“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Matthew 24:36
When discussing the end of days, there is still so much we don’t know. That being the case, we need to nail down what we do know. So, here’s what we know…
Jesus Will Return
It is impossible to read the New Testament without seeing that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is a recurring theme. There are very few books where it is not mentioned at least once. For the early disciples, this was a fact that they leaned on very heavily. Therefore, let’s look at just a few of the places where the return of Christ is mentioned, beginning with the Lord Jesus Himself. (The emphasis added is mine)
The Lord Jesus made no bones about the fact that He would be coming again. Here is a statement He made to this effect just prior to His crucifixion.
27 For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. 28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.
29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days,
the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:27 – 30
His return was the final assurance He gave to His people in the Revelation.
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.
He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:12, 20
As emphatic as Jesus was regarding His return, He wasn’t the only one that proclaimed it.
Peter was a close disciple of the Lord Jesus during His time on earth. In his sermon after the healing of the man at the Beautiful Gate, he boldly proclaimed the Lord’s return.
19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. 21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:19 – 21
He also wrote of Jesus’ return again and again in his first letter as a word of comfort to his readers. Here is one example.
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.
John, often called the Beloved Disciple, was another one of Jesus’ original followers and the author of the Revelation. He also wrote very confidently regarding the Lord’s return.
And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. 1 John 2:28
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him—
even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
will mourn for him.
James was the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. He also assured his readers of his Brother’s soon return.
7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. James 5:7 – 8
While Paul was not one of the original disciples of Jesus, there was no doubt in his mind that the King would certainly return.
For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. 1 Corinthians 11:26
After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! 1 Thessalonians 2:19
The return of the Lord Jesus is proclaimed as a certainty throughout the New Testament, so that is something we should have firmly established in our thinking. In light of that, here is something else we know…
We Don’t Know When He Will Return
I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death with people trying to prognosticate the date of the Lord’s return. The Lord Jesus Himself was pretty clear on the subject.
36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 24:36 – 39
More than once He tells us that His coming will be like a thief: sudden, unexpected, and without warning.
“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” Revelation 16:15
The apostle Paul echoed this in his letter to the Thessalonians.
1 Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1 – 3
Even though we don’t know, and won’t know, the exact time of His coming, we do know that it will happen at just the right time.
At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen. 1 Timothy 6:15 – 16
Here is the final thing we know…
We Must Prepare for His Return
One can always tell when our children are about to visit. My wife goes into an absolute cleaning frenzy. She wants to make sure everything is ready for when they arrive. How much more should we prepare for the return of the King? We need to be…
32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!
34 “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35 You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!” Mark 13:32 – 37
8 And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, 9 for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. 10 And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 – 10
34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34 – 36
2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:2 – 3
A Secure Place
With all those opinions out there regarding the Lord’s return, someone has to be wrong. That’s why we need to hang on to what we know and seek to be in a secure place so we are ready no matter when Jesus returns. The only truly secure place I know of is living in the Reign.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.