Jesus’ Second Coming and the Last Judgment
Many Christians think that the day of Jesus’ Second Coming is the day of the Last Judgment. As portrayed in Italian painter Michelangelo’s work ‘The Last Judgment’, when Jesus comes on the clouds with thousands upon thousands of angels, the world will be judged, and the saints who will be saved will enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Then, does the Bible teach that the day of Jesus’ Second Coming is the day of the Last Judgment? Let’s find out through the words of Jesus.
I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?(Luke 18:8 (NRSV))
Jesus said at His Second Coming, He will not be able to find a single person in the world who has the right faith. Without faith one cannot receive salvation. (1 Peter 1:9). If God decides to bring forth judgment in this kind of situation, who can be saved?
The Bible records the appearance of Jesus, who will come again, in two ways. One is coming on the ‘clouds’ and the other is appearing in ‘blazing fire’.
The Day of Jesus’ Second Coming on the Clouds
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky ··· They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory ··· they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.(Matthew 24:30-31)
This is the situation at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming, when He comes on the ‘clouds’. At that time, Jesus said, He would not bring judgment and punishment, but that He would gather the elect, that is, God’s people who are to be saved. The same meaning is also found in the Gospel of Luke.
At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”(Luke 21:27-28)
The redemption written here means eternal redemption when the saints will enter the kingdom of Heaven, so we must pay attention to the time when Jesus comes on the clouds. That time is not the day of redemption, but the time when redemption is ‘drawing near’. In other translations, it is recorded, the time of ‘your redemption is drawing near’ and the time ‘for your salvation is near’. Therefore, according to these words, we must recognize and receive Jesus, who will come a second time on the clouds and gather His people, ‘before’ the day of eternal redemption’ arrives.
Then, are the clouds that Jesus comes on actual clouds floating in the sky? According to the Bible, the clouds which Jesus will come on are not real clouds, but represent His coming in the flesh. As prophesied in the book of Daniel that Jesus would come on the clouds, 2000 years ago Jesus came as a man and performed the work of redemption (Daniel 7:13-14, Matthew 28:18, John 17:10, Luke 22:29). You can read in detail about the appearance of the Second Coming Jesus’ coming on the clouds ‘here’.
The Day of the Last Judgment Appears With Blazing Fire
In the Bible, there is also a prophecy that He will appear in a completely opposite form to the prophecy that He will come on the clouds.
See ··· coming with fire ··· he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword ··· will execute judgment upon all men ···(Isaiah 66:15-16)
··· the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire ··· He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel ···(2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)
The prophecy about when Jesus appears in blazing fire is completely different from the prophecy about when Jesus comes on the clouds. The purpose of Jesus’ Second Coming on the clouds is to gather the saints, who will be saved, into the Truth, and the purpose of His appearing in blazing fire is to judge the world. The purposes are different and the appearances are different. The Second Coming and the Last Judgment cannot take place at the same time.
The Bible prophesies before Jesus appears in blazing fire to bring about the Last Judgment, He must first come on the clouds, that is, become a man, and gather His people. Then, what is the reason Christ must come a second time before the Last Judgment? It is because, without the Savior’s second coming, no one can be saved (John 10:16). Before Christ appears in blazing fire, we must seriously learn about the Second Coming Jesus who comes on the clouds. Only then will we be able to hear the voice of salvation calling to gather God’s people (John 10:27-28). Those who hear and follow His voice will, in the end, stand as those who will receive salvation and not be the objects of judgment.
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