The great tribulation period will be brought to a close by the second coming of Christ. While seated on the Mount of Olives, Jesus told His disciples that,
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:27-31)
The second coming of Christ back to the earth is not to be confused with the rapture, which is the coming of the Lord “in the air” for His church (I Thess. 4:13-18). These two comings are distinct and will occur at different times. The rapture is the unprophesied end (I Cor. 15:51-57) of the unprophesied dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:1-9). The second coming was prophesied in both the Old Testament Scriptures as well as by the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry. It is the “consummation” of the end time events prophesied in the book of Daniel (Dan. 9:27).
The second coming of Christ will be preceded by great signs and wonders in the heavens. The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. The stars of heaven will fall and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “Then” the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. These signs were prophesied in Joel 2:30-31.
The second coming of Christ will be visible and known to all. Revelation 1:7 says that “every eye shall see Him.” But, in particular, He will be revealed to His people, Israel.
When Jesus came to earth the first time, His own people, Israel, rejected Him (John 1:11). Just days before His crucifixion, Jesus stood overlooking Jerusalem and mourned because of Israel’s unbelief and rejection of Him.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! … You shall see Me no more till you say, `Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (Matt. 23:39)
As Israel rejected Him and crucified Him on Calvary, we see that Jesus’ appearance the first time was “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26).
In spite of their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God’s promise is that one day “all Israel will be saved,” for the day will come when Israel’s “Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26).
When Christ appears the second time, it will be “apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28), the salvation of the nation of Israel.
Matthew 24:30 states that when Christ appears, “all the tribes of the earth will mourn for Him.” The tribes of the earth refers to the tribes of Israel. Zechariah prophesied that this would happen.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zech. 12:10)
We read further in the book of Zechariah,
“And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, `This is My people’; and each one will say, `The Lord is my God.'” (Zech. 13:8-9)
When Israel looks upon Him, whom they pierced, they will know Him and mourn over what they did to Him. When this occurs, the new covenant that the Lord promised to establish with Israel will be fully realized.
“I will put My law in their mind, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, `Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.” (Jer. 31:33-34)
The second coming of Christ will also be the time …
“… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (II Thess. 1:7-9)
When the Lord returns to earth He will judge and make war. This is why Jesus, in Matthew 24, referred to it as “the coming of the Son of Man.” The title “Son of Man” is used of the Lord Jesus in reference to His authority to judge (John 5:27). The apostle John described His coming in this way,
“I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” (Rev. 19:11)
When the Lord Jesus returns, He will be followed by an army of angels (cf. II Thess. 1:7). Out of His mouth will go a sharp sword with which He will smite the nations.
The Antichrist and His armies will be gathered together at Armageddon (Rev. 16:16) to make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb “will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Rev. 17:14).
The beast (Antichrist), and the false prophet will be “cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20). The kings and armies who were in league with them will be “killed with the sword of Him who sat on the horse.” And all the birds will be filled with their flesh (Rev. 19:21).
The prophecy of Psalm 2, verses 5-9 will be fulfilled.
“Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. … You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
At the second coming of Christ, the kingdoms of this world will become “the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
The kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be an everlasting kingdom, just as promised to David (II Sam. 7:16), but the initial part of His reign is said to be for one millennium, or a thousand years (Rev. 20:4).
During this initial thousand year period, the devil, or Satan, will be bound with a chain and shut up and sealed in the bottomless pit, so that he cannot deceive the nations during this time period.