Jesus might return at any moment. This is a clear teaching of Scripture and one that Jesus’ disciples embraced wholeheartedly. That may seem odd to us, given that almost 2,000 years have passed and the church is still waiting. But we were never promised a timeline — just the assurance that He will come back. Clearly, waiting is the posture God wants His people to assume.
This idea that Jesus’ second coming is imminent is found throughout Scripture.
God tells us “to wait for His Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:10); a time when “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels” (2 Thessalonians 1:7). We are encouraged to look for “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). And again, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28). There is no shortage of such promises.
Expecting Jesus to return makes us watchful, diligent in our faith, and eager to live holy lives. We are not to get caught up in trying to guess the “day and hour” of these events. As Jesus Himself told us,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” – Mark 13:32-33
Even so, Jesus said that the signs of His return would give us a general idea and should cause us to remain watchful:
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors!” – Matthew 24:32-33
This is not all that Jesus had to say about the timing of His return. In Luke 21:35, He warned that His return would “come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth”. In Matthew 24:43, Jesus explains that he will come “as a thief in the night”. But note that these are warnings given to people who have made this world their home and refused a heavenly citizenship. For believers, it’s a different story entirely:
“But you brethren, are not in darkness, so that the Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
For the same reason, God promises a special blessing for those who read, hear and keep the words of the book of Revelation. This blessing is not offered for any other book in the Bible:
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” – Revelation 1:3
Joseph Lamb (1925-2013) was a pastor in the Chinese underground church. He faced severe persecution from the communist authorities and spent more than twenty years in prison. But the fruit of his ministry was incredible.
Along with the efforts of many like him, there are now some 80 million believers in China. Consider what Lamb said about the second coming of Christ and the impact it has had on the growth of the Chinese church:
In the West, we think of bomb-making instructions on the Internet as dangerous. Not to the dragon [Satan]. To him, the ‘most dangerous’ message on the Internet is the ‘Second Advent of Christ.’
The imminent return of Christ is the message the thought-police most want to censor. In fact, in many areas the police are registering modems and even fax machines in order to keep the end-times message of Christ’s return from being circulated.
You see, Chinese Christians believe passionately that Christ is coming again, not just someday — but ‘in this generation.’ The dragon knows he must stop this Apostolic message of hope. If somehow he can stop these New Testament-style Bible studies, he knows he will cripple Church growth in China…
I could not help thinking that in America, where pastors have the freedom to preach anything they please, thousands of churches never hear the message of the Second Coming. Not because they are forbidden by government, but because they were tricked by seminary professors into thinking it is ‘confusing’ or ‘not relevant for today’.
Satan uses different tactics in different cultures — anything that will produce silence on the Blessed Hope of Christ’s soon return. Why? Because there is no more spiritually motivating teaching in the entire Bible.
Yes, thinking about God’s sudden, dramatic intervention in this world — along with all of the messy events of the book of Revelation — can be disconcerting; even divisive. But this truth is also glorious beyond our comprehension.
The saints will overcome. Not a word that Jesus spoke will go unfulfilled. God will honour every promise that He made both to Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37) and to the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). Jesus will return in glory, and He will reign victoriously on the earth. The price that He paid on the cross will be celebrated by all nations, and the redeemed will sit at His feet for eternity. Maranatha!
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption draws near.” – Luke 21:28
“And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” – Mark 13:37