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The Prelude to His Coming as the revelator saw it and heard it in a vision of the last
"There came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God." Rev. 16: 17-19.
“The heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Rev. 6: 14.
His Glorious Appearing Then bursts upon the world the glory of our Saviour's coming:
“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. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet.” Matt. 24:30, 31.
"I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Rev. 14: 14, 15.
The Resurrection of the Just, and the Translation
of the Living Righteous
The time to reap has come, and the wheat is gathered at last into the garner of the Lord:
“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Cor. 15:51, 52.
“He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matt. 24:31.
“This we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall
not prevent them which are asleep. 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 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 Thess. 4:15-18.
The righteous dead are raised to life as the trump of God sounds and the voice of the Archangel calls to His sleeping saints, and the living righteous are transformed from mortality to immortality. Then all together, with the escort of the angels, they follow the Saviour to the heavenly mansions that He has prepared in the city of God.
The Destruction of the Wicked
Before the glorious majesty of the coming King no sin can endure; for true it is that "our God is a consuming fire”_ now, in the day of His mercy, consuming sin out of the heart that by faith approaches the throne of grace, but in that day consuming the unrepentant sinner with his sin.
“Where will the sinner hide in that day, in that day?
It will be in vain to call,
‘Ye mountains on us fall!'
It is the great day long foretold by seer and prophet.
Again let us read the description of what it will mean to the unsaved to see Christ coming in glory; for the terror of that day must warn us now to keep within the refuge of the Saviour's loving grace:
“The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" Rev. 6:15-17.
The same glory that transforms the righteous is a con suming fire to those who have rejected Christ's salvation:
“Then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thess. 2:8.
“When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” 2 Thess. 1:7-9.
The Climax of Human History Thus the second coming of Christ brings the resurrection and translation of the righteous, the death of the wicked, and the end of the world. The resurrection of the wicked does not then take place, but only that of the just; save for some of the wicked dead who had a special part in warring against Christ,—“they also which pierced Him” (Rev. 1:7). These are raised to see His coming, necessarily to fall again before the consuming glory of His presence.
The righteous are taken to reign with Christ in the heavenly city for a thousand years, and during the same period the earth lies in desolation and chaos, uninhabited by man, a dark abyss, the dreary prison house of Satan. Of the two resurrections, first of the just and then of the unjust, we are told:
“They (the righteous) lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power." Rev. 20:4-6.
It is at the end of the thousand years that the resurrection of the wicked takes place. Then the city of God descends, "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,” and the wicked come forth to condemnation and the second death, from which there is no waking.
“Now is the Accepted Time" Now is the day of salvation, when by Christ's grace we may prepare for that great day. To be found among His redeemed ones in that day will be of infinitely greater worth than anything this world can give, of pleasure, or possessions, or honor. Nothing will count then but the blessed hope.
Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, found the personal Saviour in the days of the Methodist revival in England. All her wealth and all her social influence were devoted to Christ, even though titled friends took umbrage at her close association with the poor and the humble who gave heed to the message of the hour, and pressed into the kingdom. She wrote of her joy in being numbered with the children of God:
“I love to meet among them now,
Though weakest of them all;
When Thou for them shalt call.
“Prevent, prevent it by Thy grace!
In that expected day.
Nor let me fall, I pray.”
One night, at a royal ball, the Prince of Wales asked a titled lady where the Countess of Huntingdon was. “Oh, I suppose she is praying with some of her beggars somewhere!” was the flippant answer. “Ah," said the crown prince, "in
, the last day I think I should be glad to hold the hem of Lady Huntingdon's mantle.” True it is that the greatest gift of grace now, as it will be then, is to be numbered among the obedient children of God.
“Let me among Thy saints be found,
To see Thy smiling face;
With shouts of endless grace."