The Second Coming of Christ (2)
T. W. Carron, Worthing
Of the many references to the second coming of the Lord in both the Old and New Testaments, by far the greater number relate to His public appearing. The word appearing, (Greek epiphania), which occurs several times in Paul’s epistles in the Authorised Version, means literally “shining forth”. It was used by the ancient Greeks to denote a glorious manifestation of their gods. For example, Titus 2. 13 might be rendered “The shining forth of the glory of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus”. In 2 Thessalonians 2. 8 we read of the coming of the lawless one, “Whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the spirit of His mouth and bring to nothing with the shining forth of His presence”, literal version. The word also occurs in 1 Timothy 6. 14 and 2 Timothy 4. 1, 8.
The Lord Himself spoke of this event in answer to the disciples question: “what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”, Matt. 24. 3, R.S.V. After describing conditions preceding His coming, He said: “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 heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”, Matt. 24. 29-30, R.S.V. (The Church will be taken prior to the great tribulation, and, as already stated, will come with Him.)
The Objects of the Appearing.
Judgment of the Wicked World. Since Genesis chapter 9 God has borne patiently with man’s rebellion and Satan’s usurpation, but He will not allow it to continue indefinitely.
When the Lord read the passage from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue at Nazareth, He stopped before the words: “the day of vengeance of our God”; see Luke 4. 18-19. He was inaugurating the day of grace, but He will bring in the day of vengeance. The day of grace has lasted nearly 2,000 years; the day of vengeance will be very brief. Among other Scriptures it is referred to in 2 Thessalonians 1. 7-10: “to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day”, R.V. (Note the church will be at rest, not suffering in the judgment; indeed she shares His glory, v. 10.)
The judgment of the living nations takes place at this time, described by the Lord in Matthew 25. 31-46. This is not the judgment of the great white throne when the dead are judged. There are many Old Testament Scriptures relating to this event, for example: “For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high . . . And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day”, Isa. 2. 12, 17, R.S.V. Among other Scriptures see: Jeremiah 30. 7; Joel 2. 1, 2, 31; 3. 14-15; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1. 14-18; Zechariah 14. 1-5 (note in verse 5 He is accompanied by all the holy ones); Malachi 4. 1-2.
The Vindication of Christ. The last that the world saw of Jesus was His bleeding form being removed from the cross. Justice demands His vindication. When the world sees Him again it will be coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, as King of kings and Lord of lords.
To Establish the Kingdom of God. Christ’s coming is necessary to fulfil the many promises that God’s kingdom should be established on earth, that where Satan has reigned Christ Himself should reign, that the long promised age of peace should be brought in, when the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, that God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to David should be fulfilled, and that Israel as a nation should enjoy the blessings that they lost through unbelief, but which will be restored to them in God’s sovereign mercy.
What a glorious day it will be for the Church when she shall appear with Christ at His coming; what a glorious day for Israel, repentant, restored, and re-instated as God’s people; what a glorious day for the saved nations when they will beat their swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks and war will be abolished; what a glorious day for the Lord Himself when He sees the full fruit of His sufferings; what a glorious day for God when He looks down on a world where His will is done on earth as in heaven.
This is what Paul was looking forward to when he wrote of rejoicing (or boasting) in the hope of the glory of God, Romans 5. 2.