THE LORD’S “SECOND” COMING (cont.)
But there is more to this blockbuster epic than simply its supposed nearness. [Keep in mind that the items under this heading are the false claims of a false theology.]
This “imminent” return (and all it includes) will be invisible/secret.
A few verses are sufficient to break this one:
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ! ’ or ‘There he is! ’ do not believe it… For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:23,27).
“And…as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11).
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God…” (1 Thess. 4:16a).
The Bible neither knows nor speaks of multiple “comings” of the Lord near or at the end of time, but only one. Thus, it is almost universally known as the “second” coming. Furthermore, this “coming” is spoken of in the NT as being not only the next one, but the last one—His only coming, from our vantage point. And, in light of the above passages, we see that this coming—this “appearance“—will NOT be secret or silent, but that it will be audible and visible by all—perhaps even the deaf and the blind! Hence, Paul frequently referred to it not as the Lord’s “coming,” but the Lord’s “appearance” (cf. 1 Tim. 6:14; Tit. 2:13).
This “secret” return will be for one purpose, and one purpose only: to collect the faithful.
Like we see in all the blockbuster movies and television shows, and like we read in the New York Times bestsellers, a certain number of people on the earth will simply vanish! In fact, a few years ago a series was released, the opening scene of which included a woman talking on the phone in her car, and her baby is in the back seat crying. Despite her efforts, nothing she does soothes the baby. Then suddenly—like flipping a switch—the crying ceased. The mother, still on the phone, turns in wonder, only to find that her baby’s carseat was empty—the baby simply vanished instantly! Exciting, isn’t it? Yes it is—for a fantasy/sci-fi novel (I mean, I would read it).
The Bible neither knows nor speaks of multiple “comings” of the Lord near or at the end of time, but only one. …And, in light of the above passages, we see that this coming will NOT be secret or silent, but audible and visible by all…
But let’s return to what the Scriptures actually say. In 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Paul says very clearly that when the Lord returns, His arrival will be heralded by a “shout,” by the sound of “the trumpet of God,” and the “voice of the archangel” (15). The entire population of the world will know He has come. In other words, there will be no secret vanishings of any group of people, because there will be no secret coming of the Lord! Moreover, there will be a glorious, innumerable host accompanying the Lord, consisting both of “all” “His mighty angels” (Matt. 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7), and all the faithful dead from the beginning of time (1 Thess. 4:14b)! At that time, the bodies of those faithful dead will “come forth” (cf. Jn. 6:28,29); and the faithful who are still living will be “caught up together with them in the clouds” (17).
This is the Biblical account of the Lord’s coming to “catch up” His own. While it is possible that all of this will happen quickly—it will not happen secretly. The Bible knows of no “invisible” coming wherein the Lord will “come” and secretly “snatch away” His flock, who will simply vanish from the earth without a trace.
THE “BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON”
Sometime after the rapture, they say, Christ will actually appear for His glorious Day, and be the Victor of the infamous “Battle of Armageddon!” This epic battle supposedly is prophesied in different Bible passages—and all are incredibly distorted and manipulated. When President George H.W. Bush was in office, the conflict in the Middle East was boiling over, and Soviet Russia was a threat, potentially a world super-power. It was asserted around that time that Russia was the great super-power that would fulfill Old Testament prophecy concerning the “Battle of Armageddon,”—said prophecies were actually about Babylon, but it was asserted that such was figurative and that Russia was to be the “modern Babylon,” and that that very conflict in Israel and the Middle East was the unfolding of Bible prophecy. How exciting! Not only is it exciting on the whole, but it also means, of course, that Christ is almost here to descend down onto David’s throne and put an end to the conflict once and for all, and then to reign in Palestine for one thousand years! However, when the Soviet Union fell, it all withered away as typical nonsense. Now, however, many claim that modern-day Iraq is the great power of prophecy—the “modern Babylon.” Such will fail as dismally as did its predecessor.
[In the next and final installment, we will look at a few simple details that ruin this imaginary doctrine.]