Why We Are Assured of the Return of Jesus the Christ
Look squarely at the squalid state of the world around you. Oppression and injustice are rife. Man mistreats fellow-man through betrayal, thievery and deceit. Misery grips millions—misery rooted in family dysfunction, addiction and sin. The grim specters of undernourishment, poverty and deprivation stalk vast populations. Slums of ignorance and squalor plague cities. Masses languish in fear within war zones, or under a dictator’s boot, or in wretched slavery.
The Bible reveals why. It clearly says that “the god of this world” is not God, but the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4). Right now, this unhappy world is ruled by Satan.
This is why Jesus Christ, during His earthly ministry, instructed His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).
Thy Kingdom come. That is a prayer for God to relieve this world’s suffering. It is a prayer anticipating and envisioning when God will depose the devil and establish His government over all nations.
It is a prayer for God to hasten the greatest event in human history: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
Christ wants His disciples to have a “thy kingdom come” focus—fervently looking for the day when oppression will cease, when justice will flow, when despair will be replaced by delight.
Scripture teems with promises of this event. Yet most people treat Christ’s return as a myth. If they believe it at all, they relegate it to the distant future.
The Apostle Peter prophesied of this very error: “[T]here shall come in the last daysscoffers, walking after their own lusts, 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” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
In these last days, these scoffers are everywhere: people, even religious people, who ridicule truth about Christ’s return. Even many who believe it have a casual spirit—weary of waiting, seduced by materialism and worldliness.
If you are among these, awaken! God has not changed His plans. Christ’s return is still on schedule—God’s schedule. This promise is sure. And our expectation and hope should be growing as that event draws nearer.
Old Testament Promises
Promises about Christ coming to Earth fill the Old Testament beginning to end, Genesis to Malachi. Various commentators count them differently, ranging from around 50 verses to more than 550.
Dozens of prophecies foretold details of Christ’s first coming, such as His being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) before passing a season in Egypt (Hosea 11:1), His humble riding on a lowly donkey despite His kingship (Zechariah 9:9), His garments being parted (Psalm 22:18), His hands and feet being pierced (verse 16) yet His bones remaining unbroken (Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20)—to name just a few. All these prophecies were fulfilled precisely (Matthew 1:22-23; 2:5-6, 14-15; 21:4-5; 27:35; John 20:25-27; 19:33-36).
We can be confident, then, that God will fulfill all the promises and prophecies of Christ’s Second Coming. God does not lie. When He speaks, He fulfills His word (Numbers 23:19).
Many of the Psalms, for example, prophesy of Christ, including some well-known details of His first coming (e.g. Psalm 22; 2:7; 16:10; 41:9; 69:4, 8-9, 21; 118:22). But they also contain many inspiring prophecies of His Second Coming.
Psalm 110 depicts God the Father’s excitement to send His Son to Earth again, and then Christ taking complete victory over the armies of this world. Psalm 2 is about this change in government—from kings of Earth today to a new King who will break those kings “with a rod of iron” and rule “the uttermost parts of the Earth”! Psalm 68 describes Christ as a triumphant conqueror and King. Psalm 72 provides a magnificent picture of how blessed the world will be under His worldwide rule.
Psalm 98 celebrates Jesus Christ’s return, even describing the silver trumpets and ram’s horn that will be blown at His coronation as King of kings (verse 6). For virtually all human history God has essentially hid himself from mankind—but in that day, He will openly show His righteousness. All nations will see God! (verses 1-2). He will judge all peoples and restore His government to all the Earth (verse 9).
When Christ came the first time, He did conquer Satan and qualified to replace him as ruler of the Earth (Matthew 4:1-11). But many prophecies of Christ’s victory over Satan and his evil forces are clearly yet future. When He comes again time, He will kick Satan off of his throne and assume His rightful position as King of kings and Lord of lords!
These descriptions of Christ’s awesome and powerful Second Coming fill the Old Testament prophets as well.
Isaiah 2 clearly describes a time that has not yet happened, when, “in the last days … all nations shall flow” into Jerusalem and asked to be taught God’s law—a time when “[t]he lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of man shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (verse 11).
Verse 12 describes what it calls the “day of the Lord,” a day of warfare in which God corrects the nations! References to the “day of the Lord” are found throughout the Old Testament, in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah and Malachi. This is a day when people will hide for fear of the great God “and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (verse 19).
One of the most spectacular prophecies of Christ’s Second Coming and rule is Isaiah 9:6-7: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” it says—a clear reference to His birth as a human being. But it continues: “and the government shall be [future tense] upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
God is zealous about this, and very excited! It will happen. He eagerly anticipates being able to give that throne to His Son!
Daniel 2 describes a dream God put in the mind of the great emperor Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It contained a prophecy of a sequence of world-ruling kingdoms—Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greco-Macedonian, Roman—a stunning prophecy that has unfolded precisely in history right down to present day, in which the “ten toes” of this great statue are forming in Europe even as you read this! And the prophecy shows that these very real, literal kingdoms will be destroyed and supplanted by another real, literal kingdom: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed …” (verse 45). Christ’s Kingdom is a real kingdom—and it is about to be established!
What scoffer can honestly assert that God is a myth when we have this More Sure Word of Prophecy?
Daniel 7 records a related vision in which Daniel saw four beasts representing the same four world-ruling kingdoms. Verses 9-14 are a spectacular prophecy of Christ’s coronation after putting down these other kingdoms: “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.”
How remarkable that God gave these visions, explained their meanings, had them recorded, and ensured that they be preserved for millennia for us to read them today. We can believe these prophecies!
This is just a tiny sampling of the Old Testament prophecies of the Second Coming. There are many, many others—and the Jews living at the time of Christ’s first coming knew it. They were expecting a Messiah to come as a conquering king.
“The Jews had understood about the Kingdom of God,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his autobiography. “They were familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah 9:6-7, of how the Messiah would come to set up the Kingdom and government of God over all the world. What the Jews did not understand was that Jesus’s first coming, as a babe born of the virgin Mary, was to qualify, by resisting and conquering Satan, to replace Satan on the throne of the Earth as well as to announce that Kingdom to appear some 1,900 years later. And to pay with His own life’s blood for the penalty of human sins.” That is why the Jews of His day felt so threatened: They thought Jesus would overthrow the Romans and jeopardize their petty positions of power.
Before Jesus was born, an angel prophesied to Mary, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS” (Luke 1:31). This was obviously fulfilled soon after. But the prophecy continued: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (verses 32-33). That has yet to happen!
Throughout His ministry, Christ Himself repeatedly made plain that a time would come when He would appear not as a mere man, but as a glorified, powerful spirit being—not to die as a sacrificial lamb, but to rule as a King!
“[T]he Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works,” He said (Matthew 16:27).
“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). He was describing regeneration for the whole world and a future government of which men will be resurrected to positions of kingship!
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).
Jesus promised the disciples He would return! He is more dependable than Douglas MacArthur in World War ii promising the Filipinos, “I will return.” God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
In His crucial Olivet prophecy, Christ put His Second Coming into a time frame: He gave specific signs that would occur just beforehand (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). Clearly Christ wants us thinking about and watching for His return.
This points to the value of study and taking heed of prophecy. They who say they don’t trust any prophecy are actually rejecting one-third of The Holy Scriptures!
In this prophecy, Christ described His actual return this way: “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. … And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth … see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:27, 30). This will not be a quiet, secret event. The Return of Jesus the Christ will happen with great drama! People the world over will see it and be shocked!
Christ says we are to be watching for this earthshaking event! He clearly said that only God the Father knows the precise day and hour it will occur (verse 36), but He also said that we should be able to recognize the signs that it is approaching, and should “know that it is near, even at the doors” (verse 33).
“Watch therefore,” He warned (verse 42). We must watch for the events Christ told us to watch. Watch for the fulfillment of these end-time prophecies that signal the end of this age! This will give us a sense of spiritual urgency and motivate us to prepare for Christ’s return!
Christ severely criticized those who lack such vigilance. “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (verses 48-51).
A servant who says his “Lord’s coming” is delayed lapses into worldliness. Christ warned this would happen, and sadly, that these servants will lose out on salvation!
Christ repeatedly confirmed the promise of His coming. He gave signs to watch for to keep us in a vigilant posture. He told us to beware a casual attitude. His whole ministry was devoted to announcing and proclaiming the future Kingdom He will establish!
Apostles Lived According to This Promise
The day Christ was taken into heaven, two angelic messengers confirmed His promise to the disciples: “And 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).
These men’s epistles are filled with sure faith in Christ’s return. This was what motivated them. They lived for that future!
Consider just a few statements from the Apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 he talked about “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, he wrote, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.”
In Philippians 3:20 he wrote, “Our [citizenship] is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” In Colossians 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 he gave this prophecy: “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.”
In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul characterized Christians as those who “love his appearing.” Titus 2:13 describes God’s people “[l]ooking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” For every believer, the “glorious appearing” of Christ is “that blessed hope.”
Peter, the chief apostle, likewise held this “blessed hope.” “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away,” he wrote (1 Peter 5:4). “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise,” he assures us. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:9-10). He said that we should be “[l]ooking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (verse 12).
The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be”—referring to the saints being made spirit: “but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
These men did not believe in “going to heaven” after you die, and seeing Christ there. They had faith in a time when Christ would appear again on Earth, in great glory. And John added that “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Hope in Christ’s return should motivate us to get ready.
Finally, the book “Revelation” —which came directly from God the Father (Revelation 1:1) and is the most important book of prophecy in the Bible—is abundantly clear about the certainty of Christ’s future return to and rule upon Earth.
Revelation 11:15 depicts the catastrophic events of the Day of the Lord culminating in this shout from “great voices in heaven”: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
All around us, we see the “kingdoms of this world” wracked with corruption, rapaciously plundering their peoples, dispensing injustice, battling within themselves and against other kingdoms of this world, making a wreck of the planet. But the time is coming when these crooked kingdoms are replaced by a just kingdom that will last forever!
How unlike His first coming will be Christ’s return: “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. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns …. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 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. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:11-16).
The book of Revelation concludes with an angel saying, “These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done” (Revelation 22:6).
“Behold, I come quickly,” Christ says (verses 7 and 12). He is eager to return. It has been nearly 2,000 years since He had this recorded, and prophecy has unfolded just as He said it would. Now, we are the generation that will witness His Final Return! Do you believe it? Are you ready for it?
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come …” (verse 17). Come, come! This is what we should be saying: Thy Kingdom come!
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come,Lord Jesus”! (verse 20). We await your return! We long for the wonderful day when “thy kingdom come.”
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