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Jesus Is Coming
by David Wilkerson
One thousand years ago, just about this time, the world faced it's darkest hour. According to Miller's Church History, the church was wicked, apostate, and very weak. In fact, it's very life was ebbing away. Mohammedanism was growing rapidly; Europe was being overrun by Hungarians who massacred multitudes; fear and violence were everywhere on earth.
It is recorded that there were strange signs in the sun and moon.
Preachers all through the known world began to preach and prophesy that the world would end sometime in 999, just before the 1,000 year mark.
The text used was Luke 21:25-27: "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:25-27).
From the year 960 the panic increased. But the year 999 was considered the last anyone would see! It was a satanic delusion, based on a misinterpretation of the message of the millennium (meaning one-thousand years) found in Revelation 20:1-7.
People quit their jobs;
They gave away fortunes - kings and emperors begged to be allowed into monasteries to join holy orders. Crowds of poor people slept in the porches of holy buildings - or at least in their shadow!
The last night of 999 A.D. was one of panic and restlessness
The wicked had one last wild fling which was said to be too horrible to be repeated. Jerusalem was filled with those who waited on Mount Zion for Jesus to break through on clouds. As midnight approached, the world held it's breath. The clocks struck twelve - then one minute after twelve - then five minutes - no Jesus!
Jesus Was to Come in 1843!
It happened again about 145 years ago when William Miller, founder of the Adventist movement, announced the startling revelation that Jesus was coming in 1843! He had been converted from Deism and in 1833 became a licensed Baptist preacher. After fourteen years of study, Miller calculated that Jesus would return in 1843 on a given date. His book, Evidence From Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ -- About the Year 1843, contained charts, minute calculations, certain proofs that, without a shadow of a doubt, 1843 was it!
Joseph Hines became publicist for the book and from 1839 to the year 1843 thousands of believers of all denominations became convinced that Jesus was coming in 1843. The date he set arrived.
And the World War III will begin 23 days later on October 4? That Armageddon will be fought October 4, 1995 and the millennium will begin at sunset December 23, 1995?
We Must Beware of Getting So Caught Up in
Certainly Jesus never intended His body to be so divided over this blessed hope. There is such confusion, such division, over when He is coming. The Charismatic and Evangelical movements are divided into many camps - all convinced they know when He is coming! Some say He is coming in two stages: first, a sudden, unannounced rapture, then the tribulation. Others are "mid-trib", that is, He will come after 3 years of tribulation.
God Has Purposely Withheld the Time of Christ's Return
"Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is" (Mark 13:33).
Any doctrine about Christ's return, the tribulation, or the millennium that robs you of watchfulness, prayerfulness and moment to moment expectancy is not of God! Nor is it of God if it robs you of zeal to win the lost for Christ. We are to live hour by hour waiting, watching, and working. Some who push this book on Christ's coming on September 11 say, "Something is needed to awaken dead Christians - this may do it!" But I say, if they have been back-slidden, unwatchful, or lazy, no emotional jolt will do it. Rather, on September 12, 13, 14, and 15 they will become scoffers! They will become even lazier!
When I was a boy in the earlier Pentecostal movement, the coming of Jesus was preached in such a way that it scared me to death! The text was always:
It's like that for many Christians. His coming is fearful to them - they live with the dread of the last trumpet! If there is rebellion and unforsaken sin, it will be fearful. But in this message I want to preach His coming in a different light - that is, in terms of what it means to the overcomer, to those who love Him.
He Is Coming Back in the Same Way He Left!
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power... 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 steadfastly 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 1:6-11).
"being assembled together with them..." (Acts 1:4).
The New American Standard [Bible] says "gathering them together." About 120 were called together by Jesus Himself to the Mount of Olives. I don't think they knew or grasped what was about to happen. He had tried to prepare them for His return to the Father: "... I go to my Father and ye [shall] see me no more" (John 16:10). How could a finite mind comprehend such words? How would He be going? Would He die again? Would a chariot come as it did for Elijah? Would angels take Him? Or would He suddenly vanish into thin air? It was something Jesus had warned them about:
"Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father..." (John 14:28). They said, "...What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith" (John 16:18).
In the same way He gathered the disciples, Jesus will again first gather His people together unto Himself to prepare us for His return. But will we understand? God has always had a people, but just prior to His coming He will do just as He did before He left. He is doing it now! It is happening here in Times Square Church and all across America, China, Europe, Poland, Russia. Small companies and larger groups are coming by the call of the Holy Spirit to "go out to meet Him." They have heard the trumpet! They have heard the cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!" (Matthew 25:6).
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).
It Was a Glorified Man Who Left -
"...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."
It was a flesh and bone body that was laid in the tomb, and a flesh and bone body that was resurrected! It was a flesh and bone Jesus that Thomas touched. He touched His hands and put his hand in His side. This was truly a man - glorified - who ascended to the Father! Jesus did not vaporize before them! He was lifted in a cloud until out of sight! What an awesome sight it had to have been: Jesus glowing - radiant with glory - face heavenward - slowly lifted above them. They had to have fallen on their knees!
Paul is talking about our bodily change when we are "...caught up together with them [the resurrected dead] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..." (1 Thessalonians 4:17). He will come quickly, suddenly, and we will be changed bodily in a moment.
But what will happen before our bodily change? I believe the redeemed will see Him descend just as the 120 saw Him ascend! I believe Christ's coming will be a revelation of His glory to His bride. The last trump symbolizes a last awakening.
And He will come quickly, suddenly, and we will be changed bodily in a moment. But I believe Christ's coming is a revelation of His glory to His bride! He will knock first: "...It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh..." (Song of Solomon 5:2). How can the bride not sense the near approach of her loved one! In ancient times the bridegroom's approach was announced to the bride and her party at least two blocks away,
"Behold the bridegroom cometh!"
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).
We love Him now, though we don't see Him. What will it be like moments before He appears to reveal Himself? "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8 NAS). Right now He is joy unspeakable and full of glory when He simply touches us by His Spirit.
Has He ever come into your room?
Then what will it be like when He begins to draw us near by His approaching glory and presence?
His Coming Will Be a Great Celebration
For us who make up the bride, there must be no fear when He appears. "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:13). never forget that He will not surprise those who expect Him, who are "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God..." (2 Peter 3:12). Those who are looking and expecting are "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). They're not sitting in front of the TV! Not wrapped up in self, dreams, ambitions! But they're busy adorning themselves as a bride-in-waiting. They are occupying until He comes. That day will not "overtake" those who are prepared. He will not come as a thief to the expectant!
Jesus Is Coming With a Shout!
"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 up 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. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
In Greek, the word "shout" means to incite by word, to awaken, excite, spur to action. The voice of the archangel will be heard by all overcomers:
"He is at the door! Come beloved! He whom you love has come to take you away." This is no discreet coming, quietly done in a corner. No! Jesus is coming with trumpet blasting, with hosts of angels, with a shout, with a cosmic cry of the archangel. The dead in Christ will arise first to meet Him in the air. What a thunderous rejoicing that will be! They will embrace Him first. Do you think they will be silent? With new bodies?
Eternally redeemed and at long last home with Jesus? Beloved, they will be there rejoicing! And while they are rejoicing, He will send His angels into all the world and gather His children. What a welcome that will be.
But here is the meaning of His coming, distilled in a few words: "...and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). How foolish it is to argue whether we will be living on earth or in some heaven. Heaven will be wherever Jesus is! Some are so determined we will never leave this earth, that Jesus will come down to us and set up a world kingdom.
All I want is this word: "So shall we ever be with the Lord."
Do you desire to ever be with the Lord? Did you know that it is also His desire to be with you?
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory..." (John 17:24).
Don't be angry with the date-setters who thought they had His coming all figured out. Perhaps it was done with zeal without wisdom. There will be more books, letters, and prophecies claiming to have special revelation. Do not be moved by any of these things. Leave the times and seasons in the Father's hands - and live every day of your life as if Christ were coming within the hour. Until He comes there is much work to be done rebuilding the walls of Zion.
By David Wilkerson
Used with permission granted by World Challenge, P. O. Box 260, Lindale, TX 75771 USA.