Will Jesus Really Come at Any Time?

Posted on June 4, 2019

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By David Ettinger

night sky

Common Belief
For at least 150 years, with the development Pretribulation Rapturism, proponents have taught that Jesus can come quite literally “at any time” to rapture His Church. This teaching insists that no signs or warnings are necessary – that his Second Coming can happen at any moment from this day forward. We can be going about our daily routine and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, we can be “out of here.”

Is this what the Bible teaches?

Pretribulation Fallacy
This is indeed what the Bible teaches – IF you hold to Pretrib Rapturism, the belief that Christians will be raptured before the final 7 years of this era of human history (wrongly called “the Tribulation period”; more accurately, it should be called “the Seventieth Week of the Book of Daniel.” For more on this, read my blog, “The Backbone of Prophecy.”)

However, this is not what the Bible teaches. Rather, the Bible teaches that the Church, though not sentenced to suffer God’s wrath, will be here for about the first 4 to 5 years of that 7-year period, and that many believers will be persecuted and martyred by the Antichrist (Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:7). (For more on the timing of the Rapture, read my blogs “A Brief Look at ‘The Day of the Lord’” and “A Powerful Indicator that the Lord’s Return is Near.”)

Also, Pretrib Rapturism teaches two “comings” of the Lord – one to rapture His Church at the beginning of the 70th week, and one at the end of it to pour His wrath out on the earth. The Bible, however, teaches just one coming, when Jesus will first rapture His Church and then immediately begin to pour out His wrath. The Bible speaks of no time divisions between these two momentous events.

clock

No One Knows the Hour
Yet, Jesus himself said of His coming, “But about that day or hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36). This seems pretty cut-and-dried, and is often taken to mean that Jesus can come at any moment. However, this is NOT what Jesus is saying. The phrase “day or hour” speaks of exactness, which means we cannot know the exact day on which Jesus will return. Of course, this doesn’t stop prophecy prognosticators from proclaiming exact days on which Jesus will return. This verse clearly warns against this ill-conceived notion.

Be Ready
Furthermore, Jesus says in verse 42: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” The “therefore” refers to verses 36-41 where Jesus talks about what will actually occur when He arrives. The curious thing, however, is His call for those believers living in the 70th week to “keep watch.” Now, if no one knows the hour or the day of His coming, why would the Lord tell us to “keep watch.” If his Second Coming is to occur without signs or warnings, and no one knows the exact moment of His coming, what sense does it make to watch for something which will occur in the “twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52) if there is no lead-up to it?

There WILL Be Indicators
Here’s yet another curious quote by Jesus: “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. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:32-33). What does the word “it” refer to? The “it” is “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” (v. 30). i.e., the Second Coming.

fig tree
Fig tree

And what are “these things” Jesus refers to. These are the INDICATORS that Jesus’ return is very near. No, believers living at that time will not know the exact moment, or even the day, of His return, but they will definitely know the time frame in which it will happen and that it is getting ever nearer. Yes, there WILL be signs and indicators that Jesus is about to return. Here are some of them:

  • “The abomination that causes desolation” (Matthew 24:15), most likely the Antichrist placing a statue of himself in the temple Israel will build at the beginning of the 7-year period.
  • “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). As the return of Christ gets extremely close, we will see supernatural acts being performed which will challenge the faith of believers. And just to punctuate the fact that Jesus is giving this to believers as a precursor to His coming, he says in verse 25: “See, I have told you ahead of time.”
  • “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’” (Matthew 24:29). This quote, which Jesus borrows from Isaiah 13:10, indicates there will be very visible, unmistakable cosmic disturbances just before His arrival (see also Joel 2:31).

When these indicators occur, “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

binoculars

So, will Jesus come at any time with absolutely no warnings or indicators as so many Bible teachers claim? No. Believers living during the 70th week of Daniel are to be vigilant and watching for the very obvious signs of His very, very soon return.

The Desired Result
In Mark 13, a parallel chapter to Matthew 24, Jesus ends His teaching by telling the Church: “What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (v. 37).

The call here is for Christians of all ages to live with the expectation of His coming. We are to live as though Jesus could well come during our lifetimes. We are to ask ourselves: “What if I know for sure that Jesus will return next week? How would I conduct my life?”

No, we are not to jump on every prophecy bandwagon which claims Jesus is returning on a specific date. Jesus has given clear indications as to the time of His return, and we are to live in the expectation of that glorious event. By doing this, we will be His good and faithful servants ready, willing, and able to do His bidding until His return!

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