THE COMING OF CHRIST
The coming of Christ is His presence (parousia in Greek). It will last for a period of time. First, it will begin from heaven at the start of the three and a half years of the great tribulation. At that time, the man-child will be raptured to the presence of Christ at the throne of God in heaven (Rev. 12:5), and the firstfruits will be raptured to the presence of Christ at the heavenly Zion (Rev. 14:1-4). Furthermore, all the other living overcomers will be raptured to the presence of Christ in the air to stand before Him (Matt. 24:40-41; Luke 21:36; Rev. 3:10), enjoying His presence and being delivered from the great tribulation. The other living saints will remain on earth to pass through the great tribulation. During this time, God will nourish them (Rev. 12:6).
Second, toward the end of the great tribulation, the coming of Christ will remain in the air. After the great tribulation, the majority of the believers, those who will have been resurrected and whose bodies will have been transfigured, will be raptured to the presence of Christ in the air (Rev. 14:14; 1 Thes. 4:17). This includes the ten resurrected virgins (Matt. 25:1-12) and the two witnesses, who will be resurrected to be raptured (Rev. 11:11-12). At that time, all the saints, including those who are raptured to heaven before the great tribulation and who will come later with Christ to the air, will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ for reward or punishment (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 11:18b). After this, Christ will marry the overcomers. They will be invited to the marriage dinner of the Lamb and will become the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7-9).
Third, at the completion of the great tribulation, the coming of Christ will descend from the air to the earth. After the marriage dinner of the Lamb, Christ, with the overcomers whom He marries as His army, will fight against Antichrist and the kings and armies under him at Armageddon (Rev. 16:14, 16). At that time, the armies of Antichrist will gather together to fight to destroy the nation of Israel. Christ will come there to tread the winepress of the fury of God (Rev. 14:19). The blood will come up to the bridles of the horses (Rev. 14:20). In this way, His garment will be dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13). On the one hand, Christ will bring Antichrist to nothing by the appearing of His coming (2 Thes. 2:8). On the other hand, He will appear to the Israelites like lightning, and the whole house of Israel will be saved (Matt. 24:27, 30; Rev. 1:7; Rom. 11:26-27; Zech. 12:10-14). After this, Christ will send His angel to bind Satan and throw him into the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3). In this way, the kingdom will be brought to earth (Rev. 11:15; 12:10a). Christ will sit on His throne of glory and will judge the nations that are still alive, separating the people as "sheep" and "goats." The "sheep," those who obey the eternal gospel and who treat the suffering believers well, will be blessed. They will be reckoned righteous and will inherit the kingdom. The "goats," those who do not obey, will be cursed and will perish eternally (Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 10:42b; 2 Tim. 4:1). In addition, Christ will restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6; Matt. 19:28) and will bring in the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21).
Today, not only are our ears blessed to be able to hear this gospel, but also our eyes are blessed to be able to see the fulfillment of all these prophecies. Sixty-five years ago I began to study the biblical prophecies. In 1948 I saw with my own eyes the restoring of the nation of Israel. In 1967 I saw again with my own eyes the return of Jerusalem to the nation of Israel. Today, when we consider the world situation and the distribution of the peoples on this earth, we realize that everything is developing in the direction predicted by the prophecies in the Bible. I believe that not long from now, all the things will be fulfilled.
(A message given by Brother Witness Lee in Taipei, Taiwan on October 19, 1990)
(The Vision of the Divine Dispensing and Guidelines for the Practice of the New Way, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)