How Will Jesus Return? Can We Welcome Him by Gazing at the Sky?
By Yang Shuo
Editor’s note: The last days are here now; many believers are looking forward to the Lord Jesus’ return, and some gaze at the sky every day, yearning for the Lord Jesus to descend on a cloud. However, why haven’t we seen the Lord on a cloud? Read this article and you’ll find the way to welcome the Lord’s return.
After breakfast, the married couple Zhong Cheng and Chen Hua took a walk along a hillside path. Chen Hua looked up at the white clouds in the sky and said with a sigh, “We’ve been walking over these hills for years gazing at the sky, but we’ve never seen the Lord Jesus on any of the clouds. We’re now in the last days, disasters are growing in scale, and we still haven’t been able to welcome the Lord. It really makes me worry!
Zhong Cheng pondered this for a while and said, “For years now, we’ve prayed both morning and evening, and the church practices 24-hour shifts of watchfulness and prayer. The church has also set up a watchtower so people can gaze at the sky and wait expectantly for the Lord to return, but we still haven’t welcomed the Lord. I’m now wondering whether our practice could be wrong. I recently attended a co-worker meeting out of town and I heard some great news. Co-worker Liu said that the Lord has returned already and is expressing many truths to save man. He also read us some of God’s words, and I really felt that the words possessed power and authority, as though the Creator Himself were speaking to us, and I thought….”
Without waiting for him to finish, Chen Hua stopped and interjected, “What? The Lord Jesus has returned? In the Bible it clearly says, ‘You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11). ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:30). When the Lord comes, He shall come in the clouds with great glory and everyone will see Him. We haven’t seen Him coming with clouds yet, so how can you say He’s returned?”
“I thought that way too, but through everyone fellowshiping and discussing this matter, I finally understood that the Bible not only contains the prophecies stating that the Lord shall come openly with clouds, but that it also contains prophecies stating that the Lord shall come in secret. For example: ‘If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you’ (Revelation 3:3). ‘Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not’ (Luke 12:40). ‘For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation’ (Luke 17:24–25). The words ‘as a thief’ in this prophecy mean that the Lord shall come secretly and silently. Then there are the words ‘the Son of man,’ and ‘be rejected of this generation.’ ‘The Son of man’ means someone who is born of a human, who appears to possess normal humanity but who is the incarnation of God Himself. God’s Spirit cannot be called the Son of man, nor can the Spirit be rejected of this generation. Only by God incarnating and coming to work and utter His words on earth, appearing ordinary and normal on the outside, could man then treat Christ as though He were an ordinary person to the point where they deny and condemn Christ. When the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, for example, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a human, lived a normal life and ate and lived alongside man. His essence, however, was that of God Himself, He possessed what God has and is, He was able to express God’s disposition, He was able to bring the Age of Law to a close and begin the Age of Grace, and He was able to express the truth to give man the path of repentance, thereby redeeming all of mankind. But the Pharisees, scribes and the ordinary Jewish people treated Jesus as though He were an ordinary man. Not only did they not accept the truth spoken by Jesus, but they also slandered and blasphemed against Him and they nailed Him to the cross. Now in the last days, if God were to come with clouds in Spirit form, then no one would dare to resist or reject Him. Only by God becoming the Son of man in the last days to perform His work and speak His words can He be rejected of this generation. We can see from these prophecies that the coming of the Lord is divided into two ways — His coming in secret and His coming openly. What’s more, the Lord’s words never fail, and therefore both these different prophecies will be fulfilled. In the last days, God will first come in secret to save those who can be saved and to make a group of people into overcomers. Once God’s secret work is done, God shall then appear openly to all peoples, and at that point all the prophecies concerning His coming openly shall be fulfilled,” explained Zhong Cheng.
Chen Hua fell into deep thought: “The Son of man” and “be rejected of this generation.” Yes, the Son of man means someone who is born of a human, and the Spirit of God cannot be called the Son of man, nor can the Spirit be rejected of this generation. It looks as though the prophecies in the Bible concerning the Lord’s coming are not confined just to Him coming with clouds, but that there are also prophecies that say the Lord shall come in secret. How come I’ve never discovered this in all my years reading the Bible?
As he walked, Zhong Cheng said, “When Co-worker Liu and I fellowshiped and discussed this matter with all the others, I finally understood that the Lord will come in two ways, both secretly and openly, that His work in secret will be to save people, and that, when He appears openly, God’s work to save man will then be finished, just as it prophesies in Revelation 1:7 when it says: ‘Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.’ Let’s think about this. It’s reasonable to say that people will be ecstatic when they see the Lord coming with clouds, but this verse says that all the kindreds of the earth shall wail when they see the Lord coming with clouds. This is because they did not accept the Lord Jesus who came in secret, because they resisted and rejected the Lord Jesus’ return, and thereby lost God’s salvation in the last days.
“The Lord Jesus also compared the days of His second coming with the days of Noah. The Lord Jesus said, ‘And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all’ (Luke 17:26–27). As we all know, when Noah spread the message that a great flood was coming to destroy the world, the people of that time did not believe him because they hadn’t seen any rain falling from the sky and, in the end, not one person believed the gospel Noah had been preaching for over a hundred years. When the ark was fully built, the days of God’s patience and His waiting for man to repent were over, and torrents of rain began to fall from the sky and the floods came. People saw all this unfolding around them, but it was too late — the gate of grace was shut. Similarly, God comes in secret in the last days to save us, and when God appears openly, His work of salvation shall be complete and the time of rewarding the good and punishing the wicked will have arrived.”
After listening to her husband’s fellowship, Chen Hua thought to herself: Yes, it is reasonable to say that the scene when the Lord comes should definitely be one of people in ecstatic joy and constant cheering, and those of us who believe in the Lord will beat gongs and drums and welcome the Lord’s coming with much singing and dancing. So why then does it say in that verse that all people will wail? I finally understand now that it’s because people reject and resist God’s secret work and they will thereby lose God’s salvation.
Zhong Cheng continued, saying, “When I met with Co-worker Liu, he read a passage of God’s words to us that I found very moving.” As he said this, Zhong Cheng took a notepad from his pocket and read: “Many people may not care what I say, but I still want to tell every so-called saint who follows Jesus that, when you see Jesus descend from the heaven upon a white cloud with your own eyes, this will be the public appearance of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps that will be a time of great excitement for you, yet you should know that the time when you witness Jesus descend from the heaven is also the time when you go down to hell to be punished. That will be the time of the end of God’s management plan and it will be when God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. For the judgment of God will have ended before man sees signs, when there is only the expression of truth” (“By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew”).
Filled with emotion, Zhong Cheng said, “When I heard these words, I felt them to be filled with majesty, authority and power, as though they had been spoken by God Himself. These words made me finally understand that God comes first in secret to perform the work of judgment beginning in God’s house, to give man truth and life, to enable them to cast off the bonds of sin and ultimately be able to attain true salvation and be purified. Only afterward will God come openly with clouds to reward the good and punish the wicked. I had always gazed at the sky, believing that, if I hadn’t seen the Lord Jesus coming with clouds then that proved He had not yet returned. In the end, when I did hear someone preaching the gospel of the Lord’s coming, I didn’t take the initiative to seek or investigate it, I didn’t accept the truth expressed by God incarnate and I shut out the returned Lord. Instead, I just spent all my days thinking that the Lord would come with clouds to rapture us up into heaven, but this was all just wishful thinking and did not tally with the Lord’s will at all. The Pharisees in those olden days had yearned for the Messiah to come, but when the Lord Jesus did come, they clung instead to their own notions, believing that the Lord Jesus could not possibly be Christ or the Lord because He had not been born into a wealthy family, because He did not appear noble and dignified and because His name was not Messiah. And so they resisted and condemned Him, they refused to accept the truth He spoke, and finally they crucified Him upon the cross, thus committing a heinous sin which brought the curse and punishment of God upon them. Now, when it comes to welcoming the Lord’s return, we must not tread the same path as the Pharisees and set ourselves in opposition to God.”
Chen Hua felt very moved by her husband’s words, and she said, “All these years, I’ve clung persistently to the Scripture that says the Lord shall come openly with clouds, and I’ve constantly gazed at the sky. Because I never saw the Lord coming with clouds, I didn’t believe that the Lord had returned. Even when I heard that the Lord had returned, I didn’t take the initiative to seek or investigate it. Now that you’ve fellowshiped with me today, I understand that God’s secret work is done to give us the opportunity to attain true salvation, and when God appears openly, the gate of grace will then be closed and there will be no more chances. We have to make seeking God’s gospel of the last days our top priority!”
Zhong Cheng said, “You’re right! The Lord Jesus said, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7). It is the Lord’s will that we take the initiative to seek His way. He also said: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me’ (Revelation 3:20). It is prophesied many times in Revelation, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2, 3). These prophecies are very clear: When the Lord returns in the last days, He shall speak His words, and we should be wise virgins and heed God’s words. Only then can we welcome the Lord’s coming.”