17.  The Second Coming of Christ

(Revelation 19)

On the last day of the great tribulation, during the battle of Armageddon, Jesus Christ will appear on a white horse, followed by the heavenly armies of angels and all His saints, to engage in a short but decisive battle with His enemies:

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven: Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.

“And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:11-21).

The Second Coming of Jesus, which is described in Revelation 19, will be like lightning that will be seen from everywhere. But physically He will return to the city of Jerusalem. Just after His ascension two angels said to the Apostles on the Mount of Olives: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Zechariah describes His coming as follows:

“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move towards the north and half of it towards the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You” (Zech. 14:4-5).

The Lord Jesus will come with His saints, who were raptured before the tribulation period to be united with Him forever. They will share in His glorious revelation to the world. Paul said: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) Jude writes: "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgement on all" (Jude v. 14-15).

Reconciled to the Messiah

During this momentous event, when tremendous earthquakes spread over the whole world and the Mount of Olives is split in two, a very dramatic reconciliation will occur between the remnant of Israel and their once-rejected Messiah, Jesus. The Jews who fled to the wilderness in the middle of the tribulation period will return to the Mount of Olives to meet the true Messiah. They will do so despite the great danger posed by the deployment of massive antichristian forces in and around Jerusalem as well as in other places in the Middle East. According to the prophecies in Daniel 12 they will know that 3½ years will elapse from the day on which the false messiah declares himself to be God in the temple, until the day on which the true Messiah will make His appearance. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Dan. 12:11). Just prior to the Day of Atonement which will end this period, the remaining Jews will go to the Mount of Olives unarmed and trusting in God's intervention alone.

Despite their anxiety due to the great war of Armageddon raging they will approach Jerusalem. At a certain stage they will despair, fearing that their hope is gone and that they will all be killed. At that critical moment the Messiah will come, and as His feet touch the Mount of Olives it will split in two and the darkness of God’s judgements will engulf the enemy forces. The Jews will take refuge from the pursuing forces of the Antichrist in the east to west valley formed by the splitting in two of the mountain.

            On that day the Jews will be most surprised to see that their Messiah has marks in His hands, as described by Zechariah. When they see the marks of the nails in the hands of Jesus, they will ask Him: “What are these wounds in your hands?” Then He will answer: “Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends” (Zech. 13:6). It will be a heart-stirring moment when Israel shows great remorse because of their sins, and particularly the fact that their fathers rejected Him during His first coming. "They will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn" (Zech. 12:10).

Referring to the reconciliation to the remnant of Israel the Lord says: “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (Zech. 3:9). In Zechariah 13:1 it is described as follows: “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

Jesus will accept and comfort the fugitive, tested and mourning remnant of His people by saying: “This is My people!” They will respond to this by saying: “The Lord is my God!” (Zech. 13:9). "And it will be said in that day: Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For on this mountain the hand of the Lord will rest" (Is. 25:9-10). “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26).

The judgement of the nations

When the Lord Jesus puts His feet on the Mount of Olives the darkness of God’s judgements will descend upon the earth. It will also be a physical darkness as it was during the crucifixion of Jesus when it became dark for three hours in the middle of the day:

“It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light… But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light” (Zech. 14:6-7).

The Lord will strike His enemies with the sword that proceeds from His mouth. He will need only to speak a word in order to bring about their destruction. In the darkness, the forces of the Antichrist will not be able to continue their pursuit of the people of Israel and will also be unable to launch an attack on Christ and His armies. Instead, they will start killing one another:

“For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem… Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east… And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. It shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the Lord will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbour, and raise his hand against his neighbour’s hand” (Zech. 14:2-4, 12-13).

Considering the current bitter hatred of the Arab nations and the increasing hostility of many other nations against Israel, it is not difficult to understand that they will be mobilised for military action by evil spirits which will incite them in their hard and wicked hearts to surround and attack Israel (just as the Arab nations have done more than once since 1948) and also fight against Jesus and His heavenly army. John says that these unclean spirits “are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty… And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Rev. 16:14, 16).

It will be a dark and tragic day for the apostate nations and their armies since, according to Hebrews 10:31, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

“Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; and the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir” (Is. 13:9-12).

“The day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand: a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness… For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” (Joel 2:1-2, 11).

“For behold, in those day and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgement with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land” (Joel 3:1-2).

Destruction of the Antichrist and the false prophet

The last great target of the Antichrist will be the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and His heavenly armies on the day of His Second Coming. The Antichrist will realise that the coming of Jesus will bring an end to his kingdom, which is why he will use all means at his disposal to oppose and fight the true Messiah. But that will be a totally futile exercise as Jesus is the King of kings who has all power in heaven and on earth. Through this confrontation the Antichrist will expedite his own downfall as well as that of all his followers. It will not be a long and drawn-out battle but a sudden destruction of the enemy forces. The book of Daniel says that this mighty king who conducted a reign of terror on earth “shall come to his end, and no one will help him” (Dan. 11:45).

In Revelation 19:20 it is clearly stated that the Antichrist and the false prophet will both be captured on the day of the Second Coming of Jesus and cast alive into the lake of fire. The place where this confrontation and judgement will occur is most significant from a biblical perspective. According to Joel 3 it will be in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is most likely the Kidron Valley between the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount. Jehoshaphat means The Lord judges.

The Brook Kidron was in biblical times the eastern boundary of Jerusalem. Its name means the black brook because of the dirty wastewater that flowed in it. It was an unsightly area that was also used as a graveyard for the poor. Idols were often destroyed and burned here. Of the God-fearing king Josiah it is said:

“And he brought out the wooden image from the house of the Lord, to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people… And he defiled Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech” (2 Kings 23:6, 10).

The Hinnom Valley is overlooked by Mount Zion on the west side of the Old City. The Kidron Valley joins the Hinnom Valley south of the Old City, from where it is referred to as the Fire Valley. The Valley of Hinnom (ge Hinnom) is the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. The Tophet was here, where the apostate Israelites sacrificed their children to the idol Molech. Waste from the city was also dumped here and set on fire. Because of the burning waste, and also because of the piles of wood for the sacrifice of children to Molech, the Valley of Hinnom became a symbol of hell. In the Talmud, a Jewish book of religious traditions, it is said that one of the gates of hell is in the Hinnom Valley at a place where smoke ascended from the ground between two palm trees.

Because of these views the name of this valley was in New Testament times changed from ge Hinnom to gehenna, which means hell fire (Mt. 5: 22). God said that the name of this valley will be changed to the Valley of Slaughter:

“Therefore behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away” (Jer. 7:32-33).

This valley became synonymous with a place of death, perdition, being consumed by worms, and burning; that is why the name for hell (gehenna) is derived from it. Isaiah also refers to the awful fate of the people who rebelled against God:

“And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh” (Is. 66:24).

The valleys of Kidron and Hinnom will, on the day of the Second Coming of Jesus, be filled with enemy forces as this region will be the place of encounter between a heavenly army and the armies of the Antichrist. It is significant that the two great end-time idols, the Antichrist and the false prophet, will also be judged and condemned to the lake of fire here. When they move up to the Mount of Olives in a vain effort to confront the One who has all power in heaven and on earth, they will find themselves in the Valley of Judgement where their final doom will be sealed.

The binding of Satan

After the enemies of God have been defeated and the Antichrist, the false prophet and their followers have been judged, the devil will be imprisoned and kept securely in custody for a thousand years, after which he will instigate his last rebellion:

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Rev. 20:1-3 KJV).

The description of the binding of the devil is an extension of the scenario of Revelation 19 and is therefore a direct result of the return of Jesus. It follows immediately after the final judgement of the Antichrist and the false prophet, and is therefore not an event that can be extracted from this context and applied to the present dispensation of the church.

At the cross, victory was indeed gained over the devil. His doom was sealed there but its execution was deferred. We can accept this fact in faith and lead a life of victory over the enemy. But that does not mean that Satan was removed from the scene after Calvary and imprisoned somewhere. On the contrary! Peter says that the devil still goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour (1 Pet. 5:8). This warning is given to Christians so that they may remain sober, watchful and clad in the whole armour of God. We can live in the victory of Calvary if we consistently stay near to our Saviour and resist the Evil One in the power of the Holy Spirit:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7 KJV).

The peace of God that we, as saved ones, experience, does not suggest that we are already in the millennial age (the thousand years of peace when Christ will reign on earth). The present battle with the devil and his evil powers can in no way be reconciled with a situation in which he is bound, shut up and sealed so that he cannot mislead the nations, as described in Revelation 20. We do not yet find ourselves in a position where peace reigns. Instead, we are involved in a spiritual battle that extends right through the dispensation of the church and will take on unprecedented proportions in the coming tribulation period (Jn. 16:33). Satan will incite the nations to take military action, attack Israel and even confront the Messiah and His heavenly armies.

It is only on Christ's return that the power of the satanic triumvirate will be destroyed. Two of them, the beast and the false prophet, will be confined to the lake of fire. The dragon (Satan) will be sealed up in a bottomless pit and given over to chains of darkness, where he is to remain for a literal one thousand years.

The throne of glory

The Lord Jesus describes the judgement of the nations when, on His return, He will sit on His throne of glory:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (Mt. 25:31-32).

This judgement of the nations by Christ will be accompanied by an international re-arrangement. The nations will, among others, be given their position or forfeit it on the grounds of their past relationship with Israel. The nations will not, as in the Babylonian world order of the Antichrist, any longer eradicate national boundaries and play down their ethnic identity. When the terror of the Lord comes upon them at Armageddon “every man will turn to his own people, and everyone will flee to his land” (Is. 13:14).

The wedding feast of the Lamb

During His secret coming before the tribulation, Jesus will be united with His bride. She will immediately be caught up to be with the Lord. Now, seven years later, the public revelation of Jesus and His bride will take place. The glorious occasion of the marriage feast of the Lamb will be the venue for many guests. They will include the remnant of Israel who will very recently have accepted Jesus as their Messiah. John heard the heavenly company exclaim:

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And he said to me: These are the true sayings of God” (Rev. 19:7-9).

The splendour of this occasion is described as followed in the psalms:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your kingdom… All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, out of ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad. Kings’ daughters are among Your honourable women; at Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir… The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colours… With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; they shall enter the King’s palace” (Ps. 45:6-15).

With His Second Coming, the bride will share in the crowning moment of the great triumph of Christ when He returns to the earth as King of kings and Lord of lords to crush the power of all His enemies, and establish a government of righteousness in which His servants will reign with Him.