Someone asked me, “why does it matter that when know when Jesus returns, to what end do we look for signs?”
How would you answer that question? Is that a question that you have even pondered? Tomorrow, or even the next breath, is promised to no one. That’s something we don’t often think about and even those who are mindful of that may not think in terms of how we live in the now, witnessing to others that they might find rest in Christ and for the glory of God. Then there are others who are burdened with the knowledge of human condition and a desire for their salvation.
It is at this point that differences in belief often direct the approach to evangelism; the topic of the Rapture. As one who believes in a pre-tribulation rapture, I believe one of the burdens on the hearts of likeminded believers is for others to “escape the coming wrath”. The larger desire is for the gospel and the conversion and/or repentance of others but the thought of family and friends having to endure those things written about “that day” breaks the heart.
However, returning to the question at hand – to what end? We are commanded to watch (Matt 25:13, Mark 13:35). The Church in Sardis was rebuked for being dead and warned to be watchful and to strengthen the things that remain but are ready to die. More specifically, Jesus warned them that if they did not watch he would come up on them as a thief and they will not know what hour he will come upon them (Revelation 3).
In the Garden of Gethsemane, He rebuked the apostles and warned them to watch and pray that they will not fall into temptation. You say “what does that have to do with his return and didn’t Jesus say no one know the day or the hour?”
I believe that is all the more reason to watch. I would also ask, why watch if there is nothing to watch for and if we would only be watching in vain? Why would He warn the church in Sardis to watch or He would come up on them as a thief? If we have no way of know the season of His return wouldn’t He come up on all of us (believers and non-believers alike) as a thief?
In that same scripture Jesus also said “not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only”. Then He went on to give a list of things to watch for. Are we even watching for those or do you think all those things have already passed? Let’s think about this for a minute. The Father knows the day and hour…..Jesus and the Father are one…..the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and together they are One. The Holy Spirit dwells in us [Christians] and reveals to us the things of God. Given all of this, is it possible that since Jesus spoke those words He has revealed more of this mystery to his followers; like Paul, who gives additional insight into what will happen in the last days? Who wrote, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
Are believers among those who Christ warn in Luke 21:34-36 whose “hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life”, and on who “that Day come unexpectedly”.
Jesus goes on to say “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Does that in anyway describe believers? Or do you suppose because He said it will come upon all those who dwell on the earth it includes everyone? Is that what the last since suggests?
So, to what end should we watch? So we don’t fall into temptation? So we aren’t caught unprepared like the five foolish virgins? So we can comfort and strengthen one another? So we can warn others? Or, maybe all the above?
Do you even care?