As we have been studying in Matthew 24, no man can know the day or the hour of Christ’s return (Matt. 24:36), but He wants us to be aware of the signs that mean it is getting closer. As we follow the daily news, all of what Jesus described seems to be happening, and we look forward to that day with great anticipation. The signs described by Jesus in the Olivet discourse point to the great tribulation, which will occur after the Rapture, so our meeting with Christ in the air will occur even sooner!
Terrible things will be happening on earth during the great tribulation (Matt. 24:29), but we have no reason to fear if we have repented of our sins and trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. If so, we shall be caught up with Him in the air at the Rapture and live eternally with Him and other believers in Christ, including those who died before us (1 Cor 15:51-54; 1 Thess 4:15-17)
Knowing that the Rapture is imminent, meaning that it could occur at any time, and we could meet Christ face to face at any moment, we should live each day as if it were our last. We should die to our sin nature and yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we can resist the devil, become more like Christ (Phil. 3:10), encourage other believers, spread the Good News of the Gospel, and follow God’s perfect will for our life.
At the same time, we should not be discouraged by what may seem to us, in our impatience, as a delay in Christ’s return. We need to be firmly grounded in our faith in God’s promises so that we will not be shaken by those scoffers who take this delay to mean that Jesus will not keep His promise to return (2 Pet 3 :3-4). Rather, we should understand that God’s sense of timing is perfect and altogether different from ours.
We are limited by our earthly life span to consider time in terms of those few years, but in eternity, our earthly years are but a vapor, (James 4:14) gone as quickly as the visible puff of breath we exhale into the air on a wintry day. God has no limitations, and for Him, time stands still, which may help to explain how He can know everything, past, present and future; how He can be everywhere at once; and how He can deal with all our prayer requests at the same time. For Him, one day can be as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Pet 3 :8; Psalm 90: 4-12).
What scoffers perceive as a delay or even a failure of Christ’s return, we as believers should realize is a sign of God’s infinite patience and mercy. He is not willing that anyone would die unsaved and go to hell. The longer He waits to return, the more time there is for the lost to repent of their sins and be saved.
2 Pet 3:9 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.
Because He gave each of us free will, He will not force anyone to make that decision, and because He is just and holy, He must judge those who reject Him.
The timing of Christ’s return is in the Father’s hands alone, yet He does not want us to sit idly by. He wants us to pray for His return, to lead lost souls to Him, and to win crowns that we can lay at His feet (2 Timothy 4:8). If we watch for His return and are Rapture-ready (2 Pet 3:11,14), He will reward us richly (Matt. 24:45-47). His eternal rewards are the only ones that matter, because everything on earth will be consumed and burned up (2 Pet 3:10,12-13; Isa 51:6). Therefore, our priorities should be with accumulating heavenly rewards, and not earthly treasure (Matthew 6:19-20).
Only He knows how many days are left, but we can all know how He expects us to live each day by studying and following His Word (2 Pet 3:18).
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Love in Christ,
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