punishment. In view of this, what manner of persons ought we to be? What manner of person will we be? According to 2 Peter 3, we should be informed, holy, godly, expect-ant, diligent, peaceable, pure, blameless, cautious, steadfast, and growing.
“There’s a Great Day coming.” Are you ready?28 Our Lord does not want his coming to be dreaded. We should look forward with glorious expectation joyfully. Were you to sense somehow his coming would be in the next moment, would you be found looking for and earnestly desiring to see him? Or would the very thought send a surge of fear through your soul? Will you be among those who cry out to the rocks and the mountains to fall on them as though they could hide you from the sight of God and Christ? (Rev. 6:16) Or will you cry out with the apostle John, “Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:21)
Yes and no. We have been in the “last days” since the beginning of Christianity (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21; Heb.1:1, 2; 8:8; 1 Pet. 1:18-20, etc.). The last days are not the final years of Christianity, but Christianity is the final days.
In this study of last things, we will not be focusing on the end of an individual’s life (the nature of death and the intermediate condition of the dead). Rather, we will be concerned with last things as related to the human race as a whole and the world in which we live when Christ returns (the second coming, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, millennial views, and the eternal destinies of both of the righteous and the unrighteous). This day is called: day of God (2 Pet. 3:12); day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2); day of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:8); that day (2 Thess. 1:10); great day (Rev. 6:17); day of redemption (Eph. 4:30); day of wrath (Rom. 2:5); judgment day (2 Pet. 2:9).
This theory basically teaches that Jesus intended (as prophesied) to establish his kingdom on his first visit to earth. But, the Jews prevented this by rejecting him. The kingdom, thus postponed until his second coming, was replaced by a substitute the church. The church is thus seen as an afterthought, an alternate plan. Christ, according to this theory, now waits in heaven, but the “signs” indicated that he will return soon. This return will be quiet and invisible. The righteous dead will be raised, and they, along with the righteous living will be “raptured” into the clouds with the Lord. After a period of “tribulation” orchestrated by “the Anti-Christ,” Jesus will return to wage the “Battle of Armageddon.” Victory will enable him to have a peaceful reign of 1000 years on the earth. At the conclusion of this earthly millennial reign, the wicked dead will be raised, judged, and sent to their eternal destiny. Though immensely popular and confidently preached, I do not believe there is a word of truth to it.
He is not influenced by time. One day is as a thousand years; a thousand years as a day (2 Pet. 3:8; Psa. 90:4).
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Peter 3:4; Mark 13:35. Christ gave no signs of the end of the world. However, as with any judgment of the Lord (whether of individuals, nations, or at the end of the world, it will be sudden and unexpected. It will come as lightning (Matt. 24:27); like the days of Noah when life is going on as normally as ever (people eating, drinking, working, sleeping, marrying, etc.; Matt. 24:36-41; Luke 17:26-35). As days, as a thief, suddenly, in an hour that you think not. The admonition is, therefore, to “watch” (Matt. 24:36,42; 25:13).
Amos 3:7. God always sent a prophet to warn people of coming judgment. There will be no need to shout, “I didn’t know it was coming!” The warning has been clearly and repeatedly sounded throughout the New Testament. “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light” (1 Thess. 5:4, 5).
That is, in the air. He is not coming to stand again upon the earth, or to dwell or reign there (1 Thess. 4:16-18). Our citizen-ship is in heaven. We are but strangers and pilgrims on the earth. That is not going to change at his coming.
Matthew 24 cannot be intended as a handy summary of signs for those wanting immediate prior notice of the time of the second coming, unless we are to conclude that the exhortation to be looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the Lord was, until now, an illegitimate and unprofitable admonition. Are the warnings concerning the last days valid only in our generation? If all the supposed signs must take place before Christ can come again, it would have been impossible for him to have come back at any point in the past, nor could he come back even today since all the “signs” are not yet seen as fulfilled. And when the secret rapture takes place, won’t those who notice that the Christians are missing know that they now have seven years to repent? If the “signs” and sequence of events are so specific and must all be literally fulfilled in a specific sequence before Christ can return, how is it that prophetic speculators of past generations have been equally positive that these “signs were fulfilled in their lifetime?” If they were all mistaken, and according to this generation’s crop of speculators they were, what is to keep the speculators of future generations from concluding the same about them?
Compare prophesies of the fall of Babylon (Isa. 13:1-22, especially verses 9, 10), the fall of Edom (Isa. 34:1-4, 5, 9-10), and the fall of Egypt (Ezek. 32:7, 8; Jer. 15:9; Joel 2:10, 30, 31; 3:15). Micah 3:6 employs the same imagery.
Peter said that the events of Acts 2 fulfilled Joel 2. His audience understood the apocalyptic nature of the text and therefore that the vapor of smoke, the bloody moon, and the eclipse of the sun were not literal phenomena. We ought to be able to this same time of thing today.
Time is near (Matt. 24:33); flee (24:16-20); all fulfilled in that generation (24:34).
Among the better known are the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Worldwide Church of God (Armstrongism).
Every chapter of 1 Thessalonians closes by speaking of the second coming: 1:9-10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23.
Where one stays constantly ready for the Lord to return at any moment (cf. Lk.12:35-40).
2 Peter 3:7-13; Isaiah 65:17. In Isaiah 65-66, Israel experiences a new environment. The old heaven and earth was captivity. The new heaven and new earth was a return to Canaan.
This is the only place where 1000 years is mentioned. Premillennialism contradicts the context of Revelation. It teaches that the bulk of Revelation pertains to the events just before the end of the world, when all of that material is sandwiched between declarations (at both the beginning and end of the book) that it pertains to things that would shortly come to pass and were then at hand (1:1, 3; 12:12; 22:6, 10, 20).
The symbolic reign of beheaded saints in Revelation 20, reveals that the cause for which they died is not a dead cause, but a live one, as it is carried on by those in the flesh. Death was not a defeat, but a victory for them as they now rest in white garments (Rev. 6:9-11).
All of the land (i.e., Canaan Gen. 12:1-3, 6-7; 13:14-17; 15:7, 18; 17:8) promises given to Abraham have been fulfilled (Josh. 21:43-45; 23:14; Neh. 9:7-8). There is no “larger land promise” left to be fulfilled (2 Chron. 9:26; 1 Kings 4:21). The last three of the six cities of refuge were to be set up after Yahweh gave them all of the land promised (Deut.19:7-9; Num. 35:9-15). This was done (Josh. 20:7-9). Therefore, all of the land was given. Received by promise, retention of the land was conditioned on continual obedience (Lev. 26; Deut. 28-30, especially 28:15, 21, 63; 30:17-20; Josh. 23:13). Israel didn’t obey and thus received the curses of the Law (exile in Babylon). Restoration depended on returning to Yahweh with repentance and faith (Deut. 30:1-10; Isa.1:9; 10:20-25; Jer. 29:14; Dan. 9; Ezra 3:5, 10, 11; Neh.1:4-10). The Lord never promised to fully restore the land after the Jews went into captivity. He did promise to bring back a remnant (2 Chron. 30:6; 36:20-23; Jer. 29:10; Isa.10:20-22). The “second restoration” of Isaiah 1:11 is clearly the return from captivity (Isa. 1:1-15). A remnant did return under Zerubbabel and Joshua (2 Chron. 36:23; Ezra 1:5; Hag. 1:12, 14; 2:2-3). More returned under Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 1:9:13-15; Neh. 1:3-11). The promise of Zechariah 8:4, 5 is fulfilled in Ezra 7:1-10 and Nehemiah 11:1, 2. The nation would never be made whole again (Jer. 19:11). This “everlasting” covenant obviously has some limitations since Israel has not occupied this land the greater portion of the time since this promise was made and there will be a termination point for the very existence of this land (2 Pet. 3:10). Thus the return of modern Jews to Israel is not the fulfillment of any Bible prophecy, nor is their partial return characterized by humble penitent faith.
The Bible leaves no room for two resurrections separated by 1000 years. Rather, there will be one, of all, in the same hour (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15). This will happen on the last day John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24;12:48). Premillennialism makes this “hour” and “day” figurative for a thousand years, then it makes the figurative 1000 years of Revelation 20 literal.
According to premillennial theory, Christ shall soon (very soon) appear secretly to all believers and silently snatch (rapture) take them away into heaven. After seven years of “Great Tribulation” on earth, he is supposed to return with the redeemed to set up his kingdom on the earth for a 1000 years. Following that, the wicked are to be raised; and then comes the judgment. The Bible teaches that there will be nothing silent or secret about the second coming (1 Thess. 4:16). The “rapture” theory has two second comings, one for the saints and another seven years later with the saints. They make a distinction between his epiphania and his parousia. This is an arbitrary and unwarranted distinction between words without a difference. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 speaks of “the appearance (epiphania) of his coming (parousia)” obviously using them interchangeably to describe the same event.
Many teach doctrines of second chances after death. The Catholics have their doctrine of purgatory. The Mormons have their baptism for the dead. The millennialists give the Jews a second chance after the last day. Jesus is not coming back with the offer of salvation. He is Savior now, he will be Judge then (Heb. 9:27, 28).
All must seek the things above (heaven), not things of the earth (Israel, Col.3:1-3). The great commission is for all nations (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16). The Jew needs salvation in Christ the same as all who are in sin (Rom. 3:9). The gospel is for all and is the only thing that can save either Jew or Gentile (Rom. 1:16). There is no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile (Rom. 10:12, 13; Gal. 3:26-29). Jews will be saved exactly the same way as Gentiles (Acts 15:9,11). Paul’s message about the hope of Israel offended the Jews and resulted in his imprisonment (Acts 26:27; 28:16-20). He was not preaching a material national hope for Israel. Paul grieved over the Jewish rejection of Christ (Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1) because he knew Christ was their only hope. Everything God has for the Jew is found only in Christ (Eph.1:3) and must be accepted before he comes again. Now is the time of salvation for everyone (2 Cor. 6:2). Those who reject him judge themselves unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13:46, 47; John 8:24).
Luke 19:15 has explicitly stated that he has already received one. The parable is also explicit about the purpose of his return: to call to himself for an accounting those he had entrusted with his affairs.
24 John the Baptist, the Twelve, the Seventy, and Jesus himself all said this (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9, etc.).
Acts 2 is “the hub of the Bible.” The Scriptures preceding this chapter anticipate the events which happened on that day; the Scriptures following this chapter look back to what happened on that day. Paul told the Colossians they were in his kingdom (1:13). John and the seven churches of Asia were “in the kingdom” and “in tribulation” at the same time (Rev. 1:9). The Hebrews were part of that indestructible unshakable kingdom spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Heb. 12:28; Dan. 2:44). Jesus said that when he built the church, he would give the apostles the keys to the kingdom (Matt. 16:18, 19; 18:18). The church was no substitute plan. It was according to God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10, 11). The kingdom does not come with observation; it is within us (Luke 17:21). This kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36; 6:15). It would be set up in the midst of his enemies, despite their best efforts to prevent it from being established (Psa. 2). This is the way all the apostles interpreted Old Testament prophets. Jesus was not defeated the first time (John 17:3; 19:30; 1 Pet. 2:7; Luke 24:46), but that everything that happened to him was the fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 3:24-26; 13:25-29; 15:13-15; 26:6-7, 22-23; Rom. 16:25-27).
He is High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, who was also king and priest at the same time (Heb. 4:14-16; 5:10; etc.)
Jeconiah (Coniah) was the last king of Judah before the Babylonian captivity. None of his descendants would ever again prosper while reigning in Judah (i.e., in Jerusalem; Jer. 22:28-30). Jesus, as a direct descendant of Coniah (Matt.1:16, 17), cannot reign on the earth for 1000 years.
Until he comes again, hope should motivate us to: Watch, pray, be sober, and always be ready (Matt. 25:13; Mark 13:33-37; 1 Thess. 5:6), use our talents (Matt. 25:14-30), be charitable and benevolent toward the needy (Matt. 25:31-46), be steadfast (James 5:7; 1 Cor. 15:58), live holy lives (2 Pet. 3:11, 14; Tit. 2:11-13), comfort one another with God’s word (1 Thess. 4:18), purify self (1 John 3:2, 3), wait for it with patience (Phil. 3:20), love it (2 Tim. 4:8), exhort one another (Heb. 3:13), persuade men (2 Cor. 5:11) and hasten its coming by earnestly desiring his appearing (2 Pet. 3:12).
Guardian of Truth XL: 2 p. 19-24
January 18, 1996