If someone were to ask you, What is your greatest need? what would you tell them? If you were starving, it might be food. If you were homeless, it might be a place to live. If disease ravaged your body, it might be medicine. If you were lonely and discouraged, it might be love. But is there one thing more than any other that could take you through any difficulty you might face in life? Is there one thing that can make your spirit soar?
All over the world, people are desperately looking for hope. Someone once said, “What oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to the human spirit.” We can live days without food, hours without water, a few minutes without air, but no time at all without hope. Hope buoys up our spirits. It lifts our vision from what is to what will be. It’s a candle in the darkness. It’s like water in the desert for a thirsty woman or food to a starving man. It provides encouragement for the future.
The Bible is filled with the best hope of all—the hope of Jesus’ return to this planet. But what exactly does the Bible say about this great event?
Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus gave His disciples a promise that filled their hearts with hope. He said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1–3). Christ’s comforting words are like a promissory note. Jesus said He would return—and we can bank on it!
The apostle Paul described Christ’s second coming as “the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, emphasis added). He also said “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). There’s certainly a lot of hope surrounding the Second Coming!
Christ’s return will be not only an event we have hoped for but also an event that will be witnessed by the entire human race. The Bible describes this when it says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and ‘every eye will see him’ ” (Revelation 1:7, emphasis added). Every human being on planet Earth will see Jesus when He returns—the eyes of the young and the eyes of the old, the eyes of the educated and the eyes of the uneducated, the eyes of the rich and the eyes of the poor. People from all cultures, nationalities, languages, groups, and countries will see Jesus when He comes!
What about a “secret rapture”?
There are, however, a number of misconceptions about the Second Coming, one of which is the idea that His return will be a hidden, quiet event called the “secret rapture.” The problem with this idea is that it isn’t at all how Jesus described His return. He said, “Then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
Describing Christ’s second coming, the apostle Paul said that “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This passage refutes the teaching of the “secret rapture” that misleads so many Christians today. For not only does it emphasize that Christ will come with “power and great glory,” but it says that His return will be audible, accompanied by a “loud trumpet call” (Matthew 24:31)—and the trumpet is one of the noisiest of all musical instruments!
Some teachers of the secret rapture claim that the redeemed may see the Lord return, but the wicked who are lost will not. Yet both this verse and Revelation 1:7 inform us that the wicked—those who “mourn”—will see Jesus when He returns. That event will totally overshadow every other event on planet Earth. No one will have to tell you when Jesus returns because you will see His coming and hear His coming for yourself!
The angels and Christ’s return
So who will join Jesus when He returns? The Bible says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne” (Matthew 25:31, emphasis added). The angels will join Jesus when He returns. I can assure you that God’s heavenly angels have been impatiently waiting for and working toward that great event. Do you think any one of them would like to be told, “You stay here in heaven while the rest of us go and rescue the redeemed?” You know the answer, and this text declares that none of them will be disappointed.
Prophetic Bible authors like John and Daniel no doubt felt the impotence of mere human language when trying to describe how many heavenly messengers they saw in vision: “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” (Revelation 5:11). Jesus’ second coming will be the mighty climax of all the ages. He will be surrounded by all His holy angels. Try to imagine what that glorious scene will be like.
An amazing dramatic event will take place when Jesus returns: “The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). This amazing event is also described in 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53: “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”
While those who are saved will rise up into the air to join their Savior in the clouds, those who have rejected Him will be filled with guilt and fear. They will run from Him who loves them and longs to save them. They have spurned His mercy and turned their backs on His love. Now, frightened, they flee to shield themselves from His glory. What a tragic ending! Meanwhile, the saved will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).
So what will the Second Coming be for you? Everything depends on whether you’re prepared for that surprise of a lifetime. Indeed, nothing else in life matters more than being ready for Christ’s second coming. Don’t be swallowed up by the routine affairs of life. Make God a priority in all your plans right now. Jesus urges His followers to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Is the kingdom of God a priority in your life? Is a personal relationship with Jesus supremely important to you? Have everyday concerns crowded out the things of eternity, or does heaven have first place in your heart?
A saving relationship with Jesus won’t come by chance. You must decide to establish and maintain it. You must allow Jesus to come into your heart and into your life. If you don’t decide, you’ll end up in eternal sleep. It’s so much better to wake up and prepare now!
Mark Finley is a well-known Seventh-day Adventist evangelist and an assistant for evangelism to the president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.