Has the Second Coming of Jesus Already Occurred?
by Tony Mauck
via Biblical Insights, Vol. 8, No. 7, July, 2008
2008 is already half over and "all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation" (II Peter 3:4). From the mere standpoint of human observation, "A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever" (Ecclesiastes 1:4). Day after day, it's the same thing over and over again. The sun rises. The sun sets. The people walking this globe come and go. But do not be fooled! This seemingly endless cycle will not continue indefinitely.
Your Inevitable Appointment
God has appointed a final day of judgment. The resurrection of Jesus confirms that such a day will occur (Acts 17:31). Because many years have passed since that announcement, Peter said some questioned God's promise (II Peter 3:3ff). Perhaps for the same reason, others wrongly believe now that God has already fulfilled that promise. Both extremes scoff at Scripture.
While more time has passed since the initial calls unto readiness for first century disciples, you must "... not let one fact escape your notice, beloved, tht with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8). Why would such a statement be recorded unless the "promise of His coming" could potentially be down the road in time?
God has no more forgotten this promise than any other that He has ever made. The working out of the promise to Abraham did not happen in a short period of time, but what an amazing fulfillment unfolded! Because of His marvelous doings throughout hundreds of years, we can now exclaim, "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalms 118:23,24). A final great day comes as well!
Every man faces an inevitable appointment with God (Hebrews 9:27). Just as man dies once, Jesus' sacrifice for sin was a one-time offering coinciding with His first appearance (Hebrews 9:28). Yet He "... shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."
Temporal Judgment Comings Versus the Final Coming
The Hebrew writer addresses a first and unique coming of our Lord, a most obvious reference to the incarnation of Jesus. While in one sense, the Lord came or visited many times in the Old Testament for the blessing of His people and judgment upon His enemies (Zephaniah 1:4,7,14,15), only once did God become flesh and walk among men (John 1:14,18).
We should not confuse the "great day of the Lord" in Zephaniah with the second coming of (Hebrews 9:28). Neither should we confuse the "the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory" (Mark 13:26) or its "great trumpet" (Matthew 24:31) with the unique and final coming signaled by "the last trumpet" (I Corinthians 15:52). While the Lord has come many times in temporal judgments upon the ungodly (I Peter 4:17), we must not confuse those events with the final and irrevocable end of everything material (II Peter 3:10,11).
Biblical evidence confirms that we should not equate His coming in Matthew 24:30 with His second appearance in Hebrews 9:28. And we should not equate either of those with His proposed comings in Revelation 2:5,16; 3:5,11. How would the destruction of Jerusalem or the end described in II Peter 3 relate to those comings of the Lord? A majority of the comings of the Lord described in Scripture involved a limited geographical area such as a single nation and a limited number of people. But what the Hebrew writer describes is universal in scope!
The Climax of History
Perhaps part of the misunderstanding about the portrait of the Jerusalem destruction in A.D. 70 stems from the nature of the catastrophic figures used to describe it. But such figures are not new. Similar imagery, world-shaking judgment (Isaiah 24), is found amidst the writings of the Old Testament prophets. And all of thse intermediate judgments point forward to a much larger and ultimate fulfillment. When the climax of all history comes, when the final judgment comes -- all men will be included, the Lord will be literally visible in the sky and the dead in Christ will literally be raised.
While various visible signs preceded the day of the Lord in Matthew 24, the Lord's final coming will approach in stealth "as a thief" (I Thessalonians 5:2,3).
The Bible clearly describes future events that did not occur in A.D. 70 and have yet to occur...
"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed...for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (I Corinthians 15:51,52).
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who 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" (I Thessalonians 4:16,17).
"When He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is" (I John 3:2).
Stay ready for that day!