1. “I WILL COME AGAIN”
a. What was Jesus’ promise, before His death? John 14:1–3. In what manner did he ascend, and how will this be matched in His return? Acts 1:9–11.
“The promise of Christ’s second coming was ever to be kept fresh in the minds of His disciples. The same Jesus whom they had seen ascending into heaven, would come again, to take to Himself those who here below give themselves to His service. The same voice that had said to them, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end’ (Matthew 28:20), would bid them welcome to His presence in the heavenly kingdom.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 33.
b. Although the world is full of scoffers, what is the hope of the Christian? 2 Peter 3:3, 4; Titus 2:13.
“Peter was inspired to outline conditions that would exist in the world just prior to the second coming of Christ. . . . As the end of all things earthly should approach, there would be faithful ones able to discern the signs of the times. While a large number of professing believers would deny their faith by their works, there would be a remnant who would endure to the end.”—Ibid., pp. 535, 536.
2. SHAKING THE HEAVENS
a. Describe the manner of Jesus’ coming. Revelation 1:7; Luke 21:26.
“Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man’s hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror. . . . With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend Him on His way. The firmament seems filled with radiant forms—’ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands’ (Revelation 5:11). No human pen can portray the scene; no mortal mind is adequate to conceive its splendor. . . . As the living cloud comes still nearer, every eye beholds the Prince of life. No crown of thorns now mars that sacred head; but a diadem of glory rests on His holy brow. His countenance outshines the dazzling brightness of the noonday sun.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 640, 641.
“The derisive jests have ceased. Lying lips are hushed into silence. The clash of arms, the tumult of battle, ‘with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood’ (Isaiah 9:5), is stilled. Nought now is heard but the voice of prayer and the sound of weeping and lamentation. The cry bursts forth from lips so lately scoffing: ‘The great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?’ (Revelation 6:17). The wicked pray to be buried beneath the rocks of the mountains rather than meet the face of Him whom they have despised and rejected.”—Ibid., p. 642.
b. How does the vision of John in Revelation 6:12–17 confirm other Old Testament prophecies? Isaiah 2:10, 11, 19; 34:4, 8; Joel 3:14–16.
“Satan is not permitted to counterfeit the manner of Christ’s advent. The Saviour has warned His people against deception upon this point and has clearly foretold the manner of His second coming. . . . This coming there is no possibility of counterfeiting. It will be universally known—witnessed by the whole world.”—Ibid., p. 625.
3. THE FIRST RESSURECTION
a. Amidst the shaking of heaven and earth, what will Jesus do? 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; John 5:25; 1 Corinthians 15:51–53.
“Amid the reeling of the earth, the flash of lightning, and the roar of thunder, the voice of the Son of God calls forth the sleeping saints. He looks upon the graves of the righteous, then, raising His hands to heaven, He cries: ‘Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise!’ Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live. And the whole earth shall ring with the tread of the exceeding great army of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. From the prison house of death they come, clothed with immortal glory, crying: ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ (1 Corinthians 15:55). And the living righteous and the risen saints unite their voices in a long, glad shout of victory.”—The Great Controversy, p. 644.
b. What will happen to those who have died in faithful expectation of Christ’s coming? John 11:25, 26; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14.
“All come forth from their graves the same in stature as when they entered the tomb. . . . All arise with the freshness and vigor of eternal youth. In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, not only in character, but in form and feature. Sin defaced and almost obliterated the divine image; but Christ came to restore that which had been lost. He will change our vile bodies and fashion them like unto His glorious body. The mortal, corruptible form, devoid of comeliness, once polluted with sin, becomes perfect, beautiful, and immortal. All blemishes and deformities are left in the grave. Restored to the tree of life in the long-lost Eden, the redeemed will ‘grow up’ (Malachi 4:2) to the full stature of the race in its primeval glory. The last lingering traces of the curse of sin will be removed, and Christ’s faithful ones will appear in ‘the beauty of the Lord our God’ (Psalm 90:17), in mind and soul and body reflecting the perfect image of their Lord. . . .
“Angels ‘gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other’ (Matthew 24:31). Little children are borne by holy angels to their mothers’ arms. Friends long separated by death are united, nevermore to part, and with songs of gladness ascend together to the City of God.”—Ibid., pp. 644, 645.
4. TAKEN OR LEFT?
a. To what times in biblical history does Jesus compare His second coming? Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:28.
“Men have taken upon themselves the responsibility of erecting a standard in harmony with their own ideas, and the law of Jehovah has been dishonored. This is why there is so great and widespread iniquity. This is why our days are becoming like the days of Noah and Lot.”—The Review and Herald, May 2, 1893.
b. What was the result of God’s judgments on both of these occasions? Genesis 7:21–23; 19:24, 25.
c. In the same way, what will happen at Christ’s coming? Luke 17:34–37.
“When the reasoning of philosophy has banished the fear of God’s judgments; when religious teachers are pointing forward to long ages of peace and prosperity, and the world are absorbed in their rounds of business and pleasure, planting and building, feasting and merrymaking, rejecting God’s warnings and mocking His messengers—then it is that sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 104.
d. Explain who are those that will be “taken” at the second coming of Christ. Matthew 24:40–42; Malachi 3:17.
“The time of the judgment is a most solemn period, when the Lord gathers His own from among the tares. Those who have been members of the same family are separated. A mark is placed upon the righteous. . . .Those who have been obedient to God’s commandments will unite with the company of the saints in light; they shall enter in through the gates into the city and have right to the tree of life. The one shall be taken. His name shall stand in the book of life, while those with whom he associated shall have the mark of eternal separation from God.”—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 234, 235.
5. ARE YOU READY?
a. What happens to the wicked who are alive when Christ comes? 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9; 2:8; Psalm 97:3.
b. What will the wicked become for the “eagles” mentioned by Jesus in Luke 17:37? Revelation 19:17, 18; Ezekiel 39:17–20.
c. Knowing what is ahead, what should our focus be? 2 Peter 3:11; Psalm 24:3, 4; Jude 23, 24.
“Jesus is coming, but not as at His first advent, a babe in Bethlehem; not as He rode into Jerusalem, when the disciples praised God with a loud voice and cried, ‘Hosanna’; but in the glory of the Father and with all the retinue of holy angels to escort Him on His way to earth. All heaven will be emptied of the angels, while the waiting saints will be looking for Him and gazing into heaven, as were the men of Galilee when He ascended from the Mount of Olivet. Then only those who are holy, those who have followed fully the meek Pattern, will with rapturous joy exclaim as they behold Him, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us’ (Isaiah 25:9).”—Early Writings, p. 110.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What assurance did Jesus give of His return?
2. How will you discern the false claims regarding the nature of Christ’s second coming from the truth which He taught?
3. Describe the order of events from the time Jesus appears in the clouds to the time when the saints join Him in His return to heaven.
4. Do you want to be “taken” or “left behind” when Jesus returns?
5. How can you be sure to be one of Christ’s waiting ones?