New Earth, Eden Restored


51 Christ Comes Again

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013

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: 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 4:16, 17

It has been 6,000 years since Christ announced the everlasting covenant to Adam and Eve in Eden. For 6,000 years, all creation has waited for the time when sin shall be no more, and the true King-the eternal David-should occupy the throne of His kingdom. Christ has waited 6,000 years to populate the New Jerusalem with the teeming, joyful multitudes He has saved from earth. Now He comes to take them out of this world with Him (John 14:1-3).

The everlasting covenant is a success! Christ has won in every encounter. Satan has built his challenge to the government of God upon deceit, force, slavery, and death. Christ has presented freedom within the bounds of law, a society built on love, persuasion, creativity and joy. Satan’s power is at an end. Christ comes to complete His covenant of redemption and restoration. He has received those who have chosen Him, restored in them God’s image, and placed them in the earth made new. All heaven rejoices as the redeemed throw off the ravages of sin, and joyfully receive their Savior in the clouds.


Cataclysmic Events

It is an earth-shattering event when God intervenes in the history of mankind. It changes the course of human events for every single person on the planet, for the free and the bond, for the rich and the poor, for every nation and every race. While God uses human beings to effect these changes, it is His will that is behind it. The various covenant events over the centuries have built a scenario that will soon be complete. In this last section of this book, we have outlined cataclysmic final events that will come on this earth in rapid succession.

God has not left humans in the dark. In the words of the prophets, He has outlined the events of the close of history. God has warned and pled with humanity, working through present events to reveal that which is to come. While most people will sleep on as if nothing were happening, those who are wise will prepare for what is soon to happen.


Different Beliefs About Jesus’ Second Coming

Christians look forward to Jesus’ second coming. While earth’s inhabitants have become more involved in the cares of this life and the increasing problems of the day, many are showing increasing interest in Jesus’ second coming. However, there are radically different concepts about how Jesus will return to earth.

The most popular belief today is the “secret rapture” of the righteous to heaven before the tribulation takes place. This belief hinges on an interpretation of Matthew 24:40, 41 that flies in the face of the clear teachings of Matthew 24:27, 30, 31, and Revelation 1:7. A complicated theology of end-time events surrounds this belief.1

Coupled with the rapture is the belief that people go immediately to heaven when they die. This is a comforting view at a funeral, but knowing the truth of God’s plan is always best. If the saints go to heaven at death, then there is no real need for the resurrection or return of Christ.

Another group believes that the 144,000 are the only ones saved and that Christ came in 1914. Lacking objective evidence that this took place, they claim that He came spiritually to set up His kingdom on earth.2

Among the Evangelical churches, many discuss whether Jesus will come before or after the millennium, and just what the nature of the judgment will be. In the midst of this welter of ideas, confusion reigns. However, that is not necessary. The Bible is clear on a number of details regarding Jesus’ return. Not just Christians, but all people would do well to search God’s Word to know for themselves what to expect. Jesus warned four times in Matthew 24 to beware of being deceived.


What Does the Bible Say?

When Jesus comes again, it is in power and resplendent glory. It is a noisy event, for Paul describes the Lord descending with a shout and with the voice of the Archangel-the voice of the Son of God (1 Thess. 4:16; John 5:25), which awakens the dead. Also, angels blow trumpets (Matt. 24:31). A million voices sing (Isa. 26:19). The redeemed of earth come from those who are still living and those of all ages who died trusting in the One who will raise them to life. Jesus changes these in a moment to eternal youth and to a personality recreated in the image of God (1 Cor. 15:52). Jesus points us to five characteristics of His second coming:

1. “Every eye shall see Him” (Rev. 1:7). No one will need to be told or have to see it on television.
2. He will come in the clouds of heaven with myriads of angels (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26).
3. He will come with power and consummate glory, as the lightning (Matt. 24:30; Luke 21:27; Zech. 9:14; Matt. 24:27; Luke 17:24).
4. He will come audibly, with the voice of the Archangel and the sound of the trumpet (1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:52).
5. All saints who have died will rise from the grave, and those saints still living will rise to meet Him in the air. His feet will not touch the ground (Rev. 20:5b, 6; 1 Cor. 15:55; 1 Thess. 4:17).3

Jesus will not permit Satan to copy just how He will come again. God’s people, knowing this, will not be deceived. Will any angel want to miss this event? They will not! Every angel will be there! “There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (Rev. 8:1). Considering that this earth is round and that, even where it is without obstruction, the line of sight is limited to about 100 miles on a perfectly clear day, how then can every eye see Him come? God has not revealed this. However, God’s people, knowing that nothing is impossible with the Lord, believe that Jesus will have no difficulty finding those who wait for him.


Why Does Jesus Come Again?

Many people may not want Jesus to come back again because much of what they enjoy here will not exist in the new earth. Others can hardly wait for Christ to return, for He will fulfill all the promises of the everlasting covenant. Christ will take His people to the promised land-the earth made new- and there He will dwell among them for eternity!

1. Jesus will come again because he has promised to do so (John 14:1-3). The descriptions of the resurrection and the manner of His coming are also blessed promises of His return!
2. He will come again to complete the plan of salvation, resurrecting the sleeping saints, taking His people to be with Him, and then giving them eternal life on an earth restored to the perfection of Eden (John 5:25-29; Rev. 21:1-5). This will close the history of sin and will mark the transition to eternity.
3. He will bring His reward for the righteous (Rev. 22:12; 1 Thess. 4:15-17) and judge the nations (Rom. 6:23; Isa. 2:4; 1 Peter 4:5).4
4. He comes back by His own choice (Isa. 53:11; Eph. 5:25; Heb. 12:2; Dan. 4:35).


Memories of a Loving Friend

The disciples had been with Jesus three and a half years. They had followed Him, eaten with Him, spent days and nights with Him. They had seen His works of mercy, heard His messages of hope, heard Him pray, and seen His strength as He cast out demons and confronted those who opposed Him. They knew Him to be the Messiah and staked their futures on what He would do (Matt. 16:16; John 6:68).

As they ate the Passover with Him in the upper room, there was a foreboding in the atmosphere. They hung on every word, watched for every indication of what was to take place. Jesus spoke to them at length and prayed the prayer of consecration to the Father (John 17).

What they went through next was incomprehensible. They had gone to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, but He had surrendered willingly to the mob. He had sternly forbidden them to fight for Him; what more could they do but flee?

When they saw Him die, all their hopes came crashing to the ground. Yet, when they saw Jesus alive again after the Resurrection, hope revived! They still had much to learn, but they were His friends. He had loved them as no one had ever loved before.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:13-15)

He had died for them, and they were now willing to die for Him.

When Jesus had ascended to heaven, the disciples’ main question was: When will Jesus return? (Acts 1:7, 8, 11; Luke 21:7). That is the question every Christian still asks today. However, answering the question with a precise date would not help. Referring to date setting among Adventists, Ellen White wrote:

The more frequently a definite time is set for the second advent, and the more widely it is taught, the better it suits the purposes of Satan. After the time has passed, he excites ridicule and contempt of its advocates, and thus casts reproach upon the great Advent movement of 1843 and 1844. Those who persist in this error will at last fix upon a date too far in the future for the coming of Christ. Thus they will be led to rest in a false security, and many will be deceived until it is too late.5


Watch Ye Therefore

It is essential that God’s children always remain ready. Jesus said: “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44). A person is ready when the life belongs to Jesus and the person lives as in His presence every day.6 Martin Luther talked about expecting the day of the second coming with joy, and he concluded: “Whoever is not ready and does not desire the day, does not understand the Lord’s Prayer nor can he wholeheartedly pray it.”7

Exodus 19 tells the story of when God came down on the mountain with the loud blast of the trumpet to meet with His people. The demonstration of His power terrified the people. They were afraid and stood afar off. They missed an awe-inspiring opportunity to be with God.

Jesus will come again with power and glory, and with a trumpet sounding loud and long. On that day, God’s people will say: “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isa. 25:9).


Endnotes

1. Frank B. Holbrook, “Futurism’s Countdown: Fact or Fantasy?” available at
http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/Futurism%27s%20Countdown.htm, accessed 7/15/2012.

2. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, “When Will God’s Kingdom Come?” available at
http://www.watchtower.org/e/20080101/article_03.htm, accessed July 15, 2012.

3. How will Christ come again? (Dan. 12:2, 3; Matt. 24:27, 31; 26:64; 1 Cor. 15:51-55; 1 Thess. 4:15-17; Rev. 1:7).
The sound of a trumpet far up in the sky may not seem very impressive. Yet, in the Bible, the several times that people heard the voice of God, it sounded like thunder. At Sinai, the trumpet of God “waxed louder and louder.” I liken this to a sound I once heard while driving with the family alongside an airport fence. The sound was loud from the start, as it began resonating through the roof of the car. It got louder and louder. My first thought was that it was a missile headed right for us. I thought, If I drive faster, I will probably drive right under it! So, I stopped the car, got out, and looked for something to hide behind. Jet fighter maneuvers are common in Grand Junction, Colorado, where I live, so it then occurred to me that they were testing the jet engine of a jet fighter, which is about ten times louder than that of a jet airliner. I believe that is what the “trump of God” will sound like!

4. Jesus comes to judge the nations (Isa. 2:4; 30:28, NCV; Luke 17:26-30; John 16:8-11; Acts 17:31; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11; 20:10-15).

5. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911), p. 457.

6. There are crucial things that a person can do to keep his relationship with Christ alive:

a. Give God your time. We often say: “Give your life to God.” However, Christians must also give their hours and minutes to God. Why not give God your schedule and then consider interruptions by people as opportunities for witness and service?
b. Have daily worship and Bible study. Bible study is essential to gain knowledge and receive God’s message for each day. Family worship binds the family together.
c. Live all day as in the presence of God. Pray without ceasing. All day long, everyone carries on a constant conversation in his or her head. Why not let that conversation be a prayer to God?
d. Be active in service and witness. Find ways to help others.
e. Watch and pray. Be aware of events around you and their spiritual significance.

These are things that God’s children need to do as we look forward to Jesus’ return because only with His coming will salvation be complete, only then-in the fullest sense-will we be His people and will He be our God (Rev. 21:3; 22:20). Are you looking forward to Jesus’ return?

7. Martin Luther, “Christ’s Second Coming.” available at
http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/Bible%20Study/Christ%27s%20second%20coming.pdf, p. 2, accessed 7/15/2012.