The Son of Man’s returning. And everyone will see it.

by K.W. Leslie, 06 December

When Jesus returns, it’s not gonna be a secret second coming. It’s not gonna be an event which only takes place metaphorically, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim; where they believe God’s kingdom began in 1914 but Jesus isn’t coming to earth till the final battle.

It’s not gonna be a secret gnostic event, which only the chosen few know about. It’s not gonna be a secret rapture, where the Christians vanish and go to be with Jesus, and the rest of the planet has to wait seven years. It’s not secret. It’s nice and visible and obvious. As Jesus himself describes.

Matthew 24.23-28 KWL
23 “Then when anyone might tell you, ‘Look! Here’s Messiah!’ or ‘He’s here!’ don’t believe it:
24 Fake messiahs and fake prophets will arise, and will give great signs and wonders to deceive you.
If possible, to deceive God’s chosen people too.
25 Look, I’m forewarning you 26 so when people tell you, ‘Look, he’s in the wilderness!’ you don’t go out;
‘Look, he’s in the inner room!’ you don’t believe it.
27 For just as lightning comes from the east and appears in the west,
so will be the Son of Man’s second coming.
28 Wherever a corpse may be, there one will find eagles.”

That last line tends to confuse people—“Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather” is how the NIV puts it. Certain dark Christians like to claim it implies judgment—that when Jesus returns, he’ll kill all the sinners, and carrion birds will feast on their flesh. Rv 19.8 ’Cause they take Revelation literally, but that’s not how to appropriately interpret it.

It’s not a judgment. It’s an epigram. “Where there’s a corpse, there’s eagles” is like saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” or “If it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” If it obviously looks like Jesus has returned, that’s what happened. But if there’s anything iffy, or secretive, or “spiritual” about it—if it looks like nothing, but only “the chosen few” know about it—it’s a con. It is nothing.

When you read the Left Behind novels, or watch any of the movies where all the world’s Christians mysteriously vanish, you notice there are always pagans who argue, “We don’t know what that was,” and deny the disappearances had anything to do with Jesus. After all, Jesus didn’t appear! And if all the Christians in a given town vanish overnight, shouldn’t you suspect foul play? Doesn’t this secret-rapture idea make it disturbingly easy for anti-Christians to wipe us out and blame it on Jesus?

Thing is, it’s not at all how the scriptures describe the actual second coming of the Son of Man. Not Jesus, nor his apostles. It’ll be so obvious, everyone will see it, and know precisely what’s happening. Whether they believe their own eyes or not.

Nope, you’re not gonna miss his return.

I grew up Fundamentalist, and mixed in with those beliefs was a good dose of “prophecy scholars” claiming Jesus’s return would be secret. One day all the Christians would vanish—poof!—and everyone else would look round themselves in surprise, wondering where we’d all gone to. Cars would be left driverless, crash into things, and kill pagans. Airplanes too. Graves would be found empty. Pregnant women would find their fetuses vanished—after all, the age of accountability meant all the babies on earth were getting raptured too. (Gonna be a lot of babies in God’s army.)

The reason they preached this scary scenario? Because you don’t wanna be one of the unvanished pagans. Imagine this horrifying scene: One second you’re in a church service full of loved ones, family members, and fellow churchgoers. The very next second, with no warning, not even a trumpet blast, it’s just you, and all the other holdouts. Everyone you know and love is gone. And it’s just a matter of time before the Beast comes to getcha.

Scary stuff for a little kid. Now imagine later in the week, when that little kid comes home from school, and Mom and his siblings aren’t there, and nobody’s there… and he kinda wonders whether they all got raptured and he didn’t. Lots of Fundamentalist kids don’t have to imagine it: At least once in their life, they had a momentary panic that they got left behind. (Me, I didn’t worry too much, ’cause I presumed I’d never get left behind. Yeah, I was an arrogant little brat sometimes.)

Jesus warned his students about the fake messiahs and fake prophets. Well, I’m warning you about the fake “prophecy scholars.” They deliberately cut up bible passages, or spin ’em till their followers can’t see the sense of them. Then try to shove their scary seven-year timelines into the gap. Don’t follow them; don’t believe it. If it doesn’t look like Jesus returned, he didn’t. If all the Christians inexplicably vanish, somebody murdered us. Am I suggesting these phony “prophecy scholars” are complicit? Well, maybe not knowingly or intentionally. But absolutely.

The rapture happens when Jesus returns. When Jesus obviously returns. With angels shouting and trumpets blasting. It’s hardly secret.

1 Thessalonians 4.15-18 KWL
15 We tell you this message from the Master.
We who are still alive at the Master’s second coming don’t go ahead of those who’ve died.
16 With a commanding shout, with the head angel’s voice, with God’s trumpet,
the Master himself will come down from heaven.
The Christian dead will be resurrected first.
17 Then, we who are left, who are still alive,
will be raptured together with them into the clouds,
to meet the Master in the air.
Thus, we’ll be with the Master—always.
18 So encourage one another with these words!

Like Jesus said, it’ll be like lightning across the sky. No one will be standing round, wondering where all the Christians got to. No one. They’ll doubt their eyes, and maybe their sanity. But they’ll know. Oh yes, they’ll know.

There was some debate for a few centuries as to how everybody will see it. After all, even the ancients knew the earth’s more or less a sphere. (Yeah, there have always been flat-earther holdouts. Ignore them.) How are people in the Americas gonna see what’s happening in the skies over Jerusalem? But Christians didn’t spend all that much time trying to figure out how God’d pull it off; we just figured he can do anything, so he can do this too. Of course now that we have internet, maybe humanity will have a hand in making it visible for him. But I guess we’ll see exactly how it happens, when it happens.