Paul Schluep - Three Comings of Christ

According to Christ in Matthew 24:8, the times in which we live are the beginning of sorrows and not the great sorrows themselves. In Matthew 24, the disciples asked questions about the destruction of the temple and the end of the world and the return of Christ. Until verse 14, Jesus spoke in a general manner of the things that would come to pass in the world - and many of these things have already been fulfilled - and are part of the beginning of sorrows. The greater sorrows, or the great tribulation will come after the church is caught up, or the rapture of the church.


From verse 15-22, Jesus answered the question about the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem. This happened sometime around the year 70 A.D.


Then Jesus began to speak of another time in which nearly all the great apostles except John were dead and the false prophets then had more liberty and they multiplied like weeds. It's a time in which all the sects say, "Christ is with us...,Lo here is Christ, or there..." This goes until verse 27. We live now in the time of verses 23 to 27 with this religious confusion and the world full of false prophets; but when Christ comes for the second time, He will pass over the earth like lightning with all the resurrected faithful of the past with Him. We who are alive at that time will be changed in the blink of an eye and will be caught up to meet in the air Christ and those who are with Him, and He will take us to the marriage feast. This is according to I Thessalonians 4:13-18, I Corinthians 15, Matthew 24:27-28. This is the second coming. Lightning is light, it is concentrated power, and illumes the earth. When Christ, in this great religious confusion, passes over the earth as lightning to catch up or rapt His own to Him, the world will be aware which is the true Church because all the rest will be left behind. Luke 17:20-37 speaks of the same thing, especially verse 24.

 

Only after the rapture of the Church will the great tribulation begin - that is spoken of in Revelations and Daniel. There it speaks of time, times, and half a time, which is 3½ years. In one place, it speaks of 42 months which is 3½ years. Matthew 24:29-31 speaks of this tribulation and what will happen at the end of this tribulation. It's too bad that Matthew didn't write more of what Jesus said about this tribulation after the rapture, He only mentioned it in passing. At the end of this great tribulation, that is, 3½ years, the sun and moon will darken and there will be great natural catastrophes when the natural powers of the natural heavens will be moved.


Then Christ shall appear the third time with great glory and with all of the saints, according to Zechariah 14. Matthew 24:29-31 speaks of the time after the second coming, after the rapture. From verse 32 to the end of the chapter, He spoke of the times in which we are living right now. Luke 21 speaks of the same things. In verse 7-19, it speaks in a general manner; from verse 20-24, it speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem. Luke did not speak of the second coming, but continued in verse 25-27 speaking of the great tribulation and of the third coming. He speaks specially of the natural catastrophes - the roaring of the sea and waves. When the natural powers of heaven are moved, the earth will be shaken: great masses of water will be thrown over the earth, and people will be in anguish and fear for the things that shall come upon the earth. If you have a bucket of water and shake it, what happens? The water will slosh over on all sides. One man told me that an atomic bomb exploded in the sea would be enough to produce that.

 

Luke 21:28-36 speaks again in a general way, verse 28 tells us that when we see these things beginning that we lift up our heads because our redemption nears. Right now we live in the same times as Noah and Lot lived in. We find the same type of sins that were in the days of Noah. The earth is full of violence, and flesh has again corrupted the way.

 

These days the earth is again full of sodomites, and this crime against nature is even open and legalized in many parts of the world. But in all this there is a positive side - Jesus said that as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so would it be when He came again. As Noah escaped destruction because God put him in a safe place before the flood, and as Lot escaped because the angels brought him out of Sodom and took him to a safe place, so it will be again before this great prepared destruction comes to the world. This will probably be the third world war, but before that, Christ will catch up the Church and take it to a very safe place.


The last three chapters of Zechariah also speak of His third coming, and that the people of Israel will return to their land and repent. However, two thirds of these people will be destroyed, and there will be left only a third part who will repent when they see Him whom they have pierced. Also two thirds of all the nations will perish in the great tribulation, according to what we read in Revelation, with the means of destruction that men have today it would be no problem to kill two thirds of the populace. The first world war killed 11 million, and the second killed 50 to 60 millions. The world's population is around 5 billion, you can calculate how many two thirds would be. The coming war will be 50 or 60 times worse than the last one. That's why Jesus said in Luke 21:36, "Watch and pray that you may be accounted worthy to escape these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man."

 

The two witnesses in Revelations 11 will be two faithful servants who will be ready, but who will have to stay behind to begin anew the work. There will be many who will be left behind in the rapture who will be aware of their situation, that they lost out of the marriage feast and of the rapture, and who will repent even at the price of their lives. Those of Revelations 7 will be the harvest of the great tribulation, or the gleanings of the earth (because the harvest will be at the rapture.) There will also be 144,000 of the Jews with the multitudes of the gentile nations, an innumerable multitude. There will probably be millions. The other 144,000 in Revelations 14 will be servants who will go out to preach in that time. It would not be possible for the two witnesses to care for the millions, but God will raise up many to help.

 

The weddings in Israel and in Arab countries were done in a like manner. Around 10 p.m. the bridegroom comes with his friends, running on horseback at great speed to the house of the bride, and they would catch her up and carry her on a horse quickly to the home of the bridegroom where they have the marriage feast. The Arabs yet practice this custom. This is done with much noise and shouting, and all the neighborhood knows what is going on. When Christ comes the second time, it will be with the shout of the archangel and the trumpet of God and all will know what is happening. This also helps explain why in the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25, when the bridegroom came at night, it was generally around 10 p.m. but this time he had tarried until midnight, and the virgins all began to sleep. Christ did not come at the time when He was looked for - because according to Paul's letters, the apostles already waited for Him at that time. He has tarried, but He surely shall come and will appear suddenly, unexpectedly. I always understood why the foolish virgins slept but I could not understand why the wise virgins slept, but now I understand. Even the most faithful find it difficult to really comprehend that Christ could come in our day. For so long He did not come, but He will come, and in regards to His return nearly all are asleep.

 

At present, there are around 18 million Jews in the world, but there are few in their own country of Israel. All those Jews in other countries with their good businesses do not consider returning to their country and working the land, but in the great tribulation, they will be so persecuted and cast out, they will be obligated to return. However, in those great persecutions, two thirds will be killed. The Catholic church will unite with the beast, which is Communism, and together they will persecute the Jews and the saints at that time. Ezekiel 38-39 also speak of those days. "Gog" is an ancient name for Russia. May the Lord find us watching and praying to be counted worthy to escape altogether this evil that is being prepared, that we might be received in His arms.

 

For many, there exists confusion because they do not understand that Christ comes three times. The first time, He has already come as the Savior and the Lamb according to Isaiah 52-53. The second time, He will come as a bridegroom and will catch up or rapt the bride, as in Matthew 25. The third time, He will come as King and Lord and Judge as in Matthew 25 when He will Judge the earth. The Judgement mentioned in Matthew 25 is not the last Judgement, but it is a Judgement at the beginning of the millennium according to the prophecy of Enoch as we read in the letter of Jude 14-15. This is also in parallel with the prophecy of Zechariah 14 and Revelations 19:11-21.