The Imminent Return of Jesus Christ
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Understanding Bible Prophecy
Being Watchful and Alert
March 23, 2009
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"Watch therefore: for ye KNOW NOT what hour your Lord doth come Matthew 24:42 KJV)
What is the Imminent Return of Jesus Christ? This particular doctrine of the Scriptures has been under attack, especially in the late 20th century. As the 21st century commences, it is prudent to review this doctrine, not according to the viewpoints of men, but in the written Word of God.
Are Christians to spend their entire day looking out the window to catch the exact second Jesus appears? To interpret the Scripture in that manner would be absurd. It's obvious that the Lord is inspiring His followers to get busy spreading the Gospel and to never forget that He could return at any moment. Additionally, such watchfulness keeps the fire of the Holy Spirit "burning" in the Christian.
Does this mean that believing Christians will never have troubles or persecutions? Of course not, but not only does a Christian not know the Day or the Hour of the Lord's Return they also don't know what day they personally may be taken home to God. Therefore Jesus says "keep watching".
Escape All These Things That Shall Come - Luke 21:34-36 (KJV)
For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have been eagerly awaiting the Return of Jesus Christ to Earth. This anticipation has inspired fervent evangelism and steadfastness in trials and tribulations. Jesus admonished Christians to not become so preoccupied with the cares of this life that they become unfruitful. Jesus promised that the Faithful will be accounted worthy to ESCAPE the terrible things that will come upon the Earth in the Last Days. Some ridicule "escapism", yet Jesus taught it Himself:
34 And TAKE HEED to
yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and
drunkenness, and CARES OF THIS LIFE, and so THAT DAY COME UPON YOU
35 For as a SNARE SHALL IT COME on ALL THEM that dwell on the face of the WHOLE EARTH.
36 WATCH YE THEREFORE, and PRAY ALWAYS, that ye may be ACCOUNTED WORTHY to ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS that SHALL COME to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
They Ate, They Drank ... They Builded - Luke 17:28-30 (KJV)
Here's another shocking statement by Jesus: On the Day He is Revealed it will be like any other average, boring day. People will be building buildings, planting crops, purchasing, selling and consuming food and drink. Not one blatantly sinful act is mentioned by Jesus. So what's wrong with this picture? These people are so caught up in their daily lives that they neglected the imminence of the Lord's Return. Jesus is quick to warn that willful ignorance is NOT bliss for the consequences are dramatic:
28 Likewise also as
it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold,
they planted, they builded;
29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all.
30 Even thus shall it be in the Day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Watch Ye Therefore! For Ye Do Not Know! - Matthew 24:42 (KJV)
No matter what translation provides the rendering of Matthew 24:42, the obvious teaching of Jesus is clear. The Christian is to be alert at all times and cognizant of his or her Lord's imminent Return:
NIV Therefore keep watch, because YOU DO NOT
KNOW on what day your Lord will come.
42 RSV Watch therefore, for YOU DO NOT KNOW on what day your Lord is coming.
42 KJV Watch therefore: for YE KNOW NOT what hour your Lord doth come.
42 DBY Watch therefore, for YE KNOW NOT in what hour your Lord comes.
42 YLT Watch ye therefore, because YE HAVE NOT KNOWN in what hour your Lord doth come;
42 NASB Therefore be on the alert, for YOU DO NOT know which day your Lord is coming.
They Ate, They Drank ... They Married - Matthew 24:38-39 (KJV)
Having used the example of Lot and the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus now uses the illustration of Noah and the Flood. The story is slightly different but the moral is the same: Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The cares of this life should not deter the Christian from being watchful, for ignorance of this fact seals the fates of countless unbelievers:
38 For as in the
days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and
giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And KNEW NOT until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall ALSO the COMING of the SON of MAN BE..
Watch Therefore! For the Son of Man Cometh! - Matthew 25:13 (KJV)
As in the previous chapter of Matthew, Jesus repeats His simple warning of perpetual vigilance:
13 Watch therefore, for ye know NEITHER the DAY NOR the HOUR wherein the Son of Man COMETH.
Discerning the Signs of the Times - Luke 12:40, 54-56 (NASB)
In Gospel According to Luke, Jesus warns that He will come without warning. Here He illustrates the inherent reasoning ability available to all, though few exercise it in regard to spiritual matters of the Lord:
too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not
54 And He was also saying to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out."
55 "And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, 'It will be a hot day,' and it turns out that way."
56 "You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the Earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?"
Heavenly Visitors on Earth! - Hebrews 11:13-16 (KJV)
Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the Hall of Fame of the Heroes of the Faith. From Enoch to Samson, from Abraham to Jacob, these knew that Earth was not their permanent home. For they realized they were only visitors on Earth, that God had prepared them an Heavenly home and that Heavenly home is the New Jerusalem City. Though having not seen nor experienced, they were 100% persuaded:
13 These all died
in Faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and
were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were
strangers and pilgrims on the Earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an Heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a City.
Jesus as The "Thief in the Night" - Matthew 24:43-47 (KJV)
Jesus makes it plain: He's coming when you don't think He will. If a man knew when a thief was coming, he would not allow that thief to break into his house. This verse clearly demonstrates Jesus coming in a surprise moment. Those who are busy performing the Lord's work and anticipating His return are not caught by surprise at His arrival. There are eternal rewards for diligence:
43 But know this,
that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the Thief would come,
he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as YE THINK NOT the Son of Man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over His household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing.
47 Verily I say unto you, That He shall make him ruler over all His goods.
The Unwise Servant Who Didn't Watch - Matthew 24:48-51 (KJV)
Here's the other side of the coin. This is the servant who willfully chose not to watch for his Lord:
48 But and if that
evil servant shall say in his heart, 'My Lord delayeth His coming';
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50 The Lord of that servant shall come in a Day when he looketh not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Direct Orders From Jesus: Watch!!! - Revelation 3:3b (KJV)
In the last Book of the Bible, Jesus gives direct orders to Christians to always be on the watch:
3b ... IF therefore THOU SHALT NOT WATCH, I WILL COME on thee AS A THIEF, and THOU SHALT NOT KNOW WHAT HOUR I WILL COME upon thee.
Christians: Appointed to Salvation - 1st Thessalonians 5:2-9 (KJV)
The Apostle Paul teaches that the born-again Christian who maintains their Faith will escape the Day of the Lord. Paul plainly teaches that it is the unbeliever who does not escape. In the Day of the Lord sudden destruction comes upon the unbeliever who remains in darkness; outside the Light of the Gospel of Christ. The "Day of the Lord", a synonym for the Tribulation Period, is the time of the Wrath of God on the unbelieving world. Paul assures the Christian in verse 9 that those bought by the Blood of Christ are not appointed for Wrath, but rather Salvation. Therefore, Paul exhorts the Christian to WATCH:
2 For yourselves
know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a Thief in the Night.
3 For when THEY shall say, 'Peace and safety'; then sudden destruction cometh upon THEM, as travail upon a woman with child; and THEY SHALL NOT ESCAPE.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in Darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a Thief.
5 Ye are all the Children of Light, and the Children of the Day: we are not of the Night, nor of Darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us WATCH and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the Night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the Night.
8 But let us, who are of the Day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of Faith and Love; and for an helmet, the Hope of Salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to Wrath, but to obtain Salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those Who Don't Learn From History Repeat It - 2nd Peter 3:3-6 (KJV)
The Apostle Peter informs Christians that at the End of the Church Age men and women shall doubt the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. Like those swept away in the Flood, the perpetual doubter foolishly taunts believers. Their doubt is rooted in their willful ignorance of the Word of God:
3 Knowing this
first, that there shall come in the Last Days scoffers, walking after their own
4 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 the creation.'
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the Word of God the Heavens were of old, and the Earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.
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