The Rapture Second Coming

In the realm of biblical interpretation, the question of whether certain prophecies should be taken literally or spiritually has been a subject of profound debate and discussion.

One might ask, “Are not these prophecies to be interpreted ‘spiritually’? And does not this ‘coming’ mean our acceptance of Him at conversion, and the witness of the spirit? Or does it not mean His reign over the Church?”

These questions are not uncommon, and they touch upon the heart of how we perceive and anticipate the Second Coming of Christ.

This article aims to shed light on the importance of taking certain prophecies literally, drawing from both biblical passages and thoughtful analysis. Join us on this journey as we explore the significance of a literal fulfillment of prophecies related to the Second Coming of Christ.

The Challenge of Interpreting Prophecies

Before delving into the specifics of prophecies related to the Second Coming, it’s essential to understand the challenge of interpreting prophecies in the Bible. These prophecies often contain symbolism, allegory, and figurative language, which can make it challenging to discern their intended meaning.

In our quest for understanding, we must acknowledge that not all biblical prophecies are meant to be taken literally. However, it is equally vital to recognize that some prophecies demand a literal interpretation to grasp their significance fully.

The Literal vs. Spiritual Interpretation Debate

The debate between taking prophecies literally or spiritually is not a recent phenomenon. It has deep roots in the history of biblical interpretation. To illustrate this point, consider a conversation between a Christian minister and a Jew:

“Taking a New Testament and opening it at Luke 1:32, the Jew asked: ‘Do you believe that what is here written shall be literally accomplished, — The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever?’ ‘I do not,’ answered the clergyman, ‘but rather take it to be figurative language, descriptive of Christ’s spiritual reign over the Church.'”

On the other hand, the Jew responded, “Then,’ replied the Jew, ‘neither do I believe literally the words preceding, which say that this Son of David should be born of a virgin; but take them to be merely a figurative manner of describing the remarkable character for purity of him who is the subject of the prophecy.’ ‘But why,’ continued the Jew, ‘do you refuse to believe literally verses 32 and 33, while you believe implicitly the far more incredible statement of verse 31?’ ‘I believe it,’ replied the clergyman, ‘because it is a fact,’ ‘Ah!’ exclaimed the Jew, with an inexpressible air of scorn and triumph, ‘You believe Scripture because it is a fact, I believe it because it is the Word of God.'”

This exchange highlights the tension between interpreting biblical prophecies literally and spiritually. While both approaches have their merits, it is crucial to discern when a literal interpretation is warranted.

The Purpose of Language in Biblical Prophecy

What is the purpose of language in biblical prophecy if not to convey definite ideas? This question lies at the heart of the debate. The belief that the Holy Spirit inspired the choice of words in Scripture raises important considerations. If the Holy Spirit could have chosen words to convey His thoughts correctly, why would He resort to figurative language when a literal interpretation is intended?

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“Surely the Holy Spirit could have chosen words to convey His thoughts correctly. Indeed it is all summed up in the inquiry of a little child, ‘If Jesus didn’t mean what He said, why didn’t He say what He meant?’ But we believe that He did mean what He said, and that His words will ‘not pass away.'”

This perspective emphasizes the importance of taking certain biblical prophecies at face value, especially when the text itself does not provide clear indications of symbolism or allegory.

Literal Fulfillment of Prophecies in the First Coming

To gain a deeper appreciation of the significance of a literal interpretation, let’s consider the prophecies fulfilled at the First Coming of Christ. These prophecies served as powerful evidence of His identity and purpose.

  • Born of a virgin (Isa_7:14): The prophecy that Jesus would be born of a virgin was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.
  • At Bethlehem (Mic_5:2): The prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem was fulfilled with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
  • Slaughter of the children (Jer_31:15): The tragic event of Herod’s slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem aligned with this prophecy.
  • Called out of Egypt (Hos_11:1): As a child, Jesus and His family fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath, fulfilling this prophecy when they later returned.
  • Anointed with the Spirit (Isa_11:2): At His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, fulfilling this prophecy.
  • Entry into Jerusalem (Zec_9:9): Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey matched this prophetic description.
  • Betrayed by a friend (Psa_41:9; Psa_55:12 – Psa_55:14): Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus fulfilled these prophecies.
  • Sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zec_11:12): Judas’ betrayal price aligns with this prophecy.
  • Spit on and scourged (Isa_50:6): The mistreatment and mocking of Jesus during His trial and crucifixion fulfill this prophecy.
  • Not a bone broken (Exo_12:46; Psa_34:20): Crucially, none of Jesus’ bones were broken during His crucifixion, aligning with these prophecies.
  • Garments parted; lots cast (Psa_22:1-31): The soldiers dividing Jesus’ garments and casting lots for His robe fulfilled this prophecy.
  • Poverty, suffering, patience, and death (Isa_53:1-12): The entire narrative of Jesus’ life, ministry, suffering, and crucifixion aligns with the detailed prophecies of Isaiah 53.

These prophecies, among many others, were undeniably and literally fulfilled at the First Coming of Christ. They provided compelling evidence of His messianic identity and the divine authority of Scripture.

Prophecies to be Literally Fulfilled at the Second Coming

If the First Coming of Christ saw the literal fulfillment of numerous prophecies, it stands to reason that His Second Coming would likewise involve literal fulfillment. Let’s explore some of the prophecies related to the Second Coming that demand a literal interpretation:

  • He shall come Himself (1Th_4:16): The promise of Christ returning Himself indicates a personal, physical return.
  • He shall shout (1Th_4:16): The concept of Christ shouting at His return implies an audible event.
  • The dead will hear His voice (Joh_5:28): This prophecy suggests a resurrection event.
  • Raised and changed believers caught up to meet Him in the air (1Th_4:17): The literal gathering of believers to meet Christ in the air is a vivid picture of His Second Coming.
  • He will receive them unto Himself (Joh_14:3): The idea of Christ personally receiving believers emphasizes a literal return.
  • He will minister unto His watching servants (Luk_12:37): The notion of Christ actively ministering upon His return implies His tangible presence.
  • He will come to the earth again (Act_1:11): The return of Christ to the same Mount Olivet from which He ascended emphasizes the earthbound nature of His Second Coming.
  • In flaming fire (2Th_1:8): The description of Christ’s return in flaming fire suggests a powerful and visible event.
  • In the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Mat_24:30; 1Pe_1:7; 1Pe_4:13): The imagery of Christ’s return in the clouds with power and glory underscores its majestic and literal nature.
  • And stand upon the earth (Job_19:25): The prophecy of Christ standing upon the earth points to a physical presence.
  • His saints (the Church) shall come with Him (Deu_33:2; 1Th_3:13; Jud_1:14): The literal return of Christ’s saints alongside Him underscores their active participation in His Second Coming.
  • Every eye shall see Him (Rev_1:7): The universality of seeing Christ emphasizes the literal visibility of His return.
  • He shall destroy Antichrist (2Th_2:8): The prophetic defeat of Antichrist suggests a real confrontation.
  • He shall sit in His throne (Mat_25:31; Rev_5:13): The image of Christ sitting on His throne implies a literal reign.
  • All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will judge them (Mat_25:32): The gathering of nations for judgment highlights a tangible event.
  • He shall have the throne of David (Isa_9:6 – Isa_9:7; Luk_1:32; Eze_21:25 – Eze_21:27): The prophetic emphasis on Christ’s throne aligns with a literal reign.
  • It will be upon the earth (Jer_23:5 – Jer_23:6): The placement of Christ’s throne on the earth underscores its earthly nature.
  • He shall have a kingdom (Dan_7:13 – Dan_7:14): The establishment of Christ’s kingdom implies a tangible realm of authority.
  • Rule over it with His saints (Dan_7:18, Dan_7:22, Dan_7:27; Rev_5:10): The partnership of Christ with His saints in ruling suggests their active involvement in His literal reign.
  • All kings and nations shall serve Him (Psa_72:11; Isa_49:6 – Isa_49:7; Rev_15:4): The service of all kings and nations to Christ implies their submission to His literal rule.
  • Kingdoms of this world shall become His kingdom (Zec_9:10; Rev_11:15): The transformation of earthly kingdoms into Christ’s kingdom highlights a real transition.
  • People shall gather unto Him (Gen_49:10): The gathering of people underscores a physical presence.
  • Every knee shall bow to Him (Isa_45:23): The universal act of bowing emphasizes a literal submission.
  • They shall come and worship the King (Zec_14:16; Psa_86:9): The act of coming to worship the King implies a tangible encounter.
  • He shall build up Zion (Psa_102:16): The rebuilding of Zion suggests a physical restoration.
  • His throne shall be in Jerusalem (Jer_3:17; Isa_33:20 – Isa_33:21): The placement of Christ’s throne in Jerusalem points to a real location.
  • Apostles shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat_19:28; Luk_22:28 – Luk_22:30): The role of the Apostles in judgment implies their participation in a literal event.
  • He shall rule all nations (Psa_2:8 – Psa_2:9; Rev_2:27): The rule of Christ over all nations aligns with a literal reign.
  • Rule with judgment and justice (Isa_9:7): The emphasis on judgment and justice underscores a literal rule.
  • The Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt (Ezek. chapters 40-48), and the glory of the Lord will come into it (Eze_43:2 – Eze_43:5; Eze_44:4): The physical rebuilding of the Temple and the arrival of the Lord’s glory within it point to a literal restoration.
  • The glory of the Lord shall be revealed (Isa_40:5): The revelation of the Lord’s glory suggests a visible manifestation.
  • The wilderness shall be a fruitful field (Isa_32:15): The transformation of the wilderness into a fruitful field implies a tangible change.
  • The desert will blossom as the rose (Isa_35:1 – Isa_35:2): The blossoming of the desert highlights a literal transformation.
  • His rest shall be glorious (Isa_11:10): The glory of Christ’s rest implies a real and magnificent state.
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These prophecies, among others, paint a vivid picture of the Second Coming of Christ as a literal and transformative event. They emphasize His tangible presence, His reign on earth, and the fulfillment of God’s promises in a concrete manner.

The Significance of a Literal Second Coming

Understanding the significance of a literal Second Coming is crucial for Christians. It shapes our theology, our hope, and our anticipation of future events. Here are some key reasons why a literal interpretation of these prophecies matters:

  1. Biblical authority: Embracing the literal fulfillment of these prophecies upholds the authority of the Word of God. It affirms that God’s promises are reliable and that His Word is true.
  2. Identity of Christ: Just as the literal fulfillment of prophecies at the First Coming confirmed Jesus as the Messiah, the literal fulfillment of Second Coming prophecies will reveal Him as the victorious King.
  3. Hope and Anticipation: Believing in the literal Second Coming fills believers with hope and anticipation. It assures us that Christ will return to establish His kingdom and bring justice to the earth.
  4. Restoration of Creation: The literal transformation of the earth, where deserts bloom and the wilderness becomes fruitful, speaks of God’s plan to restore creation to its original glory.
  5. Active Participation: A literal Second Coming implies that believers will actively participate in Christ’s reign and judgment, reinforcing our role in God’s plan.
  6. Spiritual Vigilance: Expecting a literal return encourages spiritual vigilance, as we await Christ’s coming with readiness and faithfulness.
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Conclusion

In the ongoing debate over the interpretation of biblical prophecies, the importance of taking certain prophecies literally cannot be overstated. The First Coming of Christ saw the literal fulfillment of numerous prophecies, providing compelling evidence of His identity and the reliability of God’s Word. Similarly, the Second Coming of Christ is marked by prophecies that demand a literal interpretation, emphasizing His tangible presence, reign, and the fulfillment of God’s promises.

As Christians, our belief in a literal Second Coming shapes our theology, fuels our hope, and guides our anticipation of future events. It upholds the authority of Scripture, reaffirms the identity of Christ as King, and encourages us to be spiritually vigilant in our readiness for His return. Just as the First Coming of Christ fulfilled prophecies, we can confidently expect the same for His glorious return.

FAQs

Q1: Why is there a debate about interpreting biblical prophecies literally or spiritually? A1: The debate arises because some biblical prophecies contain symbolism, allegory, and figurative language, making it challenging to discern their intended meaning. While some prophecies are clearly symbolic, others demand a literal interpretation to grasp their significance fully.

Q2: What is the significance of a literal interpretation of Second Coming prophecies? A2: A literal interpretation of Second Coming prophecies upholds the authority of God’s Word, confirms the identity of Christ as the victorious King, fills believers with hope and anticipation, speaks of the restoration of creation, emphasizes our active participation in God’s plan, and encourages spiritual vigilance in readiness for Christ’s return.

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