Through the years I’ve heard a lot of excuses from pastors and teachers who don’t want to address the Second Coming of Christ. Many of them say it’s just too difficult to understand. Recently, I heard about a layman who was upset with God over the whole matter. He asked, “Why can’t it be simple?”
Some of the greatest minds in history have taken on the subject of Christ’s return, and found it overwhelming. Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most brilliant men who ever lived, spent more time studying the book of Daniel than he did pondering the laws of gravity.
So, yes, it can be complicated. The deeper you dig, the more treasure you will find. That’s the way it is with all of God’s revelation to humanity. The great themes of the Bible are simple enough for a small child to understand, and complex enough to keep the finest theologians working for centuries to mine their mysteries.
But isn’t that good? Don’t you want the things of God to be challenging, exciting, and fulfilling — to the mentally challenged, as well as to the most brilliant among us? Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (NASB)
The Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, was famous as a deep thinker and a brilliant scholar. On his one trip to America, a student asked him if it would be possible to summarize his life’s study into a single sentence. He answered in the words of a children’s song. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Barth wrote many books and gave countless lectures. He is an example of the fact that the finest scholars find no end to the beauties and intricacies of God’s message to humanity. But that message can also be summarized in the lyrics to a child’s song. A mentally disabled person can grasp the key to it all — “Jesus loves me… the Bible tells me so.”
Can the study of end-times prophecy be summarized as succinctly? Yes, it can. We can find that summation in the words of Jesus from John 14:3 — “I will come again.”
Anyone can understand that. And what a glorious thing to know! None of the Bible makes sense without it. The Old Testament told of a coming Messiah. He would suffer and die for our sins (Isaiah 53). And He would rule and reign over the entire earth. We saw the first part come true at His first coming. But to fulfill it all, He must come again.
Jesus must return because a multitude of prophecies from the Old and New Testaments still await fulfillment. He must come again because justice demands it. And He must return because our world is spiraling out of control, and humanity cannot survive without His direct intervention.
Jesus made His Second Coming a central part of His message. He repeated it again and again. In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked Him, “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus then spent the rest of that chapter and all the next one talking about His Second Coming.
In Mark 13:26, Jesus said, “They will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” In Luke 21:27, He said, “They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
Jesus said to “watch” for His return. In Matthew 24:42, He said, “Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”
That means we need to know the signs of His coming. We need to study, and see how scripture lays out God’s end-times program. We need to know the promises He has made — including His promises to Abraham. We know He will keep His word. He will fulfill every bit of it. And that means, He will come again! All we can say is, Praise the LORD.
For more than fifty years, I have lived in the urgent expectation of Jesus’ return. Fifty years is a long time. Do I regret it? Was I wrong?
No and no!
In Luke 12:37, Jesus said, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.” (NKJV)
As followers of Christ, we are to live in a state of watchfulness. A thousand years ago, there were Christians living in expectation of His coming. They were not foolish to do so. They were obedient. Titus 2:13 directs us to be “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)
Those Christians from previous generations who lived in expectancy of Christ’s return tended also to be those who lived closest to Him. They were the ones most interested in His word, in sharing the Gospel, helping the poor, and caring for the sick.
If you’re always on the lookout for Christ’s return, someone will inevitably remind you that no one knows the day nor the hour. But they’re missing the point. It’s precisely because we do not know the day nor hour of His return that we are to be watchful. In Matthew 24:42, Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (NKJV)
For two thousand years, people have been watching. That sounds like a long time, but remember this. God gave the first promise of His first coming to Adam and Eve. It took thousands of years, but God kept His word and Jesus came. By human standards, the Lord may sometimes seem slow. But He has a reason for that. 2 Peter 3:9-10 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come.” (NKJV)
When skeptics complain about God allowing evil and pain in the world, remember that “the Lord is not slack.” He will one day stop all the child molesters, terrorists, and other criminals. And He will hold them to account. But He won’t just stop the evil you don’t like. He will stop all evil. He will hold everyone to account.
Why does he wait? Because He “is longsuffering toward us.” He’s “not willing that any should perish.” He wants everyone to “come to repentance” — turn to Him and be saved. For now, love and concern compel Him to wait. But He will not wait forever.
Earlier in the same chapter, Peter wrote, “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’” (2 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV)
I’m convinced that these are the last days, and can assure you that scoffers have come. “I’ve been hearing this all my life!” … “You’ve been saying this for fifty years!” Yes, and I will keep on saying it because it’s still true.
There are no signs yet to be fulfilled before the rapture. But signs of the Second Coming are everywhere. Since the rapture comes before the Second Coming, the rapture has to be exceedingly close!
The big thing that makes our time different from any other is the existence of Israel as a nation, and the Jews having control of Jerusalem. But there are other things unique to our time, as well. For instance, before now the world did not have the technology needed for the Antichrist to control commerce as completely as the Bible foretells.
There’s another sign unique to today. Jesus is coming soon . . . because He must!
In dozens of areas, human civilization is hurtling headlong toward destruction. Look at just one — machines with artificial intelligence. Scientists like Stephen Hawking warn of such machines taking over the world, destroying the human race in the process. Far out? Even longtime proponents of artificial intelligence have now joined in the warnings.
Air Force General Paul Selva, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the U.S. Defense Department, recently warned about “autonomous weapons systems” similar to the title character in the movie, “The Terminator” — and just as dangerous. General Selva sees weapons that are not under direct human control as a menace to mankind. And, like self-driving cars, they’re just around the corner.
Then there’s nuclear proliferation. Some people take comfort from the fact that no nuclear weapons have been used in combat since 1945. But that’s like taking comfort from the fact that you’ve been playing Russian roulette for an hour and no shots have been fired. Just keep playing, and the odds will catch up to you.
During the Cold War, Carl Sagan, wrote, “The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.”
Except now, a madman in Korea also holds a match. The nation of Iran, run by religious fanatics who see it as their job to create an apocalypse, also have, or will soon have, a match in their hands. Next door neighbor enemies, India and Pakistan, both have nukes. Russia has more than anybody, and no one knows if their leader is crazy or not.
But don’t be afraid. Things are shaping up as God said they would. Just be sure you have invited Jesus to save you. Receive the pardon purchased for you when He died on the cross. He will instantly give you a new heart with new desires. Ask Him to empower you with His Holy Spirit. Then remember to thank Him for all these things.
In His power, you will begin to live a life that will draw others to Him as well.