“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30 ESV)
The Apocalypse is simply the revealing of Jesus Christ. In common use, it often is used to describe the end of the world. The Second Coming of Jesus won’t be the end of the world, but it WILL mark the end of the current age of humanity.
An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω, literally meaning “an uncovering”) is a disclosure of knowledge or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities”. (wikipedia)
The Second Coming of Christ occurs in two phases. The first phase involves the rapture of the church. The second phase involves the Mount of Olives decent and the Return to Earth. When we are speaking of the Second Coming, most people are referring to this second phase and that is what we will discuss here. For further discussion on the first phase, the rapture, please see:
- The Parousia (Appearances) of Jesus Christ
- The Rapture VS Second Coming
- The Rapture of the Church – Our Blessed Hope
- Is the Rapture Imminent?
- The Day and the Hour Unknown? Can we Pinpoint the Rapture?
- Blood Moon VERSUS Dark Moon
- The Noisy, Not-So-Secret Rapture of the Church
Now let’s move on to discuss when Jesus returns to the earth. This marks the end of the tribulation period, the Day of the Lord, the 70th Week of Daniel, and the wrath of God.
MOUNT of OLIVES decent:
In the book of Zechariah, it tells us that in the future, Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives. When He does, this mount will be split in TWO from east to west. Note that this cannot be the same event that splits the city of Jerusalem in THREE parts (Bowl 7). This event just involves the Mount of Olives and involves two parts, not three.
There is an escape option offered at this point. Note that there is no description of an appearing or a revealing (parousia):
“On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.” Zechariah 14:3-5 ESV
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. Joel 2:32 ESV
Note that this escape is NOT related to the command for believers in Jerusalem to flee when they see the abomination of desolation (per Matthew 24). This event occurs far after that, near the very end of Daniel’s 70th week.
On the day when the elect remnant of Israel is called to flee, Jesus will touch down on the Mount of Olives. Whether this descent is physical (observable) or not is undetermined, as it is not described in Scripture elsewhere. This event is perhaps what Jesus alludes to when He declares “Behold, I am coming like a thief!” between the judgments of Bowl 6&7. The Mount of Olives splitting will be a literal event. The valley formed allows believers one last chance to flee before the destruction of Jerusalem (Mystery Babylon). This explains the command Jesus issues – “Come out of her, my people!” (Rev 18:4). The command to flee must be authentic, with a true possibility of obeying it and being physically saved. After this event at some point, Jesus will come with His holy ones, which is described by His next appearance.
I’m going to quote part of my article The Mount of Olives – Final Escape Route here:
Can we put this calling out and fleeing on a timeline? I believe that the 9th plague from the First Exodus may give us a hint:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. (Exodus 10:21-23 ESV)
Compare this with Bowl 5:
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:10-11 ESV)
Is it possible that the earthquake that divides Mount Olives to provide deliverance for the remnant of Israel will occur 3 days after the darkness of Bowl 5? This would parallel God’s deliverance of Israel after 3 days of darkness at the first exodus.
Wrath Poured Out on Those Left Behind
Of the people who do not go into exile, those that remain in the city, the Lord will then go out and fight against the nations that have amassed there. This is when He comes, with all His holy ones with Him. This will happen on a special day where “there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.” The light that is seen is the Sign of the Son of Man coming in power and great glory.
RETURN to EARTH:
Before we discuss Jesus’ return to earth, I want to point out that we saw in Revelation 16 (Bowl 6 Judgment) that the nations of the world will have gathered in and around Jerusalem specifically to fight Jesus. Three deceiving spirits will be sent forth from the “unholy trinity” of the dragon, beast, and false prophet to bring the nations together in rebellion against God. They are EXPECTING Jesus to show up, and they are preparing to do battle against Him. This is in stark contrast to the rapture and the beginning of God’s wrath, which will spring like a trap unexpectedly upon the world. Let’s examine the Second Coming passages:
Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.” Zechariah 14:6-7 ESV
“So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “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 in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:26-31 ESV)
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16 ESV)
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1:7 ESV)
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. (Zechariah 12:10-11 ESV)
The sun, moon, and stars will be darkened on a unique day. It seems that in the evening, Jesus will appear in power and great glory, flanked by the armies of heaven (His holy ones, including the previously resurrected/raptured/rewarded Bride of Christ). Those who have been deceived by the antichrist, particularly those of the house of Israel, will weep bitterly as the realization that they rejected their true Messiah drives into their heart like a knife.
While the peoples of the earth had been collected in rebellion to FIGHT Jesus, when He shows up they will MOURN instead. The fact that they have been deceived will now be painfully obvious.
Jesus will descend and defeat those gathered against Him at the Battle of Armageddon. He will remain on the earth and set up His Messianic Kingdom. This completes the “Second Coming” of Jesus. The Great Tribulation (both Daniel’s 70th week and the Day of the Lord) comes to an end with Jesus appearing in power and glory, mounted on a white horse in the clouds of heaven.
In the end-times sequence, Jesus will appear twice but only have one true “Second Coming”. It appears that the overall sequence that surrounds the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would be something like this:
- The antichrist, false prophet, and deceiving spirits collect armies assembled for battle against Jesus Christ. (Bowl 6)
- The Mount of Olives will be split in two, from East to West. A large valley will form. All who believe Jesus (the believing elect in Jerusalem) are to flee at this time – this is the command given right before the destruction of Mystery Babylon – “Come out of her, my people!”
- Mystery Babylon is destroyed by the antichrist, false prophet, and their entourage.
- A unique day of darkness arrives, with no cold or light.
- In the evening, there shall be light – the sign of the Son of Man. This is likely Jesus appearing on His white horse in the clouds of heaven, followed by his holy ones.
- Jesus destroys the armies gathered at Armageddon.
- The antichrist and false prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire (eternal).
- satan and the demons are cast into the Abyss (temporarily chained, 1000 years).
- Living humans are collected and judged in the Sheep and Goats Judgment.
- “Tribulation Saints” are resurrected to rule with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom.
- The Millennial Temple is established and dedicated.
- The Millennial Kingdom Begins.
Believers respond to the Mount of Olives splitting by fleeing. Jesus may or may not be visible at this point; it does not explicitly state in the text one way or another. Unbelievers won’t be aware of the significance of this event, and likely won’t see Jesus.
Believers are gathered by angels at the Second Coming. Unbelievers will be destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon and the Sheep and Goats Judgment. Every eye will see Jesus at His return to earth.
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!