The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is one of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. It is sometimes confused with the Rapture of the church. However, there are distinctions between the two.
The Rapture occurs before the Tribulation. The Second Coming takes place after the Tribulation and before the Millennium. The Rapture will be instantaneous and invisible to the naked eye. The Second Coming will be gradual and visible to all. At the Rapture, believers will meet the Lord in the air. At the Second Coming, believers come with the Lord to the earth. At the Rapture, Jesus Christ descends only as far as Earth’s atmosphere. At the Second Coming, Christ sets His feet on planet Earth.
Certain events will take place after the Tribulation but before the Messiah returns (Mt. 24:29–30). There will be great cosmic disturbances. The sign of Jesus Christ will appear in heaven. Individuals from every people group around the globe will mourn, including those from Israel, from the realization that Jesus truly is the Messiah (Zech. 12:10). Some will mourn with the sorrow that leads to repentance, while others will mourn out of regret (2 Cor. 7:10).
Finally, all people still alive after the Tribulation will clearly see the Messiah descend from heaven on the clouds. He will be riding a white horse, followed by the armies of heaven (Rev. 19:11, 14). Jesus’ return will be literal, physical, and visible; thus He will return in the same manner and to the exact place from which He was taken into heaven (Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11).
The Second Coming of Christ will accomplish numerous purposes of God. It will officially close the Church Age, or Age of Grace. It will fulfill prophecies concerning the great and terrible Day of the Lord (Joel 2:11; Mal. 4:5). It will be the occasion on which the Messiah rescues and fights for Israel (Zech. 14:2–3). It will be the occasion on which the Messiah, with His heavenly Kingdom, will smash the final manifestation of Gentile world power (Dan. 2:34, 44). It will also be the occasion on which Satan’s rule over the earth, both personally and by proxy through the Antichrist and False Prophet, will end (Rev. 19:20; 20:2).
Christ’s Second Coming will also prepare Israel to enter His Kingdom. The Jewish people will be gathered (fulfilling the prophetic aspect of the Feast of Trumpets), judged, cleansed (fulfilling the prophetic aspect of the Day of Atonement), regenerated, and established in their own land (Isa. 27:12–13; Ezek. 20:33–38; 36:25–28). The surviving Gentiles will also be prepared to enter the Kingdom. They, too, will be gathered and judged (Mt. 25:31–46). Whether they be Jewish or Gentile, only those born again will enter the Messiah’s Kingdom (Jn. 3:3, 5).