When Christ Returns

Have you ever read through the book of Revelation, carefully examining each and every chapter along the way? There’s much to learn, as the major themes of Scripture are consummated here—especially the doctrine of “last things.”

Our Sunday school class is nearing the end of our time studying this great prophetic book. We’re eager to tackle these last few chapters, as they contain some enormous truths. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the second coming of Jesus Christ this Sunday (19:11-13).

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

At times, I have heard arguments against the rapture, stating that it is really a part of the second coming of Christ. I’m not there. And I don’t believe the rapture is enigmatic, as there’s plenty of biblical evidence to refute the claim that it is not a separate event protecting the church from the judgment to come. Dr. Walvoord in his commentary addresses this:1

51+kCOxCuJL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_This passage contains one of the most graphic pictures of the second coming of Christ to be found anywhere in Scripture. Even a casual study should make evident the remarkable contrast between this event and the rapture of the church.

At the rapture, Christ meets His own in the air, and there is no evidence of immediate judgment upon the earth. By contrast, Christ here is coming to earth with the specific purpose of bringing divine judgment and establishing His righteous rule.

Many Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments anticipate this scene. Zechariah 14:3-4 revealed the event in these words:

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

According to Zechariah, when Christ returns He will come to the Mount of Olives [pictured at the top of this article; present-day], the point from which He ascended into heaven in Acts 1. His return will be dramatic, with the mountain splitting in half in evidence of His power and authority.

The Mount of Olives today has two high points, and what seems to be a natural division between them will be transformed into a great valley stretching toward the east from Jerusalem and extending down to Jericho at the Jordan River. No such event will take place at the rapture of the church.

The second coming of Christ is also described in Matthew 24:27-31:

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

The Bible makes it clear that Christ’s second coming will be a glorious event that all the world will see, both believers and unbelievers. It is compared to lightning that shines from the east to the west, in other words, illuminating the whole heaven. The second coming will be preceded by phenomena in the heavens that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24 and that are vividly revealed in Revelation. The climax of these events will be the return of Christ Himself in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory and accompanied by the saints. The final revelation of this event is found in these verses.

Come, Lord Jesus!

1 Walvoord, John F. The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries: Revelation (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011). 287-289.