Watch and Wait for His Coming
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13
“…so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:28
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14: 1-3
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’ ” Acts 1: 9-11
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” Revelations 1:7
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24: 36-44
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ” 1 Cor. 15: 51-54
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thess. 4: 13 to 5: 6
The above quoted scriptures are not an exhaustive list on the topic of the end times and of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (there are many more), but they are the most explicit and direct, and they are enough to remind us of the importance of this event. As Christians, we need to continually remind ourselves that our hope is not in this world. We need to be mindful of God’s promises about the future resurrection of the dead and have our hope fully focused on heaven, watching and waiting for His return.
I recently heard an older Christian rock song entitled “I can only imagine” that was originally released back on 2001. The song’s author had lost his father and had written the lyrics while pondering his death and what it must be like in heaven. As I was listening to the song and thinking about the lyrics I remembered that I had come to the realization that, although it may be somewhat beneficial to imagine what heaven will be like, it is much, much more important for us to make heaven a reality in our hearts. We need to exercise our faith to allow the reality of both the second coming of Jesus and the future existence of a new heaven and new earth under His authority and control.
Let me explain further what I see as a danger in just imagining rather than establishing the reality of these things. The problem is that when we imagine, we usually associate what we have imagined with things that are not real. We sometimes use our imaginations to escape reality, for example, we may imagine ourselves on a beach on a tropical island when we want to escape our current situation. We usually then disconnect what we are imaging with the real world. Herein lies the issue. The reality of heaven needs to be a part of our everyday reality, not just some imaginary world that we think of sometimes. Our natural inclination is to disconnect from what we are imagining and therefore imagining about heaven would also become a disconnected imagination rather than a very real future condition.
I know we can’t be thinking about heaven constantly, but when we do think of it, it needs to be registered in our minds as something real and the second coming of Jesus as a coming real event.
Here’s an example that may help. All of us have had friends and loved ones pass away. Although painful, the reality of death really hits home during these times. We would rather not think about it or block it out, but there will be a day, an hour, a minute and second that we too will breath our last breath. We don’t have to imagine what that day will be like, but we can allow the reality of it to enter into our hearts. Yes, it’s real – there will be a real day and time that we will die (if the Lord does not return first). My point is that imagining what it will be like at your funeral is not the same as allowing the reality of your death to enter into your heart. The same applies to the reality of heaven and the reality of the second coming of the Lord Jesus.
For the person who has no faith, who either does not believe in a creator God or does not believe in the promises that God has presented to us through His Messiah, the Lord Jesus, there is no hope. Faithless men are not only hopeless, but death is still their enemy. To them it is something to be feared and blocked out. Death, to them, emphasizes the futility of life as they realize that all things for them are lost when they pass away.
As Christians we must not allow this mindset to overtake our thinking. Consider the above quoted verses from the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians. At the beginning of chapter 4 of that letter, after he had discussed his travels and other events that involved the Thessalonians in previous chapters, he continues:
“Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more.” 1 Thess. 4: 1
Here Paul is strongly urging them and attempting to incite them to action regarding what follows in his letter. Understanding the reality of the second coming is part of what follows in chapter 4. We need to live our lives with the understanding that death is not the end for us or for our friends and family who have died in the Lord. The hope of our future with Jesus removes the grief and fear of death and the absurdity and futility that exists for those who have no hope. This hope is also a great comfort for us, not only when we encounter death, but throughout our life, in all trials and afflictions.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8: 18-19
We must recognize that it is so easy for us to get caught up in the day to day activities of our life and to allow our hope to be shifted back to something associated with this world. We must guard against these forces that will cause us to forget our future hope and the glory that is in store for us at the second coming of Jesus. The day of the Lord’s return is coming and is a certainty. Let’s keep it in the forefront of our minds and allow the reality of it to penetrate our consciousness, deep into our hearts.
I’ll leave you with this reminder from Peter:
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3: 10-13