Looking for His appearing

1. Historical beliefs and theories

The Coming as generally accepted

Among those who believe in the return of the Lord, most simply take it for granted that His return could take place at any moment.

Is it suggested as possible that you might step out the front door of your home tonight, see a bright light flashing across the sky, and suddenly realize that Jesus is returning.

Jesus did promise to return. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go … I will come again, and receive you to myself” (Jn. 14:2-3). For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Mat. 24:27).

As the glorified Christ He repeated the idea to the apostle John on the island of Patmos: And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me” (Rev. 22:12).

About twenty-one times Jesus speaks of His coming again, and most of these references are made on the eve of His departure. In the shadow of the cross He foretold His advent. We read:- “The Son of man shall come.” “They shall see the Son of man coming.” “Your Lord does come.” “When the Son of man shall come.” “When He comes in the glory of His Father.” “You shall say, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,”) Jesus in His ministry repeatedly declared that He would come again.

Jesus also made the promise of His coming again to His disciples at the time of His ascension, and they still did not seem to grasp its significance. A group of His followers stood looking upward on that occasion. As the Lord ascended, He perceived their consternation and sent messengers of assurance:

And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold,two men stood by them in white apparel; who said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).

The Problem

Most of the differences in scriptural interpretation among Christians about the coming appear to be the result of differing interpretation of the plan and purpose of God. Such deciphering of spiritual mysteries in the Word of God by the human intellect often avoids the one whom God sent to be the primary teacher, the Holy Spirit of Truth. His purpose is to unveil the hidden mysteries of the kingdomof Godand God’s great plan and purpose.

Humankind tends to think within boxes, in a realm of “we know it all ” “of denominations “, “lists of beliefs ” and “doctrines “; we shut ourselves in; safe from further revelation and make it impossible for the Spirit to guide us into all of present day truth.,
“If any man think that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (I Cor. 8:2).

Humankind still has a lot to learn, there is yet much of the total picture to be revealed.

The path of the just is as a shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).

Many theories have been advanced about the coming of the Lord Jesus. They all seem to hold fast to the idea of a kingly man/God who will rule the world in the manner of earthly kings. A glorified Jesus figure is imagined as He was in the transfiguration. This appearing is linked with time and a second coming to a material world giving rise to the how and when questions that man’s theories endeavor to solve.

Schools of Interpretation

In the present day endeavors to understand bible prophesy is best considered in three systems, or schools of understanding.

The Historical School

This system maintains that the major prophesies of the Bible (the seventy weeks prophesy of Daniel 9, the four beasts of Daniel 7, The Olivet discourse, Matt 24, and the book of Revelation have been progressively fulfilled down through history.

The Futurist School

The shift of belief is to the future and major prophesies are to occur in the future.

The Harmonist School

This school adopts the middle ground and desires to use all opinions. The approach proposes that history is a shadow or on-working type of the final fulfillment

All of the above schools of thought involve interpretations which speak of “the second coming ”

Some historical “Second coming ” theories

Emphasis on the nearness of Christ’s “second coming,” so strong in many Christian circles today, is not new. In the early church dates were set for the Lord’s return again and again through the first two or three centuries and on to the present day..


Augustine set the date for the end of the world at A.D. 1000. Near the end of the ninth century a general belief that the coming of Christ, the Day of Judgment, and the end of the world was at hand.

Based rather loosely on: (Rev 20:4 NIV)I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Conviction grew and as the time drew near, a general panic seized the minds of men. Many pious people reasoned that since the present order was ending it would be folly to further attempt to satisfy their temporal ambitions or fulfil their earthly goals. They simply ceased working, sold or abandoned their homes, farms and businesses, and bought a little plot of ground near some church building or monastery, some moved to the Holy Land, to wait on holy ground. The whole course of ordinary life was disturbed and deranged for an entire generation.

Joachim of Florence

In the Middle Ages Joachim, an Italian monk inclined to mysticism and ecstasy, pondered deeply on the hidden plan of God. He spoke of three dispensations: the first that of the law or the Father, the second that of the gospel or the Son, and the third that of the Holy Spirit. The first dispensation belonged to the past, the second was approaching the end since the church had become very worldly, and the age of the Spirit was destined to begin in the year 1260 A.D. Then the church would be purified; Jews and Gentiles would be converted in large numbers; a final conflict would be waged against the evil forces of the world; and then the new order would begin under the reign of Jesus Christ.


At the time of the Reformation Anabaptists raised the cry of the speedy return of Jesus Christ. They established their headquarters at Muenster, set up their own government under the alleged direction of the Holy Spirit, and founded the New Zion in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ as their King. The city became the scene of unrestrained fanaticism and which was finally forcibly suppressed by the government.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther at one time taught that Christ would come in the year A.D. 1530.


The Puritans looked for Jesus to set up His World Empire in the seventeenth century.

Daniel DeFoe

Daniel DeFoe wrote in his JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR that, in the midst of the Great Plague in London, England in 1665, a woman on a square gained a hearing for her prognostications that the coming of the Lord was near; a few gathered, then many, then a crowd, as she pointed excitedly toward the heavens to “A Horseman in the Sky.” The Son of Man was coming; could they not see Him? Some thought that they could.


During the Napoleonic wars, when Napoleon was bestride Europe and the Near East the prophecy-mongers in England with the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation in one hand, and the latest mail from Egypt in the other were all sure that the Antichrist had come.

William Miller

In America similar prophets arose. During the second quarter of the nineteenth century William Miller, who became the founder of the Millerite sect, traveled throughNew England, New York, New Jersey, andCanada, with the announcement that Christ would return in 1843. He thought he saw, plainly, the time indicated, in the scriptures, when our Lord would return. A gifted and scholarly man, he led thousands to adopt his views. He proclaimed Christ will soon be here; are you ready to meet Him? There were many conversions born of fear in view of the imminent appearance. The meetings were often scenes of wild confusion; emotion was aroused, people fell down crying, men shouted and women fainted. Miller continued his crusade with great persistence and assurance.

The Mt of Olives group

Toward the end of the nineteenth century there was another group, an entire American Colony in the city of Jerusalem, who gathered there to await the imminent return of the Lord. These sincere, and in many cases brilliant, believers would go out to the Mount of Olives by night to wait for the Lord’s return. They justified their action by the words: His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14:4)

Pastor Russell

In the present century Pastor Russell, the spiritual father of Jehovah’s Witnesses, boldly proclaimed that the Lord would return in the year A.D. 1914. When that year passed by without the expected appearance of the Lord he maintained that the Lord had indeed come, but was now in hiding because of the wickedness of the people and in due time He would present Himself. Russell’s successor, Judge Rutherford, kept alive the expectation of the speedy transformation of the living saints. The burden of his message was “Millions now living will never die.” It was a rather daring assertion, seeing that it could be so easily proved, or disproved.

The great pyramid delusion

About the turn of the century Morton Edgar published a book titled pyramid passages. The Great Pyramid of Gizeh in Egypt was built by divine wisdom and under God’s direction, was one of God’s witnesses to men, the object of its construction being to establish in stone a record and a prophecy of God’s great redemptive plan of the ages. The scriptural basis was: Isa. 19:19-20, “In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt.

This “altar” and “pillar” was assumed to be the Great Pyramid—referred to as the bible in stone. It was conjectured that every passage and chamber symbolized in size, length, structure, etc. the whole plan of God from the garden in Eden down to the times of the restitution of all things. Those who studied the Pyramid from that standpoint were able to locate all the major events of history there—Creation was there, Calvary was there, the Reformation was there, the return of Christ was there, and the Millennial Age. It was all laid out neatly and precisely in the measurements, passages, chambers, and symbolism of the Great Pyramid! Since the measurements from certain well established points to another, for instance, from Calvary to the Reformation, were all quite precise, it followed that the measurements from the Reformation to the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom (and hence, the second coming of Christ) were conclusive. The testimony of the Great Pyramid showed irrefutably that Christ would return in 1914!

When Christ didn’t make the anticipated appearance in 1914, the theory was later revised by Dr. Adam Rutherford of England. According to Rutherford’s careful calculations the entrance into the King’s Chamber, typifying the beginning of the Millennial Age, would be reached on August 20, 1953. With 95 per cent of the chronology of the passage system of the Great Pyramid supposedly already verified by history, the attention of thousands was focused upon 20 August 1953. Their expectancy was that the events of that day would demonstrate beyond question that their understanding of the purport of the Great Pyramid revelation was correct. In the summer of 1953 thousands of followers began to anticipate the development of spectacular events to climax, perhaps with the visible appearance of Jesus, on the Great Pyramid dating of 20 August 1953. They hoped that what would occur then would firmly establish their belief in the reliability of the prophecy. But the day came and with it the failure of the hoped-for developments. Jesus didn’t show up. The Millennium didn’t begin. Armageddon didn’t break out. Nothing happened.


The error of these interpretation and many other similar delusions is shown by their repeated failure. The mischief done by these well-meaning men is all the greater as they fix a fresh date when the time has falsified their previous dogmatic chronological predictions. Every attempt that has been made to fix a date, even approximately, has brought the truth into discredit; many predictions have been made, and then changed with startling craftiness, in order that the date might be postponed, in view of the previous mistakes. Not only are these false prophets and teachers mistaken about the time of Christ’s return; their whole concept about a second coming is suspect; they know not when and it is doubtful they perceive the purpose of His coming or how He comes.

The “orthodox” teaching on the “second coming” of Christ gets people into many unexplainable predicaments, out of which they cannot extricate themselves honourably and logically. The systems will not work because they are in error. There is not one verse in the whole Bible to uphold popular theory. There are many to prove it false, and with them much vital truth which churches have totally ignored.

Many Christians, who have received the Lord Jesus as Savior, believe that in this initial experience are found all the experiences of the Word of God. The infilling of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the in Christ experience, son-ship, overcoming and reigning with Christ, and many others are believed to be part of and completed in that initiation and there are no other stages in growth. Those who have received the infilling of the Holy Spirit as another experience, know what blessing and reality are missed by such a belief. Infilling of the Spirit is not the end however; it is a stage of development also and leads on to more and more experiences with the Lord as the disciple continues to walk in the Spirit and grows into the image and glory of God.

In the search for truth the one question ultimately must be, “what does the Holy Spirit reveals from the Word of God to the Ecclesia of today “. The traditions of church history are sincere efforts of a younger body struggling with spiritual understanding and these beliefs as with all of us are prone to mixture and carnality. To walk in the Spirit does not permit a rigid clinging to traditional teachings.

(Mark 7:7-8 NIV) They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ {8} You have let go of the commands of God and are holding onto the traditions of men.