Sabbath School Lesson for June 23-29, 2018

The  second coming of Jesus is more than a church doctrine, more than merely a glimmer of hope that we cling to in shaky times, an epilogue for the story of our planet. It’s rather a grand climax for all that has come before it. We must recognize the beginning, as well as the end of the story of our salvation, in order to fully appreciate the beauty of the event.

Our name “Seventh-day Adventist” rightly signifies both the beginning and end of our human history. The “seventh-day” Sabbath points to the week of Creation, but most importantly, to the Creator Himself, which, of course, is none other than Jesus Christ. See John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16.

And the name “Adventist”, indicating Christ’s advent, or coming, is also appropriate as part of our name, signifying the end of our beginning. John, on the island of Patmos, heard a voice as loud as a trumpet, who was later identified as One like the Son of Man, telling him, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last…” (Revelation 1:11). He definitely is the focus of this unfolding story of salvation.

Understanding the second advent is difficult, but necessary, if we are to be prepared to meet Jesus the second time. We know most of God’s people were not exactly ready for His first coming as a Babe in Bethlehem. So, we can’t afford to get it wrong again. Jesus warns us numerous times to watch and be ready for His return.

Focus Text: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:27 KJV

This week we will attempt to grasp some of the intricacies of His return, so we will know what to expect, and also be ready to share this good news with others. The Bible is certain about some of these points, so let’s get familiar with what we do know about Christ’s return.

Sunday: The Day of the Lord

We tend to think that the second coming is a doctrine coming from the New Testament, as a follow-up for Christ’s first advent. However, the Old Testament prophets were also aware of the event that would end our earthly struggles and mark the reign of a heavenly Kingdom without sin, that would bring lasting peace to the universe. They referred to the Lord’s return as “the day of the Lord”.

Of course, Jesus’ earthly ministry has done much to reveal what this new Kingdom will be like. We were able to witness God’s character in the daily life of a fellow human being. We beheld the Son of God, but also the Son of man. This new knowledge of our Creator enhances our desire to be with Him in the earth made new.

One thing is noticed here. The Old Testament writers did not gloss over the aspect of His coming that would involve destruction and judgment of the wicked. Zephaniah, for example, calls it “the day of the Lord’s anger” (ch. 2, v. 3).

  • For the lost, this second coming, as we’ve come to call it, will indeed be a painful day of sorrow and suffering, as their judgment does not work in their favor.
  • For God’s faithful ones, however, it will be a day of joy and deliverance.

One thing is certain about the second coming. It won’t be a quiet day, that in any way will go unnoticed. This day of judgment will be a wondrous event, with visible changes in store for those on the earth, affecting the entire universe.

Discussion Questions:

Read Matthew 24:30, 31, Daniel 7:13, 14, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16. How does Daniel’s vision of the second coming compare with those in the New Testament?

Read Isaiah 13:6-9, Proverbs 2:22, and Zephaniah 2:1-3. What must we do to be protected in the “day of the Lord’s anger”?

Read Philippians 4:3, Revelation 3:5. What two things will enable us to be written in the Book of Life?

Monday: Daniel and the Second Coming of Jesus

By examining the visions of Daniel, we gain much insight into what the second coming will be like. Even Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the image tells us that God’s Kingdom will be totally different from anything on earth so far. Christ’s Kingdom is represented by the  rock that is hurled at the image’s feet, causing all the kingdoms that preceded it to be crushed and blown away like chaff. It then becomes a great mountain that fills the whole earth.

The Jews in Jesus’ time were looking for an upgrade for their nation, making them no longer subservient to Roman authority. Today, modern theologians and philosophers also envision a glorious “makeover” of our planet, with peace and prosperity for everyone. But thank heaven for heaven AND a new earth! See Isaiah 66:22 and Revelation 21:1. All the unpleasant and even horrific circumstances in which we find ourselves will all be a thing of the past.

Discussion Questions:

Read Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45 and Luke 20:17, 18. How and why does the “stone” affect people different ways–some are broken by falling on it, and others are crushed by it falling on them?

Read Isaiah 66:22, Revelation 21:1, and Malachi 4:1. Why is a new earth required? Why can’t God just “fix” this one?

Read Matthew 6:10, 13 and Romans 14:17. What two kingdoms is Jesus talking about in the Lord’s Prayer? How is the earthly one different from the one in heaven?

Tuesday: Long-term Prospects

Paul’s prospects certainly didn’t look good when he wrote about his hope in Christ’s return and receiving a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). First of all, he had earlier called himself the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), and was now in jail, waiting for his execution. What could possibly look inviting about a future for him personally at such a troubling time in his life?

Of course, we know that our only hope, our only real future, is in Christ’s second coming as well. Thanks to God, who created our planet from nothing, we can rest in His ability  to re-create it and start over. Yes, our long-term prospects provide us with just what we need to survive anything Satan can throw at us in this earthly life.

“It ain’t over, till it’s over”, as the saying goes. God has promised victory in the end. We have only to claim that promise and do all in our power to follow Him. The Holy Spirit does the work; we just have to surrender to Him and offer Him a willing heart, ready to be filled with His love.

Discussion Questions:

Read Titus 2:11-13 and Philippians 3:20. What kind of lifestyle will lead to a love for His appearing?

Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8. Why is it a struggle for us to have faith? What should we have faith in? When will we receive a crown of righteousness?

Read Titus 3:5. What kind of righteousness makes up our crown of righteousness?

Wednesday: In the Clouds of Heaven

It’s hard to imagine what the second coming will actually look like. Artists have tried to portray it, and some have done a beautiful job. But certainly it will surpass anything that would fit on a canvas, a real one or even one in our wildest dreams. Heaven is hard enough to imagine, but heaven coming down to earth…now that’s almost too much glory for us to fathom!

Nevertheless, the Bible does attempt to describe the event. There’s one thing for sure, it will involve all our senses. The whole world will see and hear it. Obviously, the “thief in the night” analogy must refer to its uncertain timing, because no thief would dare come with such fanfare as portrayed by the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

What are the clouds so often mentioned as part of this scene? Some have thought them to be the throngs of angels that accompany Him, as they are definitely mentioned as part of the pageantry.

The destruction of our world will be most dramatic. There will be earthquakes, roaring winds and waves from the sea. Every rock will be moved out of its place. This will entirely change the surface of the earth, bringing it to an abrupt end.

But the righteous will then be lifted up to be with Jesus in the heavens above, in “mansions” He is even now preparing for them (John 14:2). What a hope we have!

Discussion Questions:

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. What happens to the righteous and to the unrighteous on that Day?

Read Matthew 26:61-64, Revelation 1:7, and Daniel 12:1, 2. Could Jesus have been speaking of a special resurrection for those directly responsible for His crucifixion? What makes us think this would be so, and why would God allow it to happen?

Read Daniel 12:13, Revelation 14:13, and 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18. How are we to be comforted when some of our loved ones may already be in the grave? In what way do our works “follow” us?

Thursday: The Living and the Dead

What hope the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead gives us! Others had been resurrected, but there was something quite unusual and uplifting about Lazarus, both in the incident and in the timing of it.

  1. Unusual because…
    • he had been dead four days, and had started to decompose (John 11:39).
  2. Uplifting because…
    • it verified that Jesus was “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

Although Lazarus was not given his new incorruptible body when Jesus called him forth from his tomb (he still died later, like the rest of us), we are promised an even more glorious kind of resurrection at the second coming of Jesus.

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is shown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 NKJV

It is then, at the second coming, that we receive this new body. Evidently, it will be a real body, but one that will never die, wear out, or become weak with age. We will once again be like the angels, and live eternally with our Creator and Redeemer.

Will we know each other in heaven? It appears so. The disciples recognized Him in the upper room, after His resurrection. What a glorious appearing is in store for us on that great Day. There’s really no reason why God’s children shouldn’t love His appearing?

Discussion Questions:

Read 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 and 53-55. How is death “swallowed up in victory” at the second coming?

Read Romans 6:4-11. What other kind of “death” requires a resurrection into a new life?

Read Philippians 3:21 and 1 John 3:2. What do you think Jesus will look like when He returns? What will be different about His appearance, compared to when His disciples saw Him on earth?


What the second coming means to us…points to ponder as we close this topic…

  • the Old Testament taught the doctrine–called it the “Day of the Lord” (Sunday)
  • the king’s dream of the image that Daniel interpreted included a “stone” representing God’s Kingdom (Monday)
  • what were Paul’s prospects for heaven, even when he was waiting for his execution (Tuesday)
  • what is the manner of His coming in the clouds (Wednesday)
  • what happens to the living and the dead when Jesus comes again (Thursday)

Final Words

One has to wonder why the Second Coming of Jesus is such a drama-filled event. Why does He return with so many angels in such a bright and glorious fashion? It will be different than anything we have seen or heard on earth up to that time.

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the fact that God is reclaiming His property. The parable of the wheat and the tares implies that an “enemy” has produced the havoc in the field (Matthew 13:28). We remember the scene in God’s throne room where God says “all that he [Job] has is in your [Satan’s] power”, illustrating the limited ownership Satan has been given over our planet. See Job 1:11, 12.

The return of Jesus has been likened to the coming of a thief. This does refer, of course, to the uncertain time of the event, but perhaps it’s also because, in a sense, God is having to steal us from Satan. Much like Moses stole the Israelites from Pharoah’s control, allowing them at last the freedom to worship Him fully.

There are some very good reasons for us to love His appearing, and why it is such a big deal for us even now. This precious hope…

  • helps us deal with injustice and the cruel suffering that people go through
  • gives us strength and courage when facing our own death, or any hardship
  • encourages us to make right choices in how we live our life now

Next Week’s Lesson: You Will Be My Witnesses

(new quarterly, called “The Book of Acts”)

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