In the early 1500s, the Aztec Empire was one of the most powerful and sophisticated civilizations in the Western Hemisphere. However, within one year’s time, this mighty nation of over 2 million people was conquered and enslaved by just 600 men. How did it happen?
The Aztecs had a prophecy about Quetzalcoatl (kèt-säl´ko-ä-tal)—a legendary feathered god-king who was light skinned and bearded. It predicted that he would return to Mexico from across the sea and that he would come in the clouds from the east to save them.1
In 1519, Spanish galleons arrived in Mexico, carrying a group of conquistadores led by Hernán Cortés. When the Aztecs saw the ships, they thought their billowing sails looked like clouds. Cortés heard about the Aztec legend from some Indians who lived on the shore and decided to try to use it to his advantage. By assuming the mantle of deity, he hoped to befuddle the superstitious emperor Montezuma II.
While the emperor was waiting to receive the light-skinned visitor with honor, Cortés marched his army right into the center of the Aztec capital. By the time the people realized that Cortés was not the savior they were expecting, it was too late. The conquistadors proceeded to plunder, enslave, and kill the Aztec people. An entire nation was deceived and destroyed—in part because the prophecies of their god’s return were so ambiguous that almost anyone could have served as a counterfeit.
Just as Cortés used the expectations of the Aztec people against them, in the near future, Satan, the devil, will attempt to impersonate Jesus and counterfeit His return to Earth. But God’s people need not be deceived. When the disciples asked Jesus for the sign of His coming and the end of the world, the very first thing He told them was to be on guard against impostors. He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4, 5).2
Christ then proceeded to give His followers a wealth of information about His second coming so there would be no doubt as to how He would return. Jesus wants us not only to know that He is coming and that He’s coming soon but also to understand the manner of His coming.
One way that Satan has attempted to confuse people about the Second Coming is to promote a teaching that has been widely accepted in many churches. I am referring to the popular teaching regarding a secret rapture. The secret-rapture theory is designed to lull God’s people into a false sense of security and to prepare them for Satan’s final master deception.
The devil knows that Jesus is coming back and that his remaining time is short (Revelation 12:12). He has been sharpening his skills of deception for 6,000 years, and his last masquerade will be his masterpiece.
In fact, God warned that Satan would do such a convincing job that even the followers of Christ would be tempted to believe it. Jesus said to His disciples, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:23, 24).
Satan is in the business of deception, and we know that he is saving his greatest deception of all for the last days. Thus, we need to know how Jesus is coming, or we will be deceived. Here are some Bible facts about Jesus’ second coming:
1. Jesus will not touch the ground
The Bible is very clear that when Jesus comes back, His feet never touch the ground. It says the righteous will be “caught up” to meet Him “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is why Jesus emphatically warns us, “If they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:26, 27, NKJV).
Satan cannot replicate a worldwide, cataclysmic event such as the real Second Coming. However, if he can seduce Christians into believing that Jesus will come secretly or quietly, he won’t need to. He can simply show up in various places around the world, performing great miracles and making TV appearances, and thereby deceive the entire world.
2. the Second Coming is not secret
Will there be a rapture? Yes. Will it be secret? No!
Rapture means “to be carried away with power,” and it is true that when Jesus comes, the living righteous will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). But many have come to believe that this rapture will take place quietly—that faithful Christians all around the world will suddenly disappear, and that life on Earth will continue for a seven-year period of tribulation. During this time, they say, many will be converted and have a second chance at salvation before Christ’s final coming. Although the secret-rapture scenario may appear comforting at first glance, there is absolutely no scriptural support for it. The Bible plainly teaches that when Jesus comes again, every one of our senses will be bombarded with evidence! Read on to see what the Bible says.
3. His coming will be physical
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9–11).
Heaven-sent messengers told the disciples that Jesus would return to Earth in the same manner as He left. Christ left in the clouds, and He will come back in the clouds. He was visible when He left, and He will be visible when He comes again. He had a real body when He left, and He will return the same way.
4. His coming will be visible
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7).
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27).
“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 great glory” (verse 30).
When Christ comes, it will not be a local sighting or an isolated event. It will be visible across the entire world.
5. His coming will be audible
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him” (Psalm 50:3).
As you can see from the preceding Bible verses, Christ’s second coming will be loud! There will be shouts and trumpets and all kinds of noise. No one will accidentally miss it or have to read about it in the newspaper the next day.
6. His coming will open the graves
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” ( John 6:40).
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
This is the Bible’s true description of the rapture. The dead in Christ will rise by His power and will meet Him in the air. Afterward, the faithful who are still alive will also be caught up. Again, it will not be a secret!
7. His coming will destroy the earth
“And the heaven [sky] departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Revelation 6:14).
“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Revelation 16:18–20).
This world will be uninhabitable by people after Christ comes. His coming will shake the very foundations of the earth.
8. His coming will confirm our destiny
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).
At Christ’s return, we will receive our final reward. Each person’s decision will have already been made; there will be no second chance to convert. The time to make a decision to follow Christ is now!
Doug Batchelor is the speaker and director of the Amazing Facts media ministry, headquartered in Granite Bay, California. This article is adapted fro “Anything but Secret,” amazingfacts.org.