The Return Of Christ
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The single most anticipated event that has been looked forward to by Christians for 2000 years is what is spoken of in this passage in Revelation 22, THE RETURN OF CHRIST.
- No single event has caused more comfort or consternation than the return of Christ.
- No single event in the world ever has generated both greater expectation AND anxiety than the return of Christ.
- And no single doctrine in the Bible has both the clarity and the paradoxical confusion than the Bible’s teaching of THE RETERN OF CHRIST.
Everything from the denial of his literal return, allegorising it all as if it is limited to him “ruling in our hearts”, to setting dates has been attended to historically and is still happening today by disingenuous, sensationalist ministers.
However, what is most evident of all, is that the time of his coming is nearer than when we first believed.
The signs of the times we live in is so incredible to witness, that each and every one of us should be living in anticipation that our time to witness for Christ is short, the time to attend to that which is the very purpose of our lives, has an ever-closing window of opportunity.
We will address the topic in four parts this morning.
First, Jesus is coming for his Church: there are no signs required to be fulfilled before this incredible event occurs. Depending how many people in the world are actually born again, will determine how this event is manifest to the world when it occurs. If there be few that be saved, it would barely raise an eyebrow; if many are born again and alive when it occurs, there will be turmoil around the world and an excuse/explanation will be required to restore order.
Again, no sign is necessary for the immanent return of Jesus for his Church.
Second, Jesus is returning to execute his judgement on the kingdoms of this world. When the sinners are come to the full, and this evil world has its desired devil to rule over them, Jesus Christ will literally descend upon the mount of Olives and destroy the Devil with the brightness of his coming. It is a period know through History as The Apocalypse, The Great Unveiling. Satan will then be cast into the pit and bound for a thousand years, after which he is “loosed a little season” (Rev 20:3)
Third, Jesus is coming for his people. He was Crucified as ‘The King of the Jews’ before he had the chance to act as their king. Jesus will literally return for the remnant of Israel and set up his earthly government in Israel, in Jerusalem, on this earth for one thousand years. After which he will create a “New Heavens and a new Earth” and rule for ever. (We will talk more to this in the final topic on “Future Things”….so long as the Lord doesn’t come for his church beforehand.)
Finally, Jesus is coming to fulfil all the prophecies concerning him and all the promises to Israel.
No, the Church has NOT replaced Israel, all the promises specific to that nation remains for that nation, and THE RETURN OF CHRIST will fulfil all that remains.
Meanwhile you have some questions to ask yourself throughout this message today.
The first might be, “Am I ready?”.
Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? If you are not born again, YOU ARE NOT READY.
It won’t matter how well you have planned to deal with trials to come, you simply CANNOT prepare yourself well enough if you are not born again, saved, when he comes for his Church.
Your loved ones who are save, will simply disappear, quite literally, in the “twinkling of an eye” we are told in 1 Cor 15:52;
1 Corinthians 15:52
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
And the second question might be to those who are born again, “will he say to me, “Well done my good and faithful servant?””
Just like the first question, only you have a chance of answering that one.
Will you gain the eternal rewards and be pleased with the new name he gives you to identify your life since you have been saved? Or will you suffer loss, though you yourself shall be saved?
Are you storing up for yourself “wood, hay and stubble” to be tried in the fire spoken of in 1 Cor 3, or will your work have been built on a foundation of gold, silver and precious stones?
1 Corinthians 3:12–15
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
These are questions everyone is to answer for his / her self. But keep them in mind as I look to reveal his imminent return in the scripture this morning.
The Return of Christ, For His Church/Bride.
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
The Bible speaks of a unique event in the scriptures that is to take a people from what the text tells us here as “the hour of temptation”, We know this as “The rapture of the church” and I will speak to that more in a moment.
This “hour of temptation” we understand is what the balance of the Book of Revelation is going to deal with up to chapter 19, it is a temptation, or trial, or time of great trouble, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
There is an interesting set of phrases that is given here and that is that this “hour of temptation” is to “come upon all the world”, there are none excluded in the passage except those who are ‘kept from’ that timeframe.
The addressees of this letter are told that Christ will;
… keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
“Dwell on the earth”…..”Dwell on the earth”…as opposed to?
Naturally if the “hour of temptation” is to “come upon all the world”, and its purpose is “to try them that dwell upon the earth”, those Kept from that hour are distinct from those who “Dwell upon the earth”.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
The word “caught up” is where we get the latin word “Rapture”, and there have been several of them in Biblical history: Enoch was one, Elijah another, closer to our time is both Paul (Described in 2 Cor 2:12) and Phillip (seen in Acts 8:39 where “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Phillip).
In this passage in 1 Thessalonians we are told that Jesus is to return for his Church and both those who have died in Christ as well as those who remain alive, will be “caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”.
Beloved, this is what we are looking for, this is the Rapture of the Church when quite literally those who are Born Again, truly saved (not just think they are saved) will disappear, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”.
This is Christ Returning For His Church. This is what is referred to in the book of Titus as “That blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:13).
We place it FIRST in our consideration because, this is literally the very next event that is prophesied to occur, there are NO OTHER SIGNS that need to happen before this happens, it is, to those who are “caught up”, a signless event!
And its purpose is to be kept from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
“God hath not appointed us to wrath” (1 Thess 5:9)
To the world, depending on HOW MANY true Christians are in the world at the time, it may very well be a sign, IT CERTAINLY WILL FOR THOSE WHO KNOW THEY HAVE BEEN LEFT BEHIND!
Turn to Isaiah as we look at an Old Testament version of the Revelation 3 passage;
19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
Beloved, here we have a separation of a group of people like as we did in the Revelation passage.
“The inhabitants of the earth” as opposed to those who have entered “into thy chambers”
Rev 3:10, separation from them that dwell upon the earth, for those kept from the hour of temptation.
This again is THE RETURN OF CHRIST FOR HIS BRIDE, and it is an “any moment” event, it is imminent, the “trumpet shall sound…and we shall be changed”.
What was that I heard?
The Return of Christ For His Judgement
There are many passages that speak directly to this time, it is a time of judgement, it is a period of future history that will last for seven years, it is the very time that the actual Antichrist, “The man of Sin” will, in the middle of that seven year period, take over the government of the world.
This future event goes by many names in the Bible.
It is known as “The day of the Lord”, and “the day of vengeance of our God”, and “The time of Jacobs trouble” (Jer 30:7), it is “a day of darkness”, “The day of wrath”, “the evil day”, “the hour of temptation” “the indignation” as we saw in Isaiah 26. But it is also often simply referred to as “That day” and the context testifying that it alludes to it as being a time expected to be known to all the people.
Many are the descriptions concerning it, but most important of all is that the “hour of temptation” spoken of is unique, it has never been seen to happen before, and it is said never to occur again;
Daniel 12:1b says;
there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time
Jesus spoke to that time plainly saying;
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
In the very next verse the Lord says of the terrible state of that time saying;
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
In other words, unless God shortened that time frame in history, every man, woman and child on the earth would die, but, for the sake of a remnant, spoken of here as “the elect”, those days shall be shortened.
It is “the day of vengeance”.
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
The passage before us is not unfamiliar to you if you have read the words of Christ in the New Testament, for he quotes this passage in large measure and tells to those hearing; “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Lk 4:21).
But great care was taken by our Lord before he made this astounding claim in that day in the city of Nazareth, after he entered the synagogue on that sabbath day, and there was a reason “the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him” (Lk 4:20).
Perhaps we should turn there to see while you keep your finger here in Isaiah 61 for the sake of comparison.
Turn to Luke 4:17
Jesus had recently endured the Satanic temptations and came to Nazareth and entered the synagogue.
The custom was to read of a certain set portion of scripture every Sabbath day and to expound the passage read. On that day the passage happened to be Isaiah 61 and Jesus was to read it to its proper conclusion; Two verse only were read by the Lord, verses 1 & 2 of Isaiah 61 correspond with verses 18 & 19 of Luke 4.
We will read from verse 17 to 21 for context;
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Jesus ends verse 19 in Luke with a full stop, And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. Interestingly however, the corresponding passage in Isaiah 61 takes a pause with a comma before continuing, “…and the day of vengeance of our God”.
When Jesus told those hearing This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears, it did not include the latter half of that text.
To this day that ‘comma’ of Isaiah 61:2 has lasted the better part of 2,000 years, UNTIL he returns!
Interestingly, everywhere the Bible presents the coming of the Messiah it is immediately followed by this judgement in the Old Testament.
We see it in the book of Joel, and the apostle Peter quotes from Joel preaching that what was occurring in Acts chapter 2 is a fulfilment of that prophecy. (Compare Acts 2:14-21with Joel 2:28-32)
Peter was expecting the complete fulfilment of that ancient text immediately after Christ ascended, but the mystery of Gods complete plan was not seen in the Old Testament, that is, that the rejection of Christ by the Jews had made a way for the gentiles to be saved, UNTIL Christ returns to execute that judgment.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. Romans 11:25
That ultimate judgement is pending his return “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in”, and the prophetic outline of the Bible again takes its course, beginning virtually where it left off.
THE RETURN OF CHRIST IS FOR HIS JUDGMENT.
He came first as The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), but he will come again ONLY as “the Lion of the tribe of Juda”, only he “hath prevailed to open the book, and loose the seven seals” (Rev 5:5) which are the judgements of this evil world that we can read of in Revelation 6 to 19.
Those however who are born again when Christ comes for his Church, are kept from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world (Rev 3:10).
They will hide themselves as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. (Isa 26:20)
They will be “caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”. (1 Thess 4:17).
Will that be you?
Are you ready for when he comes?
Will you be saved from “the day of vengeance of our God”, or will you be the subject of his wrath?
The Return Of Christ For His People and Government.
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Jesus had just concluded one of the longest condemnations of the leaders of Israel in the New Testament and ends with those three verse we just read.
He follows these verses by answering the sincere question of his disciples concerning his return, take a look at the beginning of the next chapter.
1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
The disciples knew there would be a time appointed for the return of Christ, but this was not the original outline of the Old Testament, John testified to that in his gospel account;
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But now he says to the people;
ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Jesus will return for his people Israel, and the restoring of the people Israel is truly life from the dead according to Paul;
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
Turn in your Bibles to the first chapter of Acts.
Jesus has appeared to his disciples after he rose from the dead and before his ascension, Luke introduces the subject of Christ in this as a letter to Theophilus speaking of those things that had occurred after he rose from the dead and was seen for forty days, after which Luke writes;
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Beloved, there was then and there is now the expectation that the King of the jews will rule and reign on this earth.
In this very day that we live preparations are being made for the coming of Christ. The Jews expecting him for the first time.
The Temple institute in Israel has prepared the architectural drawings for the temple, the temple furniture is ready, the Manora (Golden candlestick) was made and celebrated some years ago.
The Line of the Aaronic priesthood through the line of Cohen has been identified, the Ark of the Covenant has been found in a location known as ‘Jeremiahs Grotto’ (Though I doubt God will permit its use in this third temple), and the sacred Red Heifer has been bred for the first time in two thousand years with several potential candidates near ready to become only the tenth Red heifer ever prepared for the purifying ashes since the time of Moses according to the rabbinic writings in the Mishna.
To quote directly from the Temple Institutes website;
In recounting this historical record in his commentary to the Mishna, the great Maimonides ends with the enigmatic statement: “… and the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen
They go on to write;
With this amazing statement, Maimonides recounts an ancient tradition – that the tenth red heifer is associated with the Messianic era. Does this perhaps mean that the appearance of a red heifer in these waning end times is an indication, a forerunner of the appearance of the Messiah himself, who will officiate at its preparation?
The Jews of Israel are expecting the coming of Messiah.
The Bible teaches that he will govern the world literally from Jerusalem.
THE RETURN OF CHRIST IS FOR HIS PEOPLE.
THE RETURN OF CHRIST TO FULFIL PROPHECY
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
This is how the Old Testament concludes.
These are the final verses before the coming of Christ and the beginning of the New Testament.
They reveal to us what we have already seen, that the Old Testament teaches of the coming of Christ and immediately followed by, “the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (v5), but also they reveal that without the coming of Christ, all the passages that pertain to the blessing of Israel are left unfulfilled.
The Old Testament ends with a curse and not with the promised blessing.
Allow me only one opportunity to show the promised blessing to the nation and discern if it is yet evident;
17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
None of this is yet fulfilled.
- The wolf does not lay down with the lamb,
- The people do not sustain themselves to the long life of a tree as they did before the flood,
- And man one hundred years old is not considered but a child,
- The land does not readily give of her fruit
- And all our labour and toil does not guarantee we shall enjoy the work of our hands.
BUT, THE RETURN OF CHRIST will FULFIL ALL PROPHECY.
So how close is it?
Are you watching?
The window of the imminent return of Christ is getting much smaller. He must come for his Church prior to the beginning of that “hour of temptation”, and the signs of that time are many and we see them really coming to pass.
How soon is the Lords coming for his Church?
One of the signs is identified by the many agnostics AND Christians who doubt that he will ever return.
2 Peter 3:3–4
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
When you hear this from people, tell them that they are themselves fulfilling prophecy and letting us know the day of his return is very near.
So how near?
- Near enough to stop fooling around and wasting our lives on that which has no eternal benefit.
- Near enough to stop entertaining the lusts of our flesh and begin to live holy lives before the LORD comes.
- Near enough to share the gospel when you don’t feel like it.
- Near enough to not care if people think you’re mad.
- Near enough to forgive the sins of your enemies
- Near enough to love your family, both Christian and not Christian, and to OVERLOOK A TRANSGRESSION.
- Near enough to suffer wrong done to you.
- Near enough to live your life SOLD OUT FOR CHRIST and to take a risk on faith!
- Near enough to stop being so stubborn and give your life to Christ.
- Near enough to “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom 12:1)
The Lord is coming soon, maybe today!