The “coming of the Lord,” occurs in a threefold manner:
The outline below shows the distinction between each coming:
His birth in Bethlehem.
First phase of the Second Coming
His arrival in the clouds of Heaven for the Rapture.
Second phase of the Second Coming
His coming to Israel to rescue His people and to end the rule of Antichrist.
The return of Christ, generally known as His Second Coming, will occur in a two-fold phase. This is not very obvious in the Old Testament because the prophets saw the coming of Jesus as one event. Only when we combine their visions do we get a detailed picture.
We will use Isaiah 61:1 -2 as our example, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”
This statement was made approximately 700 years before Jesus was born. During those seven centuries, nobody claimed to be the anointed one of the Lord because no one could fulfill the requirements of being able to “… bind up the broken hearted” or “proclaim liberty to the captives.” This prophecy could only be fulfilled by Jesus.
In the fourth chapter of Luke we read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”(verses 18-19).
Notice that Jesus closes this passage with, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then the next verse says, “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down….” Yet Isaiah continues in the same breath, “…To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God….” Thus, we see that the Old Testament prophets viewed the coming of the Messiah as one event. However, Jesus clearly revealed that this one event would be interrupted by grace, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Day Of Vengeance
The prophets proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and gave many details as to how He was to be recognized. Isaiah spoke of the Great Tribulation as “the day of vengeance, ” without mentioning the time of the Church.
The Spirit of God revealed to the writer that Jesus would come and fulfill those prophecies in detail. He would indeed preach salvation to Israel and the nations, but then Isaiah concludes with the words, “… the day of vengeance of our God…” That did not occur at the time of Jesus. Therefore, it stands to reason that a distinct time period would occur between the time of the “acceptable year of the Lord” and “the day of vengeance of our God.”
Today, we are still living in “…the acceptable year of the Lord….” Jesus deliberately stopped at that point. He closed the book and then said something remarkable, “… This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). This information should be sufficient in showing that Jesus’ coming almost 2,000 years ago is not His only one. He will come again!
We have previously read the words of the prophet Isaiah, but there is no harm done in reading them again, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).
These three verses make a powerful but simple statement: Israel saw the light. However, the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy did not take place, “… the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” This most certainly is in the future.
We know from history that the Jews were the most persecuted, despised, and rejected people and no evidence is found that His glory was visible upon them nationally. Israel rejected the Messiah. They cried, “…Away with him. ..crucify him!” They said, “We have no king but Caesar.” This short statement has profound significance. They are not empty words, but they are the result of the continuous rebellion against the Living God which can be seen in Israel’s determined desire to be integrated into the nations of the world even today. Let’s look at history.
Israel Requests Equality
In Samuel’s time, Israel had collectively requested that a king rule over them instead of God. They desired to be equal with the surrounding nations. We read in 1st Samuel 8:4-5, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” This intense decision did not reflect on Samuel and his disobedient sons, but on Israel’s democratic rejection of the leadership of God, who told Samuel, “. ..they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (verse 7).
After Samuel had listed the disadvantages of having a king rule over them we read, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (verses 19-20).
Before Samuel died, again he testified to the people and reminded them of their mistake, “…ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king” (1st Samuel 12:12). We must emphasize this event because it marks the first time Israel expressed her desire to be equal with the nations of the world.
This has so much to do with the Rapture because the Rapture finalizes the election of God’s spiritual people on earth and therefore relates to the election of God’s heavenly people, the Church.
We have already dealt with the subject of separation and integration and learned that the Church, consisting of born-again believers, must be separated from the world.
Through the separation of the children of Israel, God brought forth His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ironically, this separation was recognized by the heathen prophet Balaam. He answered Balak, “. ..lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9). Today, this remains a sore point for Israel and the world. Our modern society does not tolerate segregation, and insists that no one is special. Equality is the gospel of the end times and it is “politically correct” to treat all nations, races, and religions equally.
However, one nation is different: Israel. She, in fact, will not be counted equally with all nations of the world. At this point, that is exactly what modern Israel wants; she seeks equality and will obtain it. This will lead to the most successful integration the world has ever seen. But it’s only temporary.
Jesus Condemned By The World
When the first church was persecuted, a significant statement exposing Israel’s union with the nations was uttered in prayer , “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together’ ‘(Acts 4:27). The enemies of Christ are listed as: Herod, a half-Jew; Pontius Pilate, a Roman; the Gentiles; and Israel. In a united front they opposed the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming!
We can easily imagine that at the Second Coming of Christ, the nations will reject Him as prophesied. The Gentile nations, “… and the people of Israel were gathered together.” It is impossible for Israel to accept the Antichrist unless someone comes forward looking like the real Messiah of Israel.
Unbelief In Prophecy
So much was prophesied in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. Yet when the time came for Jesus’ birth in the prophesied town of Bethlehem in Judea, no preparations were being made in Jerusalem for the birth of the King. It is only mentioned that some Gentiles from the east came to Jerusalem to announce His birth. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1). They asked the right question to the right people in the right place, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (verse 2). The fact that Jerusalem was unprepared and Jesus came to the world unexpectedly is evident from the next verse, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Verse 3).
What was King Herod to do? From historic writings, we know that he was paranoid, extremely fearful and took excessive precaution for his security. Then he heard of these foreigners who were coming from far away to announce the birth of a new King of the Jews. Naturally, Herod found this intimidating because He was the King of the Jews. If another was born, Herod would no longer be king.
Prophecy Fulfilled, But Not Believed
The king called his advisers, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born” (Verse 4). Herod asked the right people, for they knew the Scripture, read the prophets, and studied the Word of God.
He received an immediate answer, “… they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of ]uda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Verses 5-6). This is as plain as day, the King born in Bethlehem was to rule Israel.
When we continue to read about this event, we notice something very strange. There is no report of the chief priests or scribes going to Bethelehem to witness the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This proves that these “Bible believers” grasped the prophetic Scripture intellectually but had no living faith to produce action.
Again, we highlight the fact that the tangible fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the miraculous announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ, and the signs in the heavenly constellation did not produce living faith, but rather, unbelief.
Believing Prophecy Is Required
I take this opportunity once again to emphasize that no matter how great your experience is with the Lord, how many of your prayers have been answered, how often you have been healed, how many prophetic utterances you proclaim in the church, or how frequently you have the gift of healing the sick, it is all insignificant compared with the simple faith that Jesus is who He says He is.
He poured out His blood on Calvary’s cross for our sins, was buried, arose the third day, and ascended to Heaven with the clear message that He will come again. This knowledge does not come from any experience we may have had or from seminary training, nor can we obtain it through any other educational process. This knowledge comes from the living Word of God, the Bible!
The Suffering Servant
The New Testament describes the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 in detail. To reinforce this fact, let’s read just a few verses of this beautiful Messianic chapter, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).
He did not protest, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”‘(verse 7).
He was crucified between two criminals and buried in the tomb of a rich man, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (verse 9).
Faith In The Word
It insults our Lord when we desire special confirmation or supernatural manifestation in order to validate the truths of the written Word. As believers, we can completely trust every detail in the Bible.
When we come across places in Scripture which we do not understand, or which may seem contradictory, we can be assured that God does not lie. Scripture supports Scripture and it is only because of our limited intellect that we fail to grasp the deeper truths presented in the Bible.
Jesus was despised and rejected at His first coming. Pouring out His blood, He died on Calvary’s cross and became “…the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
While Jesus was on earth, He promised that He would come again, “…I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3), “…I go away, and come again unto you… ” (John 14:28). Jesus desires to be with us; He purchased us with His own blood! Just think, if you make a purchase, don’t you want the product? How much more does our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that He gave His life so He might receive us unto Himself? Read His prayer in John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” The announcement of His return is indisputably clear in the Scriptures.
Rapture Is Not The Last Resurrection
The Church of Jesus Christ, consisting of those who have died in Him and those who are still alive at the moment of the Rapture, “…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” (1st Thessalonians 4:17). This can’t be made any clearer, and should not be misunderstood.
Yet some say that this verse speaks about the last resurrection when all people will stand before the white throne of judgment. The Bible does not teach that we will see Jesus at the Great White Throne. Revelation 20:11 says, “… I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” This is the ultimate judgment of all those who have rejected salvation in Jesus Christ.
Even the dead will be resurrected, as the next verse indicates, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God….” Again, there is no Lamb of God, no grace, no more salvation, only judgment. That will be the most horrible time for those who must stand before the throne of God. Undoubtedly, they will know they could have been saved, but will now realize that it is too late; there is no escape. Verse 13 categorically states, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” This judgment leads to condemnation. The result is described with the words, “And death and hell 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” (verses 14-15).
The resurrection that we read of in 1st Thessalonians 4 has no relation to the one mentioned in Revelation 20. The Church “…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” (verse 17).
(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)