We’ve never been closer to the Second Coming
by Greg Laurie
Newspapers have a certain kind of headline category they reserve only for mega-events. It’s a reference to the size of the headline font or typestyle when something incredibly momentous happens. In the industry, they call it “second coming type.”
The so-called “second coming type” was used when Pearl Harbor was attacked, when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. It’s the kind of type that leaps off the page and says read me.
Why do they call this “second coming type”? I think it’s an implicit recognition that the greatest news event of human history will be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Most Christians around the world—and even many nonbelievers—believe that Christ will come back again to set things right. And with the way things have been going in our country, many of us find ourselves longing for that day. The Bible speaks of this event frequently. In fact, one verse out of every twenty-five in Scripture makes some mention of the Lord’s return.
Jesus Himself talked about it in what we call the Olivet Discourse:
“Immediately after the anguish of those days,
the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”— Matthew 24:29-30
Before that incomparable event takes place, however, I believe that the Lord Jesus will call out His Church to meet Him in the clouds, at an event that we call the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Here are a few points the Bible makes clear:
1: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be public, and seen by all.
The Rapture will be instantaneous, and only Christians will see Him in that glorious split-second moment when we meet Him in the air. But that’s not how it will be with the Second Coming.
There will be no question in the minds of those who witness this climactic event. No one will say, “Oh, it’s just a bad storm or some kind of atmospheric disturbance.”
Jesus said, “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes” (Luke 17:24).
The newspapers won’t need to employ their special headline style, and the TV networks won’t need to have their cameras pointed at the sky. Everyone will see this, and everyone will realize, “This is it.”
2: His return will be accompanied by sadness and weeping.
The nation of Israel will mourn as they realize that Jesus indeed was and is their Messiah:
“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.”—Zechariah 12:10
This event, the Second Coming of Jesus, will finally bring an end to the senseless violence and wars of mankind. Humanity will never be able to wipe out murders and school shootings or terrorism with military or political solutions. This will only happen when Christ returns and establishes His kingdom.
Remember, at this point, the Rapture will have already happened. In fact, it will have happened before the appearance of the Antichrist, and before the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period.
3: Jesus will come in power and glory.
People often wonder what Jesus looked like in His days on earth. Artists throughout time and across the world have sought to paint His likeness. (For my money, actor Jonathan Roumie in The Chosen series is the best on-screen portrayal of Jesus I have ever seen.)
In the Second Coming, however, everyone will know what He looks like. Scripture says that He will come astride a white horse with His eyes like a flame of fire. On His head will be many crowns, and He will have a name written that no one will know except Himself. Revelation 19 makes this clear:
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.—Revelation 19:11-14
Three things stand out in the description of Jesus as He returns in power and glory in Revelation 19:13.
“His eyes are like a flame of fire.”
When you meet someone for the first time, you look them in the eyes and say, “Hello. It’s nice to meet you.” I am always suspicious of people who won’t make eye contact—who look down or look away. It will be extremely difficult to make eye contact with Jesus at this point because there will be fire coming out of His eyes. This speaks of His power, His glory, His holiness, and His wrath at this point.
“On His head are many crowns.”
Why? Because He is Lord over all the universe.
“His robe will be dipped in blood.”
A better translation might be that His robe will be spattered with blood, reminding us of His death when He came the first time.
It’s interesting to contrast the first and second comings of Jesus. In His first coming, when He arrived in that little stable in Bethlehem, He was wrapped in swaddling cloths. In His Second Coming, He will be clothed royally, in a robe spattered in blood.
In His first coming He was surrounded by animals and shepherds. In His Second Coming, He will be accompanied by saints and mighty angels.
At His first coming the door of the inn was closed to Him. But in His Second Coming the door of the heavens is opened to Him.
The first time He came He was the Lamb of God, dying for the sin of the world. At His Second Coming, He is the ferocious Lion of the Tribe of Judah, bringing judgment.
4: When Jesus returns, He won’t be alone.
Revelation 19:14 speaks of “the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” who follow Him on white horses. Who are these armies? They are also mentioned in Jude 14, which says the Lord will be coming with ten thousands of His “holy ones.” Some translations say, “The Lord is coming with ten thousands of His saints.”
Who are these saints who will return with Jesus when He comes to the earth? Colossians 3:4 gives us the answer when it says, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
He will return with His saints—and that is what you are if have received Jesus as your Savior.
Some would say, “Me? Greg, I’m no saint.”
You might say such a thing, only because we have misunderstood and misused this biblical term through the years. In the Roman Catholic Church, the term saint has been attributed to someone who performs a miracle—or lived an especially holy life. These men and women have been officially canonized by the church.
That may be an ancient tradition, but it’s not what the Bible teaches.
Scripture tells us that if you are a believer, then you are a saint. It’s just another word for the believer. Because of Christ’s death on the cross, God has placed the very righteousness of Jesus Christ into my spiritual bank account, and now He regards me as a saint. Not because of what I have done or accomplished, or because I’m a member of a certain church, but because of what He accomplished for me in His love and grace.
And on the day that He returns to earth as King of Kings, I will return with Him. (Yes, on a horse!) And so will you, if you belong to Him.
Right on Schedule
It may seem to us at times that the Lord is delaying His coming, and we wonder why He hasn’t come sooner. But the fact is, the Lord is not late. He’s right on schedule. He is paying close attention to what is going on in the world today, and He has appointed a day and an hour when He will return.
No one knows that day or the hour. When someone comes along and tells you, “I’ve got it all figured out! I know the day when He will return,” don’t believe them.
The Lord is not late in His coming, but He is waiting for people to believe. The apostle Peter said, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9).
The key is this: Watch for His coming and stay ready. And while you’re at it, watch for open doors to tell others about His salvation, and how to find new life in Him. We have never been closer to the Lord’s return than we are at this very moment.