Looking for The Blessed Hope - Part 2 - By John McTernan - http://www.defendproclaimthefaith.org
(The Coming of the Lord Jesus For His Church)
The Second Phase of Christ's Second Coming
Immediately after the Marriage Supper, the Lord Jesus prepares for war. He is going to leave heaven and return to Jerusalem and destroy the beast, the antichrist, along with their armies at the battle of Armageddon. The Lord's church follows Him and is referred to as the "armies of heaven". His army is dressed white linen.
Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (14) And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
The battle does not last long as the Lord destroys the antichrist and his armies that are gathered around Jerusalem .
Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
(19) And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
The Old Testament also concurs that the Lord Jesus is returning with His church to defend Israel . Revelation 19 and Zechariah 14 are both reporting on the same incident. John reports that the Lord is returning with His church called the armies of heaven while Zechariah sees the Lord returning with all His saints.
Zechariah describes the Lord Jesus standing in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives . At His presence, there is a tremendous earthquake, which shakes the entire world:
Zechariah" 14:1-4 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh... (2) For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle... (3) Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. (4) And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof...
As reported in Revelation 19, the Lord Jesus then destroys the forces of evil gathered around Jerusalem .
Zechariah 14:12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
Zechariah also sees the Lord returning with His church. He refers to the church as "all the saints." At this time, the Lord is not returning to Jerusalem for His church, but He is returning with His church. Both the Old and New Testament are clear about this.
Zechariah 14:5 ... and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
The Clouds of Heaven
The Bible also describes a massive number of believers returning with the Lord Jesus Christ. The usual phrase describing this throng is the "Clouds of Heaven." The New Testament uses the phrase "The Clouds of Heaven" several times, but it actually originated in the Old Testament.
The prophet Daniel first uses this phrase, and he identifies what exactly are the Clouds of Heaven. Daniel gives a rare glimpse of heaven in the Old Testament. The prophet actually sees events taking place before the very throne of God. He refers to the Holy God of Israel as the Ancient of Days. The prophet sees God on His throne, and the prophet uses fire to describe everything about God and surrounding His throne.
Daniel witnessed something else around the throne and that was a countless number of believers. The prophet recorded the number of believers as thousand times thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand. This huge number is beyond calculation.
The Clouds of Heaven then are the innumerable number of believers who are in heaven with the Lord Jesus and return with Him. These are the saints that Zechariah stated are coming with Jesus Christ. The following verses show God's throne and this huge number of believers. Remember, Revelation shows that it is the church before the throne:
Daniel 7:9 ...the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. (10) A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him...
The Clouds of Heaven then are this enormous number of believers who surround the throne of God. It appears the Bible uses the term "Clouds of Heaven" because this huge throng of believers from a distance appears as a massive cloud. From other Scriptures, the Bible reveals that the believers are dressed in pure white.
The Lord leads this massive white cloud, the Clouds of Heaven. They return with Him and are present when He establishes His kingdom on earth. The following verses from Daniel 7 show the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus, returning with the Clouds of Heaven to set up His kingdom on earth:
Daniel 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the Clouds of Heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him."
(14) And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Just prior to His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus was questioned by the high priest about being the Son of God, He answered by joining two Scriptures together which were Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1. He then related them to His Second Coming. The Lord stated He was returning with the Clouds of Heaven. The high priest fully understood Jesus was quoting the prophet Daniel and the meaning of this verse. He used this statement to condemn Jesus to death for blasphemy, because this phrase was related to the coming of Israel 's King Messiah.
Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the Clouds of Heaven.
Thus the "Clouds of Heaven" obviously becomes a very important term because the prophet Daniel used it regarding the coming of the Messiah, and the Lord Jesus quoted it to the high priest.
The Coming of Jesus Christ
With The Clouds of Heaven
With this foundation, let's now look at the New Testament and the coming of the Lord Jesus with the Clouds of Heaven. When Jesus' disciples asked what the sign of His coming was, He listed several events. These events include both awesome wars and natural disasters. Then, when all was fulfilled, the people of earth would see Him coming with power and great glory. And, when He returns to earth in great glory, the Clouds of Heaven are with Him. Jesus directly linked His Second Coming with the Clouds of Heaven.
All the gospel writers link the Second Coming with the Clouds of Heaven. The verses from the gospels follow:
Matthew 24:30 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.
Mark 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
The Apostle John also makes this link between the Second Coming and the Lord returning with the Clouds of Heaven. John, in the Book of Revelation, sees the Lord's return with the clouds, and all the people of the earth mourning.
Revelation 1:7 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. Even so, Amen.
When studying Matthew 24 and the Lord's return to Israel , the two advents come into focus. In this chapter, the Bible describes horrible events coming upon the earth with huge numbers of people dying. These are the people who will be placed under the altar when they die believing in the Lord Jesus. To those that make it through, without being martyred and still having never taken the mark of the beast, they will be saved at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
This message is not directed at the church, because the church is in heaven with the Lord Jesus, and it returns with Him as the Clouds of Heaven. To those that endure to the end, they shall see the "Clouds of Heaven" coming with Jesus Christ:
Matthew 24:30 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.
When the Lord Jesus returns, His feet are going to stand on the Mount of Olives . He then destroys the armies surrounding Jerusalem as the prophet Zechariah stated. Jesus' return in Revelation 19, and His feet standing on the Mount of Olives in Zechariah 14 tie directly together. The Old Testament clearly maps this out, and the events of Revelation directly tie in.
John sees more than just the Lord Jesus returning. He sees the Church returning with Him. He refers to the Church not as the Clouds of Heaven, but "the armies in heaven." This army returns with Him clothed in pure white linen. This "army in heaven" that John writes about are the Clouds of Heaven which Daniel saw in his vision. This is the Clouds of Heaven which the Lord Jesus told the high priest He was returning with. He is coming back with His bride, the Church.
The Clouds of Heaven is the glorious Church returning with the Savior. The Church was in heaven and then returned with the Lord Jesus to defend Jerusalem . What a sight to witness, the Son of God returning in His power and glory with the Clouds of Heaven.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
God is setting an awesome backdrop to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Either through natural events or manmade actions, the sky is totally darkened. It is so dark that even the sun's light is blocked. There is total darkness. With this background, suddenly there is an explosion of light as the glory of Jesus Christ lights the sky. Directly behind Him are the Clouds of Heaven dressed in pure white!
Imagine being on earth and seeing this happening. The entire sky filled from one end to the other with this massive white cloud, and at the head is the Lord Jesus in flaming fire, manifesting His glory! What Daniel actually witnessed was the Church returning with King Messiah, the Lord Jesus! The verses to show this follow:
Matthew 24:29, 30 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light... (30)...And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven...and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
The idea of the Lord's coming for the Church is so powerful that the Bible tells us to comfort one another with this hope in a time of sorrow when experiencing the loss of a loved one. The loss is only temporary as there will be a uniting when the Lord comes for the believers. This is the blessed hope, the coming of the Lord for the Church and being with Him forever:
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Looking for the coming of the Lord is the blessed hope. It is not just a hope, but it is a blessed hope. Following the Church's gathering with the Lord is the marriage supper of the Lamb. And, it is a blessing to be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
There is a double blessing for those who are waiting for the Lord's return. There is the blessed hope and then the blessing of anticipating the marriage supper of the Lamb. All believers should be living with the blessed hope, and the excitement of the marriage supper.
If these two hopes are not motivating a believer, there is something radically wrong with that person's faith. Living with the blessed hope is one of the true signs of a believer. Jesus is only returning for those that are looking for Him:
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the Second time without sin unto salvation.
The Second Coming is not just a doctrine, but it is to be a living reality in a believer's life. If this reality is not in a person's heart, it is a sign something is radically wrong. Sin and the love of the world kill the blessed hope. Wrong doctrine about the blessed hope also deadens the reality of the Lord's coming for the Church and the subsequent marriage supper of the Lamb.
The Coming of the Lord Draweth Nigh
"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3.
The reality of the blessed hope has an awesome effect on the believer. It is not just the doctrine of the blessed hope, but it is the living reality that affects lives. This reality causes tremendous spiritual growth.
In the letter to Titus, the Bible lists eight effects the blessed hope has on a believer's heart. When a person lives with the anticipation of the Second Coming, the results include: victory over ungodliness and worldly lusts; sober mindedness; righteousness; godly living; victory over iniquity; purifying; a purifying process; and a zealousness for good works. Maybe the weakness of many Christians is because they lack the blessed hope in their heart. The Bibles verses to show the effects of the blessed hope follow:
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
(13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
(14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
The blessed hope is spiritual life to a believer, and without it, worldliness sets in and chokes the word of God in a person's life. Notice in Titus 2:11-14 the blessed hope is in the very middle of this admonition to live godly. This verse was placed there to show how important the blessed hope is to our spiritual life. False doctrines that do not teach the reality of the blessed hope rob spiritual power from believers. These types of teachings create weak believers because of the false teaching about the Lord's Second Coming.
The Bible tells us what to do about waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus. We are to wait with patience for His return. Just as a farmer plants his crops and patiently waits until the crops mature, so we are to wait for the coming of the Lord.
The Bible also tells us to establish our hearts about His coming. When a person establishes the blessed hope in his heart, holiness naturally flows. The Bible leaves no doubt that we are to focus on the blessed hope and live every day as the Lord could return for His Church. We are to live with patience looking for His Second Coming. The Scriptures to show this follow:
James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. (8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
1 Thessalonians 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
The blessed hope is an anchor for our soul. This is the hope which God has set before us. He requires that we keep the blessed hope with full assurance until He returns or we pass away. This hope steadies us during the storms of life. We are to lay hold of this hope and let no one or anything take it away from us. The Bible verses to show this follow:
Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
(18) That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
(19) Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil"
The Bible places nothing in the way deterring the Lord's coming for His Church. There is no event which is required to take place before He descends from heaven with a shout for His bride. We are to be aware of world events in light of Bible prophecy, but our anticipation should be for the blessed hope. Focusing on world events rather than the blessed hope can hinder one's faith and often create fear. No matter what happens in the world, we are to stay focused on the Lord Jesus' Second Coming. This is the anchor for your soul in the time of trouble.
Not Appointed to Wrath
1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5 give a very nice picture of the phases of the Lord's Second Coming. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul deals with the first phase. He explains how the Lord is going to return with all who died in Christ, and then they which are alive at this time will be instantly resurrected. The entire church will meet in the air and will then be taken before God's throne in heaven:
1 Thess 4:16,17 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.
This is the Blessed Hope, the Lord Jesus returning for His church. The following verse explains that believers should comfort one another with the Blessed Hope:
1 Thess 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
After finishing the first phase with an encouragement, Paul then turns to chapter 5 for the second phase of the Lord's coming. He addresses the Day of the LORD. During the Day of the LORD, Jesus Christ is returning with His church to Jerusalem .
He ties together the expression "times and the seasons" which is the restoration of the kingdom to Israel with the Day of the LORD. This is most important as the context of the 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 is the Day of the LORD.
After the Lord Jesus returns, during the Day of the Lord, He will restore the kingdom to Israel with Him reigning as King:
Acts 1:6 ... 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.
1 Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
(2) For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
Paul warns that the Day of the LORD is going to come suddenly upon the world with great travail. The Day will overtake the world and none shall escape it:
(3) For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
He then states that believers were not in darkness but were children of the light. The Day would not overtake the believers, and they should not sleep but watch and be sober. Believers are called children of the day meaning they can see, while unbelievers are called of the night. The use of "day" in verses 4 through 6 is not to be confused with the Day of the LORD:
(4) But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (5) Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (6) Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Because believers are of the light, they are to walk in faith, love and hope. The hope is the "hope of salvation which is the coming of the Lord Jesus for His church:
(8) But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
Paul then states what is the "hope of salvation". It is obtaining salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ who will deliver the church from the wrath that is to be poured out during the Day of the LORD. The church is not appointed to this wrath.
Remember, the Day of the LORD is the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; therefore, the Bible clearly states that the church is not appointed to God's wrath which is poured out during that Day:
(9) For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Lord Jesus comes for His church before God's wrath is poured out on the world. The church is in heaven, before the throne, with the Lord Jesus and then experiences the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The church is not appointed to God's wrath.
Is it possible that God wants His church to watch for the coming Day of the LORD because just prior to it, the Lord Jesus returns for His church? I believe when chapter 4 and 5 are read together that this is the message.
This section of scriptures concludes with a reference back to chapter 4 and the coming of the Lord for the church. It states whether we wake or sleep we should live together with Him, and then adds that believers should comfort and edify one another. This is how chapter 4 ends!
(10) Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (11) Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Our focus now is to live with the Blessed Hope, the coming of the Lord Jesus for His church who delivered us from the wrath to come. We are to wait for Him:
1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.