The Advent of Christ Glory
The Prophets of Old Testament time had spoken and written of the return of the Lord to earth in judgment accompanied by His glorified people from heaven. The first to make known this great event was Enoch, who lived before the flood, some 3000 years before Christ. And the words of his prophecy are recorded in the last of the New Testament Epistles, some 90 years after the life and death of the Lord Jesus: “Behold the Lord cometh, with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment” (Jude 14-15). The coming of the Lord from heaven accompanied by His glorified saints is that which is referred to in the following and other Scriptures, Matthew 24:29-31, Luke 17:24-29, Colossians 3:4, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, and Revelation 19:14-16 in the New Testament, and in Zechariah 14:3-4 in the Old Testament. This advent of the Lord is to be distinguished from His coming for His people, as in John 14:3, 1 Corinthians 15:31-54, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, and many other Scriptures.
This latter is the Christian’s proper hope, and it is for this that he “looks” (Phil. 3:20-21) and “waits” (1 Thess. 1:10). It is an event that may happen at any moment, and there will be neither sign given nor date announced, when it will take place. The advent of the Lord in power and glory, His coming to this earth with His saints, to judge His enemies, will not and cannot take place apart from the signs and portents which are clearly described in the Word of God (see Mt. 24:27-34; Luke 21:8-11). And these portents and signs will be watched and used by a people on the earth at that time, whose hope will be in character different from that of Christians of this present time. They will be an earthly people, looking for their Deliverer to judge their foes and deliver them from their cruelties, praying for vengeance on their oppressors, all of which is quite foreign from the present age of Grace and Divine long-suffering (2 Tim. 3:9-10), and the prayers of the people of God now in their relation to those who persecute and kill them (compare Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60; Rom. 12:19-21, with Ps. 3:7; 25:19; 43:10; 64:51; 83:13). This is an age of Grace, but that will be the beginning of a time of judgment, “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2). By failing to distinguish these dispensations which differ, many things are done by Christians, which are out of season for the times in which they live, and cause men of the world who see them and expect something different from those who profess to be followers of the meek and lowly Christ, to stumble, and in many instances awake their fiery opposition to and ridicule toward the Lord and His truth.
The coming of the Son of God from heaven, to raise the dead and change the living saints and take both from earth to heaven, at a moment of which no man knows, was an unrevealed “mystery” to saints of former times. It was made known directly to Paul, and by him in his Epistles, to those to whom they were written unto us (1 Cor. 15:51) by “the Word of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15)—a special message bearing on this subject. This passing to heaven WITHOUT tasting of death had been mentioned by the Lord Jesus in His interview with Martha of Bethany on the occasion of the death of her brother Lazarus (John 11:25-26), but it had not been explained. For the time for its full revelation had not then come. But now it is an “open secret” to faith, and is “the proximate hope” of the believer. But the advent of the Lord with His saints to earth, to judge His enemies, and deliver His earthly people who will then be in the throes of “the great tribulation”—“the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) will be an event which will compel the attention of the world, and bring to their knees the most indifferent and unexercised of mankind. For it will be the first open intervention of the earth-rejected Christ in the affairs of the world that cast Him out, and whose peoples refuse to have Him as their King (Luke 19:14).
Article series: Our Glorious LordThe Patience of Christ The "Parousia" and "Epiphany" of the Lord