The Old and New Testaments are filled with the promises of the second coming of Christ. In the Old Testament, there are 1,845 references and a total of seventeen Old Testament books that give it prominence. Of the 216 chapters in the entire New Testament, there are 318 references to the Second Coming, or one out of every thirty verses. Twenty-three of the twenty-seven New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy of Christ’s first advent to this earth, there are eight concerning His Second Coming. Now, in light of that massive evidence, can we really say, “Well, it’s just not relevant”?
My friend, if Christ’s return were not relevant, God would not have mentioned it. If He had not wanted us to know about it, He could easily have omitted it. But the truth is that anyone who claims to be a teacher/preacher of the Word of God must regularly visit this truth.
In Matthew 24:36–44, we read these words:
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
These are the words of the Lord in response to the three questions the disciples had asked Him.
Jesus had told them about the cataclysmic events that would come at the end of the age, and the disciples were curious, just as we are. So they asked, “Lord, when? When is this going to happen?”
The Lord answered them, but He didn’t answer them. He didn’t give them what they wanted to know; He gave them what they needed to know.
Here’s what He told them. First of all, this is going to happen at an unknown day and hour. No one knows when it is.
Second, this is going to take place in such a way that no one will be able to discern the date. We read in Matthew 24:42, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
Verse 44 says the same thing: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Verse 50 says the same thing: “The master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of.”
And in Matthew 25:13 we find it again: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
First of all, He didn’t give the disciples a date. Then, second, He told them no one would know the day. Believers today need to heed the voice of the Lord as well, for the coming of the rapture of the church—when the Lord takes us out of here—is going to occur when we do not expect it.
So what? Some might say, “If you can’t know, no big deal.” Yet the Scriptures remind us over and over again that we are to be prepared. If we don’t know about something and we don’t care about it, how in the world can we be prepared for it?
Notice how frequently the New Testament addresses this issue. In Romans 13:11–14, Paul wrote:
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
In 1 Corinthians 1:7, Paul commended the first generation church in Corinth, saying, “that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul also reminded Philippian believers in Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The writer of Hebrews told all the believers who received his epistle, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day [the day of our Lord’s return] approaching” (Hebrews 10:24).
James said, “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8).
Peter wrote, “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).
John said in 1 John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”
And Jesus’ last words recorded in the Bible are these: “Surely I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20).
If we go back through all these passages, we find that in almost every single case, future truth impacts present responsibility. It is the knowledge that His coming is soon that puts a little bit of urgency into our step and a little bit of determination into our service.
A lot of Christians think they have forever to win their friends and their families. But as our Lord speaks of His second coming, He reminds us that it is possible for us to have wrong attitudes. So let’s look at three of the attitudes our Lord warned against.
JESUS WARNS AGAINST A CAVALIER ATTITUDE
In Matthew 24:37–39, Jesus uses an illustration that would have brought immediate recognition to every one of His listeners. He said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
Jesus said that when He comes back, it is going to be like it was before the flood of Noah. Genesis 6:5 tells us what the Lord saw when He looked down: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
We may not be quite there yet, but we are headed in that direction. This world is not getting better; it is getting worse. And that’s the way it was just before the flood.
In this passage, Jesus was not talking about people doing bad things, just normal things. They were just eating and drinking. Just marrying and giving in marriage. Just taking life as it was.
No matter how intense the signs and the message of Noah were, they didn’t pay any attention. How long did Noah preach to those people about the flood? A hundred and twenty years! That’s a long time to preach one message. “It’s going to rain.” But that’s what he did. And rather than turning to God in repentance, they didn’t do anything. The Bible says that’s the way it will be before Jesus comes back again. What are people going to be doing? Just what they are doing.
Nobody has time for prophecy. “I don’t want to talk about the Lord’s coming. I’ve got to go to a wedding.” “We’re having a dinner at our house.” “We’ve got kids being born into our family.” “I’ve got grandchildren.” “I’ve got a career to pursue.” So people just take the Bible in a cavalier way. They look forward to the future, and they don’t listen to the Word of God.
Jesus said the days before the Second Coming will be just like that. People will continue to live the way they have always lived in spite of the cataclysmic warnings and predictions. They will think only of the present. They will make plans for the future to ensure their physical comfort. They will not give one thought to the possibility that the prophets were right about the times.
The apostle Peter said,
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 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 3:1–4).
Doesn’t that sound familiar? But he goes on to say in verses 5–6, “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.”
What is Peter saying? He is saying that the last days will be just like it was in Noah’s time. Just because God’s judgment doesn’t arrive on people’s time schedule, they assume it won’t come at all. But then all of a sudden it does happen and, because they did not believe, it’s too late.
JESUS WARNS AGAINST A CARELESS ATTITUDE
Jesus tells a little story in Matthew 24:43–44: “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Jesus isn’t comparing himself to a thief, but He does use that illustration. In fact, the Bible refers to it quite a few times. Notice Luke 12:39: “Know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”
And 1 Thessalonians 5:2: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night.”
And 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
Revelation 3:3 reads, “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”
In Revelation 16:15 we read, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches.”
Jesus is saying, “Don’t get careless about this just because you don’t see it happening yet.”
JESUS WARNS AGAINST A CALLOUSED ATTITUDE
Let’s look at Matthew 24:45–51:
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, “My master is delaying his coming,” and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus warns against a calloused attitude. He tells a story of two slaves who work for an absentee master. One slave is good and faithful, and the other is evil and faithless. The good slave represents believers who will be on the earth before the Lord’s return, while the evil servant represents unbelievers. Every person in the world holds his life, his possessions, and his abilities in trust from God; and they will all be held accountable to the Lord for what they have done with that trust. In the case of this evil servant, the dominant attitude is one of calloused procrastination. He doesn’t believe the master is going to come back any time soon, so he has no motivation to cease doing evil. Christ’s words warn him to be careful because he doesn’t know the schedule.
I’ve heard people say something like “I believe in the coming of the Lord, but I’ve got some things I want to do, and I’ve got this all figured out. When I first begin to see anything that looks like the Second Coming, I’m going to get my life together, and then I’ll be ready to go.”
I question the sincere faith of anybody who reasons like that. That’s just not the way a real Christian reasons. But even if you could reason like that, how stupid it would be to live that way. The Bible tells us that in such an hour as you think not, He comes!
A man told me not long ago that he wanted to become a Christian, but it wasn’t convenient for him right now. Can you imagine standing before the Lord someday and saying, “I was going to accept You, but it just wasn’t convenient.” Well, because it wasn’t convenient for that man to accept Christ, it won’t be convenient for him to get into heaven.
There is going to be a day when that decision has to be made or it will no longer be available. We can’t keep hearing the warnings, hearing the Scripture, listening to our friends, watching what we know to be the evidence of God’s work in this world, and not do what we need to do.
If you haven’t trusted Him yet, why don’t you do it today? Receive Him as your Savior and your Lord.
Jeremiah, David. 2007. Until Christ Returns: Living Faithfully Today While We Wait for Our Glorious Tomorrow (Study Guide). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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