Understanding Christ’s Return
(1) The Returning Judge
The Bible refers to the period of God’s judgment on the world as, “the day of the Lord,” “the hour of his judgment,” “the day of judgment,” “the day of God,” “that day,” “the day,” “the day of vengeance,” and “the Day of Christ.” It all refers to the same time of judgment, and takes place at the return of Christ.
The Day of Judgment will be a day when the wicked are separated from the righteous as wheat is separated from the chaff, or when ore is refined in a furnace separating the gold from the impurities (Malachi 3:2-3). The prophet Malachi called it the “Great and terrible day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5) (JPS). Baker’s Evangelical Dict. of Biblical Theology says:
In the prophetic books the day of the Lord signifies the time when God intervenes in the affairs of nations to judge the wicked and rescue the righteous. In Malachi the judgmental aspect is emphasized, in that the day of the Lord is a “dreadful day” in which evildoers will be set on fire (4:1, 5). Much of the judgment connected with the Messiah will take place at Christ’s second coming . . .
The prophet Isaiah spoke of this time of God’s wrath:
See, the day of the LORD is coming –a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger– to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. 10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. (Isaiah 13:9-12)
In verse 12 it says mankind will become more scarce than pure gold, which means that few people will be left alive after the Wrath of God. They will probably number in the hundreds of millions. Notice also that the sun, moon, and stars will be darkened. We will see this repeatedly throughout all the prophecies, because the darkness is caused by dark clouds created principally by nuclear war. Ezekiel said:
For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near– a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. (Ezekiel 30:3)
About the coming Day, the prophet Obadiah said:
The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own heads. (Obadiah 1:15)
These references do not refer to the end of the universe or the end of the planet, or even the end of human civilization on Earth, but merely the end of the world as we know it today. God has a set time appointed to bring judgment upon the whole world for its sins. Earth will be cleansed of evil at the return of Christ, and life on Earth will continue for many thousands of years. God did not create trillions of galaxies containing billions of solar systems, only to destroy it all after a few thousand years.
The pretribulation theory teaches that the Day of the Lord is 7 years long, but this cannot be right. Why would the first half pass without any Wrath from God? So the Day of the Lord cannot begin at the start of the Great Tribulation (GT). It does not make good sense. The Day of the Lord is a short period of time at the end of the GT. Apostle Paul said that when Christ returns, he will judge the living and the dead:
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: (2 Timothy 4:1) (MEV)
Here we learn that not only will Jesus judge the living world, but also the dead. Why, you may ask, is there going to be a universal judgment at the coming of Christ and another one at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) a mere 1,000 years later? Well, the fact is they are the same judgment.
I once believed in the 1,000-year rule of Christ, but I now know that when Christ returns and sets up his Kingdom, that it will last forever, not a mere 1,000 years. Planet Earth and human life will continue forever, but will be changed during the Day of the Lord. I show in Book 3 (BK3) of this series that Rev. 20 is not literal, but is just like things you see in a dream, and so the 1,000-year period of Christian rule has already taken place, though not global (for details see BK3).
The prophet Isaiah spoke about the Kingdom of God on Earth:
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with justice and with righteousness, from now until forever. (Isaiah 9:7) (MEV)
The prophet Daniel recorded the angel of God saying something similar:
“In the days of these kings the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. And the kingdom shall not be left to another people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Isaiah 9:7) (MEV)
And also Psalms:
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations. (Psalm 145:13) (MEV)
Jesus said that when he returns he will judge the world. But Christ will not literally bring the whole world before him for judgment; that is a parable. Parables by definition are not literal:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. . . .
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat . . . 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt. 25:31-34; 41-42, 46)
God is not going to destroy the world with fire twice, a mere 1,000 years apart. When Gog and Magog are destroyed by fire in Rev. 20, it is the same fire that destroys the beast and false prophet in Rev. 19, they are just two different armies in two different parts of the world (see Bk1). It does not say that Gog and Magog surround Israel or Jerusalem, but “the camp of God’s people.” The reason it does not mention Israel or Jerusalem is because it refers to the armies that will invade America after the nuclear attack, and will advance toward the center of the nation to the cities where Christians have fled. But before the armies can attack those final cities, God will send fire upon the world. Peter gives us a little more information on the destruction at the return of Christ:
. . . the world that then existed was flooded with water and perished. 7 But by the same word, the heavens and the earth that now exist are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly. . . .
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat. The earth also and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things are to be destroyed, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 while you are waiting for and desiring the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will be consumed by intense heat? 13 But, according to His promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:6-7; 10-11) (MEV)
Peter said God previously destroyed the world with a flood, and the next catastrophic destruction will be with fire, but Peter does not describe the end of the planet. The fire will indeed burn up the atmosphere, “the heavens,” and will burn up much of the material world. But the planet was not destroyed with the Flood, only the surface of the earth. So the passage does not say that Earth itself will be destroyed. The fire will happen with a great noise, which describes the impact of a large asteroid or comet, but also includes fire from heaven which will be explained in another chapter.
Notice the phrase, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (v.10). The Day of the Lord is the return of Christ, during which he comes as a thief, that is, with great destruction, which Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24. So this means that the passage absolutely refers to the return of Christ. Yet, did you notice that it also says that there will be a new heaven and new earth? So the new heaven and new earth of the book of Revelation will be this old Earth renewed, not a whole different planet like some people believe. And it will come with the return of Christ, not after 1,000 years.
(2) The Coming Thief
Speaking of his return, Jesus said in Matthew 24:37-39, that it will be just like the days of Noah when people were eating meals, getting married, and doing business, then “the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (v.39). This tells us that many people will be living normal daily lives, then the global destruction will hit. (This passage does not refer to living wicked lives, no sins are mentioned.) This passage in Matthew 24 ends with the statement, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt. 24:42). Why would someone need to watch for signs of the end, if the Rapture is going to catch away every Christian before any of that happens? This reasoning does not make sense.
The reference Jesus makes here does not refer to being spiritually ready for the Rapture that takes place shortly before the Day of Judgment, but to being physically ready for the coming destruction after the Rapture. So Christ’s main concern in most of the end-time prophecies is for those who will miss the Rapture, because many Christians will repent after it is too late to make the Rapture. These are the people who need to watch and be ready if they want to survive the coming cataclysms. Because if they are not prepared like Noah, then they will die like the sinners who will be unprepared.
Noah did not know exactly what day it would start to rain, but he did not wait until it started to rain to start building the ark. Likewise, we should not be caught by surprise like those who died in the Flood, but should be completely ready like Noah.
Jesus could have worded the above passage like this, “I’m coming with destruction as great as Noah’s Flood, therefore you should watch the signs and be ready like Noah, otherwise you will be caught unprepared and will die.” People who are watching the signs and the world events will know when to seek shelter. You will learn what to watch for in this book.
The command to keep watch is also connected to the passage that follows, and Jesus gives us more details:
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42-44)
Verse 42 begins with “therefore” and refers back to what he just said, which was that a great destruction like Noah’s flood will come upon the world. This means that the next passage is on the same subject. Jesus here helps us to understand what he is saying by giving us a story to illustrate his point about watching for the coming destruction.
Jesus said he will come like a thief; since a thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, this passage refers to the coming destruction of the Day of the Lord, or the return of Christ. Though we will not know in advance the exact day or hour the judgment will begin, we can know when the Day of Judgment is very close. The key to the passage is this: if the owner of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would have taken the necessary steps to prevent the thief from breaking into his house.
If the owner knew the thief was coming at 1 a.m., he could sleep until 12:30, then awaken and turn on all the lights and do whatever was necessary to keep the thief from breaking in. But since we do not know when the thief will come, we should watch for the coming of the thief — this means that if we are watching, we will be able to see the thief as he approaches. It means we will be able to see and know that destruction is about to take place if we are watching the signs in the sun, moon, and stars!
We must also pay attention to world events, if we have access to up-to-the-minute news. But at some point near the end of WW3 we will have all our communication satellites destroyed, and / or electronics destroyed by an EMP from nuclear explosions. (An electromagnetic pulse will fry everything electronic.) The global nuclear war will take place 2-3 weeks before the coming of Christ (more on the timing is in a later chapter).
Watching the signs is kind of like radar. An army general cannot know when the enemy planes are approaching, but if the radar is watching, it will give him advance warning so the air-raid alarm can sound. Civilians and military personnel can then flee into bomb shelters for protection. In like manner, we are commanded to watch the cosmic events in this solar system so we will know when to flee to shelters for protection during the time of global destruction from asteroids, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc. The exact things to look for and what will happen is the main focus of this book.
(3) The Watch Has Begun
Most people believe the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are yet to ride out, but they have already ridden out during the past 2,000 years of war, famine, and persecution, as I show in BK1.
The 6th Seal describes earthly and cosmic events that can only be the Day of Judgment:
12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Rev. 6:12-17)
These verses accurately describe the full Wrath of God upon the world, that will bring an end to the world as we know it. But notice that this description of Judgment Day only takes up six verses, which is a surprisingly small amount of space for one of the most important events in the history of the planet. More space is given to saints singing in heaven in Rev. 15 than to Judgment Day here. There must be a reason for this lack of information.
The events of the first five Seals were events that have continued for hundreds of years, into our present time. Like the 1st Seal is the spread of the Gospel that has now taken almost 2,000 years. Therefore, the 6th Seal is not a single event, but will continue for many years. When the seal of judgment is opened it begins bringing judgment upon the world.
The early judgment events are the Trumpets in the next chapters of Revelation. So the final judgment is not when the seal is opened, but it merely starts the cosmic ball rolling that will ultimately result in the stars falling and the sky rolling up like a scroll. In other words, the opening of this Seal actually starts the birth pains of the coming birth of the Kingdom Age. So it is, that the events described here are given in greater detail in other places in Revelation.
This Seal also includes the signs in the heavens designed to warn us that the Day of Judgment is approaching at the return of Christ. When Christ came the first time, there were signs in the heavens which brought the wise men to worship Jesus as a future king. Likewise, there will be signs in the heavens before his return.
So when the 6th Seal opens we can expect to see an increase in natural disasters of all kinds, because the Day of Judgment will be brought by natural events, including asteroid or comet impacts, earthquakes, volcanos, etc. And I believe there is significant evidence that the 6th Seal has opened.
If you pay attention to the news over a period of years, you will notice that there seems to be one disaster after another: floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, record heat, record cold, etc. There seems to be no end to the disasters that are happening worldwide, not just in the U.S. Even on a cosmic level there is evidence that the 6th Seal has opened and the signs of coming destruction have begun.
The 6th Seal may have opened with a series of events in the summer of 1994. On June 9, 1994, a massive earthquake shook many areas of the Western hemisphere. It was centered below Bolivia, South America. What makes it unusual is the depth of the quake, 400 miles down in the earth’s crust. The great depth spread out the force so it shook most of North and South America, including Canada.
Only six weeks after the deep earthquake, a frightening event took place in this solar system; 21 fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into the planet Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, creating explosions greater than nuclear bombs, and triggering fireballs more than 1,500 miles across and rising up more than 600 miles above Jupiter’s clouds. If those fragments had hit Earth it would have blanketed the world with dense dark clouds and created a cosmic winter with freezing temperatures and no crops for years, just like a nuclear winter. It would have been the end of the world.
At the same time that the comet fragments were hitting Jupiter, several southern states were having floods that killed at least 24 people, while most of the western states of the U.S. were having the worst fires in their history (up to that time). Over 50,000 fires were started, most by lightning strikes. That summer, Europe also had massive flooding.
The deep earthquake was a rare event, and the comet hitting Jupiter was the first such event ever witnessed by humans, plus the floods and the fires. Do you suppose God was trying to tell us something? I do not believe that all these things happening together were a coincidence, especially when you consider that the Bible tells us that God’s judgment upon the world will come in the form of a massive earthquake, cosmic impacts, and will include large amounts of lightning and global fire. It will also include massive flooding, because earthquakes cause tsunamis, and so do asteroid impacts in the ocean.
Mark Blitz has an interesting observation about this event:
Many of you may remember the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which broke into pieces. This historic event took place from July 16 through July 22, 1994. Twenty-one fragments had catastrophic effects as they collided with Jupiter. It just so happens that weekend was also the weekend of the ninth of Av, and it was a shemittah year! Not only that, the Torah portion for that weekend was Deuteronomy 1-6, which in Hebrew is called Devarim, which means “These are the words.” It is almost as if the Lord was saying, “Listen to Me: I am speaking to you about coming judgment.” (Mark Blitz, Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, 2014, p. 167.)
Deuteronomy begins with, “These are the words” and God tells the people through Moses that it is time to “Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers” (1:8). At the return of Christ, the survivors will enter into the promised Kingdom Age.
The comet fragments hitting Jupiter was a wake-up call. Many scientists became alarmed at the possibility that such an event could happen to Earth. Before the comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 hit Jupiter, most scientists did not take the possibility of an asteroid impact seriously. Dr. Shoemaker was perhaps the only scientist who was looking for earth-crossing asteroids. Since the Jupiter impacts, scientists have changed their minds and have begun looking for danger from space. Several scientific organizations were created for one purpose, to watch for asteroids and comets that could impact on Earth. One such project is called NEAT, Near Earth Asteroid Tracking system, in Hawaii. Another is called Sky Watch. These and other sky watchers have found many asteroids, some of which could pose a threat to Earth.
But it does not matter what they find or don’t find, they won’t be able to stop the impacts that are predicted in both the Old and New Testaments, and many other prophecies. It is not unusual to find several asteroids a year flying by Earth; they were not even noticed before the watch began. Even though Dr. Shoemaker was looking for such asteroids, it was not a known concern or an ongoing project by many people like it has become since the Shoemaker-Levy comet impacts. Therefore, the comet hitting Jupiter in 1994 is when the world woke up to the danger of cosmic impacts and began watching the skies for potentially dangerous asteroids and comets. And since that is when the “watch” officially began, it is highly probable that is also when the 6th Seal was opened.
Many people believe that what the Bible calls “signs” in the sky could be the approach of a comet, but there is evidence that the signs are events that are much more awesome than just a comet, as we will soon learn! Direct danger is not all we should be looking for from space. The signs Jesus spoke about include strange or unusual things, “wonders in the heavens,” Joel said. Things will happen that are unexpected, and that we have never seen before.
(4) When You Do Not Expect Him
Continuing in Matthew 24, Jesus said:
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44)
How can we be ready and watching if Christ will come when we do not expect him to come? Jesus is talking about destruction coming upon the whole world, so we “must be ready.” How can we watch for the coming thief and have a shelter ready like Noah if he will come when we do not expect him? I believe this passage refers to the length of time that has transpired since the time of Christ. Jesus continues speaking about this same subject in the very next parable, which clearly states, “My master is staying away a long time.”
Jesus knew that many Christians would stop expecting his return because he was going to stay away such a long time. And, indeed, many Christians no longer believe in his return to set up his Kingdom on Earth and will not believe any warning of the coming nuclear war and cosmic impacts because it does not fit their faulty theology.
The apostles and the early Church were looking for the return of Christ within a few generations. They did not expect it to be 2,000 years before Jesus would return. That is probably what the statement means that Jesus would return when we do not expect him. It does not refer to catching us by surprise, because he is here warning us to be watching so that we are not caught by surprise.
(5) Signs in the Sky
When Christ came the first time, there were signs in the heavens and a star brought the wise men to worship Jesus. But the signs in the heavens before his return, will be very different.
Prophecy teachers have been teaching for over a hundred and fifty years that the world events are signs that tell us that the end is near, especially the past sixty years, but there have always been wars, famines, and social turmoil. Even though we must look at the world events, these things alone are not signs of the end. The most important signs that Jesus spoke about are not here on Earth but are in the heavens above. Great and momentous events will take place in our solar system.
The prophet Joel said that before and during the Day of Judgment, God will cause amazing things to happen in this solar system:
I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. (Joel 2:30-31)
Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary says “wonder” is a miracle, omen, sign. In English, a wonder is something strange and surprising. It is astonishment at something awesome, mysterious, or new to one’s experience. You might experience wonder while looking at the northern lights. Jesus said:
There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:11)
The Greek word for “fearful events” is phobetron (5400), “a dreadful or terrible sight or appearance” (CWD). The MEV and ESV say there will be “terrors” and great signs. The GW says, “Terrifying sights and miraculous signs will come from the sky.” The Greek for “signs” is semeion (4592), and means:
A sign by which the divine power in majesty is made known, a supernatural event or act, a token, wonder, or miracle by which the power and presence of God is manifested, either directly or through the agency of those whom He sends. (CWD)
Ok, so we now know that the signs of Christ’s return will be seen in the sky, and things will take place that will be truly wondrous and terrifying at the same time, and will be connected to this solar system. So, we must watch the skies. Later in the same chapter, Jesus tells us more about the events in the heavens:
“There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming on the inhabited earth. For the powers of heaven will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26) (MEV)
NIV says, “the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”
CEV: “Every power in the sky will be shaken”
GW: “the powers of the universe will be shaken.”
What does it mean that people will become fearful because the powers in heaven will be shaken? It cannot refer to the planets having quakes, like earthquakes, because that happens to them and to earth, so it must refer to something bigger, to something that will make people afraid that the end of the world is approaching. It means that the planets in this solar system will be shaken out of their present orbits around the sun.
Many prophecy teachers point to upheavals in the world today as a fulfillment of these verses, but this is far from true. The reason the nations will be in anguish and perplexity are the strange and unusual things that will happen among the sun, moon, and planets.
The “sea” does not refer to people or nations being in turmoil, because he just said that nations will be in distress, so one of the reasons for the nation’s distress will be the roaring and tossing of the sea. The moon affects the ocean tides, so something could happen to the moon that will change the ocean tides. The verse also likely refers to more powerful hurricanes.
Cosmic events are the only certain signs of the coming Day of Judgment, because Judgment Day will be caused mostly by events in this solar system. People will die of heart attacks, frightened when they look up and see the strange things that will happen in this solar system. If people will die from fear, they will also likely engage in rioting and looting because they will fear that the end of the world is coming. Scenarios from Hollywood disaster movies about the end of the world will actually happen. But those who die from fear do not have enough faith or hope in God.
People will believe the end is coming because the planets in this solar system will be shaken. The Greek for “shaken” is saleuo (4531) and means, “To move to and fro, shake. Transitive, to put into a state of waving, rocking, vibratory motion” (CWD). So it is likely that some may speed up or slow down as they orbit the sun, while some may move into a closer or farther orbit. We will be able to see them do these things, which will cause people on Earth to wonder what will happen to Earth? When the worst of these strange events take place, then the Wrath of God is about to destroy the world.
Merlin the prophet, the real one, not the fictional one, said:
Before the amber glow of Mercury the bright light of the Sun shall grow dim, and this will strike horror into those who witness it. The planet Mercury, born in Arcady, shall change its shield, and the Helmet of Mars shall call to Venus. The Helmet of Mars shall cast a shadow, and in rage Mercury shall overrun its orbit. Iron Orion shall bare its sword. The watery sun shall torment the clouds. Jupiter shall abandon its preordained paths, and Venus desert its appointed circuits. The malice of the planet Saturn will pour down like rain, killing mortal men as though with a curved sickle. The twelve mansions of the stars will weep to see their inmates transgress so. The Gemini will cease their wonted embraces and will dispatch Aquarius to the fountains. The scales of Libra will hang awry, until Aries props them up with its curving horns. The tail of Scorpio shall generate lightning and Cancer will fight with the Sun. Virgo shall climb on the back of Sagittarius and so let droop its maiden blossoms. The Moon’s chariot shall run amok in the Zodiac and the Pleiades will burst into tears. None of these will return to their duty expected of it. Ariadne will shut its door and be hidden within its enclosing cloudbanks.
The winds shall do battle together with a blast of ill-omen, making their din reverberate from one constellation to another. (The History of the Kings of Britain, by Geoffrey of Monmouth, originally published in the 12th century, republished in the 19th and 20th centuries. Penguin Classics edition, p. 184-185)
This passage clearly refers to the planets leaving their present orbits. It does not say that Saturn will leave its orbit, but instead says that Saturn will bring death to humans. This can only happen if Saturn leaves its orbit and travels near Earth, though it seems impossible that something like that would happen. So it likely means that Saturn will be the first planet to move, thus causing all the other planets to leave their orbits, including Earth.
Merlin also refers to unknown things happening among the stars of the constellations, which may be the cause of all the cosmic disturbances in our own solar system. Luke 21 continues:
27 “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28) (MEV)
These verses tell us that we will see the start of these events before the return of Christ, probably several years or more before the end, and that they will continue right up to and including the day that Christ returns in the sky. God is not going to bring great destruction upon the world without giving us lots of warning. The pretribulation Rapturists try to argue that the signs could start right after the Rapture, since they claim there will be seven years between the Rapture and the bodily return of Christ. But Jesus continues on this subject and tells us that it will be more than a few years from the start of the signs to his return, and will be a few decades:
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 When they are sprouting leaves already, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So in like manner, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 “Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (Luke 21:29-33) (MEV)
Jesus is not talking about the nation of Israel or any other nation in this reference to trees, he is still talking about the signs in the sky pointing to his return. When you see leaves begin to appear on a tree, then another and another, you know that spring is here and that summer is getting closer and closer. In the same way, when we see more and more strange and unusual things happening in this solar system, we will know that Christ’s return is getting closer and closer. This passage also tells us that it will be 20 – 30 years from the first of the signs to his return, or he would not have said that the generation who sees the first signs will live to see his return.
Neither will it be hundreds of years between the first signs and his return, but only one generation or less. This passage in Luke 21 tells us that there is no need to look for Christ’s return until after we see fearful cosmic events in this solar system, and we have indeed seen those fearful events when the comet S-L 9 hit Jupiter!
So this is further information that destroys the doctrine of Imminent Return of Christ which is the foundation of the pretribulation Rapture doctrine (see BK1). This doctrine says the Rapture could have happened at any time since Christ returned to heaven, but the Rapture cannot happen until after strange and unusual events start happening in our solar system. People are going to be concerned in the near future about the turmoil in the world, but that has happened throughout recorded history; such events by themselves are not signs of Christ’s return, only unusual or frightening events in this solar system.
No riots or economic collapses point to the return of Christ; those things have always happened, except for the fact that they will be accompanied by earthquakes and other events that are the birth pains of the earth, along with signs in the sky. Paul said that the coming destruction will come like “birth pains” on a pregnant woman (1 Thess. 5:3). Luke 21 continues:
34 “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts become burdened by excessiveness and drunkenness and anxieties of life, and that Day comes on you unexpectedly. 35 For as a snare it will come on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Therefore watch always and pray that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36) (MEV)
We should not be so consumed with making a living or having fun that we fail to see the signs and take warning. Many people live such busy lives that they do not watch the news or scientific documentaries about the universe and worsening natural disasters, and know nothing about the threat of cosmic impacts. Some people will see the events and die from fear, others will pay no attention to them, because they will be too busy playing video games or working. It seems hard to believe that anyone in the latter stages of the Great Tribulation (GT) will be oblivious to what is going on, since World War 3 will be raging, but some will be, especially in villages or countries that don’t have much free press or contact with the outside world.
Because of the context of this passage, Jesus is not referring to the Rapture when he said, pray that you may “escape.” He means, pray that you will escape being killed in the natural disasters of the Day of Judgment so you can physically “stand” before him at his return. This is why we are told to watch the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, so we will not be caught unprepared and end up dead. So it refers to those who will not go in the Rapture. Other translations help us get a better sense of its meaning:
“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (ESV)
“praying that you may be strong enough to come safely through all that is going to happen . . . (JBP)
“So be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place. . .” (GNB)
It will require strength to make it through to the end of the GT and especially the Wrath of God, and to be one of the few survivors to enter the Kingdom Age. The reason Jesus spent so much time warning us of the coming Great Tribulation and Wrath of God is because 70-90% of Christians will go through those events. The Rapture is not going to take every Christian. (In BK1 I show that many Christians will miss the Rapture because they are not living right.)
Some first century writings not included in the New Testament also speak of momentous events in this solar system. The letter written by Barnabas says:
. . . his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon, and the stars; then he shall gloriously rest in that seventh day. (13:6) (The Lost Books of the Bible)
If God is going to change the sun, moon, and planets, then truly unexpected and incredible things are going to take place in this solar system. Some of it will likely take place before the Rapture since the Rapture is so close to the return. Notice that he will also end the reign of the Wicked One, which likely refers to Satan himself, but could refer to the original Antichrist, which was Muhammad, so it refers to the end of Islam (see BK2).
(The Rapture is when Christ comes to take his righteous followers to heaven before the Wrath of God comes upon the world. The return will be when he comes to bring the Wrath of God upon the world, then set up his Kingdom on Earth.)
Finally, the Sibylline Oracles tell us about a comet that will be a sign in the sky:
And in the west there shall a star shine forth which they will call a comet, sign to men 415 Of the sword and of famine and of death, And murder of great leaders and chief men. And yet again there shall be among men Greatest signs . . . (Book 3, Terry)
The Bate translation is more literal and says the comet is a “long-haired star.” (The oracles have line numbers, but differ in each translation.)
(6) Global Fire
In section 1 above, we learned that those nations who are judged to be goats at the return of Christ will be sent to “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). This means those nations will be killed by fire, especially a fire from heaven. Jesus also spoke about the time of his return and global destruction in Luke 17, where he speaks of Noah and Lot:
But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:29-30)
This passage tells us that when Christ returns, fire will rain down from the sky and destroy most of the world’s population. Many Christians get upset when someone says Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a volcanic eruption or an asteroid impact; “No, they were not, God destroyed them!” Excuse me?! Does God make it rain? Did God send Noah’s Flood? Did God cause an earthquake to open the earth and swallow Korah and all those with him (Num. 16:32)? Yes, he did. God uses the natural world he created most of the time, so the fire that will destroy the world will not be God breathing fire out of his mouth; it will be something that God will send to the world for the purpose of burning it with fire, which you will learn about below.
The complete passage of Luke 17 referenced above also mentions Noah’s Flood. Some people want to say that it merely means that Christ will come with destruction. But there are many other places that mention fire at the return of Christ, so my application of the passage is not an abuse of the context or meaning.
There are three known natural events that can cause fire to rain down globally: one is a cosmic impact, the second is a massive meteor shower with large enough stones for them to still be flaming upon impact. The third is a large coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun when the electromagnetic field around Earth is weakened. All three are likely to happen. There are clear prophecies about at least one cosmic impact. But there is another supernatural, yet totally natural, event that will bring fire; a small second sun will appear in the sky that will come close to Earth and burn us with its flames. This second sun will be the cause of the Euphrates River drying up (Rev. 16), and will be the fire that destroys the goat-nations that Jesus spoke about in the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25) (explained in greater detail in later chapters).
When an asteroid or comet impacts earth, it impacts with such force that it literally explodes and sends out pieces of flaming rock or ice in all directions. This is why many scientists believe a very large asteroid or comet destroyed the dinosaurs (more about asteroids and comets shortly).
Paul said that Christ will come with blazing fire:
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 . . . This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction . . . (2 Thess. 1:6-9)
It says we will get relief when Christ returns in blazing fire. This means many Christians will be here on Earth when that happens, which means they will not be in the Rapture. The prophet Malachi prophesied about the Wrath of God coming with fire:
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 4:1-3)
Notice the phrase, “leap like calves released from the stall.” This passage has people leaving shelters, with much joy, to find all the wicked world burned to ashes.
The global fire will be much more than nuclear war, because the nuclear war will not be in every nation and will not even destroy every city in America, it will only be on some cities and military installations within the nations that have and will use nuclear weapons. And even if all of Russia, China, America, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, and North Korea were totally wiped out by nuclear weapons, it would not fulfill the many passages that speak of the whole world being destroyed by fire from heaven.
The prophet Zephaniah describes World War 3 and the Wrath of God, which is not a mere war, as it clearly refers to the Day of the Lord, which is the return of Christ:
14 “The great day of the Lord is near– near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. 15 That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, 16 a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. 17 I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:14-18)
Notice that it includes warfare, darkness caused by clouds, and a global fire that will kill the majority of the world’s population. We will learn more about all of those things throughout this book. Notice that it says “all” people will die, but the Bible often says things that are not 100% literal at face value. Such as the Promised Land was flowing with milk and honey, which is stated about 20 times. But there were never any streams or rivers of milk or honey, it was just a way of saying that the land was very rich and fertile. Too many people want to take every word in the Bible at face value, but that is wrong.
The nuclear war is not the worst fire that will come upon the world, the fire from heaven will be tremendous. Even the Sibylline Oracles prophesied about the coming fire at the Day of Judgment:
543 He who made heaven and earth shall kindle grievous fire upon earth, and but a third part of all mankind shall be left. . . . 618 Then shall they bend the naked knee to God the great king immortal on the fruitful earth, and all the works of men’s hands shall fall in the flame of fire. (Book 3) (The Sibylline Oracles, H. N. Bate, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1918.)
(The original Sibylline Oracles were pagan women, but those books were destroyed in a fire, so other books were gathered into a new group of oracles, but these were from Jewish and Christian women. So “scholars” call these pseudo, but they are not false oracles.)
The Book of Enoch spoke several times about the fire of Judgment Day. In this next passage Enoch speaks of fire that could be a coronal mass ejection:
In those days, when He shall cast the calamity of fire upon you, whither will you fly, and where will you be safe? 2 And when He sends forth his word against you, are you not afraid, and terrified? All the luminaries are agitated with great fear; and all the earth is spared, while it trembles, and suffers anxiety. (Enoch 102:1-3)
These passages cannot be speaking of hell, because the fire will be “cast” upon Earth. And it says the “luminaries are agitated;” the sun and the moon are the two luminaries. The Nyland and Lumpkin translations say the luminaries are “shaken,” so even our sun and moon will be seen to shake somehow.
When Christ returns in Rev. 19, he kills the beast and false prophet by casting them “alive” into the lake of fire, which means they are destroyed by fire: “The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v.20). Fire also kills the beast in Daniel 7:
9 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire . . . The court was seated, and the books were opened.
11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan. 7:9-14)
Whether this fire is from asteroid impacts, or whether it is another kind of fire which we will see shortly, remains to be seen. Notice that Christ is seen coming “with the clouds of heaven.” All the Earth will be covered with clouds, as we will see later in this book.
Daniel 7 says the 4th beast was thrown into the fire, but the other 3 beasts were allowed to live. So they will no doubt suffer greatly, but will not be totally destroyed (BK1).
John the Baptist said that Jesus will “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt.3:11). It appears that this will literally happen. The whole world will be cleansed by a baptism of fire at the return of Christ.
Mother Elena Leonardi lived in Italy during the 20th century. She was a pupil of Padre Pio from the age of nine. She received visions and messages from Mary from 1973 to 1983:
“An unforeseen fire will descend over the whole earth, and a great part of humanity will be destroyed. This will be a time of despair for the impious: with shouts and satanic blasphemy, they will beg to be covered by the mountains, and they will try to seek refuge in caverns, but to no avail. . . . all who refuse to repent of their sins will perish in a sea of fire! . . . Russia will be almost completely burned.” (Albert J. Hebert, The Three Days’ Darkness.)
We shall soon learn about that “unforeseen fire” in the above prophecy. Other prophecies say it has never happened to this planet before.
In the book of 2 Ezra (also known as Esdras) in the Apocrypha, an angel spoke to Ezra and said; “The Most High has made this world for many, but the next world for only a few” (2 Ezra 8:1-2) (NEB). I believe Ezra would be shocked at just how many people are in this world today, over 7 billion, but the next world will have a much smaller population. In Isaiah 24 we are told the number of survivors of God’s wrath will be like the few grapes “left after the grape harvest” (v.13). And Isaiah 13 says mankind will be “more rare than fine gold” (v.12) (MEV). Even so, because of the large population today, I believe there will be over 100 million survivors, perhaps even 500 or 600 million.
Even though the prophecies say the entire world will be destroyed in the fire, there are other prophecies that suggest that some nations will escape the fire, but there is still great destruction from other things that will equal a global destruction, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and poisoned air. For example, in Rev. 19 it says the beast and false prophet were cast into the fire, but the others were killed by the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the white horse; which is Christ at his return. So this suggests other events, not just fire.
There are many more passages that describe the coming fire but they cannot all fit into one chapter, those above are enough to establish that this world is going to be destroyed by fire from heaven at the Day of Judgment, which is the end of this present age and the start of the next age. More prophecies are given throughout the book.