By Carlyle B. Haynes

Chapter 8— The Second Coming of Christ

GOD’S people are to be released from the prison house of death at the time of the second coming of Christ. It is this great event, the coming of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, which is the consummation of the hopes of the saints of the Lord in all ages. From the time of Adam to the present the servants of God have looked with longing eyes for the coming of Christ to make all things new, to destroy death, and to restore to the redeemed everything that has been lost by sin. From the very earliest times it has been the purpose of God to destroy sin when it has run its course, and He has revealed this purpose in numerous promises to His people.

The reign of sin is nearly finished. The message heralding the return of Jesus to this earth is even now going into all the earth, The present generation is destined to see the closing up of all things. This is made clear in the prophecy uttered by Christ on the Mount of Olives and recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew.

The prophecy of this chapter is given in reply to the question of the disciples, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3. Christ answered this question by predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and then by outlining the history of the world from that time to the end. He declared that after the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in A.D. 70, there would be a period of “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Verse 21.) This was fulfilled in the period of papal persecution, which, according to the prophecy of Daniel 7:25, was to continue for a time, times, and half a time, or 1260 years. This period began in 538 and closed in 1798, at the time when the pope was taken prisoner by Berthier and exiled into France.

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Verse 22. The persecution to come upon the church was to be so severe that unless there should be some shortening of it none of the people of God would survive it. The time of the persecution reached down to 1798. But before 1798 came, the effects of the Protestant Reformation began to be felt, and persecution had practically ceased by 1775. Here is a period of about twenty-three years, between 1775 and 1798, by which the persecution of Christians had been shortened.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.” Verse 29. This very definitely locates this sign, not after the days of persecution themselves, but after the persecution “of those days.” The days ended in 1798; the tribulation ended about 1775. Mark, in recording the same prophecy of the Master, puts this prediction in this language: “But in those days [before 17981, after that tribulation [after 17751, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.” Mark 13:24.

The Dark Day and the Falling of the Stars

Thus the occurrence of this sign, a remarkable darkening of the sun, a dark day, is limited to a period of about twenty-three years, between 1775 and 1798. And in that very period that prediction was remarkably fulfilled. It was on May 19, 1780, that this remarkable dark day occurred. About ten o’clock in the morning of that day darkness began to shut out the light of the sun. The chickens began to go to roost as if it were night, and the cows came in from the pastures. It was necessary to light the candles in the homes of the people in order to read common print. All felt that this was a sign of the approaching of the end of the world. It came at the very time predicted and was the fulfillment of Matthew 24:29.

“And the stars shall fall from heaven.” Verse 29. This sign was fulfilled in the awesome meteoric shower of the morning of November 13, 1833. On that day the most wonderful falling of stars that the world has ever seen took place, and fulfilled this verse.

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Verses 30, 31.

In this line of prophecy the very next thing to happen after the falling of the stars in 1833 is the actual appearance of Jesus in the clouds of heaven. “When ye shall see all these things, know that it [“he,” margin] is near, even at the doors.” Verse 33.

When we see these signs-the great tribulation, the dark day, and the falling of the stars-we may rest assured that Christ is very near at hand, just as near as a person is who is knocking at our door.

Then to make it still more definite, Christ said, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Verse 34.

This locates the coming of Christ in a certain generation. And that certain generation is definitely located as the one which “shall see all these things,” the tribulation, the dark day, and the falling of the stars—not see them literally, but see them as signs of the coming of Christ. The teaching of this verse is that when the people of the earth hear a great message of the coming of the Lord, which will set before them these signs as signs of His coming, the generation which hears that message will be the generation which will be living when the Lord comes. Just as it was the generation which heard the message of John and of Christ and His disciples, and which rejected that message, upon which the destruction of Jerusalem came as a punishment for that rejection, so in these last days it will be the generation which hears the message of the coming of Christ with all its allied truths, and rejects that message, upon which the destruction of the last days will come.

That message is now being preached in all the world.

This present generation is the one which is hearing the message of the coming of Christ. The present generation is the one which is destined to see the coming of Christ.

A Counterfeit Coming of Christ

Satan has attempted to pervert even the truth of the second coming of the Lord. He has led some to believe that Christ will not come literally, and to believe that the prophecies of the Bible concerning His coming are sufficiently fulfilled at the death of each person. Others he has deceived by leading them to believe that Christ’s second coming will be secret, that He will take one here and one there. Others he has led to believe that Christ has already come.

There is no doubt that before the second coming of Christ Satan will attempt to counterfeit His coming by a pretended coming in which he will himself assume the character and likeness of Christ. This seems to be clearly taught in the following verse: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 9.

We may expect, therefore, that the coming of Christ will be counterfeited before it happens. Satan will pre tend to be Christ. Undoubtedly he will take on the appearance of Christ, for we are told that he has power to transform himself into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14.) He will speak in the same gentle, compassionate tone that Jesus did when He was among men.

He will perform miracles, heal the sick, speak with tongues, and do the same wonders and the same work that would be expected of Christ. And many will be led away by the deception and give Satan their allegiance. This will undoubtedly be the last great deception of Satan before the coming of Christ.

And the way for this deception is being prepared by the teaching which is being disseminated today that Christ has really come to this earth, this coming having taken place in 1874, and that He will appear before long to all the earth. It is taught that although He came the second time in 1874, yet that coming was a secret one, known only to a few, but that in a very little while He will appear to the whole world, and set up a temporal kingdom, and reign one thousand years during the millennium, and at that time all who have not accepted Christ in this life will then have another trial and another opportunity to accept Him. This deceptive teaching, which is finding wide acceptance, is preparing the world for Satan’s last great attempt to defeat the work of God.

Manner of Christ’s Coming

I will come again and receive you unto MyselfIt is not at all necessary for the people of God to be deceived in this matter of the coming of Christ. The Bible clearly teaches the manner of His coming, and makes it plain that it has not yet taken place, and that when it does take place it will be a literal coming in the clouds of heaven in the. sight of the entire earth. That Christ’s coming will be literal is evident from the following passage: “While they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10, 11.

Yes, it will be “this same Jesus” who will come again, and He will come “in like manner” as He went into heaven. When He went away, “a cloud received him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9.) Therefore when He comes again, He will come with clouds. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” Revelation 1:7.

His coming will not be a secret coming. “Every eye shall see him.” “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:27.

Resurrection of Righteous and Wicked

And there will be no probation after the coming of Christ. Even a little while before He comes the probation of all is forever closed, and this decree goes forth: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11. And then, “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12.

The coming of Christ brings the reign of sin to an end, and delivers the people of God from the great tyrant who has held them in bondage through the ages.

At the coming of Christ all the people of God from the beginning of the world to this time are raised from the dead to be taken with Christ to those mansions which He has gone to prepare. “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: 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.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. “But the rest of the dead [the wicked] lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Revelation 20:5.

There are to be two resurrections, a resurrection of the righteous, which will take place at the second coming of Christ, and a resurrection of the wicked, which will take place one thousand years later, or at the end of the millennium. The millennium opens with a resurrection and closes with a resurrection. During the millennium the wicked are all dead.

At the second coming of Christ all of the righteous dead will be raised, all of the righteous living translated, and together the righteous of all ages will be taken by the Lord to those mansions He is now preparing, and there in the courts of heaven they will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4.)

At the same time that the righteous dead are raised and the righteous living are translated from the earth, the wicked who are alive will be destroyed, and the wicked who are dead remain dead until the second resurrection at the close of the thousand years.

“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

Thus the earth is entirely emptied of its inhabitants, all the wicked being dead on the earth and all the righteous having been taken to heaven with Christ.

Are You Safe?

You and I will stand in one of these classes at the coming of Christ. And the time of that coming is very near at hand. We may doubt it, dispute it, deny it now; but at that time we shall be compelled to meet it. Can you meet it with composure? Do you tremble when you think of it? Are you ready for that day? Are you in Christ? Are you safe? Have you obeyed God? Have you heard the great final message of the gospel? If so, have you obeyed it? It has been sent to you for the very purpose of preparing you for the day of God. Have you brought your life into harmony with it, and thus permitted the Lord to prepare your heart to meet Him in peace? If not, let me plead with you to seek the Lord while He may be found. Before the door of mercy is shut, and while probation still lingers, believe the message He has sent to you and give Him your heart.

It may be, however, that you are a Christian. If so, God speed you on your heavenly journey. Christ’s love for you is very great; and your zeal for His work and glory should be proportionate thereto. The Master is about to come with rewards. What reward will He bring you? Be diligent. Remember the work of God. Strive to save those about you from the wrath which is to come. Give them the message of His coming. Be zealous in giving the message, for in it is salvation. The time is too short for half-hearted work. God is calling for laborers now. Oh, give yourself to Him for the finishing of His work in the earth.

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 2:28; 4:17.

Read Chapter 9 —The Millennium and Hell

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