By Gao Jie
We Christians all know that when the Lord Jesus descends for the second time, He will receive us so that we can be with Him. This is the promise that the Lord has made to us, and also is the greatest longing for all Christians. So welcoming the Lord’s second coming is the most important matter of us believers’ lives. But to welcome the Lord, we must first know in what way His second coming will happen. If we are not clear about this, then we will be apt to miss the Lord’s return and lose the opportunity to enter into the kingdom of heaven for all of eternity. Let’s fellowship about this topic today.
In what method will the Lord appear when He descends for the second time in the last days? I believe most people think that when the Lord Jesus returns He will descend upon a cloud and will be seen by everyone, because the Bible predicts, “You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “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” (Matthew 24:30). Therefore, we keep watching the skies for years and waiting foolishly for that joyful day when the Lord suddenly returns on a white cloud to take us. However, so many years have passed, but we never see the Lord Jesus descending on a cloud. Actually, if we examine the Bible’s prophecies regarding the return of the Lord closely, we can readily discover that there is not just the “descend with the clouds” prophecy, but also prophecies like that the Lord will descend secretly. For instance, Revelation 3:3, “If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you.” Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” And Mark 13:32, “But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” These prophecies mention that the Lord will come as a thief. “As a thief” means coming secretly, quietly and no one will know. Furthermore, in many parts of the Bible it is predicted that the return of the Lord will be the “coming of the Son of man,” as it says in Luke 17:24–25: “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.” The “Son of man” mentioned here refers to someone born of a human and who is possessed of normal humanity, like the Lord Jesus in the flesh who lived a normal life, ate and lived alongside man, really and truly gave sermons, and so on. Anyone that is a spiritual body cannot be called the Son of man. Such as Jehovah God, the resurrected Lord Jesus, and angels—they are all spiritual bodies and thus cannot be called the “Son of man.” Besides, we know that when the Lord Jesus became flesh in the form of the Son of man and did His work in the land of Judea, He was rejected and condemned by the Jewish people, and was nailed to the cross, experiencing a lot of suffering. And this verse mentions “be rejected of this generation”, which proves that when the Lord returns in the last days, He will be rejected by this generation. If He openly descended with the clouds, everyone would tremble with fear and dare not to resist Him. That way, He definitely wouldn’t endure a lot of suffering, much less be rejected by this generation. So, the Lord will return by descending in secret as the incarnated Son of man, to perform His works and appear amongst mankind.
From this we can see that in the last days the Lord will return in two ways: one way is to incarnate as the Son of man and come in secret, unbeknown to anyone; the other is to come on a cloud and appear openly to people.
We all know the words of the Lord are faithful, and His every word will be fulfilled. Then how will the two different prophecies about the manner of the Lord Jesus’ return be fulfilled? We can understand the answer through the Lord Jesus’ words. He said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47–48). “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). “And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). From these verses we can see that, during the stage where the Lord comes in secret to do His work and save mankind in the last days, He will express His word to judge, purify, and perfect mankind. This is when the wheat and tares, sheep and goats, and good and evil servants will be separated. At this point, we will certainly not see the Lord appearing in public atop clouds. Only after the work of God’s incarnation and secret descent among man is complete, a group of overcomers have been made complete, and then God returns to Zion with glory, at which time the calamities will visit upon earth and God will punish the wicked while rewarding the good, appearing openly before all the nations of earth. At this time, the prophecy of the Lord’s public descent on earth will be fulfilled: “Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Revelation 1:7).
By this point, someone may ask: “When people see the Lord appearing to all of humanity in public atop clouds, in theory they should be very excited and overjoyed, and yet here it says ‘all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.’ Why is this?” This is because when God finally appears in public, God’s work to save mankind in secret will already be complete and God will have started His work of rewarding the good and punishing the evil. All those that rejected God’s secret work and resisted and condemned Christ of the last days will beat their breasts in despair, wail and grind their teeth, and regret for the rest of their life, knowing that the One they resisted and condemned is the returned Lord Jesus whom they’d been longing for. So that’s how the scene of “all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” will appear.
Let’s read a passage of words in a book, so that we can understand more clearly. It says, “When you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. It will herald the end of God’s management plan, and will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth. Those who accept the truth and do not seek signs, and thus have been purified, shall have returned before the throne of God and entered the Creator’s embrace. Only those who persist in the belief that ‘The Jesus who does not ride upon a white cloud is a false Christ’ shall be subjected to everlasting punishment, for they only believe in the Jesus who exhibits signs, but do not acknowledge the Jesus who proclaims severe judgment and releases the true way of life. And so it can only be that Jesus deals with them when He openly returns upon a white cloud” (“When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth”). From this passage we recognize that, those who stubbornly cling to the belief that the Lord Jesus will come upon a white cloud but refuse to investigate His secret work will leave themselves a lifetime of regret, because they are too stubborn, too conceited, and too arrogant! It’s just like the Pharisees who longed for the arrival of the Messiah, but stubbornly held on to their own notions and imaginings in delimiting the Lord Jesus. They believed that the Lord Jesus could not possibly be God because He was not called Messiah, and that the Lord Jesus was not the Messiah because He was not born in a palace. Their arrogance and ignorance, self-importance and conceit impelled them to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross, which led to them losing the salvation of God and the entire Jewish people suffering the unprecedented pain of national subjugation. The Bible says, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been His counselor?” (Romans 11:33–34). We are just insignificant little creatures, so how could we fathom God’s wondrousness and wisdom? And how could we arbitrarily delimit how God should work in the last days?
I read a passage in a book of truth, which is very helpful for us seeking God’s appearance and welcoming His second coming. The book says, “Since we are searching for the footprints of God, it behooves us to search for God’s will, for the words of God, for His utterances—because wherever there are new words spoken by God, the voice of God is there, and wherever there are the footsteps of God, God’s deeds are there. Wherever there is the expression of God, there God appears, and wherever God appears, there the truth, the way, and the life exist” (“The Appearance of God Has Ushered in a New Age”). The Lord Jesus also said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). These words tell us that God’s sheep listen to God’s voice, and that wise virgins will take heed to listen to the Lord’s voice. In the last days, when we hear that someone is preaching that the Lord has returned and that He is expressing the truth, this is the returned Lord knocking on our door. At this time, we should waste no time in letting go of our conceptions and imaginings, going out to meet the Lord, and searching for the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches, for only then will we have the chance to welcome the Lord’s second coming, follow His footsteps, and be raptured to before His throne to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb.