The Return of the King: The Second Coming
THE RETURN OF THE KING: CHRIST’S SECOND COMING Spring Valley Mennonite; March 31, 2019; Revelation 19; Matthew 24:27–31; Isaiah 63:1–6: The Seven Seals have been broken, the Seven Trumpets have sounded, six of the Seven Bowls have been poured out, and Bowl seven—the last bowl--is in process. Praise in heaven has sounded as the Announcement is made that there will be “NO MORE DELAY”! It is time for King Jesus to return to earth to fulfill all prophesy and take His earthly throne. The return of Christ is a major theme throughout Scripture; it is the most dominant theme in the New Testament next to faith. One scholar points out that “One fifth of the Bible is prophesy; one third of those prophesies relate in some way to Christ’s Second Coming. There are at least 333 prophecies concerning Christ in the Old Testament. Only 109 were fulfilled in His first advent, leaving 224—twice as many—to be fulfilled at His Second Coming. There are 7,959 verses in the New Testament, of which 330 refer directly to the Second Coming. The Lord refers to His return 25 times. (And) Throughout the New Testament, there are more than 50 exhortations for people to be ready for Christ’s return. (David M. Levy quoting John MacArthur, Jr., The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, p.1). Many people confuse the Rapture of the Church with the Second Coming. These are two separate events. Consider the doctrine of the Immanency of Christ’s Return—that Jesus could return at any moment--this doctrine states that we in the present Church Age should be always ready. This is the Blessed Hope of the Church, as Titus 2:13 encourages, we are to be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. The Rapture must occur before the Tribulation Period, otherwise we will always have a seven-year warning before Christ will return. This would negate the doctrine of immanency. In the Rapture we will meet the Lord in the air (John 14:1-3), only believers will hear the beckoning trumpet or see the Lord; at the Second Coming we will return to earth with Him, and all the World will observe His coming. As the Seven Years draw to an end, the Capital City of Antichrist is suddenly destroyed. Now, there are three parts to the Antichrist’s kingdom: A Religious aspect (the One World Church), the Political Dictatorship, and the Commercial (the Central Economy controlling all buying and selling, limiting all legal commercial activity to those having the Mark of the Beast). The Religious aspect is described as a woman in Chapter 17, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”. The One World Church ceases to serve the program of Antichrist at the mid-point of the Tribulation Period and Antichrist consolidates all worship to himself as he declares himself to be God. But the political and economic systems continue to the end of the seven years when the capital city, either Rome (the city on seven hills) or the rebuilt city of Babylon itself is destroyed. (I tend to favor Rome as this capital city.) This destruction is described in 18:1-3 (Read). The timing of this destruction seems to be shortly before the final battles of Armageddon. The rest of chapter 18 gives both details of the destruction, and the evil present which justifies such destruction. The destruction of Babylon produces the rejoicing in heaven described in the first verses of Revelation 19. I. THE FOUR HALLELUJAHS! Read 19:1-6 While the reaction on earth to the destruction of Babylon causes mourning and shock on earth, just the opposite is seen in heaven! There is joy, as the great multitude of angels and saints join in shouting “Hallelujah! By the way, this chapter contains the only time in the New Testament where we find the term “Hallelujah”. This is first of four times heaven cries out in joy. The empire of the Antichrist has been fatally struck! The final blow will take place shortly at Armageddon. Babylon was burned up with fire, and as the smoke rose into the sky, sinners mourned. That it rises forever and ever tells us that this judgment is final, permanent and irreversible. It reminds us of the description of Sodom and Gomorrah. While the flames of Babylon will eventually go out, the judgment on the sinners is eternal and will go on forever. Hell is a place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 14:11 says “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.” The fullness of salvation has come! The forces of Evil will be defeated, justice has been served, and the righteous Kingdom of Christ will be established on earth. Sinners on earth will have been given the greatest opportunity of all time to repent and follow Christ—but have rejected it. The blood of the martyrs will be avenged. Isaiah foretold this righteous judgment by the Messiah: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. (Isa. 9:6–7) Jeremiah 23:5: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land’” And Paradise on earth will be restored. Read vv. 7-10. Verse 7 speaks a word to the church (that is us) as the time for the Marriage of the Lamb has come. This imagery of a wedding is often seen in scripture, and marriage is said in Ephesians 5 as an illustration of the relationship of Christ and the Church. This imagery has been described: “A marriage was the single greatest celebration and social event of the biblical world. Wedding preparations and celebrations in ancient times were even more elaborate and involved than those of today and (often) lasted longer. The (preparation and celebration) consisted of three distinct stages. First was the betrothal, or engagement. This was an arrangement by both sets of parents contracting the marriage of their children. It was legally binding and could only be broken by a divorce (cf. Matt. 1:18–19). 1 The second stage of a wedding was the presentation, a time of festivities just before the actual ceremony. Those festivities could last up to a week or more, depending on the economic and social status of the bride and groom. The third and most significant stage of a wedding was the actual ceremony, during which the vows were exchanged. At the end of the presentation festivities, the groom and his attendants would go to the bride’s house and take her and her bridesmaids to the ceremony. After the ceremony would come a final meal, followed by the consummation of the marriage.2 “In the imagery of an ancient wedding, the Rapture marks the time when the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, takes His bride to His Father’s house. During the Tribulation, the raptured church will be presented in heaven. But at the end of those seven years of joyous fellowship and wonderful celebration, the time will come for the wedding ceremony, the marriage of the Lamb. That final union of the Bridegroom and the bride is marked by a great supper.3 Verse 9 speaks of how blessed those are who are invited to this marriage supper. We have Christ as the groom, the Church as the bride—who are the invited guests? It can’t be the church, for a bride is not “invited” to her own wedding; the invited guests include the Old Testament Saints, resurrected at the Second Coming, and the Tribulation Saints, both martyred and those surviving the Tribulation persecution. Surviving Israel will also be in attendance. This marriage supper will occur during the Millennial Period which soon will follow. This brings us to: II. THE GLORIOUS RETURN OF CHRIST—THE SECOND COMING! Read vv. 11-16. John saw heaven opened and saw King Jesus, mounted on a white horse. What a contrast to Jesus’ first Advent, when He rode into Jerusalem in a lowly state on a young donkey! No throne was given, only a cross; His head was crowned by thorns, his scepter a reed. But here, mounted on the white charger, denoting victory, the Warrior-King of the world sits ready to “judge and wage war”. He is called “faithful and true” as He comes to fulfill all the promises made to His chosen people. He is just as faithful to His promises of wrath and judgment as He is to His promises of grace and salvation4 He comes to take the Throne of David! The angel told Mary over 2000 years before, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” His eyes flash with fire, the look of divine consuming wrath to be visited upon the wicked. He is crowned, not with thorns, but with multiple victor’s crowns. Jesus Himself spoke in Matthew 24:27–31: “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”5 The Lord is dressed in His war garments, stained with blood; this is not the blood of Calvary, but the blood of His enemies. Why are they stained before the coming battle? Perhaps it is anticipating that the victory is already won. Perhaps it represents that throughout history, the Lord has fought many battles for His people. The imagery is much like that found in Isaiah 63:1–6: Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? “I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come. I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me. I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” In contrast to the blood-stained garments of the Lord Jesus, the garments of those who come with Him are white and clean. The Lord fights the battle; we sit on our white horses and observe the vengeance of the Lord. His words are powerful, able to slay His enemies with a simple word. He comes to rule the nations in His earthly kingdom on earth. He has a name written “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!” So we come to the actual battle, where the forces of earth are gathered to wage war. III. ARMAGEDDON Read vv. 17-19. While often understood as a final decisive battle, Armageddon is more like a war campaign with a series of battles. Verse 19 tells that all the kings of the earth are assembled for battle, but in the writings of the prophets we are given details which broaden the scope of the battle. Daniel 11 speaks of two armies, one from the South and one from the North who will rebel against the Antichrist and come against him, meeting in Israel. (Read Daniel 11:40-45) These campaigns, before the final battles of Armageddon, serve to gather these forces to the final battle, for it is the Lord who draws them there. Joel 3:1-2: “For, behold, in those days and in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of my people and my inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations…” While the armies originally gather to oppose Antichrist, when Christ appears, they join in battle against the Lord, who is their common enemy. The sixth bowl judgment saw three demons go out of the mouths of Satan, Antichrist and the False Prophet summoning the kings of the whole world to this final battle and the reaping of the earth, ripe for judgment. Rev. 14:20: “And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of 200 miles.” 200 miles is the distance from the north of Israel to the South, indicating that the battles rage throughout the country. The depth of the blood most likely reflects the height which the blood splatters as the war horses gallop through the battlefields. Read vv. 19-21 The Antichrist and false Prophet are seized and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire. No more is ever heard from them. The armies are all killed with the sword coming from the Mouth—a word from Christ—and they are all eliminated. Victory! Jesus and His army of saints and angels are on earth. King Jesus is ready to take His rightful place on the Throne of David. All the kingdom promises of the Old and New Testament are ready to be fulfilled.