The day of October 22, 1844 was rapidly approaching. Expectation had been rising within the hearts of many. There was anticipation; a longing that this day of October 22 would quickly come. Some had sold their possessions and their homes. Some farmers had neglected their fields. Some who bought and sold, neglected to restock their shelves. These were convinced that on October 22, 1844, Christ was coming again. Several men had so taught. The most well-known of them was a certain William Miller who had carefully studied Scripture, and particularly Daniel 8:14. On the basis of this study, he had informed many people that Scripture clearly foretold that Christ was coming again on this special day. When October 22 arrived, many gathered within churches; some met at schools or other meeting places; still others stayed within their own homes—waiting. The daylight hours quickly passed; the night arrived. People more and more eagerly awaited the certain return of our Lord Jesus Christ at any moment. Then, quickly, midnight approached. Finally the hour of twelve struck—and a new day began: October 23, 1844. But Christ had not returned.
This man, William Miller, one of the founders of, Seventh Day Adventism, and many others, have made the mistake of trying to ascertain on the basis of prophecy the specific day and hour of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. They have all failed, and must necessarily fail, in determining the exact day and hour. For Christ Himself said plainly in Matthew 24:36, “The day and the hour knoweth no man, no not even the angels which are in heaven.”
Nevertheless, the fact of Christ’s second return stirs in the hearts of the saints great interest; and it ought to. These are concerned. Christians study Scripture which speaks of His coming again. And they do this not to satisfy idle curiosity. They realize, rather, that this coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ is the apex, the high point, and culmination of all the plan and work of our God. And it is the time of our deliverance from sin, from death, and from this sin-cursed world. It will be a time when we are brought to everlasting glory and life. Of course, we are properly concerned with the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In studying this subject, one, is almost overwhelmed with the amount of material; with the divergent views which have been introduced; with the many questions that have been asked. I can not possibly treat all the questions in this one article. I would rather impress on each of us an awareness of the nearness of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes we forget that He is coming again soon. Often we become too involved in our daily affairs. We have our hearts too set on those things which are earthly. We overlook and ignore or forget that it will not be long before our Lord shall come again. Perhaps, and I regard it as very likely, He shall come again in the lifetime of many of us living today. What are you looking for? How are you looking for that return?
We sing it, and we say it: “Jesus Christ is coming again.” And I believe without any doubt that He is coming again when the last moment of this age draws to its close. That will be the moment that He will come on the clouds of glory with power and in great honor.
I can not enter into the various divergent views concerning the return of Christ. But I can remind you that there are the different views on the return of Christ called: pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, and a-millennialism. I would only emphasize the positive truth that Christ does not come to establish an earthly kingdom lasting a thousand years, but that Christ comes at the close of this age to usher in the new heavens and the new earth. And I would point you to a few passages of Scripture which plainly teach this truth. We often read Matthew 24. In this interesting chapter, you will notice in verse three that the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?” Did you notice? “What is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” In the minds of the disciples, these two events were linked together. Christ, Who instructs the disciples and answers their questions, did not tell them that they were wrong; He taught them along that same line: that all things transpire in this age until that moment when He comes again. Then this world shall be destroyed by fire and He shall establish the new heavens and the new earth. You have, for instance,Matthew 24:29-31, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light. And the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. 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 with great glory.” You notice, there will not be a first coming of Christ followed by a reign of Christ for a thousand years—but one coming, a coming that takes place after the tribulation. It takes place after the signs of which Christ speaks. It takes place after the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens is seen. Then He shall return. He shall send His angels with the sound of the trumpet. They shall gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Those two go together: the end of this age and the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One other passage which teaches the same truth is II Peter 3:10, 12, “But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat, and the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up.” And in verse 12, “Looking for and hastening unto the day of the coming of the Lord wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat.”
But we can say more about that coming of Christ. It is something so amazing; so utterly fantastic. Human language is not adequate to describe this wonder. When Christ our Lord comes again, this represents the climax of all of the eternal work of God. He had planned from all eternity to gather unto Himself a people in Jesus Christ. He would send His Son in the fulness of time. He would pour upon Him the vials of wrath for our sin. God would cause Jesus to be buried in the tomb and on the third day to rise again and to sit on the right hand of the Almighty. But all of these events would still mean nothing to us unless this climax is realized. If Christ did not come again, then all that happened in the past was for nought. But He is coming again.
The Word of God says in I Corinthians 15:24, “Then cometh the end when He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, when He shall put down all rule and all authority, and all power.” That event eclipses every other event that had happened in the past. Every other event in the history of this world serves that final glorious return.
What will you see when He comes again? What will you hear? The sights and sounds of that day are beyond our imagination. We read in Scripture that when Christ comes again, the trumpet shall sound. That certainly suggests that God announces throughout all of His creation that now His Son is coming again. The trumpet represents a very loud sound, a sound heard, therefore, over the length and breadth of the earth. It is a sound transcending any sound that man can produce or that man has ever heard before. It will be the sound which calls forth the dead from their graves. It will be the sound that is heard by every human being. It will be a sound which at the same time works in the hearts of the saints unspeakable comfort and assurance, but works in the hearts of the wicked immeasurable dread and fear.
And what sights we shall see! It will be light, gloriously light! We read that He shall come on the clouds in power and great glory. The light will be the manifestation of His glory.
One might try to describe what takes place by stating that all of God’s universe must be focused upon Him when He comes again on the clouds of heaven. It will be as though all of the light is centered in Him; all of the sound of the universe will be centered in Him; the glory of the heavens will be focused upon Him. All of this shall cause within the hearts of the saints amazing comfort and peace, but it shall work great fear and dread within the hearts of the wicked. None will have to ask in that day, “Where is He?” All will know.
When He comes again, He comes bodily and personally. He will not return only in a spiritual sense, as some suggest. It is not true that merely the Spirit of Christ shall then fill the earth. But He comes again bodily even as the disciples saw Him taken up bodily into heaven. The angels confirm this in Acts 1:11 when they tell His disciples, “As you have seen Him taken up into heaven, in like manner shall He come again.” And His coming shall be a visible one. One can not fully explain how this takes place. By the wonder and power of God, every eye shall see Him, and, so we read inRevelation 1:7, “also those that pierced Him.” Whether man dwells in Australia or Africa, in China or the United States, he shall see Him return. Those who thrust the sword into His side and nailed the nails into His hands—they shall see Him. For also the resurrection from the dead, both of the righteous and the wicked, shall take place shortly before He returns.
In the third place, when Christ returns, it will be with suddenness. We read in II Peter 3:10 of this; and again inRevelation 16:13, “Behold I come as a thief.” The wicked will not be expecting Him in that day. They convince themselves that the world lasts forever, or at least many years beyond their own lifetimes. But when they say, “Peace and quiet; ease and prosperity,” then He shall suddenly return, casting grief, sorrow, and terror into their hearts.
He shall also come triumphantly. The second coming will be quite a contrast to that first coming of His. Then He came in a lowly manger; a babe, the Son of God incarnate. No royal knees bowed down before Him. No royal clothing was wrapped about Him. No crown of gold was placed then upon His head. And though angels sang at His first coming, they sang only into the ears of lowly shepherds in the fields where they were watching their flocks by night. But the second coming will be entirely different. He comes as the Lord of heaven and earth, triumphantly and in great glory. Jesus said it in Luke 21:7, “Then shall they see the Son of man coming in the cloud with power and great glory.” And in His second coming, He shall accomplish the good pleasure of our God. He shall raise the dead. The righteous shall be raised unto life eternal, the wicked unto eternal damnation. So He taught in John 5:28, 29. He shall come to judge. All men shall stand before Him: the righteous and the wicked. Every deed, every word shall be exposed before the righteous eyes of Him Who will judge. We read in II Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or evil.”
In His coming again, He shall renew the heavens and the earth. II Peter 3 states, “Nevertheless, we according to His promise, look for new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” And Christ Himself will send the wicked to that place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, from which there is no escape; there they must bear the eternal wrath of God. And to His own He shall say, “Come, enter into the joy of thy Lord.” The saints shall dwell in the blessed presence of God forever.