By Rev Tan Eng Boo
Three times Jesus says He is coming back:
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7)
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
When will Jesus return? No one knows. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36). With this understanding, we should not predict or seek to know the exact date of the return of Jesus Christ.
There was a man by the name of William Miller, a Baptist preacher, who predicted the return of Christ to occur on October 22, 1844. When his prediction was proven wrong, his group split up and formed the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church. That date was known as the Great Disappointment. But his followers who became SDA said that the date was correct as Jesus had begun the last phase of His atoning ministry in the “Sanctuary in heaven.” This is erroneous theology.
Christians should, instead, in the light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ be ready for His coming (Matthew 24:44). He is coming again, the second time. “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28). We are living in such a time. But how much of this truth is impacting the church today? Who really bothers about the return of Jesus Christ today?
Be warned! Jesus says that His coming will be at a time when the world is as it was in the days of Noah:
“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37-39)
Jesus explained that life will be centred around the normal things, like eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage. In other words, life will be business as usual. “It is a dangerous thing to get so absorbed in the pursuits of life that we forget that Jesus is coming” (Warren Wiersbe). In Noah’s day “the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and … every intend of the thought of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God told Noah in Genesis 6:13 “… for the earth is filled with violence….” The “days of Noah” is so evident today.
“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4 NLT)
When we see such things happening before us, all the more we Christians ought to be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ. Things cannot be “business as usual.” Jesus says, in the days of Noah the people “were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:39). Jesus also gave another example, “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left” (Matthew 24:41). Here is what “business as usual” looks like before Jesus returns.
We can certainly live normal lives and do normal things, but we must always be watchful and ready for the return of Jesus. We are told by Jesus, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). How to be ready for this Great Day? I have one verse for us to remember:
“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (2 Corinthian 5:9 KJV)
In the context of 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says that should God bring us home to Himself before the coming of Jesus or should we live till the day Jesus comes, “we labour” (we make it our aim, objective) to be “acceptable of him” (please God in our life). “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (ESV). That should be the way we live our normal Christian lives in the light of the soon return of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It implies an earnest effort to please God. That’s the goal.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism “Question 1: What is the chief end of man? A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” How do we glorify God? Paul prayed that the Colossian believers will “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10). May it be our prayer too.
(Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV))