Divine Principle and Its Application
Young Oon Kim
Chapter XI - The Second Advent
In the 24th Chapter of Matthew there is a great prophecy of the Second Advent of Jesus and the Last Judgment. The Second Advent, from the earliest Christianity, has been one of the central features of the faith, and today is the heightened hope of many Christians. Regarding the time, place, and manner of the coming of the Lord, there has been much discussion; yet no convincing answer has been found.
1. Divergent Views of the Second Advent
There are various current views concerning the Second Advent. Some Christians believe that it refers to Jesus' coming into a person's life at conversion or at the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is true. Jesus does come at those times to fill the heart of the believer. But that is not the Coming to which Jesus' prophecy written in Matthew refers. Conversions and the baptism of the Holy Spirit take place every day, but the Second Advent of the Lord is an event that will take place once in history. On the Day of Pentecost Jesus' disciples experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they continued to talk of the Coming of Jesus as an event still in the future, which indicates that baptism is not the Coming referred to in Matthew's chronicle. The early Christians expected Jesus to return during their lifetime and looked daily for his Coming. Since then, there have been many predictions concerning the date of his return, none of which have proved true.
Another view of the Second Coming of Christ is that Jesus will come from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and God's people will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. During the time of Jesus, some people who took the words of Daniel literally believed that the Messiah would come in the clouds. "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him." (Dan. 7:13) Since some believed this literally, rather than symbolically, as it was meant, they failed to recognize Jesus.
Many of Jesus' followers believe that the manner of his return will be like that of his going.
And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11)
Many Christians quote these verses to explain that Jesus is to come from heaven in the same way that he went. He left on a cloud and he will return on a cloud. We must remember the fact that it was Jesus' resurrected spiritual body that ascended into heaven, and not his physical body. He, as a spiritual entity, has been descending to his faithful followers all through the New Testament Age and has been working with them. These words in Acts are therefore not the prophecy of Jesus' Second Coming, but have been fulfilled by his spiritual ministry.
Some Christians refer to II John to support their belief that Jesus will return in the same body, because it is said: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist." (II John 7) By this statement, John meant to warn the people about Gnosticism, which taught a dualism of good and evil, and held that flesh was evil, and that therefore Jesus, the Son of God, could not assume the same kind of flesh as other men. John called the Gnostics "the deceiver" and "the antichrist," because they denied that Jesus was an historical figure. This verse does not refer to the Second Coming of the Lord.
Christians of various denominations hold many divergent beliefs concerning the Second Advent even though they read the same Bible. They all feel there is firm ground in the Word of God for their beliefs, and that therefore they cannot be wrong.
2. The Time Is To Be Revealed
The time of the Second Advent has been completely hidden, so that even Jesus said it was beyond his knowledge. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." (Matt. 24:36) Hence, some Christians feel that even to discuss the time element is useless. However, if the Father knows, will He not reveal it? God has consistently revealed His will to His children in order to prepare them for His work. For example, He revealed to Noah the coming of the flood judgment, that he might make preparation for it. He revealed to Abraham the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Until Jesus was born, no one knew when he would be born. But when the time was full, God revealed it to the wise men from the East, to the shepherds, and to John the Baptist. It is said that Jesus would come as a thief in the night to those in darkness, but it is also said that he would not come as a thief to those not in darkness. (I Thess. 5:4) When the Lord comes again, God will reveal the time and place even as He did at the birth of Jesus.
Many today are receiving revelations and confirmation that this is indeed the time of the Second Advent. God is giving many signs by which men can know, as Jesus said:
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. (Matt. 24:32-33)
3. Coming On the Clouds
Then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt. 24:30-31)
Since these words will not be fulfilled literally, we must know the symbolic meaning of "coming on the clouds." Clouds are vaporized water. According to the Book of Revelation, "waters" symbolize the people of the world. "The waters that you saw, where the harlot is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues." (Rev. 17:15) Because water signifies people, clouds signify resurrected believers. In the Letter to the Hebrews, "cloud" refers to the multitude. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight." (Heb. 12: la) In the Old Testament, clouds often symbolize God's presence and glory. Therefore "coming on the clouds" means that the Lord will appear in glory among the multitudes of resurrected believers. The Lord will send out his angel messengers with a loud trumpet call (divine truth) and they will gather his elect from the four winds. "The kingdom of God is not coining with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!' or `There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (Luke 17: 20-21) The kingdom of God will not bodily descend from heaven with signs visible to everyone. At the time of the Second Advent, the Lord and his followers will establish the kingdom of God, which will be in the midst of them as well as within their hearts.
Replying to a question concerning the place of his coming, Jesus answered: "Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together." (Luke 17:37b) As the eagles gather where there is food, people will be attracted to where the dynamic spiritual life and power are manifested. As the great spiritual movement arises and resurrected believers assemble, the new Messiah will be known there. When the time is full, God will let His people know by signs and revelations. But only those who have ears to hear and eyes to see will perceive and recognize them.
4. How Will He Come?
The great hope of Israel was the coming of the Messiah, but an equally important expectation was the coming of Elijah, the forerunner of Jesus. According to Jesus, Elijah was John the Baptist:
And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come" He replied, "Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. (Matt. 17:10-13)
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matt. 11:13-15)
The return of Elijah was thus fulfilled in the appearance of John the Baptist. Jesus regarded Elijah and John as one in their single mission, for John came to succeed Elijah and complete his work. The return of the Lord will be fulfilled in the same way as in the instance of Elijah and John the Baptist. God will send another person to complete the unfinished work of Jesus. Thus Jesus and the Lord of the Second Advent are one in accomplishing one mission.
In the study of the history of the Old Testament we have seen that if the central figure in a course of restoration fails his mission, God does not use him again. Instead, God chooses another person to carry out His work. God created Adam to form the foundation of the kingdom of heaven on earth. When he failed, God transferred Adam's mission to Abel. When God chose Moses, He promised to lead him and his people into Canaan. But because Moses failed, he was not allowed to enter the promised land. God chose Joshua to succeed Moses and complete his mission. Likewise, it is inconceivable that Jesus of Nazareth will come again to undertake the ministry of the Second Advent.
According to the law of restitution, a life can be indemnified only by another life. (Ex. 21:23-25) For the loss of man through Adam's fall, restitution can be made by man alone. Since God never uses twice someone who has failed in his mission, Adam could not make restitution for the fall. God continued the dispensation of restoration through other men in Adam's place, such as Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus. God must do the work of restoration through men.
This is why Jesus was born as a man, lived as a man, struggled against Satan as a man, and died as a man. Jesus could fulfill only half of his mission, and the physical restoration of man remained unfulfilled. This can be undertaken only by a man in his physical body. No returning spirit can fulfill it. In order to accomplish this task, therefore, another man must be born for this purpose-a man who will live as a man, subjugate Satan completely, and, as a man, restore the entire universe. This will bring victory and glory to God.
Jesus said in reference to the Second Advent that "the Son of man" would come. In Revelation it is said that he will bear a new name:
He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. (Rev. 3:12)
His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. (Rev. 19:12)
If Jesus is to come, why should he have a different name which no one knows but himself? Jesus' name is known to the world. It is thus clear that not Jesus but someone else will come, bearing a new name.
And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to His throne. (Rev. 12:4b-5)
Christians have interpreted the woman in this passage as the Church, which was acceptable in the past. But today the new revelation sheds light on this passage to unfold its ultimate sense. The one who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron is a male child born of a woman, as Jesus was born of a woman, the descendant of Adam and Eve. He will battle Satan, the great dragon, and subjugate him with a rod of iron, the words of divine truth.
5. Jesus Spoke Symbolically
Why did Jesus use symbols and say he would come in the clouds? Jesus had many things to teach his disciples, but he could not tell them everything because he knew that they could not fully understand him. (John 16:12) Jesus promised to send the spirit of truth which would reveal all these things in due time. It is quite true that the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, but symbolically-not literally. Jesus could not plainly reveal such important matters 2,000 years ago when the time was not appropriate.
If the Second Coming in another man had been literally stated, the precious life and the crucifixion of Jesus would have had little meaning for the Christian. People would only have anticipated the Second Advent, ignoring Jesus, and would not have followed him as the Savior and the Lord. This would have destroyed God's entire dispensation with Jesus in the 2,000 years of the New Testament Age.
Moreover, if the Second Coming in another person had been clearly understood, there would have been many antichrists, and much confusion would have arisen in the Christian Church. It is God's providence, therefore, that Christians be hungry and thirsty for righteousness and for the kingdom of God without being confused or distracted until the time is full. The Scriptures predict that many people in the last days will say, "I am Christ," and that they will lead many astray. (Matt. 24:5) Ever since Satan seized the initiative in the beginning of history, evil has come first and good has followed later. Before truth appears, falsehood stalks ahead. Antichrists will appear before the true Christ comes.
Though much of the meaning of the Bible has been concealed in symbols, at the time of the Second Advent God will pour out His Spirit upon all people, that His hidden words might be known to them.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:28-29)
6. Are Christians Prepared?
"Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8b) Since the Lord will come in a wholly unexpected manner, many Christians who are looking skyward for his coming will deny him, condemn him as a heretic and antichrist, and even persecute him. In this instance what Jesus said will be fulfilled: "For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation." (Luke 17:24-25) If the Lord came in the clouds with the archangel's call, and Christians were caught up to meet him in the air, how is it possible for him to be rejected? Who would fail to recognize him? From this, it is clear that the Lord will not literally come on the clouds.
Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" And then will I declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers." (Matt. 7: 21-23)
Regardless of how many years the Jews had served God, Jesus rejected them because they denied him. At the time of the Second Advent, the Lord will also reject those who deny him, regardless of whatever great works they have done in the name of Jesus. The Lord of the Second Advent will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will judge the world with justice, repaying each man for what he has done.
Jesus was denied and crucified by God's chosen people-the very people who had fasted, prayed, offered tithes, prophesied, served God faithfully, and longed for the Messiah throughout their suffering. We cannot blame the Jews of those times. If we had lived then and seen Jesus with our own eyes, very probably we would also have denied him.
The Jews were faithful to the words of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, they were blinded by these very words and denied the Messiah on the basis of the Old Testament. Who can say that the Christians of today will not likewise be blinded by the New Testament and that they will not deny the Lord of the Second Advent by its words? Jesus indicated that when the Son of man comes, no faith will be found.
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