ARE YOU READY FOR THE RETURN?
Don't misunderstand divine delay.
by Brian Knowles
During the first forty of the fifty days between His last
Passover and Pentecost, Jesus continued to instruct His
disciples. Just before He ascended to heaven, He told them they
would soon be baptized with the Holy Spirit, enabling them to
witness all over the word (Acts 1:5,8).
Suddenly, Jesus rose and disappeared behind a cloud
(v.9). The disciples looked intently at the sky, trying to figure
where Jesus had gone and perhaps when or whether He was coming
back. Then two "men" (angels, evidently) appeared before them to
"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into
the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into
heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into
This inspired promise forever settles the question of
whether Jesus would return to earth. What we don't know, however,
is when Christ will return. Nearly two thousand years have
elapsed since the angels spoke those words, and Jesus still has
not come back.
From time to time, some prophecy buffs claim to know almost
exactly when the Lord will return. They base their predictions on
a variety of calculations and convoluted theories. Most of us, if
we're honest, have no idea when Christ will again set foot on
this earth. We just know He will.
Nor do we have any real need to know precisely when Jesus
will return. We do not need to understand the mechanics and
logistics of that event. All we need to know is that when
it's His Father's time (Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7), Jesus will show
up as suddenly as He left. And when He does, big things will
happen. Our Lord is coming to complete the parts of His divine
commission not fulfilled the first time around (Isaiah 61:1, 2;
Jesus could return within the lifetime of people reading
this article; many expect He will. Or another century, another
millennium, could pass before He arrives on the scene. The point
is, every generation of Christians has a duty to live in
Jesus instructed us to prepare for His return and to watch.
One way of preparing is to avoid deceptions. In His Olivet
prophecy concerning end times, Jesus said: "Watch out that no one
deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, I am the
Christ, and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4,5).
Prior to the appearance of the true Messiah, a plethora of
false messiahs will appear - not a few, but many! Jesus warned
against being fooled by them (vv.23-27). One characteristic of
false Messiahs is that they always seem to be "hidden" in secret
caves or desert locations until a moment of revealing. Or they
may reside in an obscure monastery high in the Himalayas. Their
appearance is often accompanied by prophets, gurus, and oracles
who claim inside information about the figure soon to appear.
Their job is to create a sense of expectation and
anticipation. Almost every religion - including Christianity - is
capable of producing a false Messiah. When the real Anointed One
of God appears, He will be visible to all. It will not be a
clandestine arrival but one that is like lightning flashing
across the sky. Jesus left in clouds; He will return in clouds.
Faithful in service
Another way to prepare for the Second Coming is to remain
faithful in service to Christ. This is especially important
because Jesus will return when people in general are not
expecting it (Matthew 24:36-44). His faithful and wise servants,
though, will be found doing His work when He comes back. Jesus
commends them (v.46).
Because Jesus spoke these words to His core disciples, He
likely was referring to church leadership. A wise servant will be
found zealously carrying out his duties to the church. He will be
feeding the flock with sufficient and nourishing spiritual food,
no matter the doctrinal differences or personal quirks. The same
call to loyalty and diligent service clearly applies to all who
are followers of Christ, whether or not they are leaders.
Because of the years that have elapsed since Jesus'
departure, people are tempted to conclude that it's just not
going to happen. Almost two millennia is a long time to us. But
to the Lord, it's only a couple of days (2 Peter 3:8). The danger
of delay is that leaders and laity alike can slip back into the
careless behavior of the unconverted. They'd rather party than
serve the cause of Christ. Jesus addressed this:
"But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My
master is staying away a long time;' and he then begins to beat
his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards" (Matthew
Our Lord's warning to anyone who abandons his brethren to
resume the ways of the world is a strong one (vv.50,51).
Many more passages could be brought to bear on this issue.
Not the least of them is the parable of the ten virgins
(25:1-13). Only half of them were prepared to meet the
To be ready for the Lord's return according to this story,
we must keep a constant supply of oil so that our lamps (lights)
shine steadily through earth's dark night. The light motif is
often used in Scripture to describe the true faith and earnest
practice of God's converted children (see Matthew 5:14-16; John
1:49; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 5:813, 14; Philippians 2:15).
In each text, the light that shines through believers is
evidence that they have known the Lord Jesus Christ and are daily
influenced by His Spirit residing within.
According to God's Word, some Christians will give up on the
idea of His return. Some will degenerate to un-Christian
behavior. Others will begin to abuse their fellow Christians.
Some will carelessly allow the Spirit within them to run dry and
be caught with their spiritual pants down.
Ideally, when Christ returns, He will find us maturing as
Christians on every front. Those of us who highly value Jesus
will be living as though His coming was imminent, because it is.
We will be filled with the Spirit - the oil in our lamps - and be
growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord (2 Peter 3:18).
Perhaps it's time to do some soul-searching and take
inventory of our spiritual condition.
Brian Knowles writes from Monrovia, CA. Scripture quotations were
taken from the New International Version.
This article appeared in the December "Bible Advocate" - a
publication of the Church of God (Seventh Day), Denver, CO. USA.
I remember Brian Knowles from way back in the 1960s and the WCG
in Canada. Never did personally meet him, but good to see he's
still hanging in there, and serving God's children with spiritual
How so many have made the mistake of setting dates for Jesus'
return. We must realize that "time" with God is not at all as
"time" with humans. Jesus said we are to watch world events, we
are to understand prophecy, and it is written in the Old
Testament, that God will do nothing but first reveal it to His
servants, who will then proclaim it to the world. There is much
prophetic teaching on this Website, that will help you understand
the events that are yet to take place on this earth, and the
nations upon it. Prophecy is marching on, but God is able indeed
to SLOW the events down, or to SPEED them up, as HE WILLS, not as
man wills. It is a SHAME and a SHAM, that SOME in the Churches of
God are STILL setting years and dates for the coming Great
Tribulation, the end of this age, and the return of Christ. They
just do not seem to be willing to learn from the mistakes of
others before them. And what is just as much a shame, is that
many look to these fellows as "if it is God speaking through
I do NOT KNOW if the end of this age may come in the next decade
(2010 - 2020), or later, and how much later. I will keep looking
for prophetic events proclaimed in God's word, and I will (as
long as I am granted physical life) tell you about them, as they
develop. I've been pretty quiet this decade (now a few weeks away
from 2008 as I write), BECAUSE events in prophecy have hardly
moved at all this decade.
What is IMPORTANT is that Jesus WILL RETURN ONE DAY!!
And what is also important is that the Lord's disciples, His
followers, REMAIN FAITHFUL to their calling, DOING the way and
will of our heavenly Father. Then WHENEVER Jesus does return He
will say to us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter
into the JOY of thy Lord."
Entered on this Website December 2007