Many, when they hear about the Second Coming of Christ, think of His eventually return where He will appear in the clouds of the sky, the world will come to an end, and that there will be a last judgment. However this is a false expectation: by the Second Coming is not meant a physical manifestation of the Lord, but a heavenly revelation from heaven which will take place in vision. The final judgment does not take place on earth, but in the spiritual world. The "end of the world" is not the end of the visible planet earth, but rather, it refers to the end of the age of traditional Christianity that has become corrupted by falsehoods.
That the Second Coming is spiritual, and not observable in a physical manner, is discussed in detail here: Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?
That the Second Coming is a spiritual revelation, and not a physical manifestation that appears before everybody at once, we know from Jesus Himself:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. (Luke 17:20-23)
Now despite this, there are some that still expect a literal, physical appearance of the Lord. This is not possible, for when Jesus rose from the dead, His human body had transformed into a Divine Human. The Lord could only be seen by those whose spiritual vision had been opened:
"He is not to appear in person, because since He ascended into heaven He is in the glorified Humanity, and in this He cannot appear to any man unless He first opens the eyes of his spirit, and this cannot be done with any one who is in evils and hence in falsities... Therefore when He manifested Himself to His disciples, He first opened their eyes; for we read, And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him, and He vanished out of their sight (Luke xxiv. 31). The same took place with the women at the sepulchre after the resurrection, who therefore then saw angels sitting in the sepulchre and talking with them; and no one can see angels with the material eye. That neither did the apostles see the Lord in the glorified Human before His resurrection with the eyes of the body, but in spirit, which appears, after returning to wakefulness, as if in sleep, is evident from His transfiguration before Peter, James, and John, for it is said that they were then heavy with sleep (Luke ix. 32). It is therefore vain to believe that the Lord will appear in a cloud of heaven in person; but He will appear in the Word, which is from Him and thus is Himself." (True Christian Religion, n. 777)
What happened is that in the 18th century, Emanuel Swedenborg's vision was opened where he would read scripture and its spiritual meaning was explained by the Lord. This is the Second Coming, available to anyone who pays attention and reads the writings: the First Coming was a revelation of the Word made flesh, the Second Coming is a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word hidden within its literal sense.
This does not preclude future revelations concerning the Second Coming and the book of Revelation - but it must take place in one's spiritual sight, not in the physical world. This is the first step of true understanding.
THE INTERMEDIATE WORLD BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL
After death, a spirit is judged and goes either to heaven or hell, which Swedenborg saw were higher dimensions where space and time do not exist, and yet these spiritual dimensions govern our states of mind. What he also discovered was that between heaven and hell groups of souls would gather in an intermediate spiritual world who were not prepared for judgment, which he called the "world of spirits." It is in this area where the last judgment occurs, where souls are judged in mass at the end of a world age. This intermediate world can be compared to purgatory in Catholic tradition, and some of it is known from the "Harrowing of Hell" that took place when Jesus descended into hell in Orthodox tradition. This middle region between heaven and hell is mentioned explicitly in two areas of the New Testament:
"For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison" (2 Pet. 3:18-19)
It is also the area where some good spirits remain, awaiting judgment:
"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Rev. 6:9-11)
The good that remained here were those who had good intentions, but had perhaps been misled by falsehoods or did things out of ignorance. The evil that remained until the last judgment were those who put on an appearance of being good or religious towards others, but inwardly were evil. Jesus had entered this intermediate spiritual world after His death, and He speaks of His fight against hell in order to release spiritual captives in this passage:
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. (Matt. 12:28-29)
THE FINAL JUDGMENTS OF THE SPIRITUAL WORLD
In the heavenly revelations received by Swedenborg in the 18th century, it was shown to him that "last judgments" take place periodically in the spiritual world. This has happened three times, one of which he witnessed personally in his waking visions:
- A final judgment took place in the spiritual world which is metaphorically described in the story of the flood of Noah.
- A final judgment took place in the spiritual world during the time of Jesus, which Jesus does mention briefly but practiced it in His exorcisms of demons.
- A final judgment took place in the spiritual world in 1757, due to the corruptions of the Christian churches (primarily by dividing God into three persons, and promoting a religion of belief alone)
The final judgment of the year 1757 opened up a new era of thought, where mankind started to think more freely and began to question religious authority, and follow rational thought. Swedenborg mentions that a new era of free thought would begin:
"The great change which has been effected in the spiritual world does not induce any change in the natural world as to external form, and therefore there will be civil affairs hereafter just as before... the man of the church will hereafter be in a freer state of thinking on the things of faith, thus on the spiritual things which are of heaven, because spiritual freedom has been restored... I have had various conversations with angels concerning the state of the church hereafter, and they said that they know not things to come, because to know things to come is of the Lord alone; but they know that the slavery and captivity in which the man of the church has been hitherto, has been taken away, and that now from restored freedom he can better perceive interior truths, if he wishes to perceive them, and so can become interior, if he wishes to become so; yet they have slender hope of the men of the Christian Church, but much of a people quite remote from the Christian world, and hence removed from infesters, which is such as to be able to receive spiritual light, and to become a celestial spiritual man; and they said that at this day interior Divine truths are revealed in that people, and are also received with spiritual faith, that is, in life and heart, and that they adore the Lord." (Final Judgment, n. 73-74)
This is known as the Age of Enlightenment to historians. The external manifestation of it can be seen in the volumes of writings that Swedenborg wrote to explain the spiritual sense of the Bible. Now completely independent from Swedenborg, those who have studied the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, especially Seventh Day Adventists, understood that there was a 1260 year prophecy beginning with the collapse of the Roman Empire that ended in the 18th century. All that they could figure out was the external historical manifestation of the spiritual event: at this time, the Catholic Church lost its spiritual power, especially with the disbanding of the Jesuits and the separation of church and state due to the French and American revolutions. From the revelation we have now received, the 1260 year period began in 497 A.D. and ended in 1757 A.D. (see The Prophetic Time Periods of Daniel Revealed).
The Seventh Day Adventists speak of a prophecy in Daniel 8 concerning the "cleansing of the temple" which they cannot explain well, but they happen to be close to the mark. It was actually fulfilled in the cleansing of the spiritual world between heaven and hell in 1757. There is a 2300 year prophecy beginning from the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. which brings us to the year 1762, for which see the previous posts The New Church Prophecy of the 2300 Days, or the Cleansing of the Sanctuary and The Prophecy of Babylon and the Writing on the Wall
So with that introduction, lets explain now what portions of the book of Revelation have been fulfilled, or are happening now...
THE SEVEN CHURCHES REPRESENT THE OLDER CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
Those who separate faith from charity, are described in one aspect of the letter to the church of Thyatira. However most Christians are in an external form of worship, without applying it to their life, and are dead spiritually: these are described by Sardis. Those who do works of charity, or are merit seeking, are described by Pergamos. All churches, in no matter what state of life, or what state of belief they are, are invited to the New Church, which is the New Jerusalem that descends out of heaven.
THE SEVEN SEALS: EXPLORATION BEFORE JUDGMENT
"The reason that it is said that the heaven departed as a book rolled together, is that man's interior understanding and hence his thought is like heaven. For his understanding can be elevated into the light of heaven, and in elevation can think with the angels about God, about love and faith, and about eternal life. But if his will is not at the same time elevated into the heat of heaven, the man is still not conjoined to the angels of heaven, and thus is not like heaven... By this faculty of the understanding, the evil, who are here treated of, were able to be in consociation with the angels of the lowest heaven. But when these were separated from them, their heaven then departed like a book rolled together." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 335)
"It is to be known, that a final judgment takes place, when the evil are multiplied to such a degree under the heavens in the world of spirits, that the angels in the heavens cannot stand in the state of their love and their wisdom; for they then have no support and foundation. And because this takes place from the multiplication of the evil below, the Lord, therefore, that He may preserve their state, flows in more and more strongly with His Divine; and this is done until they cannot be preserved by any influx, unless the evil below are separated from the good: and this is effected by a lowering and drawing near of the heavens, and hence a stronger influx, until the evil cannot endure it; and the evil then flee away, and cast themselves into hell." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 343)
THE SEVEN TRUMPETS: EXPLORATION OF THE SPIRITUAL CHURCH
THE ANGEL WITH THE LITTLE BOOK
THE TWO WITNESSES
- That there is One God in One Being, One Person, who is Jesus Christ, the Divine Human, and,
- That one must live by the commandments, turning away from evil as sin
"And after the three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, [Rev. 11:11] signifies that the two essentials of the New Church, at the end of the former, when the New Church is beginning and advancing, are vivified by the Lord with those who receive them. By the three days and a half is signified to the end and beginning... and thus from the end of the church which as yet is, to the beginning of the new; here with those among whom the New Church commences and is progressing: because it is now said of the witnesses, that the spirit of life entered into them, and they stood upon their feet. By the spirit of life from God spiritual life is signified; and by standing upon the feet is signified natural life agreeing with the spiritual life, and thus to be vivified by the Lord." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 510)
And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth part of the city fell, signifies that a remarkable change of state then took place with them, and that they were torn away from heaven and cast down into hell. In that hour signifies the time when they beheld the two witnesses go up into heaven, and yet remained fixed in their falsities, as just above (n. 514); for the two witnesses prophesied, that is, taught them (vers. 3). And after they were slain, and came to life again, and they also saw them ascend into heaven, and still did not recede from their falsities, then that great earthquake took place... By an earthquake a change of state is signified (n. 331); here their destruction... By falling is signified to sink down into hell, which takes place when they are torn away from heaven. For the cities in the world of spirits which are in evils and falsities, — after they who are there have been visited, informed, and admonished, and still persist in their evils and falsities, — are shaken by an earthquake; and thereby a gulf is opened, into which they sink down... And there were slain in the earthquake names of men seven thousand, signifies that in that state all those who professed faith alone, and therefore made the works of charity of no account, perished. By being slain is signified here as before to be spiritually slain, which is to perish as to the soul. By the earthquake is signified a change of state with them, and their destruction... And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven, signifies that they who joined any goods of charity to their faith, when they saw the destruction of those, acknowledged the Lord, and were separated. By the remnant are here meant those who adjoined to faith any goods of charity... Because these, through fear, acknowledge the Lord, they were separated, that they might be explored as to the origin from which they did good, whether from themselves or from the Lord." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 515-7)
"And it was done in this order: first, upon those of the Papal religion; then upon the Mohammedans; afterward upon the Gentiles; and lastly upon the Reformed." (Final Judgment, n. 47)
"Destruction is effected after visitation; for visitation always precedes. Visitation is a process of exploration as to quality, and also a separation of the good from the evil; then the good are removed and the evil are left. When that was done, there were great earthquakes, from which they perceived that the final judgment was at hand; and trembling also then seized them all." (Final Judgment, n. 61)
"These changes of their state were accompanied with various concussions of their dwellings and lands, followed by earthquakes, mighty according to their perversions. Here and there also were made chasms toward the hells, which were under them, and thus communication was opened with them: then exhalations were seen ascending like smoke mingled with sparks of fire." (Final Judgment Continued, n. 25)
"Visitations were also made by angels; for before any ill-conditioned society perishes, visitation always precedes. The angels exhorted them to desist; foretelling their destruction if they did not. Then they also sought out any good spirits that might be intermingled with them, and separated them. But the crowd, incited by their leaders, treated them with insults, rushing upon them to drag them into the market-place and treat them abominably, just as was done in Sodom. The most of these were of faith separate from charity, and there were also some who professed charity and still lived wickedly." (Final Judgment Continued, n. 26)
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev. 11:15)
"The Lord was seen in a bright cloud with the angels, and a sound was heard thence as of trumpets, which was a sign representative of the protection of the angels of heaven by the Lord, and of the gathering together of the good from every side." (Final Judgment Continued, n. 28)
"And the seventh angel sounded, signifies the exploration and manifestation of the state of the church after its consummation, when the coming of the Lord and of His kingdom takes place. By sounding the trumpet is signified to explore and make manifest the state of the church after its consummation, when the coming of the Lord and of His kingdom takes place. The reason is, because this is signified by the seventh angel sounding; for by the six angels and their trumpets sounding, the explorations and manifestations of the consummated church have been signified, as is manifest from the preceding chapter, where only its consummation is described. But that its state after consummation is now treated of, which is the coming of the Lord and of His kingdom, is manifest from these things that follow in this verse and afterwards: in this verse, And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of the world are become our Lord's and His Christ's, and He shall reign for ever and ever, etc. This manifestation was made by the sounding of the seventh angel, because seven signifies the same as a week; and six days of it are days of labor and of what belongs to man, and the seventh is holy and the Lord's." (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 519)
"After this work was finished the Lord called together His twelve disciples who followed Him in the world; and the next day He sent them all forth into the whole spiritual world to preach the Gospel that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns, whose kingdom shall be for ages of ages, according to the prediction by Daniel (vii. 13, 14), and in the Apocalypse (xi. 15); and that Blessed are they who come to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Apoc. xix. 9). This took place on the nineteenth day of June, in the year 1770. This is meant by these words of the Lord: He will send His angels, and they shall gather together His elect from one end of the heavens even to the other (Matt. xxiv. 31)." (True Christian Religion, n. 791)
"It is in accordance with Divine order that the new heaven should be formed before the new church on earth; for the church is internal and external, and the internal church makes one with the church in heaven, and thus with heaven; and the internal must be formed before the external, and the external must afterward be formed by means of the internal; that this is so is known among the clergy in the world. Just so far as this new heaven, which constitutes the internal of the church with man, grows, so far does the New Jerusalem, that is, the New Church come down from that heaven. This, therefore, cannot take place in a moment, but it takes place as the falsities of the former church are removed; for what is new cannot enter where falsities have been previously implanted, unless these are uprooted, which will take place with the clergy, and so with the laity; for the Lord said, No one putteth new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break and the wine runneth out; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved (Matt. ix. 17; Mark ii. 22; Luke v. 37, 38)." (True Christian Religion, n. 784)
"The New Heaven of Christians out of which the New Jerusalem, will descend from the Lord (Rev. 21:1, 2) is not yet fully established..." (Docu. 230, dated Sept, 25, 1766)
"The Lord is at this time preparing a New Heaven of those who believe in Him, acknowledge Him as the true God of heaven and earth, and look to Him in their lives, which means to shun evil and do good; for from that heaven the New Jerusalem is to come down (see Rev. 21:2.). I daily see spirits and angels, from ten to twenty thousand, descending and ascending and being set in order. By degrees, as that heaven is being formed, the New Church likewise begins and increases. The universities in Christendom are now first being instructed, whence will come new ministers; for the new heaven has no influence over the old (clergy) who deem themselves, too learned in the doctrine of justification by faith alone" (Docu. 234, II., dated Stockholm, February 1767.)