August 7, 2016

In this issue: The Second Coming of Christ by Kieran Murphy

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The Second Coming of Christ Graphic

by Kieran Murphy

Throughout history many have boldly predicted the time of Christ’s second coming and the end of the world. The journalist, Jeffery L Sheler and Mike Tharp have written about the intense interest that each generation has had in this subject in an article in the Online US News entitled "Dark Prophecies."

America's fascination with apocalypticism begins in a sense with Christopher Columbus, a devout reader of biblical prophecies who is said to have believed the world would end in 1650. He considered his discovery of the "New World" part of a divine plan to establish a millennial paradise. "God made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new Earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John," Columbus wrote in his journal, "and he showed me the spot where to find it."

Puritans in colonial America thought their New England settlements were outposts of the kingdom Christ would establish at his Second Coming. Cotton Mather enjoyed speculating on the specifics of Christ's return--how, when, and where it would occur--all of which he believed could be predicted by interpreting current events. ...

Hippolytus, a Roman priest and theologian in the second and third centuries, predicted Christ would return in A.D. 500, based on the dimensions of Noah's ark. And about A.D. 172, the Phrygian prophet Montanus drew a following by proclaiming himself the Holy Spirit incarnate and declaring that the Last Judgment was at hand.

In medieval times, an influential Calabrian monk, Joachim of Fiore, fanned apocalyptic fervor with his writings on Revelation. They included elaborate charts and drawings mapping out the end-times scenario, and fueled support for the Crusades, launched between 1097 and 1270 to retake the Holy Land from its Islamic conquerors.

Joachim's approach to prophecy, scholars say, presaged popular 20th-century views regarding the Second Coming. John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century Englishman, after studying the Bible's apocalyptic prophecies, came up with an elaborate end- times theory known as premillennial dispensationalism. Darby concluded that history was divided into seven ages--or dispensations--that will culminate in the Second Coming.

Darby's thinking came to dominate Christian evangelical theology in the 20th century, popularized in books like Hal Lindsey's 1970 bestseller, The Late Great Planet Earth, and Dallas Theological Seminary Chancellor John Walvoord's Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis. Both writers used current events to explain mysterious biblical images and to fashion intricate end-times scenarios...

Over the years, some premillennialists have confidently identified Adolf Hitler, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Saddam Hussein as the Antichrist, Cobra helicopters as the swarming locusts of Revelation, and credit and debit cards as the "mark of the Beast" without which, according to Revelation 13:17, "no man might buy or sell."

No single modern event has stirred more apocalyptic excitement, however, than the founding of the State of Israel. Since much of the end-times drama revolves around Israel, its nearly 2,000-year absence from the world scene had posed something of a problem for generations of prophecy believers. So when the United Nations chartered Israel in 1948, premillennialists exulted that the final countdown had begun. For many Orthodox Jews, Israel's founding also stirred Messianic expectations linked to biblical prophecies that the Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed by invading Romans in A.D. 70, would be rebuilt and herald the coming of the Messiah (, 12-15-97 online issue).

This is a small sample; but it illustrates how popular it has been for religious people to predict the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world.

I believe that Jesus will come again! This was the message the apostles received from angels as they watched the Lord ascend into heaven.

(Acts 1:11) "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."

Furthermore, this was the message proclaimed by the apostles: That Jesus would come a second time, apart from sin (Heb 9:28).They taught that he would one day...

(1 Thess 4:16) ...descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God...

They said that he...

(2 Thess 1:7-10) ...shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed.

I believe the angels and I believe the apostles -Jesus IS coming again! But if you want me to do what others have done and predict the time of his return, I’m not going to do it! For though I know that Jesus is coming again, I don’t know when this will happen and no one else knows either! Those who tell you otherwise are deceived.

Jesus spoke on more than one occasion about his Second Coming. He said:

(Matthew 24:35, 36, 44; 25:13) Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone... For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will... Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

While on earth Jesus told his apostles that no one knows the day and hour of his return—not...the angels...nor the Son, but the Father alone. Moreover, lest anyone think that this has changed since Jesus’ ascension, Peter said:

(2 Peter 3:10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Does a thief give you warning that he is about to rob your house or your car? Jesus' final coming will be like the coming of a thief-unannounced. But some say that his coming will only be like a thief for the unprepared; the watchful disciple, however, can know the day of the Lord’s return. But let's read once again the words of Jesus in Matt 24:44, "for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." Thus, not even His disciples will know the time of his return; that day, even to them, will come like a thief. ~

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