At a Men’s Breakfast this morning, the question came up whether Jesus’ return could happen any time, or whether certain things had to happen first.
Certainly we know some things about Jesus’ return:
- All will see it
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matt 24:27, also Luke 17:24)
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him (Rev 1:7)
- It will come unexpectedly
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come….So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matt 24:42,44)
- We won’t be able to figure out when it will happen
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (2 Pet 3:10)
The idea that it is imminent and at an unexpected time is reinforced by Jesus’ parables, e.g. the wise and foolish virgins (see Matt 25:1-13).
Jesus finishes that parable with the words
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
- Even in the first century, believers could see it coming and their expectation was that it would be soon
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:25)
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:7-9)
Note that James says His coming is near, Jesus is at the door!
But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead…. The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. (1 Peter 4:5, 7)
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. (Rom 13:11-12a)
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. (1 Cor 7:29a)
And we can leave the last word to Jesus, as quoted by John:
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” (Rev 22:20)