Christians talk about the second coming of the Lord, but what they usually are really talking about is the Rapture when Christ calls all believers to meet Him in the air. The Second Coming is different than the Rapture. When the Rapture occurs believers will be taken from this earth and not have to experience the Tribulations Period. The Second Coming, however, occurs at the end of the Tribulation Period.
True Christians need to be very thankful that we will not be on the earth for the Tribulation or for the Second Coming. For, it is during the Tribulation Period that Antichrist, i.e., the beast as he is referred to in the book of Revelation, the false prophet, and Satan, who is also called the dragon, will control the lives of the people left behind. Some people, though, in spite of the terrible things that will happen during the Tribulation Period, will actually find their way to salvation, for God does not give up on people. Sadly, though, people give up on God or don’t believe in Him or His Son. Consequently, a great many people will not be saved, because they simply refuse to believe on Christ as their Savior. Moreover, these people, who are living during the Tribulation, will experience God’s judgment upon them and the earth. Indeed, the wrath of God will be poured out upon these unbelievers for their evil pride and their refusal to believe. But, for the sake of the elect, or for those who have turned to Christ during the Tribulation (see Matthew 24: 22) which includes both the new believers and the sealed 144,000 believing Jewish men in Revelation 7:4, God cuts short the Tribulation Period, making it only seven-year period. Otherwise, all people would be killed within the judgments that God metes out.
As we have already discovered, God gradually increases the the seal judgments and the trumpet judgments in the hopes that people will begin to realize that they need to turn to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Some people, in spite of the danger and terrible living conditions, will indeed turn to Christ. But, their lives will be constantly in danger and they will have to hide to keep from being killed. Those that are killed for believing in Christ will become martyred saints who are in heaven awaiting judgment on those who killed them. God will avenge them when the time is right. In the meantime, "there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also." -- (Revelation 6: 11. NASB). So, more people will turn to Christ as their Savior. However, a little later in the book of Revelation, we learn that God is going to increase dramatically the judgments on the people of the earth for refusing to acknowledge Christ as the Son of God.
The Seven Bowl Judgments or Plagues
Soon after the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowl judgments are all passed out upon the world before the end of the Tribulation Period, Christ will come a Second Time. We have already talked about the seven seals and the seven trumpet judgments. Now, we will just briefly mention the bowl judgments that are also referred to as plagues, which are actually the wrath of God that will be poured out upon the world. Still, just as with the plagues that were experienced by the Egyptians before the Israelites were allowed to leave for the Promised Land, people in the Tribulation will also stubbornly refuse to acknowledge God. Each bowl judgment or plague will be worse than the last one.
In his vision, when the first bowl judgment or plague is poured out over the earth, the apostle John said that “horrible malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue.” -- (Revelation 16: 2. NLT). So we know that the pain will be excruciatingly terrible for those individuals. But, then the second bowl will be poured out on the sea, and the Word of God through John says, “and it became like the blood of a corpse. And everything in the sea dried up.” -- (Revelation 16: 3. NLT). But that is not the only waters that will be turned to blood. For, when “the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs, and they became blood.” Then John heard “the angel who had authority over all water saying, ‘You are just in sending this judgment, O Holy One, who is and who always was. For your holy people and your prophets have been killed, and their blood was poured out on the earth. So, you have given their murderers blood to drink. It is their just reward.’” – Revelation 16: 4-6. NLT).
John tells us that the fourth bowl was poured out upon the sun, “causing it to scorch everyone with its fire. Everyone was burned by this blast of heat, and they cursed the name of God, who sent all of these plagues. They did not repent and give Him glory.” -- (Revelation 16: 8, 9. NLT). I cannot image the pain and confusion that will happen to these unbelievers, but more than that, I cannot imagine them cursing God and not repenting of their sins. What hardened hearts of pride and evilness they must have at this time. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, you shouldn’t wait to experience all these judgments. Turn to the Lord now, before the Tribulation starts. Remember, too, that none of us know when the Rapture will occur, but we do know that when the Rapture occurs that the Tribulation will start for those left behind. Will you be one of those left behind? I certainly hope not.
The fifth bowl is poured out on the beast, that is on the Antichrist and all of his kingdom. When this bowl is poured out, John says that the beast’s “kingdom was plunged into darkness. And his subjects ground their teeth in anguish, and they cursed the God of heaven for their pains and sores. But they refused to repent of all their evil deeds.” -- (Revelation 16: 10, 11. NLT). How sad! Even knowing that they could still repent, they refused.
Although it may appear that these bowl judgments are not much different than the trumpet judgments that we talked about in another blog, they are quite different. The difference is found in the completeness of these judgments. For the trumpet judgments were dispensed in partiality. In other words, only a third of the earth, or only a fourth of the people were affected by the trumpet judgments. However, with the bowl judgments, the whole earth is affected. Another difference is that the trumpet judgments offered people the opportunity to repent when they saw the devastation of the trumpet judgment upon other people. But with the bowl judgments, people are not given an opportunity to repent before the they too feel the wrath of God. Instead, everyone will experience the bowl judgment when it is poured out on the earth. But still, these people refuse to glorify God. Instead they curse God. What hostility and unrepentant hearts these people will have. Their hearts will have hardened to the point of becoming like stone. Their evil hearts will not be able to see any good at all. Moreover, they will not recognize why they are receiving these judgments because they think that they have done nothing wrong.
It is the sixth bowl judgment or plague, though, that will actually set the stage for the battle of Armageddon for when Christ returns. For John tells us that “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that way would be prepared for the kings of the east.” -- (Revelation 16: 12. NASB). How did this judgment prepare the world for the battle of Armageddon? Well, the Euphrates river is a great dividing line that naturally provides a protective barrier that easily keeps eastern armies from crossing over. But, if the river dries up, there is nothing to keep these armies from invading the countries on the other side of the river.
The seventh bowl judgment occurs when “the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And huge hailstones, and about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and the men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.” – (Revelation 16: 17-21. NASB). The seventh bowl judgment takes place on the last day of the Tribulation Period, probably right after the battle of Armageddon. Can you imagine what kind of hardened hearts that the people must have, though, to continue to blaspheme God instead of turning to Him for repentance and hope? Little do they know, but their complete and final judgment is not far behind.
The seventh bowl judgment is actually the beginning of the total destruction of this earth that will eventually come about to bring to bring in the creation of the new earth and Christ’s heavenly reign. But only those who have turned to Christ in repentance for their sins will be able to enter into a life on the new earth. All others will end up in the Lake of Fire.
The Second Coming of Christ
It is only after these bowl judgments, which express the wrath of God, are all poured out as described in Revelation chapter 16, that the end of the Tribulation period is brought about by the appearance of Christ. (Take a moment to read chapter 16 so you can get the full impact of all these bowl judgments.). But, Christ’s coming isn’t a peaceful appearing event. For Christ comes with armies prepared to do battle, and there is a battle that will immediately be fought.
As mentioned previously, it is after the judgment seat or the appearance of all Christians before the Bema seat in heaven where believers will receive any earned rewards and crowns that they deserve, and it is only after the celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamp, which also takes place in Heaven, that Christ will gather all the saints, i.e. all believers that are now in heaven, and everyone will follow Christ to earth to do battle. In this vision, the Apostle John saw the gathering as well as the preparation of all the believers who will accompany Christ to earth. Then, the Apostle John describes this vision of Christ and the gathering of the saints and angels which encompasses the next event that is Christ’s return or Second Coming as told within chapter 19 of Revelation. John tells us:
“I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.
He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’” -- (Revelation 19: 11-16. NASB).
John tells us that Jesus comes to earth riding on a white horse. The white horse symbolizes purity, victory, and triumph. Certainly, the people in the Apostle John’s day to whom he was writing would have understood this symbolism, because victorious Roman generals riding on white horses after coming back from battles often led a procession through the Roman streets to the cheering of crowds. Furthermore, Christians would understand that when Jesus comes back, He will no longer be just that gentle sacrificial Lamb, but rather He will be a mighty Warrior who will righteously judge both the living and the dead. In the above verses we are told that Christ will also appear as a reigning King who has the authority and power to judge everyone.
In chapter 19 and verse 11 the Apostle John tells us that Jesus is called Faithful and True. That is because Jesus faithfully fulfills all the prophecies and covenants that God has previously made. Christ is also true to all the promises He made while here on earth the first time, fulfilling all the promises. Furthermore, Christ is faithful and true, because like a Roman General, He will wage war on anyone who goes against the King. The war Christ will engage in is done to bring judgment upon those who have rejected Him here on earth.
John then tells us about Christ’s appearance. John says that Christ’s eyes are like flaming fire. This vision of flaming fire symbolizes the piercing fire of Christ’s eyes that can like purifying fire, bring out all the impurities that are in the human heart; bringing these impurities and the truth of each heart to the surface or to light to be seen and judged. In other words, no one can hide their true thoughts and heart desires from Christ. For, Christ will be able to see any deceptions or evil within a person’s heart. No one can hide from Him.
John also tells us that in this vision Christ has many diadems or crowns. This indicates that Christ is the Supreme or Ultimate Ruler and King. Additionally, John tells us that Christ “is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” So, what does this mean? Well, having the name, “the Word of God”, means that Jesus is God. In fact, we are told that Christ is part of the Godhead or the Trinity of God in John 1:1-3; 10:30. For the scripture says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” -- (John 1-3. NASB).
Later in John 10: 30, Christ clearly says that He is part of the Trinity of God when He says, “I and the Father are one.” So, we learn that Christ is also the Word, which is God’s incarnate expression of Himself within the Trinity. For we are told in John 1: 14 that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” -- (NASB). Indeed, whatever Jesus does, He does with grace and truth. Not only is He full of grace and truth, but Christ is the only begotten Son of God. So, at the Second Coming, Christ, the Son of God, not only comes with power and might, but He also comes with grace and truth.
Jesus does not come back to earth alone, though. For, we are told in the above verses that Jesus Christ will be accompanied by armies of believers. How do we know that these armies are made of up of believers? Well, John tells us that “the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” – (Revelation 19: 14. NASB). First, the armies are clothed in fine white linen. White linen represents purity, lack of corruption, and freedom from immorality and evil. Remember too, that the bride or Christ’s church is clothed in white linen (see Revelation 7: 9), and the bride’s clothing also represents the good deeds of believers.
Remember that God has millions and millions or billions and billions of angels that live to do His bidding. “Yes, Praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve Him and do His will.” -- (Psalm 130: 21. NLT). So, some of these armies that accompany Christ will also be made of up God’s angels as well. In fact, these armies will be a magnificent presentation of Christian saints and angels who accompany Christ when He returns to earth. What an awesome sight! Just as Jesus said, people will see “The Son of Man Coming In A Cloud with power and great glory.” -- (Luke 21: 27. NASB).
These armies, though, will not be required to engage in war or engage in any battles, because Christ will do all the fighting with the sword that is coming out of His mouth. In John’s vision, “From His (Christ’s) mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” – (Revelation 19: 15. NASB). This is not literally a sword that is coming out of the mouth of Christ, but in this vision of a sword coming out of Christ’s mouth, it is a representation of the tremendous power of Christ’s spoken Word. Remember, that Christ spoke the earth and everything on it into existence. Then when Christ came to earth the first time, He used His spoken words to comfort, to heal, to calm the storm on the sea, to cause demons to leave the bodies of people, and to raise the dead. Christ’s words are powerful! More powerful than we can even imagine.
The sharp sword coming out of the mouth of Christ described in John’s vision is actually the fulfillment of a prophecy by Isaiah. For, Isaiah said, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him…. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” -- (Isaiah 11: 1-4. NASB).
Isaiah’s prophecy is about Christ. In fact, verse one of his prophecy tells us that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would come from the line of Jessie who was King David’s father. And indeed, Christ came to earth and fulfilled the covenant that God made with David. Verse two of this prophecy tells us about Christ’s character and verse three tells us that He will be the judge over everyone. But, it is verse four that speaks of the future or of Christ’s Second Coming as judge of all people. We also learn in this prophecy that Christ will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and “with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” Later in this same chapter of Isaiah, within verses six through ten which I am not including at this time, we are even told of Christ’s millennial reign. But we will talk about the millennial reign in a future blog.
It should not be a surprise to believers that Christ will speak words that will bring about the destruction of this billion-man army at Armageddon. For, whatever Christ speaks will come about. We know this because in Genesis, chapter one we learned that Christ spoke the universe into existence. How then can it be hard to believe that Christ will again use His words, or the sword of His mouth, to end the Tribulation Period by killing with His words all those who try to fight Him at the battle of Armageddon.
It is amazing and awesome to see how God has worked throughout the history of the world and how everything that He says, comes to fruition, including the birth of our Savior and the salvation that He offers to all those who will believe on Christ as the living Son of God. For those who believe on Christ, a glorious eternity awaits, but for those who do not believe, an eternity of hell and damnation is all they will have to look to.
Next, within chapter 19 John tells us about Christ’s iron rod or scepter, which will be one of the first things that all unbelievers will see when Christ returns at the Second Coming. In verse 15 of the 19th chapter of Revelation, the Apostle John tells us that Jesus will rule the wicked with an iron rod or scepter. So instead of the traditional kingly jewel encrusted scepter that is symbolic of power, this scepter made of iron symbolizes both the power of the ruler and the type of rule the wicked will face as well as the authority with which the scepter is wielded. For, this scepter will be used to destroy Christ’s enemies.
In Psalm 2, David writes of both his own coronation as King and the coronation of Christ as the ultimate King. About Christ, David writes, “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” – (Psalm 2: 7-9. NASB). Notice that God tells His Son that He will shatter the nations like earthenware. But, even more descriptive is the words that John writes in Revelation about shattering the nations. For, John tells us that Christ “treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” -- (Revelation 19: 15. NASB). We know that a winepress is a large vat used to crush or pulverize grapes so that they can be made into grape juice or wine. So, you can imagine just how pulverized or crushed the nations will be when Christ uses the words or the sword of His mouth to annihilate the armies at the battle of Armageddon. For, “You, (i.e. Christ) shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.”
When Christ returns not only will the nations have formed an alliance with the beast, i.e. the Antichrist, to fight against Christ’s armies, but most of the people in the world will be worshiping the Antichrist, who is now indwelt by Satan. People will believe that the Antichrist is all powerful, but they will be surprised when Christ and His armies burst through the heavens. There will be no doubt as to Who it is that is riding in front of all these millions of saints and angels because John tells us that “on His robe and on His thigh, He has a name written, KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDs.” – (Revelation 19: 16. NASB). This name represents Jesus’ absolute authority over all the kings and lords of this world. In other words, Christ has total power over all the earth!
The Battle of Armageddon
Eventually all the armies of the nations and the armies of the Antichrist will band together and will form an alliance against Christ, and they will be awaiting for the battle to commence on the plain of Megiddo. This plain is where the beast, i.e. the Antichrist, and the false prophet will have mustered all the armies of the world to fight against Christ. For some reason, Satan still thinks that he can win. But, we know that he can’t win this battle, because we have been given the ending. In fact, in anticipation of Satan’s armies and all the nation’s armies’ total destruction, we are told that an angel has called all birds to “Come assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of men, bot free men and slaves, and small and great.” -- (Revelation 19: 17, 18. NASB).
These birds are being called in anticipation of a gruesome scene of death. It is the death of all Christ’s enemies that will have fallen at the battle of Armageddon. For, with the sword of His mouth, Christ will kill all the armies that have assembled against Him. Then, the birds will feast on the bodies of the dead. We are told that these birds will even eat the bodies of both the great and small individuals which includes kings and commanders as well as the ordinary soldier.
But to better understand this battle, we need to turn back to Revelation 16: 13-21. How and why did all these armies meet on the plain of Megiddo? Well, it is in these verses that we learn that the armies of the world will have finally gotten the courage to gather in Palestine to oppose the beast, i.e. the Antichrist, and his armies. However, in seeing Christ and His armies coming through the clouds, the armies of the world will suddenly unite with the beast and his armies to fight against Christ and His holy army. Although this will be the greatest battle ever to be fought, these armies are powerless against Christ and His Words. For, Christ will just speak, and they will instantly be defeated and killed. The beast and the false prophet will also be defeated, but Christ has something else in store for those two. (Remember that the beast or the Antichrist and the false prophet are demonically empowered beings. They were empowered by Satan to be the worlds’ political and the world’s religious leader. But that is not going to do them any good now.)
The Apostle John explains what happens next. John says, “I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs of his presence by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.” -- (Revelation 19: 19-21. NASB).
So, the Antichrist and the false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire. All others were killed and eaten by the birds. But what happened to Satan? Well, we have to turn to chapter 20 of Revelation to find out what happened to Satan. Here again, John tells us what happened. John says, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” -- (Revelation 20: 1-3. NASB). So, for a thousand years Satan will be bound and locked up. No one will now be able to say that they were enticed by Satan to do anything wrong. Each person will be able to rely on God’s truth and be able to worship God and Christ without the presence of evil.
What happens after Christ’s thousand-year reign here on earth? Well, we will discuss that next time. For right now, think on the things that will occur during the Tribulation. If you are a Christian, be sure that you tell others about the Rapture and the Tribulation Period after you have first shared the Gospel message. For some people, it will be enough to know that Christ will cleanse them of all their sins and for them to know that God loves them so much that He sent His Only Son as a sacrifice for their sins. It will be enough to know that Christ is alive and that life can be so much better through the gift of salvation. For, all they need to do is repent of their sins and ask Christ to forgive them and then ask Christ to come into their heart. If they do so, they will find such joy and happiness in knowing Christ. Be sure to tell them about the Rapture and how they can look forward to an eternity spent with God. But other unbelievers may need to be told about the Tribulation period and the final outcome in order to get their attention. They will need to understand that those who refuse to believe on Christ will really be left behind to face the consequences and that the consequences are not pretty. Hopefully this will make an impression on them. If they still reject Christ, they at least know what they can expect to face at some future date.
As Christians who are sharing the Gospel message with other people, we will know when it is time to discuss the Tribulation Period. But, we can’t discuss it if we do not know about it. In fact, it is important to know everything we can about the Word of God so that we can share what we know with others. Moreover, God has given us everything in His Word to help us live abundant and joyous lives. We have to read and study His Word, though, if we desire to have that abundant and joyous life. We also have to study God’s Word in order to be great Active Relational Christian Mentors who can speak godly words into the lives of others and can help people. You can do it! You can be a great Active Relational Christian Mentor. You can do it! You can share the Gospel message! You can help others.
If you have not yet asked Christ to cleanse you from your sins and to forgive you, you too can still do so and have salvation. With a truly repentant heart, just ask Christ to forgive you and then in belief of Him as the risen Son of God, ask Christ to come into your heart and give you the rebirth that He longs to give you. You will then experience the joy of salvation and look ever forward to an eternity with God! You can do it! You can be saved!