When someone tells us that they are coming for a visit at such and such a date, we quickly spring into action to prepare for their arrival. We make sure that all is set before that date comes. This kind of preparation works for us well since we have a reference date – the date of the visit. But what if there is no date given for the visit? When will we start with our preparations? This is exactly the dilemma of many believers today – when to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He promised, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12). Because there was not an exact date given, how many are actually getting ready for his coming?
When Jesus was asked what the signs of his coming will be and when the end of the age will come, he mentioned that there will be wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes and famines. However, he was quick to add, “All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matt. 24:8). After these physical signs, then he moved on to enumerate the spiritual signs saying, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt 24:9-12). All these signs mentioned are actually happening now and they become more intense as the day of the Lord draws near. In fact, there is a growing apostasy in the church. Many who call themselves believers now only have a form of godliness, but deny its power. They are no longer lovers of the good, but they hate and betray one another.
While all these signs will become more evident as the day of the Lord draws nearer, the final sign that must be fulfilled is the preaching of the gospel. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). For as long as there are still groups of people that have yet to hear the gospel, the Lord will not come. In the days of the apostle, it seemed that this was an impossible task, for who can go around the world and preach the gospel? Today, however, with the advent of technology, the gospel is now widely preached. Are we then nearing the end? If there is further delay, the apostle Peter rightly explained, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Yes, there are still people around us that need to receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour and the Lord is giving them a chance to be saved.
But when will the Lord come? Jesus himself answered this question pointedly when he said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24:36). Therefore, everything that people are saying about the day and hour of the Lord’s coming are just mere speculations. We should all be ready for his coming at any time. The lack of a reference date should not hinder us from preparing ourselves so that we live as if today is the day of his coming. The apostle Paul said, “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 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” (1 Thes. 5:1-3). The apostle Paul was actually echoing the warning of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 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; 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” (Matt. 24:37-39).
If the Lord will come any moment now, are we all ready? Friends, we need to keep watch, unlike the five foolish virgins mentioned in Matthew 25. They left the door and went away to buy oil. While they were away, the bridegroom arrived. Together with the five wise virgins, he entered the room and the door was shut. The foolish ones came back and knocked at the door saying, “‘Sir! Sir! Open the door for us!' But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you'” (Matt, 25:11-12). It was a sad ending for those who were not fully prepared. Therefore, let us keep watch for we do not know the day or the hour of the Lord’s coming. Let us all be ready to meet our Lord and Saviour at any time he decides to come. Hallelujah!