The Comings of Christ
Many who profess faith in Christ believe in His first and second coming to this our planet earth. The “first” coming they would refer to God’s miraculously becoming a human fetus in the womb of the virgin Mary. This is theologically called “the incarnation.” The well-told story is found in Luke 1-2 and in parallel accounts in Matthew 1-2 and John 1. Many people around the world celebrate December 25 as the supposed date of the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christmas is also often called Jesus’ “Advent,” which is another word for “coming.” (As we’d say, “With the advent of the computer, manual typewriters have now become junk to most people, or at best museum pieces.”) [See: True Worship and Feast of John the Baptist.]
Many refer to Christ’s “second” coming to mean the bodily return of the glorified Jesus to take control of the government of this earth as He establishes God’s kingdom here. [See: Martial Law and World Peace -- At Last!] Those religious denominations that eagerly await Jesus’ “second coming” are lumped together by Bible commentators as “Adventists” — not primarily because they keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Several of these groups have set some dates of Jesus’ supposed return and have become disappointed when the event did not occur.
The Bible doesn’t actually give the labels “first coming” and “second coming” of Christ. The birth of Jesus is nowhere mentioned in the Bible as His “first coming.” It is, however, referred to as His “appearing,” in 2 Timothy 1:10. Neither is His bodily return to earth labeled in the Bible as His “second coming,” although this is often also called His “appearing” (1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:7).
Other comings of Christ
When we take The Whole Counsel of God, we will come to understand that there are, in truth, several other “comings” of Christ to this earth before and in-between these two well-known and well-believed-in “advents” of Christ.
Before His human birth, Jesus Christ was the LORD of the Old Testament. He was the “Word” [Greek, Logos] who created all things as His Father appointed Him (John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2). Genesis 1-3 gives an account of the creation of all things as we see them today on earth and our immediate solar system and beyond. Jesus (that LORD) also dealt with human beings from the beginning of human history up to His coming as a human being. [See: The True Christ, Peter Knew "The Holy One," "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!" The Flaming Sword East of Eden and The Law of Christ.]
Before the creation story told in Genesis, however, Jesus had come to this earth for a different purpose. Not much detail is mentioned in the Bible concerning this. But we have the witness of Job 38:4-7 to tell us what happened before the creation account in Genesis 1:3 and onward. God asked Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
This profound Scripture passage reveals two things: 1) God laid the foundation of our present earth by putting it together in such a way as to support life [Greek, bios or biota (plural)], and 2) God had created “morning stars” and the “sons of God” — angelic beings, as will be explained further — before He ever created mankind.
The sciences of archeology and paleontology have discovered that this present earth actually underwent two “cataclysmic” events of worldwide flooding or deluge that happened far apart. They have also discovered that before the age of man this earth had been inhabited by reptilian life. Scientists have popularly called this the “Jurassic” age. This was eons [paleontologists talk about millions of years!] before the Great Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6-9).
Piecing together several testimonies of Scripture, some Bible students have come to realize that this earth had originally been the domain assigned to an angelic being named “Lucifer” [meaning "bringer of light"] as mentioned in Isaiah 14:12-15 and who is described as a sinning “cherub” in Ezekiel 28:11-17.
Because of his pride and desire to become very God himself, Lucifer thought to mount a “coup” against God to try to unseat Him from His heavenly throne. But Lucifer underestimated the far superior power of God Most High! His rebellion against God led Lucifer to his downfall, and he has since been called a “fallen angel” — Satan the Devil. In several Bible passages Satan (2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9, 14, 15; 20:2; Genesis 3:1, 2, 4, 15, 14) is described as a “serpent” — a form compatible with the earth as it was first inhabited, by mostly reptilian life forms. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?] Satan and his angels [now called "demons"], which comprised a third of all of God’s created angels (Revelation 12:3-4), are described as “angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode” (Jude 7) — the earth.
Genesis 1:2 ["The earth was without form, and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep"] has been examined by several Bible students (including the late Herbert W. Armstrong) who believe that the phrase “was without form, and void” is better translated as “became…“ Isaiah 45:18 testifies that when God formed and made the earth, He “did not create it in vain.” The phrase “in vain” is rendered from the Hebrew word tohu — the same Hebrew word rendered as “without form” in Genesis 1:2.
Thus, the strong indication is that, between Genesis 1:1 and Verses 3-31, something of a cataclysm occurred which made the earth “vain” or “without form.” This could have happened when God cast out Satan and his angels back to earth when they engaged God in warfare (Isaiah 14:12; Revelation 12:9), thereby causing vast devastation here.
For more understanding of this subject, see this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the book titled Mystery of the Ages, especially read the chapter on “Angels.” While on this link, select instead “Reference Material” and scroll down to the heading “Evolution Articles (wcg)” and click on the articles titled “Dinosaurs Before Adam?” and “Two Creations — Two Worldwide Floods.” See also this helpful link: https://www.ucg.org, then on the website’s search bar (the lower one) type: “world before man” and click “search.” Scroll down to the first article that appears: “The World Before Man: The Biblical Explanation/United…” to read the article. [My apologies for this rather clumsy way to reach the material.]
Many have posed objections to the interpretation of the pertinent Scripture passages as advanced by this writer and by the above-mentioned links. Now, since all Scripture is inspired by God through His Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21), it would also take that same Spirit to help people properly understand the “deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). Such things include the proper understanding of the evidence of paleontology and archeology of the earth’s two incidences of worldwide flooding.
Christ’s actual “second coming”
After eons while this earth was “without form and void,” the LORD of the Old Testament — who, as I will explain, is thrice labeled as “Christ” even before Jesus’ human birth — visited this devastated earth to “recreate” it by reordering the earth and its atmosphere (Genesis 1:2-10). Then the LORD created all manner of vegetation and animal life and, finally, mankind (the latter after God’s “own image” or “likeness,” Verses 26-27). We might rightly call this Christ’s “second coming.”
After this “creation week,” the LORD superintended the course of human history. After the “fall” of our first parents Adam and Eve, all of us their descendants followed the sinful ways that Adam pioneered. As the apostle Paul put it: “…through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). [See: "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!"]
Indeed the fatal path that mankind chose led to the near-extinction of the human race, but for God’s grace on one man, Noah, and his family (Genesis 6-10). Genesis 11 all the way to the end of the Book of Genesis details God’s dealings with Noah’s descendants, with special emphasis on God’s calling of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (later renamed Israel). [See: The Children of Abraham and God's Kingdom and Israel.]
Christ had come to Old Testament believers
Most people think that only New Testament people of God are “Christians” and the Old Testament holy men and women were simply “godly” people, but not Christians. Well, here’s quite a revelation from the apostle Peter:
This salvation was the theme which the prophets pondered and explored, those who prophesied about the grace of God awaiting you. They tried to find out what was the time, and what the circumstances, to which the spirit of Christ in them pointed, foretelling the sufferings in store for Christ and the splendours to follow…(1 Peter 1:10-11, New English Bible, emphasis added).
This plainly shows that the Old Testament prophets who foretold about the Messiah had the spirit of Christ in them! They were Christians! They belonged to Christ! As Romans 8:9 affirms, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (NKJV, as elsewhere on this website, unless otherwise stated). It was that same Spirit that moved the prophets to write the prophecies they did (2 Peter 1:21).
Of course, they didn’t have Christ come in an “incarnation” such as the gospel story tells it. The appearances of “the LORD” [Christ before He became "born as mortal man"] are called epiphanies. Just like God talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, so God talked with people like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and other Godly men and women of the Old Testament.
People today like to contrast Moses with Christ, as though Moses was not a Christian. Here’s another eye-opening revelation from the New Testament:
…By faith Moses…regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt…(Hebrews 11:24, 26, NIV, emphasis added).
If Moses had not understood that the LORD he was dealing with was the same God who would later become Jesus Christ, we would not find it thus written in the above-quoted Scripture passage. Moses gave up the pleasure of sin and the treasures of Egypt for Jesus’ sake! Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus had come to Moses’ life, as well as the lives of the men and women of faith in the Old Testament. That’s why they, too, will be with New Testament Christians in the resurrection or change to immortality at the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Hebrews 11:3-39). [See: Moses and Jesus -- Are They Contraries?]
The apostle Paul also wrote:
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers [the Israelites' ancestors] were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:11-4).
Christ comes into the life of a believer today
Christ’s Spirit is imparted to true Christians — those who have truly repented of sin and been baptized for the remission or forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38). Better than mere epiphanies of Christ, through His Spirit He lives in the lives of true believers in Him (Romans 8:9-10; Galatians 2:20). They become His “brethren.” [See: Are We All God's Children? and The Value of the "Firstborn."]
This is how Christ has come and comes “in the flesh” (1 John 4:2-3). As He promised, in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word [and 'My commandments,' Verse 21]; and My Father will love him, and We [both the Father and Christ] will come to him and make Our home with him [they will live in him].” [See: The True Christ, especially the box titled, "What do you mean -- 'Jesus has come in the flesh'?"]
Since Jesus has come into the lives of His true followers, He emphasized how important it is for people to treat them as they would treat Christ Himself. As He says, “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40, and compare with Matthew 12:48-50). This is how Jesus will judge people at His return (Matthew 25:31-46).
Christ comes to a community of believers
Besides coming into the lives of individual Christians, Jesus also comes today — as He did in the past (Hebrews 13:8) — to a community of believers: “For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20, NIV). This is how Jesus fulfills His promise to His disciples that, after His ascension to heaven, He will be with them till the end of this age (Matthew 28:19-20).
Those Christians who think they can be Christians in isolation should think again! But here is a Bible truth that we need to keep in mind. While Christ has come to each individual Christian, Christ comes in a special and empowering way when believers come together in His name or by His authority. This could be in their worship. [How often have we heard the expression "God inhabits the praises of His people?"] This could also be in small groups, when true Christians meet together for Bible study and other purposes, or even in simple conversation and fellowship.
It is to this community of believers that Jesus wants to come in, if they will let Him, after they have thrown Him out of their house. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him [share His spiritual meat], and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). [See: Laodicean Christians.]
The Church of God is the spiritual “temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) to which Jesus will come at His bodily return: “And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold He is coming” (Malachi 3:1). [See: Leanings and The Temple in Ezekiel 40-48.]
Christ will come to reign on earth
This is the most awaited — and final — coming of Christ! The entire Bible — both the Old Testament and the New — speaks about the coming of the LORD [as the "Messiah" or Christ, from the Hebrew Mesiach or the Greek Christos -- meaning "the Anointed One"].
Jesus is coming — soon! — to put down all evil in this world, and right every wrong there is today. He will rule the people who will survive the Great Tribulation and the Wrath of God as mortal subjects of God’s kingdom, which He will establish on this earth. His glorified saints (true Christians, resurrected or changed to immortality at His return) will reign with Him for an initial 1,000 years (called by some “the Millennium”), to bring about the utopia that mankind has dreamed about but has never been able to achieve without God’s intervention. God will eventually save all those who will believe in Jesus in God’s own time. [See: World Peace -- At Last! Martial Law, Predestination, Fake News, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]
Whenever God calls you — whether now or later — God’s word exhorts you: “…be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things [listed in the previous verses] you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation and The Value of the "Firstborn."]
As the apostle John testifies about Jesus’ promise ["Surely I am coming quickly."]: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.