“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27)
Long before MacAuthor promised to return to the Philippines, Jesus promised to come back to our world to judge the wrongdoers and collect His saints for the trip to heaven. The apostles watched Jesus ascend to heaven on a cloud and the angel told them Jesus would come back exactly as He left.
For the unbelievers, this will not be good news. He came the first time for the benefit of the unbelievers and the second time He brings judgment for their unbelief. For the believers, this will be a continuation of the original good news because Jesus will return to collect His saints and take them home to live with God.
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians makes it clear that Jesus is not coming to the earth. He is not coming to Jerusalem to reign. Jesus reign is in heaven and He is coming to gather His faithful saints to take them back to His Father. “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 will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17)
The early church, especially the Gentile churches were not expecting an earthly kingdom for eternity or even 1,000 years. That was a Jewish nation thing. It was never taught in the early church as a reading of Paul’s letters will show. Heaven was real to them and a promise of relief from the difficulties of earthly kingdoms.
Jesus will return in the clouds as He ascended. He will judge the wrongdoers. Those who have died will be raised not only from graves but will rise from the earth to meet Jesus. Those still alive will also rise into the clouds to meet Jesus with the dead. This is the only rapture there is. There will be no one left on this earth and it will be destroyed by fire to the extent that it will cease to exist. There will be no earth for a kingdom of God. His home is not on this earth, it is His footstool.
Task for Today: Live so that heaven can be your eternal home. Do not live for an earthly mansion. Long for the coming of the Lord so that you can leave this world of sin and sorrow.