Is Jesus coming back soon?
I recently received this question in the mail, “I think that Jesus is coming back soon. What shall we expect and how will we know when Jesus will return? How will we recognize him?”
Thanks for your question. I tend not to enter into conversations about when Jesus is going to come back. It’s not because I don’t think that he is coming back or that I think that we should be ignorant about it. It’s not even because I think that it is divisive (which it can be).
The reason that I tend to not talk too much about this topic is because I think it is far too easy to lose the forest in the trees and to begin to focus on peripheral minutiae.
So, I will respond to the above questions, but I will try to do so focusing only on the core essentials. I will most likely take a few weeks to respond to these few questions.
#1, You are in good company if you think that Jesus is coming back soon.
The early church truly lived like they were in the last days. Critics will look at that and mock it, suggesting that this is proof that the whole thing is a hoax, but I will tell you that they were in last days, and so are we. Paul says as much in Acts 17:29-31, “Since we are God’s offspring then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination. Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
From a biblical perspective, we are in the final stretch before judgment, but nobody knows how long the final stretch is. Jesus’ followers were curious about this too. They figured now that Jesus had risen from the dead he would pick up his scepter, take over Rome, and restore the glorious days of King David.
When they pressed Jesus about it, this was his response: “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority (Acts 1:7b).”
In other words, Jesus’ response is, “That’s above your paygrade. You’re on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know.”
Which leads me into my second key point.
#2, You are in better company if you live like Jesus is coming back soon.
Let’s look at Acts 1 with more verses: After [Jesus] had suffered, he also presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise [the Holy Spirit]. “Which,” he said, “you have heard me speak about; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:3-8).”
Jesus was teaching them about the kingdom of God and telling them to wait for the Holy Spirit who would empower them to go out and tell the whole world about the forgiveness and life Jesus is offering them. In response, they ask Jesus when the end of the world is going to happen so they can enjoy some good Kingdom of God living. Jesus’ response could be summarized (now, with more context) as, “Don’t worry about that. You worry about representing me to the world.”
So is Jesus coming soon? Yes, I think that he is. How soon? I have no idea. Does that bother me? Not at all, I have work to do, and if you are a follower of Jesus, you have work to do too. We are here to go out into all the world and be witnesses of the love of Jesus demonstrated in his death, burial and resurrection.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking about the end, matter of fact we should think about it, but it should propel us onward towards holy living daily obedience to the call.