Many events will occur in connection with Christ’s second coming to earth. This has caused some to wonder if there are a number of second comings. That such questions are asked should not surprise us. Before His first coming, rabbis, as later recorded in the Jewish Talmud, wondered if the Messiah might have two comings: one to suffer (Isaiah 53:3-9), and again to reign (Isaiah 9:6, 7). The purpose of this outline is to clarify the four major phases of Christ’s second coming.
The Bible clearly teaches certain great prophetic truths concerning the future; the doctrine of Christ’s second coming is one of these. Many facts of what will then occur are given to us; they should not be obscured because we do not know every detail, not should the truths that we do know be clouded or made questionable by speculative guesses that are without clear scriptural basis. Some subtract from the body of truth by forever doubting even what is plainly told us. Others enthusiastically add their own brand of “icing” to the top of the layers of truths. Let us rather stand firmly on the biblical statements of prophecy, and hesitantly advance our own between-the-lines commentary in order to have eschatological clarity and also some silence concerning details of the future that are not given to us. Also, let us note clearly that God’s Word concerning the Second Coming does not emphasize getting our prophetical chart one hundred percent straight, but rather to “Watch…you also be ready” (Matthew 24:42-44).
49-1 The Rapture of the Church
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
The word “rapture” (caught up physically and in ecstasy) has come into popular use today to refer to the Lord Jesus’ coming for His bride (the church), to lift her up into the heavens (v. 17). It comes from the word “rapio” in the Latin Bible’s translation of this verse. One raptured is “lifted up” in love.
The fact that the apostle refers to the believers who have died as those who “sleep in Jesus” (v. 14) is a powerful consolation to those who have buried Christian loved ones. They will be with Jesus when He returns a second time.
Note that here Christ comes for His church; at Armageddon Christ comes with His church (Revelation 19:14).
1) There will be a shout. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel” (v. 16). The archangel is believed to be Gabriel, God’s messenger. His shout will awaken the dead in Christ. The sea and the earth will give up the bodies that will be raised and glorified (John 5:25).
2) “The trumpet of God” will sound (v. 16). This should not be coupled with the blowing of the trumpets of Revelation 8, 9, or 11. Paul calls this the “last trumpet” in 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52, referring to the Roman army’s practice of leaving a camp by three trumpet calls. Figuratively speaking, the first signaled the “get ready;” the second, “load up;” and the “last trumpet” was “move out.”
3) “The dead in Christ will rise first” (v. 16).
a) When He comes, Jesus will bring the souls and spirits of the dead in Christ with Him, and they will enter into their new “incorruptible,” resurrected, glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:52-54).
b) We who will be alive at Christ’s coming, will not precede those who are asleep in Christ (v. 15).
c) “The rest of the dead” (the lost unbelievers) are not raised until the thousand-year (millennial) period is over (Revelation 20:5).
4) Then the living believers will be “caught up” – raptured (v. 17).
a) The believers who are alive at that time will be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”
b) Paul calls it a “mystery” (a secret revealed to believers) that there will be a generation of Christians yet alive when Christ comes for His bride. These fortunate ones will never die physically, but will be “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).
5) The transformed living believers will then join the “dead in Christ” who have been raised first (vv. 16, 17). If Christ could physically ascend into the clouds, as He did (Acts 1:9), then believer can also; and they will, by the power of the Creator, who can override His own physical laws at will.
6) Together His bride will “meet the Lord in the air” (v. 17). That they are caught up “in the clouds” (v. 17) may suggest that under cover of the earthly clouds, they will be transported as Jesus was at His ascension (Acts 1:9) to that other dimension – heaven, where God dwells in the “many mansions” of which Jesus spoke (John 14:2). Others believe these are clouds of angels or saints.
49-2 The Tribulation on the Earth
1) It will be a period of God’s wrath. Christ describes a time of great tribulation (pressure, agony, suffering) on the earth (vv. 21, 22), during which Christ will let loose three successive series of judgments: the seven seals (Revelation 6: 1-17; 8:1), the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:7-9:21; 11:15-19), and the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 15, 16). Since God will be pouring out His wrath on a wicked and rebellious earth (Revelation 6:17), it is fitting that the true church will not be here then, since “God did not appoint us to wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
2) It will last seven years. Christ refers us to Daniel 9:27 for the length of this period, which is set forth s seven years – one “week” of years (v. 15).
3) It will begin with the signing of a covenant. “He [the Antichrist, who will come out of the revived Roman Empire] shall confirm a covenant with many” (Daniel 9:27).
4) The Antichrist will set up the “abomination of desolation” in the middle of the seven years (v. 15; Daniel 9:27). This will be a dreadful, public sin perpetrated in Jerusalem at the rebuilt temple (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). This prophesied abomination could not have been Titus’ destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 because those actions do not fit either 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, nor the events described in Matthew 24:22, 29. Clearly it is a future event.
5) The abomination will start a fierce persecution. This final three-and-one-half-year period is the actual time of “great tribulation (v. 21), although the entire seven years are commonly so labeled. Verse 21 describes the ferocity of this period. The book of Revelation shows that it will be a satanic attack against Israel and all those from the nations who turn to Christ (Revelation 7:9-14; 12:13, 15; cf. Zechariah 12:2, 3; 14:2).
6) The Antichrist will reign during this last three-and-one-half-years (Revelation 13:5), leading his beast empire (the revived Roman Empire, in ten confederate states). During this period God and Satan will war with one another: God’s anger (Revelation 6:17) will be roused against Satan’s persecution of “the woman [Israel] who gave birth to the male Child [Christ]” (Revelation 12:11-13).
7) The Tribulation will close at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16, 17).
49-3 The Battle of Armageddon
Armageddon, we are told in this verse, represents the Hebrew name Har-Magedon (“Mount Megiddo”). It denotes the flat open valley in northern Israel (in Galilee) that sits quietly at the break of the north-south chain of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. The field is about twenty by forty miles, beside the great north seaport of Haifa, and was labeled by no less than Napoleon as one of the world’s great natural battlefields. Note the following about the place and the battle:
1) It is a real geographical site in northern Israel. We speak not of a mythical war ground, but of the flat open miles which have often been a battleground for Israel. Saul and Jonathan died there at Gilboa, on its south-central edge. There, in World War I, Allenby marched through to conquer Palestine. It presents the ideal rallying ground for large forces to mount a northwest to southeast valley attack against Jerusalem. It also touches Haifa’s port which could allow munitions and troopships by the hundreds to dock and unload.
2) God named this as the scene of the final battle of this age (v. 16). It is also called “the battle of the great day of God Almighty” where the kings of the earth are gathered together (v. 14).
3) The armies that gather at Armageddon will come at the call of Satan (vv. 13, 14).
4) The armies of the kings of the east will come (v. 12). “Two hundred million” will march to the battle (Revelation 9:16). It is a satanic crusade.
5) The aim will be to destroy Israel once and for all (Zechariah 12:2, 3).
6) God, however, will appear and rescue Israel (Revelation 14:14-20). Israel will at last look in faith at her long-awaited Messiah (Zechariah 12:10, 11). Christ’s own feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).
7) At this time Christ will come with His church (Revelation 19:14). The armies “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” are the redeemed saints.
8) Christ will subdue and destroy the forces of evil at His revelation – His coming with His church to reign:
a) The Antichrist (beast), and the False Prophet will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).
b) The armies following the Antichrist will be destroyed by the Lord Jesus and His heavenly army (Revelation 19:11-21; cf. Zechariah 14:3; Matthew 24:21, 22).
c) Satan will be taken out of the picture, sealed in the bottomless pit for a period of a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3).
49-4 The Establishment of the Millennial Kingdom
1) Verses 11-17 recount the Battle of Armageddon and the establishment of the millennial kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46). “Millennium” (Latin for “thousand years”) refers to the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1-7).
2) Satan will be bound (restrained) for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). Christ will come and cast the Beast (Antichrist) and the False Prophet “alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20).
3) Christ will judge the nations (Matthew 25:31-46).
a) This judgment for entrance into the millennial kingdom on earth should not be confused with the judgment seat of Christ meant for rewarding believers (2 Corinthians 5:10), nor with the Great White Throne judgment, the final judgment of all the lost (Revelation 20:11-15).
b) This judgment occurs “immediately after the tribulation” (Matthew 24:29-31).
c) This judgment will separate “sheep” and “goat” individuals (Matthew 25:31, 32).
d) The basis for the judgment is faith, the kind of saving faith demonstrated by those who help Christ’s brethren flee from persecution during the Tribulation (Matthew 25:40-46). While the focus may be on those who helped His brethren during the Antichrist’s persecution, the term “saving faith” may rightly be applied to the lives and works of every generation. Who are Christ’s brethren? They are the Jews who will be persecuted, the 144,000 (Matthew 24:16-25; Revelation 12:10, 11; 14:1); as well as that great Gentile host from every nation, the Tribulation saints (Revelation 7:14).
4) The nations will not be deceived during the thousand years (Revelation 20: 3, 7, 8).
Master Outline 49 – The Four Phases of the Second Coming
 Concerning Christ’s first coming many rabbis had the thought he would have two (2) comings. Name them.
 Some _______________________ from the _________________ _________________
______________________________ by forever doubting even what is plainly told to us.
 What is meant by the statement, “Others add their own brand of icing?”
 Does God’s word emphasize being 100% right? YES or NO. Explain.
 The word “rapture” comes from what and means what?
 What’s the difference for the church between the “rapture” and the “Battle of Armageddon?”
 What signals the return of Christ?
 Is the “The Trumpet of the Lord” the same as the “last trumpet?”
 What will happen with the dead in Christ at the rapture?
 Paul calls this a mystery meaning what?
 How do we know believers will be able to ascend into the clouds?
 The Tribulation on the Earth will be a period of what?
 What are the three (3) successive series of judgments?
 On what basis do we assume Christians will not be present for the Tribulation period?
 How long will this tribulation period last?
 What signals the beginning of this time?
 What is meant by the words, “Abomination of Desolation?”
 When will the tribulation period close?
 Armageddon represents what Hebrew name?
 How big is this field?
 Is this a real geographical area, and if so where is it?
 Another name for this place is what?
 This battle will be a ____________________________ crusade.
 The purpose of this battle will be _____________________ ______________________
___________________ ___________________ and _______________________
 Will Christ physically stand on the Mount of Olives? YES or NO. Explain.
 What will happen to the anti-Christ and false prophets?
 What will be the fate of Satan at this battle?
 The word, “MILLENNIUM” means what?
 What will Christ do with the nations during the Millennium?
 Will the nations be deceived during the thousand year reign? YES or NO. Explain.
One out of every 25 verses in the New Testament refers either to the “Second Coming” or “The Rapture” according to many Biblical scholars.