The Return of Jesus Christ
What is the Second Coming of Christ?
To understand Bible prophecy in God’s Word concerning the future, it is very helpful to consider the three major terminal points or events in the future.
The next event on God’s calendar of prophecy is the appearance of Christ in the clouds, without touching His feet to the earth, to take out all Christians who are alive, and to take up into Heaven with Him the resurrected bodies of Christians who have died and whose souls will be coming back with Jesus at that time to re-enter their resurrected bodies. Thus, living Christians, with miraculously changed and glorified bodies, without having to experience death, will be caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the air and go on to Heaven with Him.
At the same time, saved people who have died, their souls, coming back from Heaven, will enter their resurrected and glorified bodies, and will rise up to meet the Lord in the air and go on to Heaven with Him. Scriptures teaching these truths are I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:51-57.
One Thousand Year Reign
Seven years later Jesus will come back to set His feet on earth and to rule and to reign over the nations and peoples of the world for one thousand years. In the seven-year period of time between the appearing of Christ in the clouds to take out all Christians and the time when He shall return to earth to rule for one thousand years, the terrible judgments and events described in the book of Revelation will transpire. The antichrist will gain ascendancy and will lead into sin the vast majority of the people who were left behind when Christ appeared in the clouds to take out all the Christians.
There are many events in the Near East and in other places in the world which cause many of us to feel the stage is being set for the end time events which, of course, would include the rise of a worldwide ecumenical church, and the terrible divine judgment destruction. In the Revelation, however, the actual end time events, just mentioned, cannot and will not come to pass until the rapture of the saints. The time of this glorious event is not known. The trumpet may sound and Christ may call out His saints anytime. It may be today, it may be tomorrow, or it may be many years from now.
Although the Christians living today will not have to go through the Tribulation, it is wrong for us to assume we will have an easy life to live before the rapture. The Lord may yet call upon us to suffer for His sake in these days. Christians in Africa, in Russia, and in China are no doubt having great persecutions because of their faith. So we, too, must stand prepared to face whatever trials may come.
The trials and persecutions of heathen nations against Christians today and in years gone by are much less severe than those, which will come in the days of the Tribulation. God will pour out His wrath in such a way we cannot even begin to imagine it. But, praise God, He promises to shorten the time for the sake of the Christians during that time–for the elect’s sake.
During the one-thousand year reign of Christ’s rule on earth, Satan will be confined to the bottomless pit; Jesus will be here in Person in all His glory; Israel will finally fulfill one of God’s major purposes for her, in that she will become a nation of spirit-filled evangelists and missionaries taking the Gospel of Christ to those around the world; and there will be no wars during this time.
King Jesus will control the governments and the economies of the nations of the world. With such a wonderful environment in which to live during this one-thousand year period of time, people in the world then will have the greatest opportunity of any generation that has ever lived to accept Jesus as Savior and to serve Him. There will be no hope for anyone who rejects such wonderful light and such wonderful power from the Holy Spirit and from Jesus in person. Therefore Jesus says in Revelation 22:11:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Meaning of the Millennium
Since God is wise and omniscient, he does not accomplish acts without reason. God has several purposes to fulfill by ushering in a thousand years of peace in the world. This period of time gives God the opportunity to reward the saints of all time. The reign will come in answer to the prayer “Thy kingdom come.” God will redeem creation and rebuild the temple of David. He will finish what was previously begun. God will fulfill three important Old Testament covenants during the rule on earth (the Abrahamic, the Davidic, and the New Covenant). The millennium will also serve to complete the ministry of Christ.
The doctrine of rewards is one of the chief motivational doctrines in Scripture. Isaiah-taught concerning rewards, “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isa. 40:10). Jesus said, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).
The apostle Paul looked forward to his “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). The giving of promised rewards is one of the purposes of Christ’s reign on earth.
God will keep his promise to hear and answer prayer. When his disciples wanted to know how to pray, Jesus provided a model which has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). When Christians pray, “Thy kingdom come,” they are expressing a twofold desire. First, they seek the rule of God in their lives and in the world today.
That is why we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” A second desire expressed is for the actual, literal reign of Christ on the earth. God will answer both requests in the millennium. As we yield ourselves to him, he will lead and rule in our lives. When Jesus returns to establish his kingdom, he will have answered the second desire, for we will rule and reign with him.
God created a harmonious and perfect world which was described as “very good” (Gen. 1:31). With the entrance of sin into the world, that creation was placed under the bondage of sin. At the return of Christ to establish his kingdom, the natural world will be delivered from that bondage. Peter described this time as “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). The curse will be lifted. Thorns and thistles that make work torturous will disappear. The earth will yield its strength and man will enjoy the fruit and beauty of nature.
Rebuilding of the temple
One of the things done in the millennium will be the rebuilding of the temple. The Old Testament prophets wrote, “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:16). Several chapters in Ezekiel deal specifically with the rebuilding of the millennial temple and the conducting of memorial sacrifices (Ezek. 40-48).
The Lord is a covenant God and has on several occasions made covenants with Israel. Three important covenants will be fulfilled in the millennium. The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3) promised that Israel would be a great nation and possess the Promised Land. The Davidic Covenant (2 Chron. 13:5; 2 Sam. 7:12-16) promised the seed of David (Christ) would rule forever on the throne of David. The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) promised a spiritual rebirth for the nation Israel. These things will be accomplished in the thousand-year reign of Christ. If a person denies the existence of the millennium, he attempts to tie the hands of God behind his back so he cannot keep his promises.
Ministry of Christ
Peter described the full ministry of Christ in terms of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). Much of the earthly ministry of Christ would be included in the first part of that description, but his glory will be revealed in the millennium. The following chart contrasts these two aspects of Christ’s ministry.
The White Throne Judgement
At the end of Jesus’ one thousand year reign on earth, there will be the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20), and creation of new heavens and earth (Revelation 21).
II Peter chapter 3 tells us at this time the physical heavens and earth will be melted with fervent heat and a great noise. We are also told that God will make from this molten matter a new physical universe in which there are no sinners and no sign or taint of sins.
Thus, it is easy to see why, at the end of Jesus’ one thousand year rule on the earth, there will be a melting and a purging of the physical heavens and earth in order that a brand new place of perfection can be made for all of God’s redeemed children. This will be a wonderful place just as it was when God first made it and before Adam and Eve sinned.