Soo… the Bible says quite a few times that Jesus is coming back soon. With the emphasis always on the “soon”. Pastors like to rail on that from the pulpit and Christians mutter it to themselves when they need encouragement to do right.
The thing is, the Bible was finished almost two thousand years ago…
This is something that Christians get mocked for a lot. “Oh, Jesus is coming back, huh?” people say with a sneer. I can’t really blame them. Not only have we been singing that same urgent tune for thousands (plural!) of years, the whole thing sounds a lot like some ancient fable. Then, there are those people who make us look even more looney when they boldly announce that they know the exact day of His return and proceed to quit their jobs, sell all of their things, … and wake up the next day as usual.
So if Jesus really is returning, what does “soon” mean? Why is He taking so long? And how do we know for sure that He is coming back?
I really have no idea what “soon” means to God. And neither does anyone else. While there are plenty of smart people out there, they would be lying or deceived if they said they did. Matthew 24:36 says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” We have no idea when Jesus is going to come back. It could be in 1,254 years. Or it could be before you finish reading this sentence.
(Hm. Guess not…)
We just have to be constantly aware that Jesus may be coming back before the day is out. We have to live that way because there are so many people left who haven’t heard of God’s plan of salvation! The clock is ticking.
Why is He taking so long?
First of all, in God’s eyes, He probably isn’t taking long at all. We’re talking about a God who existed before time began and who will exist into all of eternity. While thousands of years may seem like ages to us, in the span of things, that’s a blip of nothingness. 2 Peter 3:8 also reminds us, “with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God’s timetable is totally different from ours.
Second, God has His reasons for waiting. It may seem like now is the time to set this dilapidated world to rights, but the Bible says God is waiting in mercy. He wants to give everyone the opportunity to accept Jesus as their Savior. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Just because we haven’t seen Christ’s return yet doesn’t mean that God is breaking His promise to us. He is waiting patiently, even as people are blaspheming His holy name, for love of those who are still coming to Him.
How do we know for sure He IS coming back?
That one’s easy! The Bible tells so! Jesus told us before He left that He would (Matthew 24) and 1 Thessalonians 4 paints a detailed picture of that moment will look like. It says:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Sometimes, the world seems like a depressing place. There is sin and disease and death and anger… And some days it feels like God just doesn’t care. But He does! He is saving people from sin every day and He has promised He will come back to judge and remake the world.
“Therefore comfort one another with these words.” -1 Thessalonians 4:18