When Is the Second Coming? Be Prepared. Come.

by Leland M. Haines
When Is the Second Coming?
The Day and Hour of His Coming
Be Prepared
This Message Told Elsewhere

When Is the Second Coming?>

We have discussed the prophecies concerning the events leading to the second coming of Christ and judgment. After Jesus told His disciples of these events in the Olivet Discourse (see Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21), He spoke to them about the time of His coming and about the need to be ready for it.

Jesus bade the disciples to "learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (Matthew 24:32, 33; cf. Mark 13:28, 29; Luke 21:29-31). Man has learned to read natural signs. He can tell that summer is near when the fig tree sends its sap up through the branches, to soften them and cause them to send forth leaves. The disciple should also be ready to read the signs of the times. "When ye shall see all these things" (Matthew 24:33), Christ's disciples will know His second coming and the end are near.

Jesus goes on and clarifies the nearness of His coming to the appearance of the signs. "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:34, 35; cf. Mark 13:30, 31; Luke 21:32, 33). The generation that sees the things Jesus described in the Olivet Discourse will also see Jesus' return. The coming will be that near to these events, within one generation, a period of thirty years.

The Day and Hour of His Coming

It is only natural for Christians to think beyond this general identification of the time of the second coming and wonder about the exact day and hour this will happen. These events point to the general time. Jesus knew many would want a specific date. Because of this Jesus went on to explain that no one knows the day and the hour of His coming. It will be sudden and unexpected, "for as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:27; cf. Luke 17:24). "As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37-39; cf. Luke 17:26-30; see also Genesis 6:5; 7:6-23). The people in Noah's day heard Noah's message of a coming judgment but did not know the exact time. They did not prepare themselves for the coming judgment and let life go on as usual. This resulted in unexpected events overtaking them and all being lost (Genesis 7:21-23).

Be Prepared

Christians know that Jesus' coming will occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Jesus told us to keep this in mind. "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:42-44).

Following this admonition Jesus told His disciples three parables to warn them of the importance of being ready when He comes. The first one told them they should be as "the faithful and wise servant" (Matthew 25:45) who was put in charge of the household by his master. "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing" (v. 46). The faithful servant will be rewarded. But if he says in his heart, "My lord delayeth his coming" (v. 48) and is unfaithful, "The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (vv. 50-51; see also Luke 12:39, 40; 21:34-36). This parable emphasizes that one should be ready for His coming at all times. Much is at stake. Because he does not know the hour Jesus is coming, the Christian should be motivated to be faithful at all times. He should not think he can indulge in sin for a time and repent just before his Master comes. When He comes, the time for repentance will be over. It will be a time for judgment.

The second of Jesus' three parables concerns the need to be watchful. This parable describes ten virgins who wait for a marriage festival. In first-century Jewish tradition, when two people were betrothed or engaged, they were considered man and wife, but they continued to live separately with their parents for a while. After a period of time, the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, went to the bride's home and brought her with her maiden friends to their new home. Together they would observe a marriage festival.

Each of the bride's maiden friends had to have a lamp burning with oil when the group went to meet the bridegroom, if she was to enter the marriage festival with the bridegroom and bride. In this parable the bridegroom was delayed. "At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" (Matthew 25:6). The maidens who were sleeping arose and trimmed their lamps. Five of the ten brought extra oil with them and filled their lamps. The other five, "the foolish [ones] said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out" (v. 8). But the wise ones told them, "Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves" (v. 9). The five foolish ones left and went to buy oil. While they were gone, "the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut" (v.10). When the five foolish ones returned with their oil and were ready to enter, they cried to the bridegroom, "Lord, Lord, open to us" (v. 11). He did not open but told them, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not" (v. 12).

From this parable Jesus drew this lesson: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:13). The Christian must be prepared when Jesus returns. There will be no time to get ready for His coming at the last minute.

The third parable (Matthew 25:14-28) concerns a man who, just before he went on a journey, entrusted his possessions to his slaves. "And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability" (v. 15). The first two slaves put their possessions to work and doubled their worth. "But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money" (v. 18).

After a time the master returned and called in the slaves to settle the accounts. To the first two, who made a good gain, he said,

    Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. . . . Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. Matthew 25:21-28
The lesson Jesus drew from this parable is, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:29, 30). The Christian must not neglect the gifts he has. He must put them to work to further the kingdom. He who does not will suffer loss and be punished.

This Message Told Elsewhere

The message Jesus gave above was told to others. Just before His ascension the disciples asked Jesus, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:6, 7). The time of these further events is not for us to know.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians,

    But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. I Thessalonians 5:1-6

Christians are not to be in the dark about the second coming and the judgment. They know about it and have been admonished to stay alert and sober so they will not be destroyed with those in darkness.

Elsewhere Christians are told they are "waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 1:7). Peter wrote,

    The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. . . . what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation [conduct] and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God? . . . seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. . . . Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. II Peter 3:9-12, 14, 17, 18

The church at Sardis was told, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee" (Revelation 3:3). Thus we see that the message Jesus gave on the Mount of Olives was repeated many times. It is an important one Christians must not forget.


In the beginning God created man in His own image and gave him a perfect world to live in. "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31).

Man was placed in a garden. In this garden there were two special trees"the tree of life" and "the tree of knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:9). Man was told by God not to partake of the latter tree. By simple faith he could live in the presence of good alone and avoid knowing good and evil together. But man chose to disobey God's direction. He listened to Satan's advice and took of "the tree of knowledge of good and evil."

This act of disobedience placed a sin barrier between God and man. But God did not leave and forget man. He told Satan, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman . . . it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).

In this book we have shown how this promise was fulfilled. We have followed the path of events leading to redemption brought by Jesus Christ. We have traced God's actions throughout history in destroying the sin barrier and making it possible for man again to walk and talk with God.

We live in an age of fast-growing technology and knowledge of God's physical universe. But this does not change the simple truths revealed by God in His Word about the redemption brought by Jesus Christ. This knowledge of redemption is of prime importance to each of us.

The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Revelation 22:17, 21

This is from of Chapter 7 of the book, Redemption Realized Through Christ, © copyright 1997 by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI.

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January 29, 2001