The Second Coming: by William Butler Yeats (1919)
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction,
while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The end of the world is not just some recent curiosity by bored Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers but a common fascination as found throughout the annals of recent human history (by recent I mean of the last two millennia). This fascination is found in all cultures, and by believers and skeptics alike. Popular culture has associated "the apocalypse" with all manners of calamities, and depending on the era, said apocalypses are usually limited to the threat and technology of the day.
Mr. Yeats was not a believer in biblical Christianity, but even he acknowledged the traditional understanding of the Second Coming of Christ, even if he did attempt to put his own post-World War I spin to it. Nevertheless, Yeats (perhaps channeling his inner “Ozymandias”) touched upon something that is unique to the rising and falling of every culture...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
Secular Skepticism and Christian Heterodoxy/ Heresy
Contrary to the Christian blessed hope is the entirely speculative theorizations of secular apocalypticism. In this, they have come up with every possible end-of-world scenario apart from the actual divinely appointed one as set forth in Holy Scripture. For them, the end of the world is either the result of some unavoidable natural or cosmic calamity (i.e., asteroid, supervolcano, etc.) or an avoidable man-caused one (i.e., global warming, climate change, etc.).
In either case, the godless are just as divided as Christians are regarding when they believe this end actually occurs. For the more skeptical godless, they see the end happening centuries and even perhaps, millennia from now. For the godless doomsayers, the end of the world is predicted to happen every few years because of man-caused global cooling/warming/climate change/etc. There are, of course, endless lists by Wikipedia, the History Channel, Discovery, NASA, DARPA, FEMA, and just about every other civilian and/or federal agency detailing how they think the world ends.
Global warming/cooling/climate change
Etc. etc., ad nauseum
Each of these groups/agencies has put forth their best and brightest in an attempt to find workable solutions to each of their respective doomsday events. Still, they fall woefully short of actually understanding what will happen and why. They do this because they dismiss out of hand, what the Bible has to say on the subject. To them, the Bible is outdated and out of touch with modern political correctness. It’s an archaic book filled with apocalyptic symbolism that is decidedly too narrow-minded. Thus, it is not considered “woke” enough to discuss in a public forum.
Not to be outdone by their secular counterparts, various heterodox factions within Christendom have effectively either butchered or watered down what the Bible has to say about the end. They do this primarily for two reasons- 1) either to create more followers, or 2) to sound more respectable/acceptable to their secular peers. Eschatological hyper sensationalism aside (as these are generally done by the more excitable fringe cults types), the three most prominent forms of prophetic watering-down are amillennialism, post-millennialism, and preterism.
They either deny what the Bible says about how and when the end will come, or they grossly distort it. Here is a fairly recent example by the Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis Eugene George regarding his "time is a flat circle" views on the future of Christianity:
“I will die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die as a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.” - First Things
Had he believed what the Bible says about the end, I doubt he would have made such a profoundly sad and misguided statement. Nevertheless, since Roman Catholicism (and also Reformed Theology) are predominantly either Preterist or Amillennial by their theological nature, they tend to lean back on the secular understanding of the cyclical nature of human history instead of the Bible, as proof positive for their respective eschatological understandings.
These derivations of the truth, no matter how great or slight, are all carefully packaged lies from the pit of hell, seeking to either distort or lessen men's understanding about what is coming upon the earth. In paradox to mankind's obsession over forbidden knowledge (i.e., seeking immortality apart from God), is the corruption of God's warning. When men no longer fear the coming judgment, they will foolishly race toward it encouraging its arrival in a false sense of bravado. Had Noah's generation taken him more seriously about what was coming upon the earth, I imagine, many more would have been saved.
Let us further narrow this down to the collapse of the US from a secular geopolitical perspective. Let’s pretend there is no rapture, seven-year Tribulation, second coming, or millennial kingdom. Let us pretend that the world was destined to continue on and on until the sun eventually supernovas or some other extinction-level event occurs way off into the distant future. Let us ask the question then, of how long could the United States last in its current form?
I think most experts would say and have said, that the US would continue to decline in power from the 2030s through the 2050s, with some other power (namely China) rising after that and becoming the global superpower we once were. IOW, they see a gradual decline and a shifting of power from one nation to another in the coming decades. Nevertheless, there is the end they want, versus the end, they will get. And the end they get will be seven + years filled with the most tyrannical global government the world has ever seen, followed quickly by the triumphant return of Jesus Christ in the air, followed by the armies of heaven.
Even if there wasn’t a Biblical reality to our present and near future, given the dynamic changes we’ve already seen introduced in very short periods of time (9/11, the Internet, Artificial Intelligence, COVID, etc.), is it even realistic to suggest we could survive as a constitutional republic?
Historically speaking, when we’ve seen drastic, global changes in very short periods of time, none of it ever ended without a change to the existing global order. Furthermore, none of the people living in those times were ever invited to discuss whether or not they wanted those changes to be put upon them. I mean, let’s take something as seemingly benign as the Internet, and show how rapidly this has changed our world. It not only changed everything, but it is also still changing everything.
Ultimately, we know the goal of the Fourth Industrial Revolution promoters is to automate everything that can be automated and to connect everything to the Internet that can be connected to the Internet. I think if we had shown the people of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, what the internet would do, and how it would change everything, and what the ultimate goal of it was, people back then might have had second thoughts.
More recently, the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 (9/11) drastically impacted how we travel and conduct global security...and have, for the past twenty years. It has allowed the government to introduce a whole host of draconian and Orwellian government surveillance measures we would have never accepted years earlier. Nearly twenty years after 9/11, another global "crisis" (a global pandemic) rounded off the rest of the un-implemented draconian measures. These (medical tyranny en route to a social credit system) effectively fused politically correct federal policy into corporate obedience, making 1930s German fascism seem amateur in comparison. Needless to say, after the events of 2020-21, what recent examples provide any sane, reasonable person with the notion that the US is going to get the decades-long soft-decline the experts are predicting?
The end of the US as a constitutional republic is coming to its inevitable end, and quickly. And when that happens, the world will fall with it into the darkest nightmare it's ever had to endure. The only hope this world has is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be removed from this planet before that hour of terrible testing comes to planet earth.
When that fullness of the Gentiles comes in, God Himself will give the world its greatest crisis to date. By removing millions of believers, the old world order, and all its trappings, will collapse the US, which will trigger a global economic collapse. This is what will necessitate the need for global reorganization and world governance. This will be its final secular human configuration.
Conclusion While the word apocalypse has often been conflated as meaning either the end of civilization or the end of the world, these are clearly not the same things. The Greek word apocalypse (apokalupsis) simply means to reveal, or revelation, however, its name has been synonymous with cataclysmic world-ending events since at least the end of the first century. Whether referencing the collapse of the Roman Empire (circa 430AD), the numerous invasions by the Viking or Mongol hordes throughout the Middle Ages, or even the Black Death of the same time, while these could be considered "mini-apocalypses" in their own rights, they typically marked a specific point of reckoning. Not to misstate the obvious, but while the collapse of a global superpower would trigger a necessary global reordering, it would not, however, equal the end of the world.
One of the most famous and well-documented inquiries of the last days, was by Jesus' disciples in the Olivet Discourse as found in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). At that time, neither Christianity (as an organized belief system) nor the Church (the singularly corporate body of believers) had yet been created. These were simple men, (i.e., Jewish believers in a Jewish Messiah), asking questions, not just about their country (Israel), but of the whole world. They wanted the big picture view from God.
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying,
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming,
and of the end of the age?” Matt. 24:3
Who better to ask about the end of the world than the One who created it? Certainly, if Jesus ever had the perfect time to set the official record straight, here was the opportunity. If the world was destined to continue on and on until some undefined (or ill-defined), unknowable day way off into the distant, unknown future, Jesus would have said it here. Instead, Jesus gives the numerous signs to watch for and then likens the end as coming like birth pangs in a pregnancy. Furthermore, He caps it all off with the Parable of the Fig Tree, which, for better or worse (depending on your eschatology), links the end times with the rebirth of national Israel. Regarding the linkage between the fulfillment of all these things, and pregnancy is that, despite all the different races, ethnicities, and cultures, all pregnancies share one thing in common- they all have a definitive beginning and they all have a definitive end. One cannot stay pregnant forever.
The beginning of the pregnancy was with the conception of the Church when the Holy Spirit was given to those early believers at Pentecost (Acts 2). The end of the pregnancy will be when the pregnancy has come full term. That full term will arrive when the 'full number of Gentiles' has come in (Romans 11:25). Then the Church will be delivered (birthed) from mortal to immortal, and from corruption to incorruption (Col. 2:19, Cor. 15:42-55).
Up until that point, however, creation will continue to labor and groan with greater frequency and intensity until the redemption of our bodies occurs at the Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18, Rev. 3:10), and we receive our literal adoption as heirs of God (Romans 8:22-23, 30). This is not some crazy speculation, nor wild-eyed theory, but is called our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). With this special hope, we are to occupy with a watchful expectancy until He returns (Luke 12:37, 19:13, 1 Thess. 5:1-4, Hebrews 10:25, Rev. 3:2-3).
Many Christians (and I'm using that term loosely here) claim the Rapture is not only not true, but unnecessary. However, if they read their Bibles, they would realize how foolish this idea of "not being necessary" is, because the Rapture is absolutely necessary. It is the deliverance of the Church (the Bride of Christ) to its final form- our glorification. The three primary stages a believer goes through are justification, sanctification, and finally, glorification (Rom. 8:30). You can't have salvation without it, because we are not designed (physically) to live where God is in these mortal bodies. Conversely, neither are we going to spend eternity as wispy spirits. We will have new bodies that can eat, touch, be touched, exist where God is, and do the things Christ could do after His resurrection such as appear and disappear at will, or teleport through solid matter, while still being able to eat and drink (1 Cor. 15, 1 John 3).
I mentioned this in passing earlier, but let me expand on something that might have some confusion. Although not critical to understanding, there has been a clouding of understanding regarding our corporate nature as "the Church." I used to hold to this belief for many years because I hadn't really thought it through. It was the belief that the Church was born at Pentecost. However, when you think about it, that simply cannot be true.
The Church was not born at Pentecost, it was conceived there by the giving of the Holy Spirit who descended upon those first believers visibly as cloven tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-4). A similar process occurred when the Holy Spirit overshadows Mary prior to her pregnancy with the Son of God. The moment He overshadowed her, she didn't instantly deliver our Savior with birth. She went through the normal stages of pregnancy. As Revelation 12 summarizes over two thousand years of history very succinctly in two verses, it states:
She (Israel) bore a male Child (Jesus Christ) who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child (the Church) was caught up (Raptured) to God and His throne. Rev. 12:5 (my comments)
So how can I make the audacious claim that we (the Church) is the Child who was caught up? Simple. We are the body of Christ. He is the head, we are the body. (Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:18). Jesus was not "caught up," He ascended of His own power (John 20:17, Luke 24:51). We the Church are promised to be 'caught up.' Furthermore, during this age of development/maturing/growing, the Church is in utero (spiritually speaking). During this time, the Holy Spirit takes on multiple roles, all of which were divinely ordained to protect, comfort, and build the Church in the "womb" (i.e., the mystery kingdom) while still living behind enemy lines. In regards to the Church's development, the Holy Spirit…
1. Forever seals the believer (Eph. 1:11-14, 4:30, 2 Cor. 1:21-22)
2. Comforts and helps the believer (John 14-16)
3. Regenerates and renews the believer (Titus 3:5)
4. Give new gifts and wisdom to the believer (1 Cor. 2:10-13, 12:4)
5. Convicts the unbelieving world of its sin (John 15:26, 16:8)
6. Through the Church, restrains evil so that the Antichrist cannot be brought forth prematurely (2 Thess. 2:6-10)
Thus, the Church remains in its present mystery form, until the ‘full number of Gentiles’ comes in (Rom. 11:25). This is when the times of the Gentiles will come to their inevitable end (Luke 21:24). Just as clamorous as it is for the baby inside the womb to enter into the actual time of birth, our birth (from mortality to immortality) will be filled with a similar type of disruption to our normal goings-on. We are going to hear the shout, the trumpet blast, and the call to “come up here” (1 Thess. 4:13-18, 1 Cor. 15:51-56, Rev. 3:10). Then, we will be yanked out of this reality, into our new perfect form to forever be with our Lord. When the Rapture happens, the world that was will change forever and there will be no going back to the way things were.
In closing, it would seem somewhat paradoxical then that I mention that there is both a cyclical nature to nations, as well as a non-cyclical, final ending to all nations; but it's not. The bible is very clear that until the end, things will run their course (including the rising and falling of nations) until Christ returns and establishes His forever kingdom. At that point, He will judge the nations, and then establish His own, permanent, imperial, kingdom. Thus, Christ’s final kingdom, will in fact, be a divine monarchy in two stages- first, the thousand-year millennial reign; after that, the eternal order. (Daniel 2:45, 12)
Thus, the true meaning of the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, as given to the Apostle John on Patmos nearly two thousand years ago, was not simply the fantastical foretelling of the end of the world, but of the revelation of Christ’s true nature as God-Incarnate.
He is Messiah
He is the Son of God
He is the Son of Man
He is God in the Flesh
He is the Prince of Peace
He is the Last Adam
He is our Kinsman Redeemer
The I AM
The author and finisher of our faith
The Lion and the Lamb
The King of kings, and Lord of lords
He is before all, and above all
He is the Rock cut without hands
He is the Almighty
The book of Revelation is not just the revealing of all that is to come, but of the Father’s revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus to all of creation; even to a Christ-rejecting world. Its heavy reliance upon the Old Testament (as well as the New), as well as its use of graphic symbolism, meant, this book would be as applicable to the first century, as it would, the twenty-first century. Thus, this book is God’s final, literary Magnus Opus (masterpiece) to a world shrouded in darkness.
Jesus is no longer a babe in the manger. He is no longer pitifully hanging broken and bloodied upon a cursed tree. When Christ is revealed here to John, who had known Him in life, had witnessed the Transfiguration, had been at His death, and even seen Him post-resurrection, even John could not fathom the awesomeness of Christ's true nature. He fell over as dead.
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Rev. 1:12-16
Just as Revelation begins with John's mind-shattering encounter with the resurrected and glorified Christ, so too must each of us come to that moment of realization that our world is passing away, and we too will one day stand in front of this God-Man. We have to realize that we have no hope apart from Christ and when we place our faith (the evidence of things not seen) in His finished and victorious work on the cross (conquering death and hell), we can be reborn (reconciled) back to Him. The God-given spirit within us that was once dead, can now be revived and reconnected back to our Creator. Thus, the Apocalpyse of Jesus Christ is not to be feared, but rejoiced in and anticipated with our every waking moment.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:10-13
Many have asked me over the years what occurs after Christ's Second Coming. It is here, during the Millennial Reign (Rev. 20) the New Jerusalem will take its place above the planet in a low-earth-orbit. The way I understand it is that this New Jerusalem is not "heaven" (as the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple still exist there as the celestial archetypes) but will descend out of heaven to the earth as a celestial satellite, shining brightly in the sky for all the nations to look upon as evidence of God’s great favor upon His bride the Church (Rev. 21:2).
Christ will simultaneously rule from the New Jerusalem (above the earth), as well as from David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem (Luke 1:32, Psalm 2, Isaiah 2:1-4, 11, 65:17-25). The Church (like Him in a lesser manner) will rule and reign under Him. We will have similar capabilities like Him to be able to travel between the two places at the speed of thought (1 John 3:1-3). The Church (as well as the OT Saints) will be assigned various leadership roles in the Millennial Kingdom, based upon our faithfulness and works here in this life. Just to clarify, we are not saved by our works or our own efforts- these are for reward and how God will assort the various assignments we have in eternity.
The nations (i.e., the physical populations who survived the Tribulation and enter into the Millennial Kingdom still with their sin natures intact) will begin to fill the earth again after the devastations of the 70th Week of Daniel and its conclusive battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19), Sheep and Goat Judgment (Matt. 25 [i.e., the Judgment of the nations]), and cleansing of the Third Temple (Dan. 12:11-12). As such, there is also the necessary re-establishment of the third Temple practices (Ezekiel 40-48).
Bear with me while I insert my personal understanding (my opinion) for the purposes of the Third Temple in the Millennial Kingdom. I’m not dogmatic about it, but I’ve come to the soft conclusion on this based on what makes the most sense (to me).
It is here (Ezekiel 40-48) that God reestablishes the Temple practices and rituals, to include animal sacrifices. These sacrifices do not replace what Christ did on the cross, nor negate Christ’s sacrificial atonement for those saved by it, nor are these animal sacrifices simply conducted as a memorial for the way things used to be done. These sacrifices represent a very pragmatic form of temporal cleansing for the millennial kingdom population for the daily cleansing of sins so they can even enter the temple to approach Christ.
I know some of you will point to the fact that in Hebrews (Heb. 7:27, 9:12, 10:10) states Christ’s sacrifice was once for all, and that is true. However, it is only true for those who have lived and died before Christ’s Second Coming; not for those who have come into being after Christ’s Second Coming (i.e., the peoples born into the millennial kingdom still with their sinful/unredeemed natures). For them, there still needs to be a "cleansing" process for them to approach God.
We know people will be born in the Millennial Kingdom, and these humans will not have redeemed natures (Isaiah 65:20, Rev. 20:7-10). However, these millennial people can’t simply be born again as believers were in the Church Age, because we are saved by grace through faith. For those living in the Millennial Kingdom, what faith will they need to possess when they can visibly see, feel, speak to, and listen to, a ruling and reigning Christ on the throne in Jerusalem? What faith will they have/need when they can visibly see the New Jerusalem in the sky above them? What faith will they have when angels and the glorified saints interact with them on a daily basis? They won't need faith, because they will be eyewitnesses to everything supernatural. According to Scripture, what is faith?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (my emphasis)
Again, how can they have faith in things they can see with their own eyes, and do not need to hope for, because they are living in the promised Kingdom? Again, I’m not dogmatic about this, I’m (like you) trying to put these pieces together in a way that makes the most biblical sense.
This is in my mind, similar to how I understand how salvation occurred in the Old Testament. This is not saying there are two ways of salvation, there are not. We are saved by God's grace through our faith. However, the mechanisms for salvation were in fact, different because before Christ came, the new covenant/testament was not yet in effect. The new testament/covenant could not take effect until AFTER He died (Heb. 9:16-17). This means OT Saints couldn’t be born again (as we are now) being sealed by the Holy Spirit and heirs/sons of God in the same manner at the moment of salvation (as we are).
Rather, the Old Testament saints were justified by their faith in God (and received a good testimony) and were set aside in Abraham’s Bosom after they died. It is here they would await the arrival of the promised Christ to Sheol. This occurred after His crucifixion but before His physical resurrection and He would preach to them His victory over the forces of darkness, and deliver them up with Him (Eph. 4:7-9, 1 Peter 3:19-20). So when He ascended up, they came with Him and He emptied/delivered that portion of Sheol to Heaven.