The Appearing in Power and Glory - Sequence of Events
The parousia (coming) of the Lord comprises two phases:
- The rapture at which Christ will come to “snatch away” (such is the meaning of the word rapture) all true believers: those to have died will be raised and those who are alive will be transformed, and both shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1. Thes 4:17).
- The appearing in power and glory at which Christ will come “with all his saints” (1. Thes 3:13).
There are several events that will take place in connection with this second phase, the appearing. Determining the precise order of all such events is not a trivial task. Some of these events are described in the prophets (with Israel and the Assyrian are in the foreground) and others in Revelation (where the focus is more on the Roman Empire and hence on Europe). One needs to compare scripture with scripture so as to get a complete picture.
The situation on earth at the time of the appearing of Christ (Rev. 19:11)
In order to classify these events, it is helpful to have in mind the political situation that will prevail on earth at that time. The prophetic word paints the following picture in this regard:
- The people of Israel - initially represented by two tribes – will find themselves back in the land of Israel after having been scattered across the globe for many centuries.
- There the Antichrist will reign as king (political and religious head).
- Israel will be under strong threat from neighbouring peoples, but especially from the north.
- The Antichrist makes a covenant with the Roman ruler, i.e. with Western Europe.
- The mass of the people will follow Antichrist and will be given to idolatry.
- But there will be a minority (or remnant) of faithful Jews who are cruelly persecuted. These faithful people will spread the gospel of the kingdom.
The events in connection with the appearing of Christ
Based on the situation described above, the following events, then, will take place in connection with the appearing of Christ. This list is not complete and in some cases the precise sequence of events cannot be ascertained. However, the following list contains some of the major events in the order in which they are likely to take place (any comments or additions will be greatly appreciated).
1. The Assyrian (the enemy from the north) invades Israel and continues his triumphal march as far as Egypt (Isa 8:7,8, 28:14-21; Dan 11:40-43). In the process Jerusalem is besieged (Mic 4:14).
2. The European army moves down to Israel (Rev 16:16; 19:19), probably to help Israel in this situation (Isa. 28:15; Dan. 9:27).
3. The armies from the far east also come to Israel (Rev. 9:16; 16:12-14).
4. The armies gather at Armageddon (Rev. 16:16).
5. The Assyrian hears rumours of war in Egypt and sets out to return to Israel (Dan. 11:44, 45) and to besiege Jerusalem again (Isa. 29:1-8, Zech. 12).
6. Christ appears with the angels of his power and the heavenly saints (1 Thess. 3:13; 2 Thess. 1:7; cf. Rev. 19:11-21).
7. the kings of the earth decide not to fight against each other but rather to form an alliance to fight together – against Christ (Rev. 17:14; 19:19).
8. The Roman ruler and the false prophet (Antichrist) are thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20).
9. The Roman armies (as well as the armies from the East) are defeated by Christ - with the sword of His mouth (Rev. 19:15, 21).
10. The Jewish remnant in Jerusalem is in acute danger from the Assyrian who has returned from Egypt. This remnant trusts in Christ – who appears on Mount Olivet (Zech. 14:4). They look upon Him whom they have pierced and accept Him as Messiah (Rev. 1:7; Zech. 12:10-14).
11. Christ delivers the remnant, defeats the Assyrian (Isa. 14:25; Dan. 11:45; Zech. 14:3, 4) and judges apostate Israel (Mt. 24:34-41).
12. The martyrs of both halves of the tribulation period are raised (last phase of the first resurrection), and Satan is bound (Rev. 20:1-4). The 1000-year kingdom (millennium) begins (Rev. 11:15-18, 20:4-6). The throne is in Zion (Ps. 110:2, 3, 6; Isa. 24:23).
14. Then the 10 tribes return to the land (Isa. 11:12; 66:20; Ezek. 34:13). Israel begins to dwell in the land, in peace: in open cities (Ezek. 38:8-12).
15. Russia (Gog) invades and is defeated (Ezek. 38:18-23 and ch. 39).
16. Christ judges the living from among the nations (Mt. 25:31-46; Joel 4:2, 12).
17. Christ reigns in peace and righteousness (Isa 32:17).
The appearing of Christ will trigger a sequence of events (which will take place over a certain period of time (weeks or months, rather than days).
It is particularly important to understand:
- It is only after the appearing described in Revelation 19 has taken place and the Roman armies have been destroyed that the events of Zechariah 14 take place: The believing remnant looks upon Christ and is delivered.
- Only after this will the ten tribes (those who believe) return to Israel (Ezek. 20:34-38).
Without going into details here, let us note: Christ will judge His enemies at His appearing, deliver the believing remnant of the people of Israel and then bring great and lasting blessing to His people. Then He will reign where He was crucified then and has been rejected to this day. Then He will share His triumph and reign with those who once shared in His rejection and belong to Him by grace.