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Jesus will return in the clouds first to gather the church which is His body, those who have faith in Christ through the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Those who have passed away that are in Christ will meet Christ in the air first, and then those which are still alive on Earth in Christ: 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." This event will occur when the last gospel believer believes during the current Ephesians 3:2 'dispensation of God's grace' (Romans 11:25). The seven year tribulation will then begin, which is Daniel's remaining and prophesied 70th week (Daniel 9:24-27). Once the tribulation has completed, Christ will physically return to Earth (the second coming), bringing with Him Israel's promised Kingdom of Heaven for the 1,000 year reign (Revelation 20:4).
There are actually two 'divine events' described in scripture which many Christians confuse with each other. One is described as 'The Appearing' (Biblical Greek: 'parousia'), the other is the actual 'Return' of the Lord, (Biblical Greek: 'erchomai'), when His feet will set down on earth itself and He will take His throne in Jerusalem to begin a reign that will unite the domains of the current heaven and earth. This will lead to a 'Day of Judgment' when the current heaven and earth will be replaced with a 'new' version already created and prepared by GOD. Both 'the Appearing' and 'the Return' are part of what scripture calls the 'full Revelation' of Christ, (Biblical Greek: 'apokalypsis'). You should note the Greek root for the now famous English word 'Apocalypse' often used by secular entertainers when depicting the 'end of the world' or any great impending universal disaster. That is not coincidental. Satan has been busy at work 'twisting' the revelation of Christ into a 'total disaster' scenario that we are all supposedly trying to avert. This ridiculous campaign has been so effective, that many Christians dread, rather than welcome and long for, our Lord's revelation from heaven. So what exactly is the difference between the 'Appearing' and the 'Return?' Understanding the difference requires 'untwisting' some Biblical truths damaged by Satan and his global system of false prophets and storytellers. The Bible calls the first event the 'Appearing' because Christ never actually left us at all, in the way many of us are currently imagining it. 'Heaven' is now, and always has been, 'just above us' in a third domain above the other two visible heavens. One begins just above our heads and extends up to where light from the sun, moon and stars appears in the sky. The second domain begins there and extends up to the edge of 'space.' 'Space' is the Biblical 'abyss of outer darkness' that is actually 'out, down and away' from GOD's heavens and earth. We only think of it as being 'up' because we must first 'ascend' before we are repudiated and thrust 'out and away' from the third heaven. The 'Appearing' is actually the moment when GOD reveals the existence of His third heaven and changes mankind's view of cosmology forever. We currently can't see or enter it as a 'physical' place. That will change when Christ visibly descends from it and uses a divine technology called 'harpazo' to 'catch us up' to meet Him in the lowest of the three heavenly domains, called the 'Aer' (from which we derive our English word 'air,' 1 Thessalonians 4:17). This will be after the world witnesses those who have died 'in Christ' being resurrected and similarly 'caught up.' This divine technology itself is not even 'new' since the Holy Spirit has already used it to transport our missionaries, like the deacon Philip who was 'caught up' and relocated using this technology when typical human technologies were not sufficient to transport him in the time frame required, (Acts 8:39-40). The difference during the event commonly called the 'Rapture' is the sudden and massive-scale use of this technology. We are among the first generations able to actually imagine forming a community 'in the air.' Why form this community 'above the earth?' We will be 'judging' the inhabitants below and rearranging society according to the Lord's will until it is 'fit' to be inhabited by Him, personally. Only then will our Lord 'Return' to reign on the earth during a Millennial period. This peaceful earth will be 'visited' one last time by those 'gathered from among the nations' to attempt to make war with Christ and attack our 'unwalled villages.' Learning 'out in the abyss' under the guidance of Satan, they will bring every skill set, form of knowledge and human power they possess back to 'conquer' earth. This event is known as 'Armageddon.' Our Lord will successfully defend us and will bring a final Judgment upon all beings, including revealing our new 'Home.'
Great question! In my early days as a Christian, I memorized Habakkuk 2:3. EXB, the Expanded Bible says, "It is not yet time for the message to come true [For the vision awaits an appointed time], but that time is coming soon [it hastens to the end; or it speaks about the end]; the message will come true [not lie]. It may seem like a long time, but [Though it tarries/lingers] be patient and wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not be delayed." Though this is probably talking about the spoken, revealed will of God, or the written Word of God, might it also refer to the living Word of God (Jesus)? KJV: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: >b?though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Compare this with Hebrews 10:37, " FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY." YLT -- "For yet a very very little, He who is coming will come, and will not tarry;" I would probably avoid too much explanation about the differences between Masoretic and Lxx. But knowing how many love Israel and Jewish things, you might consider this little note -- It is also worthy of note that Habakkuk 2:3 was referred to Messiah by the later Jewish theologians, and clearly this is the intent of the writer of Hebrews. --ROUGH NOTES FOR SERMON ON HEBREWS 10:36-39. I love the following poem: Don’t Tarry Lord Come, Lord, and tarry not; Bring the long-looked-for day; O why these years of waiting here, These ages of delay' Come, for Thy saints still wait; Daily ascends their sigh; The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’: Dost Thou not hear the cry' Come, for creation groans, Impatient of Thy stay, Worn out with these long years of ill, These ages of delay. Come, and make all things new; Build up this ruined earth; Restore our faded Paradise, Creation’s second birth. Come, and begin Thy reign Of everlasting peace; Come, take Thy Kingdom to Thyself, Great King of Righteousness. —Horatius Bonar Source unknown But in asking Him not to tarry (delay), we must be ready for His return! Why not repent and believe the Good News as Jesus asked us to do, today? Ask Him to save you now and He will!
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