THE SECOND COMING, A TIME OF PREPARATION
Copyright © 2017 Robert B Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (II Peter 4:10-13)
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
There are to be three comings of the Lord Jesus to the earth. The first two comings were and will be to the present earth. The third coming will be to the new earth.
The second coming is not to carry up to Heaven millions of immature believers. The second coming is to prepare the Church, and those of the nations who are saved, for life on the new earth. A righteous, holy people on a pure earth is God’s goal, and He is working toward it. This is to become our goal also.
When thinking about the comings of the Lord Jesus, several topics come to mind. This resulted in confusion. So I will attempt to place them in either the first or second comings, but they may belong to both. I have listed them below.
The flesh being made the Word. This is a universal experience that begins when we receive Christ and continues for eternity. Because this is the very nature and purpose of the Divine redemption, we must cooperate with the program of transformation by meditating in the Scriptures each day and night, praying at all times in every situation in which we find ourselves, and meeting on a regular basis with fervent disciples of the Lord.
I believe the Lord has given us the butterfly as an illustration of our change of state into a new creation. While in the cocoon, the caterpillar changes into a butterfly, leaving nothing behind, as far as I know. This means that our total person, inner and outer, is changed into a “butterfly.” Likewise it is true that our adamic personality is transformed into a life-giving spirit, and our physical body experiences the change into incorruptible life. We then are on our way to becoming the flesh made the Word.
As always, as I have mentioned in so many places, we must make a practice of holding our thoughts, words, and actions before the Lord Jesus that they may be the same as His thoughts, words, and actions.
The first resurrection. This takes place at the second coming of the Lord. It is for the firstfruits of the Church, those who have learned to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
We must come to understand that at the second coming of the Lord, only those who have prepared themselves will be drawn to where the saints who have returned with the Lord Jesus from Heaven, and are spirits, are receiving their new bodies.
We also, being joined to this army who live by the Life of our Lord, will receive the change in our physical body that we term the “resurrection.”
Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
It may be noted that at the Seventh Trumpet, the entire army of saints will be caught up in the clouds to where Christ and the army of angels are waiting to attack Antichrist and the False Prophet, and the army of the wicked. The forces of the wicked are waiting at Megiddo for Christ and His armies to come down from the clouds.
The participants in the first resurrection along with the rest of the newly resurrected saints are caught up to the staging area in the air, where Christ, the angel army, and the white war stallions are waiting, in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon.
Please notice that there is no “rapture” of the immature church people at this time. Such an event would cause confusion and not be part of the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth, which is the purpose of the second coming.
The First and Second Beasts—Antichrist and the False Prophet. I am inclined to believe that Antichrist
and the False Prophet will be active during the first coming. We know that Antichrist governs during the second half
of the prophetic week (Daniel
Antichrist appears to be a political figure. As I said, he governs the peoples of the earth during the second half of the prophetic week. I think we can see confusion in the world today. Perhaps the world of today is ready for a flatterer who will gain control of the nations, and stand in the Temple in Jerusalem claiming that he is God. It seems to me that some of the governmental leaders of today have confused themselves with God!
I think the False Prophet can be seen in America today as the people worship money. It is amazing that although the beauty and wonders of God surround us on every hand, the emphasis is on gaining enough money so we can retire and do nothing of significance for the rest of our days.
Some of the Christian ministers of our day are teaching that if we serve Christ, we will become rich in money. However the record of the saints of history does not bear this out.
Babylon. Babylon is the spirit of religion. When the living Word appeared two thousand years ago, He was murdered by religious leaders. This always will be true. There are many fine Christian institutions in our day, and those of other religions also. But none of them that I know of listen to Jesus that they may obey and exalt Him.
Some major institutions came from the original Pentecostal awakening that occurred toward the end of the nineteenth century and was carried over into the twentieth century. Speaking in tongues, as well as other gifts of the Spirit were added to many Christian assemblings.
However, the spirit of Babylon, of man-conducted religion, can be found today in some Pentecostal gatherings. How can we recognize this spirit? It impresses us with what we are to do to glorify God, instead of listening to the Lord Jesus and obeying Him.
“But we have the Bible that tells us what to do!” It is not the purpose of the Bible to tell us what to do. The purpose of the Bible is to keep us from the deceptions of demons.
For example, the Bible tells us to go to every nation and make disciples. It is not unusual for a pastor to tell his or her flock that we are supposed to go to every nation and make disciples. It is seldom that we hear a pastor or church leader tell the congregation to wait on the Lord each day to find out what they are supposed to do as an individual believer.
The congregation may be small or huge. Yet they are told they are to go to every nation and make disciples. There may not be one individual in the church that God wants to go out to a foreign nation and make disciples. Not one!
The defense is, “The Bible says to do it.” The truth is, the Bible tells us that the Lord Jesus gave this commission to eleven Apostles, not to every believer of the church in Philippi.
It is not the Spirit of God who is urging every believer to go forth to the nations and preach the Gospel. Why do we glorify this idea? It is because of our personal ambition.
The Bible informs us that obedience is better than sacrifice; to hearken than the fat of rams. In how many instances do we feel we should “go out and tell everyone we meet about Jesus?” Did we obey Christ? No. Did we hearken to the Spirit? No.
Rather we are moved by the spirit of Babylon, not by the Spirit of Christ. This is called “presumption” and is the spirit Jesus encountered when standing on the gable of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Pentecostal churches, once burning with the fire of the Spirit, are going the way of the Methodist and Baptist churches. They are trading the Spirit of Christ for the approval of people, I believe.
Babylon always will murder the apostles and prophets of Christ. I think it will be during the second coming of Christ that Babylon finally will be destroyed by the God of Heaven.
In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Revelation 18:24)
Presently we are in the first coming. It began with the Baby Jesus. It is continuing and will end with the return to life of the two witnesses. We could name the first coming “the planting of the Church,” of the elect, the Royal Priesthood.
The second coming commences with the descent from Heaven of the Lord Jesus, accompanied by the firstfruits of His elect who currently are residing in Heaven. It could be termed “a time of preparation.” It will be just that—a thousand years during which the nations of saved people on the earth, and the elect in the new Jerusalem in Heaven, will be brought to spiritual maturity and prepared for life on the new earth.
At the same time, the firstfruits among the Christians on the earth, along with the firstfruits who have returned with the Lord Jesus from Heaven, will receive their resurrection bodies and together will be called up to the staging area in the air, the former domain of Satan and the other lords of darkness.
When I employ the expression “the firstfruits” of the Church, of the elect, I mean those Christians, whether living in Heaven above or on the earth, who are living by the Life of the Lord Jesus. That is, they think, speak, and act along with the Lord just as Jesus thinks, speaks, and acts along with the Father.
A point of clarification: all true Christians are living in Heaven, in Mount Zion:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. (Hebrews 12:22)
Notice the tense: “have come.”
So when I say “whether living in Heaven above or on the earth” I am referring only to their bodies. Their life actually is in Heaven while their bodies, until Jesus returns, are on the earth. When I speak in this instance of the firstfruits living in Heaven, I mean the saints who have died and their spirits are in Heaven with Jesus.
To some of my readers, living by the Life of Jesus may seem impossible of attainment. However if we will begin by inviting Jesus into our thinking, our speaking, and our behavior, it will not be long before this kind of life will be second nature. However, it does mean forsaking our practice of relying on our intelligence and experience to make our decisions.
I expect some of the elect in Heaven are learning to live by the Life of Jesus just as we are while our bodies are on the earth. They are being made perfect along with us.
As I understand the program, the first coming will end when the firstfruits are called up to Christ. This will occur at the end of the second half of the prophetic week, after Antichrist has silenced the testimony.
Then they heard a loud voice from heaven (“ουρανον”) saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven (“ουρανον”) in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (Revelation 11:12)
We must keep in mind that the Greek term “ουρανον” may be translated “sky” as well as “heaven.” Perhaps “sky” is the better translation here since the enemies were looking at it.
There was a severe earthquake. The seventh trumpet sounded.
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
The twenty-four elders fell on their face before God. Then the statement is made (Revelation 11:18) that it is time for the judgment of the dead. But the final judgment and resurrection are not to occur until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. I refer to that Kingdom Age as “the Time of Preparation.”
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12)
I believe the explanation for this seeming discrepancy is that a thousand years is but a day in God’s sight. The judgment and resurrection are announced at the end of the first coming but do not occur until the end of the second coming. Or perhaps it refers to judgments that actually do take place when the first coming ends.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (II Peter 3:8)
Then the Ark of the Covenant was seen in God’s Temple. This bring us to the end of the first coming and the beginning of the second.
The next account, in Revelation chapter 12, speaks of the birth of the One in the firstfruits who will govern the nations during the time of preparation, that is, during the second coming. By my expression, “the One in the firstfruits,” I am referring of course to the Lord Jesus Christ plus those who live by His Life. It seems to me that at the present time the Christian people who really are serving the Lord are in a travail to bring forth Christ in the firstfruits.
Because of this travail in the present hour, I am not clear on whether the birth and ministry of the male Son (Christ in His firstfruits) occurs during the first coming or the second coming. I do not believe specificity is necessary here, as long as we understand that all of God’s work is moving toward the third coming, the new heaven and earth reign of Messiah Jesus and His Royal Priesthood.
There is one statement in Revelation chapter 12 that reveals the damage the current teaching of “grace” has caused.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
It is taught that because the statement is made that the dragon was enraged at those who “keep God’s commands,” it must be referring to Jews. Can you imagine such ignorance?
All true Christians keep God’s commands, not the commands of the Law of Moses but the commands given to those who are listening to the Lord Jesus day and night. Satan does not enjoy such Christians!
Because the offspring of the Church live by the Life of the Lord Jesus, Michael, the commander of the army of angels, is empowered to throw Satan and the evil angels down from their place in Heaven to the earth. This means serving the Lord Jesus will be difficult for those living on the earth.
However, help is in sight. It is time for the Lord Jesus Christ to descend with the double host, the army of saints and the army of angels, and destroy the evil Lords, including the False Prophet and Antichrist. Such is the second coming.
- The False Prophet and Antichrist will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
- Satan will be bound and thrown into the Bottomless Pit.
- The evil spirits that accompanied Antichrist and his army shall be slain, along with the wicked soldiers of Antichrist’s army.
- Then Christ and His two armies will cleanse the earth of the works of Antichrist and the people who rejoiced in them.
You can imagine the peace and quietness of the earth after these events. Now Christ will take His seat on the Throne in Jerusalem and call to Himself His victorious army of saints. They then shall divide the earth into governable units, and assign a saint and several angels to each unit.
There shall be two outstanding features from then on:
- First the rebellious governments shall be disciplined by the angels, under the direction of Christ and His saints.
- Second, the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth.
For an example of the change of the will of the rebellious nations:
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:3-4)
For the resulting peace upon the earth:
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
I believe it is time for us to look forward to the glorious coming of God and His kingdom to the earth. Don’t you?
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6,7)
(“The Second Coming, a Time of Preparation”, 4269-2, proofed 20210801)