Phases of the Second Coming
It is often assumed the second coming of Christ will be a single quick event. However, there are many passages indicating the second coming is a series of events spanning a period of time, perhaps years.
The key events of the second coming...
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)
These verses never made sense to me until I thought of it in terms of globally visible apparitions.
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. (Revelation 6:12-14)
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)
Massive earthquakes, volcanic activity causing smoke to block the light of the sun and moon, objects fall from the sky (large meteors or an asteroid), the tectonic plates of the earth's crust move rapidly — but note that these events do not wipe out humans.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. (Revelation 6:15-16)
They sense that this cataclysm is punishment from God, probably because of the apparitions.
The devastation is not total. The fact that the cataclysm ends after a time makes me suspect it was caused by a large object hitting the earth.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. . . . And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:11,14)
Jesus saith unto him, Thou [the high priest] hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 26:64)
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thesslonians 4:16-17)
The dead will rise first.
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. . . . Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. (2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:1)
This is not the rapture.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. . . . And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. (Revelation 19:19;20:8)
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule [judge] them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Revelation 19:15)
It seems odd that people will band together to fight against Christ but they do.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. . . . And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (Revelation 19:17-18,21;20:9)
Notice that the world is not immediately destroyed after Christ comes to earth. Perhaps he teaches for a time like he did after his resurrection.
Only after the 144,000 are sealed is the earth finally destroyed.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Revelation 20:12-13)
This is the rapture.
Based on my view of the Creative Frames of the universe, God merely refrains from creating the universe for a while. When he starts up again all sin, evil, and suffering is gone — this will be the new heavens and new earth.
A public event attended by all.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these shall go away into everlasting punishment. (Matthew 25:41,46a)
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
The long-awaited event.
The fulness of the kingdom of God.
Perhaps this city will float above the earth.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
In the early stages of the new heavens and new earth God will comfort us.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. (Ezekiel 37:21-22)
In my view there will be a literal nation of Israel in the new heavens and new earth.