THE NEW TESTAMENT’S OBSESSION WITH THE SECOND COMING
- When we read the New Testament, we notice that the apostles cannot stop talking about the Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah. Our Master’s appearing is our blessed hope!
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV1 Pet. 1:13)
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (NIVTit. 2:11-14)
1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction….7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV2Tim. 4:1-2, 7-8).
- The Scriptures are clear that Jesus will return at a time that the Father has set by His own authority.
6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (NIVAc. 1:6-7)
13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords (NIV1 Tim. 6:13-15)
- The crucial question is: How close might we actually be to that appointed time of the Second Coming? Do we have solid grounds for believing that Jesus will actually return in our lifetime or that of our children? Why should we believe with any real conviction that this generation is any different from those that have preceded it the last two thousand years? Why does it matter? Why the urgency?
- One of the most misunderstood, misquoted, and misinterpreted Bible verses in the Body of Christ today is Matthew 24:36.
36 “No one knows (Grk. oiden-perceive, or has perceived – knowledge through perception) about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (NIVMt. 24:36)
- Because people take this verse out of context, it is often used to say the exact opposite of what Jesus is actually saying by it! Many use this verse to say that we are not to watch for the Second Coming because the day or the hour is intrinsically unknowable. However, a close reading of Matthew 24-25 in context, along with Luke 12 and 1 Thessalonians 5, Jesus is teaching an inherent agnosticism with respect to His Second Coming. Rather, His point is that we must watch and pray, so that we might move from lack of perception to perception, and so not be taken by surprise like the rest of the world.
1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (NIV1 Th. 5:1-6)
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, ’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains….29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 36 “No one knows (Grk. oida- to see or perceive) about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.’ 10 (NIVMt. 24:3-8, 29-38)
- That day will come as a surprise only to those who aren’t watching, praying, and living in the light. Those who are watching, praying, living in the light, and boasting in the cross, however, will be ready for the events of the last days and will be able to discern the signs of the times. The fact that we don’t yet know the exact timing of the Second Coming is a summons to watchfulness, so that when the signs do begin to unfold, with the Holy Spirit’s help we will be able to perceive that the appointed time is nearing. Jesus is not saying, “Here are the signs that will alert you that the last days are upon you, but actually, sorry guys, don’t watch for these signs, because the day and hour are intrinsically unknowable and thus are utterly meaningless.”
- The truth is that God’s heart is touched when we ask Him for an eye to discern the signs of the times in which His Son will execute the desires and plans of His heart. Our interest in this topic is an indication of where we are actually putting our hope! The Messiah’ coming is our blessed hope. How can we not search it out!
Concerning this salvation, prophets, those who prophesied about the grace coming to you, searched it out diligently and investigated it carefully by probing into what man, or what sort of appointed time, the Spirit of the Messiah among them (or “in them” – Grk. en) began to clarify as they were bearing witness ahead of time to the sufferings destined for the Messiah, and the glories subsequent to these [sufferings]. It was revealed to them that they were tending to these things not in service to themselves, but to you—things which have now have been reported to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven! Things which angels greatly desire to stoop down and glimpse into! (Author 1 Pet. 1:10-12)