As Christians we faithfully wait for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, that glorious moment when He will physically return to the earth. Then Christ will finally set up His political kingdom in military Israel, two thousand years after He had promised that the kingdom of God was at hand and He would come very soon. During more than fifty generations - or twenty one centuries - billions of Christians have waited all their life for this physical return of Christ. Every single generation was deeply convinced that they would see it happen, because Jesus had said so strongly 'The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is near!' and 'Behold, I am coming soon!' Christ even said repeatedly that surely the first generation of believers would see Him coming!
“Assuredly, I say to you,
this generation will by no means pass away
till all these things take place.”
Even in our time He hasn't come yet and we are the 51st generation who believes that we will finally see it come to pass. It is the heart of our Christian belief, that we must wait every single day of our lives for this imminent physical return of Christ. Then He will take up residence in a new stone temple in earthly Jerusalem, from where He will force His reign on all the nations. People will no longer have the choice wether they want to worship Him from the heart or not, because He will demand submission from everybody. Then we will finally have world peace! Jesus Christ will be the ultimate and perfect political leader and He will operate out of military Israel.
This Second Coming of Christ is our glorious hope, our ultimate dream, the event we all look forward to, just like the fifty generations that lived before us, but who sadly never saw it come to pass. We however are... different! We know for sure that in our generation He will surely come... right? That is the Christian hope! As uncertain as it is, as disappointing as it has been for twenty one centuries of desillusioned believers, still it is our true hope... our only hope.
Because Jesus Christ will be physically on the earth, He will only be able to be present at one location at a time. Since His home will be the temple in Jerusalem, that's where He will spend most of His days, thousands of miles away from all of us. The good news is however that we will be able to go on pelgrimages to the political state of Israel, perhaps every year or so, to visit Jesus and wave at Him from a distance. What a glorious moment that will be!
So we will have to be prepared to have our patience and endurance severely tested. After all there are more than seven hundred million Christians worldwide and this number is daily increasing with thousands of new believers every single day! But... if we have the patience to wait many hours - possibly days - at last we will be able to see Jesus Christ on His throne. Naturally it will be out of the question to spend intimate, personal time with Him, because millions of other people are waiting behind us, so we will have to move on right away, to allow the next person to say 'Hi!' to Jesus. But at least He will be physically on the earth again, and that is such a glorious idea, that we all look forward to it.
The downside of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is however that, before this new day dawns, we will all first have to go through the worst night mankind has ever suffered. The years preceding the Return of Christ the whole world will be handed over into the cruel claws of the devil and his terrifying demons. Our beautiful planet, once created for God's glory, will become one horrible hell, utterly ruled by wickedness. A satanic Antichrist will rise up and persecute Christians worldwide, meanwhile performing supernatural miracles to deceive all nations to worship him. He will be the supreme ruler of all. Satan will rise to his full power and the Church will suffer in an unprecedented way. For faithful believers like us, it will become unbearable on the earth, and many of us will not be able to stand during these dark end times. Even Jesus Christ worried: 'Will I still find faith when I come?'
Our only hope out of this terribly satanic world is a sudden rapture that will literally send us flying into the air, where we will join hundreds of millions of other believers, who will all fly trough the clouds. At the same time countless dead bodies will break out of their coffins - even those that have deteriorated into dust - and will burst out of the earth, to join the millions of believers that are soaring through the sky. Together we will float through the clouds, to meet Jesus Christ among the birds and the airplanes. Unfortunately this 'rapture' will cause unprecedented trauma on the earth, because billions of people will see their beloved ones go through the roof - literally! There will be countless car, bus and train accidents because Christian drivers are suddenly removed from their steering wheels. Airplanes will crash because Christian pilots disappear, surgeons will suddenly vanish from the operating tables, causing patients to die and so on. Unimaginable chaos will strike mankind because millions will be raptured away from their responsible activities.
That is in a nutshell what many of us Christians believe about our near future. There are of course many variations in end time theologies, but in the core we all agree that Satan will become increasingly powerful and there is no hope whatsoever for the world as we know it. It is utterly doomed. When Jesus Christ comes, He will destroy the entire planet with fire - many end time preachers suggest this will happen through a global nuclear war - and then He will create a brand new planet and universe. Therefor most Christians don't care about the environment, because it will be destroyed anyway, so why bother? The majority of the Church has withdrawn from society, since there is no hope for any improvement anyway. If Satan is taking over the world, why do any effort to improve it first? What a waste of time and energy. The best we can do is build Churches, get as many people in them as possible before the end comes and wait for the rapture that will finally take us out of this hopeless world.
The past centuries thousands of prophecies have been spread all throughout the world, to announce the end of the world, the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. Many famous ministries have been predicting that within the next few years Christ would finally come back. Often a specific date was suggested, backed up by extensive research of a bible-expert. Millions of books have been sold, to predict the return of Christ and many preachers of this message have become astronomically rich from the revenue of their publications. However... despite the countless predictions, Christ has not returned physically to the earth. Thousands of prophecies that were spoken with great fervency from the greatest platforms and distributed by the most renown Christian ministries, have proven to be false. Nothing happened. The world has not ended. Christians were not raptured. No anti-christ has taken over the world. Christ did not return.
That is actually very serious... In the Old Testament God ordered people who prophecied falsely, to be stoned to death! That's how wicked it is in the eyes of God to predict events - in His name - that don't happen. However, in modern day Christianity nobody every apologises for their false prophecies and no-one is keeping anyone accountable for the constant flow of wrong foretelling. Instead we just move the timing of the Second Coming a few years ahead again and continue our erroneous forecasting. The Church has a long and shameful history of constant false prophecy, that has given Christianity a severely bad reputation. The secular world no longer takes us serious and mocks us, for all our delusions. Wikipedia published a extensive list of false predictions of the end of the world, and most were given by well known Christian preachers.
The result for the Church is devastating. Millions of Christians never prepared for retirement and had no vision for the future of their children, because they were convinced the world would end any day now. Preachers neglected their families, believing their only job was to save a few last souls, before Christ would return. Young Christians didn't study or prepare for life, because they expected Jesus Christ to rapture them away. They grew up disillusioned and unprepared for the real world. A large part of Christianity has withdrawn from society, waiting for the world to be blasted, instead of helping to create a better world for our children.
Whenever a sincere Christian tries to honestly study Scripture, to find out if we perhaps might have misunderstood something, this person is immediately labeled 'deceived' and 'dangerous' and is cast out of the Christian community. It is utterly unacceptable to intelligently investigate the concept that the devil is the all powerful ruler of the world and our only hope is the physical return of Christ on earth. We are strictly instructed to expect this Second Coming every single day of our life. The relentless stream of false prophecies that keep the hopes of the global Christian community high - although they always prove to be utterly false - are never questioned, but serve to continually strengthen the widespread doctrine that is untouchable and unquestionable. If you want to be a good Christian then you must - no question about it - accept the doctrine that Satan will rule the entire world and our only hope is to wait for a sudden physical return of Christ.
For many years I also preached this doom and gloom doctrine, that robbed me of any and all hope for a better world and caused me to interpret every turbulent world event as proof that the end of the world was nearer than ever. I was afraid to have children, because my wife and I thought it was virtually a crime to bring children into this demonized world, that has no hope and would only get worse.
One day however all this began to change in a way I had never dreamed possible. My deepest foundations were shaken as Jesus Christ revealed to me something so beautiful, so glorious, so healing and full of hope, that at first I struggled to believe it. Jesus Christ began speaking to me about His amazing plans with my children and His glorious purpose with mankind and God's precious creation. One day the Lord spoke to me, in a clear and loud voice:
These words conflicted with everything I had ever heard in Church, about the end times. 'I am restoring My creation.' 'What? Restoring? What do you mean 'restoring'? Aren't you about to blast everything you ever created and just start all over again?' I was puzzled and confused. But I obeyed the instruction from the Lord and over the course of ten years I researched the biblical theme of the 'end times'. I read every book, watched every video and listened to every preacher I could find. I also began studying the Bible more in depth than ever before, while praying for a clear understanding. At first my quest for understanding stranded desperately. All the publications from the popular end time ministries were contradictory and confusing, loaded with false predictions, and I came to the frustrated conclusion that it was pure chaos. So I told the Lord: 'If you want to give me insight in this, You will have to do it, because I am getting nowhere with my research.' The years that followed, the Spirit of God indeed began showing me one truth after another in Scripture, and gradually He opened my eyes for the true message of Jesus Christ and the apostles.
I discovered that the original message of Jesus Christ is not at all the horrifying story of an ever increasing reign of Satan and his demons, resulting in the complete destruction of all of God's precious creation. On the contrary it is the wonderful good news that the kingdom of God has come! Everywhere Jesus and His apostles went, they proclaimed this amazing news, called the 'gospel of the kingdom'.
“The time has come,” Jesus said.
“The kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe the good news!”
'If I drive out demons by the finger of God,
then the kingdom of God has come upon you.'
'He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.'
Jesus constantly talked about the kingdom, how we must become like little children to enter it, and so on. Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul explained several basic principles about the kingdom of God. First of all they said it's a spiritual reality that we experience through the Holy Spirit. It's not a political kingdom that we can see with our eyes and we can't say that it's in a specific location. It's inside of us!
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation;
nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’
For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
(Luke 17:20, 21)
“For the kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit."
Secondly Jesus Christ explained to a leader of ancient Israel, called Nicodemus, that only those who are born again from the Spirit of God are able to see the kingdom of God. So it's not something that is visible to all people!
“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless they are born again."
This shocked me, because I had always learned that the kingdom of God isn't here yet - despite what Jesus Christ powerfully declared - but it's something that will come in our future. Then it will be a political reign in the zionist state of Israel, that will be visible for everyone, born again or not. Jesus Christ however said the exact opposite... Only those who are born again from the Spirit can see God's kingdom, it's not of this world, it's not in a specific location, but it's inside of us. It's also not a political reign, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! Jesus also didn't say that it was for a distant future but He excitedly announced that it was at hand!
Jesus Christ explained even more about the kingdom of God, that directly contradicts our widespread popular doctrines, in todays' Christianity. We have all learned that the kingdom of God will suddenly fall out of the sky in perfect power and it will cover the entire globe in a split second. Jesus Christ however said the exact opposite: it would begin really small, like a tiny mustard seed. Then it would grow slowly, like a tree that grows over a long period, until it is the greatest influence on the earth.
“What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted,
it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants.”
Jesus also compared the kingdom of God with a little bit of yeast that is mixed through the dough and eventually transforms the entire structure of the bread. The bread is of course the world. So Jesus Christ declared that eventually the whole world would be transformed because of the influence of the kingdom of God. That does take time, like a person who puts a lot of effort in mixing the yeast through the entire bread.
"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour
until it worked all through the dough."
The gradual growth of the kingdom of God is also predicted by the prophet Daniel who compared it to a small rock that grows, until it eventually becomes a huge mountain that fills the whole earth!
"A rock was cut out, but not by human hands. (...)
The rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. (...)
The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed."
Through the prophet Isaiah God also promised that the kingdom of Christ would be an ever increasing reign.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: (...)
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,"
Do you realize what a wonderful hope that gives us? This means not the darkness is taking over the world, but the presence of Jesus Christ is steadily increasing through the millions of Christians who live in the kingdom of God. That is why Jesus Christ is called the 'New Day', the 'Dawn' and the 'Bright Morningstar'. A new day is never bright right away. It starts when everything is still dark, at midnight. But as the hours go by, the sun rises more and more, until the darkness is fully expelled and the whole world is bathing in the golden rays of the sun. That's why the Bible declares:
'The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.'
Concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ prophet Isaiah said the following:
'Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.'
(Isaiah 60:2, 3)
When I first heard this good news that Jesus and the apostles preached, it was as if chains of darkness fell off. Suddenly the light switched on in my heart and for the first time in my life as a Christian I realized what the true message of the Bible is. Not a perpetual defeat of all Christians and an unstoppable rise of evil, but the exact opposite:
The good news that the kingdom of God has come.
The light of Christ is increasing like the dawn.
That is why Jesus had said: 'Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth' (Matthew 5:5). How can we inherit the earth if it will be destroyed? That doesn't make sense! Throughout Scripture the promise is often repeated that it is not the righteous who will be taken away from the earth, but the ungodly ones will eventually be removed.
'For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.'
The true message of the Bible doesn't steal our joy, peace and hope, but it ignites it in us and raises us up to stand boldly in the presence of Christ, who gives us His victory to expel the darkness and spread His light. It doesn't cause us to hide and wait for an escape out of this world, but it launches us into our calling to reign with Christ and expand His kingdom. It doesn't kill our dreams for the future and our children, but it encourages us to dream big and beautiful, for the glorious purpose God has with our lives and our beloved ones.
Discovering the true message of Jesus Christ literally turned my worldview upside down. Of course I had many questions because my entire mind had always been filled with the widespread doom and gloom theology. But I kept researching it, to find accurate answers to my questions. And I spent many hours on my knees, worshiping the Lord, basking in His wonderful presence and opening my heart to Him, so He could speak to Me and give Me more insight in His true message. The more I prayed and studied, the more I woke up in the bright new day of the victory of Jesus Christ and His expanding reign all over the world. It was as if I was born again all over again. A dark cloak of negative thinking fell off and I woke up in the glory of His majestic presence and victory over darkness. A new day had dawned in my heart.
You may wonder how it is possible that the true gospel is so different from what most of us have heard in the Church? Instead of rejoicing in the wonderful good news that the kingdom of God is here and it is expanding until it will be the greatest influence on the earth, we all believe the kingdom of Satan is here and his darkness is spreading until the whole planet will be one horrible hell.
If we want to get a right understanding of the Word of God, we must apply several basic principles for proper Bible study. First of all we may never take any verse out of it's biblical, historical and cultural context. When we rip verses out of their original context and apply them in a completely foreign framework, we end up in serious deception. That is exactly what has happened on global scale. Preachers who announce the end of the world, take scriptures out of context to tell a horrible tale that is the opposite of what the Bible truly says.
Nothing we read in the Bible was directly written to us, Christians in the 21st century. We are literally reading someone else's mail! Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans etc. of his time concerning events they were about to experience and they had to prepare for. He was NOT Talking to you and me, who live two thousand years later! Most preachers completely ignore the original audience of the Bible and act as if literally everything was directly written to us. That causes tremendous confusing. When God announced the global flood, Noah warned his contemporaries, not you and me! When Jesus announced the end of the age with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (Matthew 24), He was announcing it to the very first Christians and assured them they would surely experience it and therefor they had to be ready for it. They were the original audience, not we. Respecting the original audience of a Bible passage is one of the most fundamental principles for correct study of the Bible, yet it is ignored by virtually every Christian preacher.
Our Bible versions can sometimes deceive us, because translators have mixed their wrong theology into the translations. For example: Jesus Christ never proclaimed the end of the 'world'. In the Greek we see that He used the word 'AION' which simply means 'age'. Jesus predicted the end of an 'age'. What age would come to an end? The age of the old covenant with the law written on stone, a temple made of stone and a Jerusalem built with stone. Jesus announced God's judgment over Israel, because they had killed God's prophets. He said that entire Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed (see Matthew 23-25). At the same time a new 'age' or 'timeframe' would begin: the law of God is now written in our hearts, we are the temple where God dwells and we are all part of the new, heavenly Jerusalem. Jesus simply announced the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Old covenant to new covenant, old timeframe to new timeframe. However bible translators have erroneously translated the word 'timeframe' as 'world', thus creating the false impression that Jesus was announcing the end of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth!
If they declared something would happen during their lifetime, then we must accept that. Just like the other basic principles for correct bible study, this has also been ignored by most preachers. Jesus Christ and all the apostles constantly stressed that the end of the age and the appearance of Christ would occur during the lifetime of the first Christians. They seriously prepared them for this apocalyptic time of transition from the old age to a new era. In modern day Christianity every single time indicator for the so called 'end time events' have been completely ignored and even deceptively twisted, to create a totally unbiblical illusion that we will experience the complete destruction of all God has ever created.
It is critical that we submit everything we have ever learned to the words of Jesus Christ and His apostles. We might not be aware of it, but all of us have a hidden habit of ignoring specific words of Jesus Christ and the apostles, when they are contradictory to what we have chosen to believe. I want to remind us that the hallmark of a true follower of Christ is that we abide in His words. Departing from what Christ said, to defend our own theology, means we are not truly following Jesus Christ. Let's all be true disciples of Jesus and let Him be the Master while we listen carefully to what He says.
For example the words 'heaven and earth' meant in the ancient Jewish culture 'Israel, the temple and the covenant'. That sheds a completely different light on the predictions that 'heaven and earth' would pass away and a 'new heaven and earth' would come. That simple means the old covenant of the law would pass away and a brand new covenant would be established, with a new people of God, who are a new creation in Christ. Very often God uses metaphoric language to describe certain events. The Bible is probably the most symbolic book in the world. Jesus almost only preached in parables, where animals, birds, trees, the soil and even insects actually meant people! If we don't understand the symbolic language of the Bible we can end up in deep confusion.
These principles help us uncover the true meaning of Scripture and it safeguards us for deception. Most of us - even most leaders in the Church - never learned to apply these principles and we violated each and ever one of them. That is the cause of the tremendous confusion in the Church today and the widespread popularity of depressing end time doctrines, that rob our hope for the future and make us inefficient in transforming our culture. Verses speaking about the end of the old covenant of the law and the predicted destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the first century have been taken out of context, mistranslated, misunderstood and abused to spread a doom and gloom doctrine, that is the exact opposite of the glorious good news of the kingdom of God. Instead of rejoicing in the victory of Jesus and the expansion of His kingdom, by His Spirit, many Christians sit in fear and trembling, because they think the devil is victorious and the world is becoming more and more evil.
What Jesus Christ did in my life, is not revealing something new and revolutionary. He simply brought me back to His original message, that is so clearly outlined in the Bible. He restored to me the gospel of the kingdom, the wonderful good news that God has begun to reign on the earth, in and through His people, who are born of His Spirit and who spread His love and light everywhere they go. I am no longer afraid for negative world events or wicked world leaders, because I know that - through it all - Jesus Christ is the King who reigns. He is the dawn of the new day and His light is increasing throughout the ages.
I would like to invite you to come with me on an adventurous journey to go back to the original, authentic message of hope and restoration that Jesus Christ preached. We will read everything He said about the 'end of the world' and the so called 'Second Coming' and apply the essential principles for a correct understanding of Scripture. We won't rip the words of Jesus out of their context, we won't ignore the original audience, we will not deny the time indications He gave and we won't rely on faulty Bible translations. We will study the Bible in an honest and respectful way, without twisting Scriptures to make them fit in our own mindsets. That will allow us to get a healthy understanding of what Jesus Christ and His apostles truly said.
It does however take honesty and courage to do this. May I ask you, as a brother In Christ: are you willing to allow the authentic words of Jesus Christ to test our popular and widespread beliefs? Or do you prefer to run away and start accusing me, because I have chosen to study the words of Jesus with respect and accuracy? I hope you have a hunger for truth, a longing to understand Jesus Christ better and the courage to test what we have been taught in Church. Remember: only in dangerous cults is it forbidden to think and do your own research. If we forbid each other to seriously study Scripture to find the real truth, then we are guilty of cultish behavior. I hope that is not what you want. Let's have the honesty and courage to dare to compare widespread and popular beliefs with the original and authentic Scriptures.
History proves that the fact that a teaching is widely accepted in the global Christian community, doesn't mean it's scriptural. For centuries all of Christianity believed that we have to earn our way to heaven. The Roman Catholic Church even preached that people could buy their salvation! It took a revolutionary and brave reformer like Maarten Luther to confront this widespread deception and bring the Church back to the true message of Christ that we are saved by His grace. This is only one historic example of how the global Church has fallen prey to deceptions that were preached as the untouchable truth, but were in fact contradictory to the message of Jesus Christ. So let's learn from history and not make the same mistake.
In journalism there are five key questions that need to be answered in order to get a complete view of a case: who, what, where, when and how? In our investigation of the truth about the return of Christ, we will seek an accurate answer to the following questions:
WHO would experience the second coming?
WHAT would exactly happen at His coming?
WHERE would the coming of Christ take place?
WHEN would it all be fulfilled?
HOW would Jesus Christ come?
Are you ready to discover the true message of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to test your beliefs against the authentic words of the Lord Jesus Christ? This is what makes us true followers of Christ: if we submit all our own doctrines and opinions to what He says. Are you hungry for His words, that set us fee from every binding chain and release us into His future of hope for our lives? Then come with me on this wonderful journey of discovery...
Back to Jesus!
The first question we need to answer is what the so called 'Second Coming of Christ' would be. When Jesus Christ mentioned His coming, He said the following:
'For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels,
and then He will repay each according to his works.'
Jesus said He would come to repay each one according to his deeds. That means He would come to judge. The apostles Paul, James, Peter and John all said the same thing:
'When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God,
and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
(2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)
'For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” (...)
For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.'
(Hebrews 10:30,31, 37)
'Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. ...
Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!'
'Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.
And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True,
and in righteousness He judges and makes war.'
The next question is: who would be judged by Jesus Christ, at His coming on the clouds with His angels? We have all learned that we, Christians in the 21st century, will see Jesus appear on the clouds and He will judge all of mankind. Is that indeed what Jesus Christ said? To whom was Jesus speaking, when He predicted the judgment and His coming? Americans? Africans? Europeans? Asians? No. This is where a crucial principle for correct reading of the Bible comes into play: we have to consider who the original audience was to whom Jesus Christ was speaking. To whom was He sent? Who were the people He ministered to? To whom did He predict His coming? Who did He prepare for this event?
The apostle John wrote in his gospel that Jesus came to 'his own' which is Israel, the original people of God:
'He came to that which was his own.'
Jesus Christ Himself also made a clear statement that He was primarily sent to Israel:
'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'
Jesus Christ was first of all sent to Israel, He came to fulfill what God had predicted to Israel and He only ministered within Israel. He was the Messiah of Israel! He had been announced by the prophets of Israel and came to fulfill what they had prophecied concerning Israel. Jesus Christ constantly preached directly at the Israelites, and He predicted judgment over them, because they had murdered God's prophets. That's why Jesus said to His apostles that at His coming, they would judge Israel!
'When the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory,
you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The most detailed chapters in the Bible concerning the Second Coming and the outpouring of God's wrath are Matthew 23, 24 and 25. In these chapters Jesus Christ speaks to the leaders of Israel, concerning His coming and the judgment of God that was about to come upon them. Read what Jesus said to the leaders of Israel:
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Fools and blind!
You are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers!
How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth,
from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her...
See! Your house is left to you desolate.”
All of Jerusalem would become a wasteland, or in other words it would become entirely 'desolate'. But not only that, the holy temple - the most important element of Israel - would be thrown down to the last stone:
'His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things?
Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another,
that shall not be thrown down."
(Matthew 24:1, 2)
How do we know for sure the judgment of Jerusalem would indeed be the 'coming of the Lord'? We know this because of the significant question the disciples asked Jesus, right after He announced God's wrath over Israel. The disciples heard about all the horrible things that would happen to Jerusalem, and they asked Jesus:
'Tell us, when will these things be?
And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'
They wanted to know when it would happen and therefor asked Jesus: 'When will these things be and what will be the sign of Your coming?' The disciples knew the Scriptures where the coming of the Lord to judge Jerusalem had been predicted abundantly. For example the prophets Isaiah and Mica had said:
'For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots,
like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury,
and His rebuke with flames of fire.'
'Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins,
and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.'
We have all heard that the Lord Jesus Christ will stand on the Mount of Olives when He comes. But it is imperative that we learn to read bible verses in their context. What do we see if we read the verse about the coming of the Lord on the Mount of Olives in context? Let's have a look...
'I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle,
and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled...
In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east;
Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!'
Zechariah very clearly says the coming of the Lord with His holy ones would be when Jerusalem was destroyed. There is no way we can deny this. The nations will be gathered against Jerusalem, in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and then the Lord will come with His angels. The prophet Zechariah couldn't have been more specific and clear. To me this is deeply unsettling. In the 25 years of being a Christian and during all the years of studying the Second Coming, no Bible teacher I met has ever respected this context. They all rip the single sentence of 'His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives' completely out of context and spread the lie that this will happen in the 21st century. I sincerely hope that you who read this, will acknowledge the apparent truth of what Zechariah wrote so clearly. The coming of the Lord on the Mount of Olives, would be during the fall of Jerusalem.
So far we have discovered that both Jesus Christ and the prophets said the coming of the Lord would be during the destruction of Jerusalem. But what did the apostles of the New Testament say about this? Didn't they say the wrath of God would be poured out over all mankind? Among all the apostles it was Paul who wrote more about the coming of Christ than anyone else. More specifically in his letter to the Thessalonians, he explained this event in great detail. So let's look at what Paul wrote. Who would be judged at the coming of the Lord?
“... the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets,...
... wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:14-16)
He repeated this in his second letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, where he wrote that Jesus would be revealed to take vengeance on 'those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ':
'When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven
with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance
on those who do not know God,
and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
(2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)
Who were the ones that didn't obey the gospel of Jesus Christ? The Jews! They persecuted Jesus Christ, His apostles and all Christians. It were the Jews who violently opposed Jesus Christ, all His messengers and His followers. They did not know God, although they were very religious. Their forefathers had always murdered God's prophets and now the generation to which Jesus was sent, even murdered God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ. By rejecting Christ they had made the measure of their sins full and the time of wrath had come.
Phrases from Pauls letter to the Thessalonians are often quoted to 'prove' that Christ will come in the 21st century. But remember to always take the original audience into account. Paul didn't write his letter to us, Christians in the 21st century. He wrote to the Thessalonians, two thousand years ago. Paul even made a specific promise to these Christians. The Thessalonians were suffering from persecution and Paul encouraged them that they would be saved from this persecution, at the coming of the Lord:
'He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you
and give relief to you who are troubled,
and to us as well.
This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven
in blazing fire with his powerful angels.'
(2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)
That was a very specific promise! The persecution of the Christians, by the hands of the Jews, would stop at the coming of Christ. Why would they get relief from this trouble? Because the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would break the power of the religious Jews.
The letters of Paul to the Thessalonians are often used as evidence for the Second Coming in the 21st century. But when we do this, we are guilty of violating several basic principles for correct Bible study: 1) We rip these verses out of their context and ignore the fact that Paul clearly said the wrath was for the Judeans. 2) We neglect the original audience of this letter and erroneously assume he was writing to us, two thousands of years later. 3) We overlook the time indication Paul gave for the coming of the Lord. He promised that the Thessalonians and the apostles themselves would get relief from the trouble caused by the Jews, at the appearance of Christ. That means the coming of Christ would surely be during their lifetime. In no way did Paul suggest they would not see the coming of the Lord, but on the contrary he encouraged the Christians that they would surely experience it.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews also declared that the coming of the Lord would mean God's judgment over His people, which is Israel:
'For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (...)
For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.'
(Hebrews 10:30,31 37)
Now we know that Jesus Christ was sent to Israel and only spoke to the Jews of the first century, let's see what He said to them about the coming judgment and His coming on the clouds. Did He tell them they would surely not experience it, because it was for a very distant future? Or did He say they would surely see everything happen and therefor they - the first century Jews - had to be ready? Let's have a look. These are some of the phrases Jesus spoke in Matthew 24, where He explained what would happen before and during God's judgment of Israel and His coming on the clouds. Jesus was speaking to the believing Jews, and prepared them for what was about to happen.
'Take heed that no one deceives you.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you,
and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.'
Jesus Christ was crystal-clear who would see it all happen and who had to be ready. When He spoke to the believing Jews, He constantly said to them: 'YOU will hear and see it, YOU must flee, YOU must be ready' and so on. He even clearly said 'THOSE IN JUDEA' and He talked about 'THE SABBATH' which was only practiced in Israel! In no way did Jesus give even the slightest hint they would not experience His coming and the judgment. On the contrary He constantly gave them very specific instructions about what was about to happen, so the believing Jews could escape from it, thanks to their faith in Jesus Christ who warned them.
Now wait a second here.... doesn't Scripture say 'every eye will see Him'? Yes indeed! But we have to apply the key principles for a correct understanding of Scripture. Let's read the verse that says every eye would see Jesus and then check the context and source text.
'Behold, He is coming with clouds,
and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him.
And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.'
First of all it says 'those who pierced Him'. Did Americans, Africans, Asians or Europeans pierce Him? No, it were the Jews who sent Jesus to the cross! Secondly we read 'all the tribes of the earth'. Is that really what it says in the Greek? Here's a screenshot of the original meaning of the word 'earth':
As you can see, the Greek word here is 'GE' which also means 'LAND, COUNTRY, REGION'. Therefor this verse could just as well have been translated as: 'All the tribes of the land'. Would that have been a more accurate translation than 'earth'? Well... is the whole earth divided in 'tribes'? Of course not! What is divided in tribes? The LAND of Israel! There were twelve tribes in Israel. It is absurd to translate this word as earth, while it speaks about tribes! Israel is a land (Greek = GE) that was divided in tribes. So a very simple check with the original Greek text, and looking at the verse with a little more attention, reveals this has been dramatically mistranslated. First it speaks about those who pierced Him, and then it says all the tribes of the land. That is Israel!
That it was indeed Israel who would see Christ on the clouds, is confirmed when we read a prophecy by Zechariah, concerning the judgment of Jerusalem and the coming of the Lord:
'And I will pour on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication;
then they will look on Me whom they pierced. ...
In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem.'
The House of David would look on Him whom they pierced and there would be a great mourning in Jerusalem. That is exactly what Revelation 1:7 says about the Second Coming! Also Jesus Christ referred to these words by Zechariah when He spoke about His coming on the clouds:
'Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,
and then all the tribes of the land will mourn,
and they will see the Son of Man coming
on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.'
Probably the most misunderstood passage in the whole Bible is where Jesus says that heaven and earth would pass away during the destruction of Jerusalem. Also the apostles Peter and John and the prophet Isaiah mentioned the passing away of the old heaven and earth and the coming of a brand new heaven and earth. In order to properly understand this, we have to apply another principal of Bible study: be aware of the culture of the original messengers. What did a certain word or expression mean in their culture? We read the Bible thousands of years later, in an entirely different culture. In our understanding we think that the literal, physical heaven and earth are meant here. But when we study this a bit more in depth we find something very revealing...
I will explain this in detail, since this is a major key to be set free from the doomsday mindset and understand what Jesus, Isaiah, Peter and John really meant. First of all, as I said, we must read every bible verse in context. What is the context of the words of Jesus, that heaven and earth would pass away? He said this directly in the context of the coming destruction of Jerusalem! So Jesus wasn't speaking about the destruction of the entire globe, but He was predicting the fall of Jerusalem. Secondly Jesus says in that very same passage, that the believing Jews must flee to the mountains surrounding Jerusalem.
Now... what's the use of fleeing to the mountains if the whole earth is being destroyed that very moment? That makes no sense.
Thirdly Jesus had previously said 'Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth' (Matthew 5:5). Oh, what a shame for the meek. Jesus first promises them the earth and then says the earth will be destroyed. What a bad joke! Is it? Of course not. Jesus was a Jew, speaking in Jewish metaphoric language to Jews who knew exactly what He meant. The prophet Isaiah began his book with crying out to Judah and Jerusalem and he literally calls them 'heaven and earth'!
'The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem...
Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!'
(Isaiah 1:1, 2)
In chapter 51 of the book of Isaiah we again see how the Lord compares Israel with the heavens and the earth:
'I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand,
to establish the heavens, to found the earth,
and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.'
Moses used the same words, when he addressed Israel in the desert:
'And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel: Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.'
(Deuteronomy 31:30, 32:1)
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is considered to be the most respected authority when it comes to Jewish history. In his writings Josephus mentions that the tabernacle of Moses was called 'heaven, earth and sea'.
'When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the Priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea: for these are accessible to all. But when he set apart the third division for God, it was because heaven is inaccessible to men.'
(Josephus, Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 7, Paragraph 7, Section 181)
The prophet Isaiah and apostle John both described a new heaven and a new earth. But once again: we must read this in context. What is the context in for example the book of Isaiah? He was talking about the destruction of Jerusalem, just like Jesus! Let's read a few verses from chapter 66. I encourage you to read the entire book of Isaiah, to get the complete picture.
'The sound of noise from the city!
A voice from the temple!
The voice of the Lord,
Who fully repays His enemies!'
'For behold, the Lord will come with fire
And with His chariots, like a whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.'
'“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord.'
Isaiah writes about God's judgment over Jerusalem! 'A noise comes from the city, a voice from the temple, the Lord repays His enemies.' Then Isaiah says the Lord would come with fire and with His angels. Thirdly Isaiah speaks about the new heaven and earth. Just like Jesus Christ, Isaiah makes it clear the new heaven and earth would come during the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. That was the end of the old convent age. The old passed away and Jesus Christ made all things new. He created a brand new covenant. In Christ we are a brand new creation. There is a new wineskin, a new command, a new covenant, a new man. All things are new in Christ! God no longer dwells in a stone temple but now we are His temple, where He lives.
When we read the gospels, chances are we have a Bible translation that tells us Jesus Christ constantly predicted the end of the world. This actually was a main theme of His message: He prepared His followers for the end of all things. Or did He? Lets have a look at some of Jesus' words, and check their original meaning in the Greek.
'What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?'
We have already seen that the disciples asked Jesus this question concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. So.... why would they suddenly talk about the end of the whole planet? That doesn't make any sense! Jesus didn't announce God's wrath over the entire world, He talked about God's judgment over Israel, because they had murdered God's prophets. The original Greek word that was translated here as 'world' means something totally different. It is the Greek word AION which means 'a space of time, an age'. Here's a screenshot with the meaning of the word Aion:
This false Bible translation is one of the main reasons why millions of Christians incorrectly believe the entire planet earth is about to be destroyed. They read in their Bibles how Jesus predicted the end of the 'world' and since that hasn't happened yet, they conclude it must be in our near future. The opposite is however true. Jesus didn't announce the destruction of our beautiful planet, He announced the end of the age of the old covenant of the law. He ended that time period and created something brand new: a new covenant sealed with His own blood. A new wineskin to hold the new wine of the Spirit of God. A new command to love one another. A new kingdom which we experience in the Spirit of God. A new Jerusalem which is our free mother, says the apostle Paul.
When did Jesus Christ and His apostles say the Second Coming would happen? We have all learned that His coming will occur in our lifetime, two thousands years later, in the 21st century. That means Jesus must have told His followers that His coming would surely not occur in their lifetime, but it would be a very, very long time before He would finally appear on the clouds of heaven. Is that so? Did Jesus Christ and His apostles indeed predict that it would be an extremely long time - dozens of centuries - before He would finally come on the clouds, with His angels? Let's see what they said...
As we saw in the previous questions, the disciples understood very well that the coming of the Lord would be the judgment over Israel. Jesus cursed the leaders of Israel and said they would now be held accountable for all the innocent blood that had been shed. Jerusalem would become desolate and the temple would be utterly destroyed. The discipels asked Jesus when these things would happen and what would be the sign of His coming. The answer Jesus Christ gave them was very specific:
“Assuredly, I say to you,
this generation will by no means pass away
till all these things take place.”
A generation lasts forty years, therefor Jesus Christ declared that within forty years His coming would surely happen. Many Bible teachers in our time however say: 'Jesus didn't really mean that their generation would not pass away. What He actually meant to say is the human race will not pass away until everything happened.' But think for a moment... Does such an answer have any meaning? Of course not. That does not mean anything at all. Of course Jesus would come during the existence of mankind, when else? He could hardly come after mankind ceased to exist. In all reasonableness: such a twisting of the answer of Jesus is simply ridiculous. Surely Jesus did not give such a meaningless answer to His disciples. On the contrary, Jesus answered His disciples very clearly and specific:
That is also what Jesus Christ had said to the leaders of Israel, when He announced to them the coming judgment of God over Israel:
“You will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time
—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah,
whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar.
I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.”
(Matthew 23:35-36 NLT)
Jesus repeated the timeframe of His coming several times. For example, He said to the members of the Jewish high council, who condemned Him to the death of the cross:
“I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of the Power,
and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
They would see Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven. That is only possible if they were still alive. So Jesus would indeed come, during the life of the Jews at that time. It is also striking that He said this to the Jewish High Council. Those who nailed Jesus to the cross were also those who would see Him coming on the clouds to judge them.
To the people who followed Him and listened to Him, Jesus also emphatically said that some of them would still be alive, when He would come as King, to execute vengeance:
"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels,
and then He will repay each according to his works.
Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here
who shall not taste death till they see
the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
(Matthew 16:27, 28)
When Jesus sent the apostles to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, He said they would be persecuted in some places. If they suffered persecution in one city, they had to go to the next town. He encouraged them that His coming would already take place, even before they would have proclaimed the good news in every city of Israel!
"For assuredly, I say to you,
you will not have gone through the cities of Israel
before the Son of Man comes."
If we read what Jesus Christ said about the time of His coming, we notice He always said it would surely happen during that generation. He added that some in His audience would not die before He came. The apostles wouldn't even have time to travel all through Israel wth the good news of the Kingdom, before the coming of the Lord. The members of the High Council would still be alive and see Him on the clouds of heaven.
In addition to the statements of Jesus Christ, there is another important source of information that gives us clarity about the timing of 'the last days' and the Second Coming: the letters of the apostles. The coming of Jesus was a central theme in the teaching of the apostles, which we find in the New Testament. They, like Jesus, emphasized who would experience the coming and when it would happen. Let's take a look at some of their indications:
"For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not delay."
"Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. ...
Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!"
"But this I say, brethren, the time is short."
(1 Corinthians 7:29)
"The night is far spent, the day is at hand."
"The end of all things is near."
(1 Peter 4:7)
"Dear children, this is the last hour."
(1 John 2:18)
Did any of the apostles every say - even in subtle words - that the coming of the Lord was be for a very distant future and they would surely not see it happen? No. Every single apostle in the New Testament constantly stressed, just like Jesus Christ did, that they were living in the last days and they all had to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. They used very vivid wordings to emphasize the urgency of this event, like 'this is the last hour', 'the judge is at the door', 'the day is at hand', 'He will not delay', 'the time is short', etc. They didn't leave any room for even the slightest doubt about the timing of the coming of Jesus Christ. In all their letters the apostles prepared the first century Christians for this imminent event, with practical instructions and a call to live holy and blameless. As we saw earlier Paul even said the coming of the Lord would bring relief for the Christians and the apostles, because it would the persecution by the Jews.
One of the most important books of the Bible concerning the Second Coming is the book of Revelation. In it, the apostle John describes the encounters with Jesus Christ and the angels in heaven, who announced in detail what would happen and when it would take place. Also in this prophetic book is underlined when the described events would take place and who would experience it.
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave Him to show His servants
—things which must shortly take place.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things which are written in it;
for the time is near.
Behold, I am coming quickly!
And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel
to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.
“Behold, I am coming quickly!
Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book,
for the time is at hand.
And behold, I am coming quickly,
and My reward is with Me.
Surely I am coming quickly.
The apostle John, who authored the book of Revelation, left no doubt when all the things he described would happen. The events would shortly take place, the time was at hand. the Lord would come quickly, the time was near. Jesus gave specific instructions to the first century Christians, to help them prepare for the coming events, and He encouraged them to repent from wrong ways, hold on to what they had and be courageous until He would come. His promise to the first Christians that He would come quickly, was a great encouragement for them in the tribulations they were experiencing.
The time indications given by Jesus and the apostles concerning the Second Coming present a tremendous problem for Christians in our time, two thousand years later, who believe that the end times and the 'Return of Christ' will take place in our future. If that is true, then Jesus and all Christians from the first century were wrong. That is indeed the conclusion of C.S. Lewis, one of the most renown Christian philosophers of the 20th century. C.S. Lewis wrote that Jesus and his followers believed a delusion and that their statements about the Second Coming are 'embarrassing.'
The question is whether that was indeed the case. Did Jesus Christ miss it? Did He believe a lie? Was He ignorant, and did He fool people, constantly preparing them for events that would never take place during their lifetime? Or ... is there something we have not understood correctly? Is there something we can discover? What does history say about the first century, for example? Are there historical scriptures that mention the second coming of Jesus Christ?
The question is whether that was indeed the case. Did Jesus Christ miss it? Did He believe a lie? Was He utterly ignorant, and did He fool people, constantly preparing them for events that would never take place during their lifetime? Or ... is there something we have not understood correctly? Is there something we can discover? What does history say about the first century, for example? Are there historical scriptures that mention the second coming of Jesus Christ?
David Sorensen had a dramatic encounter with God, which completely transformed his life. He decided to spend the rest of his life showing others show real God is and how much he loves us. David's desire is that people would learn how to experience God as the most beautiful reality there is.