He Came To This Earth Once
Nineteen hundred years ago Christ came to this earth, and was here thirty-three years before he returned to heaven from whence he came.
All of the prophecies and Scriptures pertaining to His first advent came true, -- so why cannot we believe the prophecies and Scriptures pertaining to His second advent?
Many Old Testament prophecies told of Christ's coming to this earth the first time; how Joseph and Mary should conceive of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, and, -- "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins;" that "there shall shine forth a star" at the appointed time over His birthplace in "Bethlehem of Judea," that the Magi and wise men of the East, who were familiar with the prophecies of his birth, came to offer gifts.
He grew up among men, living an exemplary life, doing good, healing the sick, and teaching all men that He was "the way, the truth, and the life," that He should be crucified by the Jews, rise from the grave the third day and ascend to His Father in the heavenly courts above.
He said to His disciples on the Mount of Olives just before His ascension, -- "If I go, I will come again and receive you unto Myself," and two angels standing by, said, -- "This same Jesus whom ye have seen go into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go." -- Acts 1:11.
Christ's Second Visit to This Earth
The overwhelming testimony of both Old and New Testament Scriptures point to a second coming of Christ in these "last days" of earth's history. Jesus Himself said, "If I go I will come again." -- John 14:3. At numerous times during His ministry, He emphasized His second coming (see Matt.24:30); and the apostles went into all the known world preaching the truth, that some day Christ would return to this earth, -- and their writings are full of texts setting forth this hope.
The New Testament mentions Christ's second coming two hundred and ninety times. This announcement of His coming is by no means confined to the New Testament, for Enoch the seventh from Adam prophesied saying, -- "Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon all." -- Jude 14:15. Job, David, and the other prophets looked forward to that happy day.
Signs of Christ's Second Coming
Seventh Day Adventists believe that His coming is near, "even at the door," because of the fulfillment of many signs and prophecies that have been made in reference to this event.
No definite time can be set, for, "of that day and hour knoweth no man" (Matt.24:36), but after mentioning a number of signs that should take place before His coming, He said, -- "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads for your redemption draweth nigh," and "when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand," -- Luke 21:28,31.
Signs of His coming are numerous. Among those pointed out as showing His coming near are the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars. -- Matt. 24:29,30.
While Jesus was upon the earth the first time, His disciples were calling His attention to Jerusalem and the beauty of the temple, when He said to them, -- "See ye all these things? Verily I say unto you there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down." And as Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to Him privately and said, -- Tell us when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world." -- Matt. 24:1-3.
Signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars
Jesus goes on to enumerate many of the things that should happen in the affairs of the world to the end of time, mentioning a time of "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this same time, no nor ever shall be" (Matt.24:21). Then He goes on to say, -- "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven." -- Matt.24:29. Joel, the prophet in the Old Testament, tells us, "the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining." -- Joel 2:10.
The tribulation here referred to is the persecution of the Christians by a false religious power during the period known as the "dark ages," when millions of God's people were put to death. According to prophecies, this time of tribulation was to continue 1260 years, and the beginning of the period is dated from 538 A.D., and ended in 1798, when the Pope of Rome was taken prisoner by the French Army.
Darkening of the Sun and Moon
Mark, in speaking of this same sign of the near coming of Christ, the darkening of the sun, locates the time quite specifically. He says, "In those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light." Through the work of the reformation, the persecution of the saints ceased about 1775 A.D., so according to Mark, the darkening of the sun should come in those days, after the tribulation, or somewhere between the years 1775 and 1798.
This darkening of the sun and moon occurred on May 19, 1780, just at the time specified by Mark :
"The 19th of May, 1780, was a remarkable day. Candles were lighted in many houses. The birds were silent and disappeared. The fowls retired to roost. It was the general opinion that the day of judgment was at hand. The legislature of Connecticut was in session at Hartford, but being unable to transact business adjourned." -- President Dwight in "Historical Sketches."
"The true causes of this remarkable phenomenon are not known." -- Webster in Unabridged Dictionary, Edition 1883, page 1604, in article, "The Dark Day."
Herschel, the great English astronomer, says, -- "The darkening of the sun in Northern America was one of those wonderful phenomena of nature which will always be read with interest, but which philosophy is at a loss to explain."
The darkness was not caused by an eclipse of the sun by the moon, for the moon was full only the night before, and consequently, was on the opposite side of the earth from the sun.
The darkness of the night was as supernatural as that of the previous day, for the fact, as stated by Dr. Adams, that "the moon had fulled the day before."
This sign occurred over a century and a half ago; others have been fulfilled since, and are being fulfilled today, as time is hurrying to a close.
Falling of the Stars
Following the darkening of the sun in the prophecy is mentioned the falling of the stars. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened . . . and the stars shall fall from heaven." -- Matt.24:29.
Another writer speaking of this same event writes, -- "The stars of the heavens fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when shaken of a mighty wind." -- Rev.6:13.
Following along after the darkening of the sun and moon, we would expect to see the falling of the stars. On the morning of November 13, 1833, there occurred the most wonderful exhibition of shooting stars the world has ever seen. Those who witnessed it, says Professor Olmstead, the celebrated astronomer of Yale University, "probably saw the greatest display of celestial fireworks that has ever been seen since the creation of the world, or at least within the annals covered by the pages of history." The extent of this shower, he says, like the darkening of the sun and moon, it was considered by many who saw it, "the harbinger of the coming of the Son of man."
These falling stars were seen over wide areas, through the United States and other countries, and they fell exactly as the Bible said they would, "as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when shaken of a mighty wind."
"In many districts, the mass of the population were terror struck, and the more enlightened were awed at contemplating so vivid a picture of the Apocalyptic image, -- that of the stars of heaven falling to the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when shaken of a mighty wind."
The stars seemed to originate from one great center in the heavens and fly out in every direction. If you have ever shaken a fig tree before the figs were ripe and noticed how the figs have been thrown out from the tree in every direction, you will have some idea of what is meant.
The Lord gave these signs to His believing people that they might have hope; that they might know that He was superintending the affairs of the universe, and bringing His plans to a fulfillment.
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all of these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." -- Matt.24:32,33.
Many Conditions Show That the End Is Near
There will be a marked increase in the number and severity of wars; famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. "Great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." -- Luke 21:11.
An acute religious indifference and neglect will be notable, "and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." -- Matt.24:12.
All these signs have been fulfilled, or are in the process of fulfillment. "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars . . . nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." -- Matt.24:6,7.
The public press is filled with the constant alarms of war. "Wars and rumors of war" are about us, -- and these are but a few of the many indications that this is "the time of the end."
Other tokens of the second advent pointed out by the Scriptures are those of widespread religious apostasy (2.Tim.3:4,5, 2.Peter 2:1); "perilous times," because of social chaos (2.Tim.3:1-5); friction and conflict between the rich and the poor (James 5:1-8); the increase of knowledge (Daniel 12:4). All these are distinguishing characteristics of the day in which we live, "the time of the end."
Every Eye Shall See Him
Seventh-Dav Adventists believe that the coming of Christ will be visible to every soul living upon the face of the earth, for "every eye shall see Him" (Rev.1:7), and "As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall the coming of the Son of man be." -- Matt.21:27. Jesus comes with all the holy angels, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. -- Matt.16:27, 24:30, Luke 9:26, 1.Thes.4:16.
Seventh-Day Adventists believe that adherence to the Bible truths of the second coming of Christ are of incalculable value, and are much impressed with the importance of preparing the life for that event.
The Christian System ls Incomplete Without Christ
Without a second coming of Christ, the plan for the salvation of man falls short of its promises, and the struggles and hopes of the Christians in all ages, must be a disappointment. At Christ's first coming, He provided the means of salvation; at His second coming He will consummate that salvation by establishing a new world for saved men to dwell in, with Himself as ruler.
"Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him, shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation." -- Heb.9:28.
Death and sin will never be banished from the earth until Christ's coming. -- Rev.20:14, 2l:8. Sorrow, pain, and sickness, will ever exist until His second coming, and the establishment of the new earth. -- Rev.21:4. Conflict and war among men will continue (Isa.65:25'); and a truly satisfactory life will never be experienced until that glad day.
The second coming of the Saviour has been the hope of Christians of all ages, who have longed to walk and talk face to face with the Man who hath loved us, and gave Himself for us.
A Cheering Promise
During the sad hours preceding the crucifixion of Christ, He made a cheering promise to His disciples, recorded in John 14:1-3, "Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there ye may be also."
After Christ had spoken certain things to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, -- "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 1:9-11.
He was taken up visibly and was received into the clouds, so in like manner shall He return, visibly and with clouds. Rev.1:7 says, -- "Behold He cometh with clouds and every eye shall see Him."
The Apostle Paul tells us that He will "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." -- 1.Thes.4:16,17.
What Happens At Christ's Corning?
Paul tells us that the righteous, who have died with faith in Christ, who are sleeping in the earth, are called from their graves, resurrected, and together with the righteous living upon the earth at His coming, are all caught up together to forever be with the Lord.
Christ tells us the mission of His holy angels. "He shall send His angels with the 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.
The living wicked are "destroyed by the brightness of His coming," while the righteous, both those who had died, and the living, are together taken up to the realms above. All the wicked are left upon this earth, together with Satan and all the forces of evil, who are later destroyed by the fires of God, which "come down from God out of heaven and destroys them," -- at the same time purifying and cleansing the earth from all traces of the curse that was brought upon it through the sin of Adam.
Rewards and Punishments
At Christ's coming all are rewarded according as their works have been. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels; and then shall He reward every man according to his works." -- Matt.16:27, Rev.22:12. The wicked are destroyed forever, while the righteous are changed, to "forever be with the Lord," "We shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead (righteous) shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." -- 1.Cor.15:51-53. Everlasting live is a reward, the gift of God.
The Apostle Paul looked for his reward at the coming of Christ, for he says, -- "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them that love His appearing." -- 2.Tim.4:8.
The righteous and sinners are rewarded upon this earth. "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; much more the wicked and sinners." -- Prov.11:31.
The fire which "comes down from God out of heaven" and destroys the wicked, also destroys and purifies the earth, which becomes renewed, -- the home of the saved. The righteous who have been made immortal at Christ's coming, live upon the earth throughout all eternity (See topic, "The New Earth").
Hence, the original purpose of God will be fulfilled. "Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited; I am the Lord and there is none else." -- Isa.45:18.
"Thou hast made Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands." -- Psalms 8:6.
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