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Are You Ready for the Second Coming?

by David A. DePra

     Now that we are two years removed from the Y2K fiasco, some

of those who told us that it would signal the end of civilization as we

know it, are once again picking up a head of steam. We are again

being told that the return of Christ is near. Some of these so-called

prophecy teachers are using the WTC tragedy of September 11th

as proof that surely the end must be upon us.

     Would that they were right. It would be wonderful if Jesus Christ

returned to this earth soon. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. It sure

isn't wrong to desire that. Christ's return should be our hope.

     But when will we learn? When will we finally get it through our

heads that we cannot know when Christ is coming back? When will

we finally read what Jesus said about those who would try to

predict His return? When will we finally believe Him and obey Him,

and STOP paying heed to these people?

     Jesus was very clear on this point. Very clear:

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, "Here is Christ!" or

"There!", believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and

false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders,

insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very

elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall

say unto you, "Behold, He is in the desert!," go not forth.

"Behold, He is in the secret chambers!," believe it not. For as

the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the

west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. For

wheresoever the carcass is, there will the vultures be gathered

together. (Matt. 24:23-28)

     Jesus not only warned us that we cannot know when He is

coming back, He also warned us that there would be those who

would tell us we CAN know. There would be those who would tell

us Christ HAS come secretly, and there would be those who would

tell us that they have found the secret clues given in the Bible as to

ABOUT WHEN Christ shall return. And He told us directly how to

respond to them: DON'T LISTEN TO THEM.

     The Truth of God on this matter is direct: We cannot know when

Jesus Christ is coming back. CANNOT. And therefore, this should

end the discussion. We should preach that Jesus is going to return.

Yes. But our focus should be upon BEING READY for Him. That

means, salvation, and a Christian life NOW. It means living in His

kingdom NOW, so that when Jesus comes THEN, we will be able

to move forward with Him into the eternal ages.

Like a Thief in the Night

     People, even some Christians, often complain that the Bible is

not clear, or easy to read. But this issue -- Jesus' return -- is one on

which Jesus was perfectly clear. Yet many refuse to believe Him.

Despite the fact that Jesus said we CANNOT know when He would

return, we have endless speculation as to when. And in some

cases, it serves to distort the message of the gospel, and get it out

of focus. In other cases, preaching this end-time stuff brings

the reproach of ridicule upon the name of Christ.

     The clarity with which Jesus preached His return is best seen in

the analogy of His return to that of "a thief in the night." Let's look

at this "thief in the night" analogy for a moment:

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 in.

Therefore be ye also ready. For in such an hour as ye think not

the Son of Man cometh. (Matt. 24:43-44)

Take ye heed, watch and pray. For you know not when the

time is...Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master

of the house cometh, at evening, or at midnight, or at the

cockcrowing, or in the morning. Lest coming suddenly he find

you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all: Watch.

(Mark 13:33, 35-37)

     Note the expressions used by Jesus. He says that He is coming

at "an hour we think NOT." He says, "You DO NOT KNOW when."

He says, "Watch!" -- something hardly necessary IF you know when

He is coming. Put them all together and the only conclusion is that

it is impossible for us to know -- or even approximate -- as to when

Christ will return.

     First, let's look at the picture of "a thief in the night." Ask yourself:

How does a THIEF come? Does he announce his arrival? Does

He give clues as to when he intends to come to the house? Does

he write letters ahead of time? Does he give even the slightest hint

as to when he intends to come and rob the house? The answer is,

of course, NO -- on all counts. In fact, if there is one thing which is

true about "a thief in the night" it is that there is no indication given as

to when he is coming. Indeed, if there is one thing the thief wants to

hide it is WHEN he is coming.

     Note that: If there is one thing a thief wants to hide it is the time of

his arrival. Thus, does it seem likely that Jesus would liken Himself

to "a thief in the night" if He intended to leave clues for us as to the

time of His arrival? NO.

     Can we possibly get that? Jesus said He was coming as "a thief

in the night?" Would He say that all the while giving us clues and

indications as to WHEN He was coming? Nonsense.

Be Ready

     Jesus gave us ONE instruction as to what to do regarding His

return. And it definitely was not to try to figure out WHEN He would

return. He said, "BE READY."

     But how can we "be ready" if we don't know when He is coming

back? Simple. ALWAYS be ready. And that is exactly what Jesus

told us to do. He said:

Therefore be ye also ready. For in such an hour as ye think not

the Son of Man cometh. (Matt. 24:43-44)

     If you knew a thief was going to come to your house some night,

but had no idea what night, you would be left to guesswork. And

there would be little chance that you would actually guess the right

night and be ready. But there IS one thing you could do. In fact, it

would be the only thing you could do if you were to have any hope

of catching the thief. What is that? BE READY every night. And

that is what Jesus is saying. He is saying, "Because you cannot

know when I'm coming, always be ready. Always be in the spiritual

condition of readiness."

     However, we are not to merely "be ready" in the sense of "being

ready" for Jesus' arrival. That event will hardly be the end of things.

It will only be the beginning. "Being ready" for the coming of Jesus

Christ means to "be ready" to live for Him forever.

     An analogy to marriage is apt. When we say we are READY for

marriage, we do not mean we are ready to go to the ceremony! No.

That is only the beginning of the marriage. What we really mean is

that we are ready to live the rest of our lives with the person to whom

we are engaged. And when we see that Jesus often used the very

picture of a marriage and a marriage feast to illustrate our need to

BE READY, the message is clear: Being ready means to be in

the spiritual condition necessary to spend forever with Jesus Christ.

      When you think about it, this really makes sense. Afterall, if Jesus

said He is coming at an hour we THINK NOT, then "being ready"

cannot mean to in any way anticipate or know the time. It therefore

must be speaking of SPIRITUAL CONDITION.

     Every place the Bible speaks of the "coming" of Jesus -- in

reference to His return -- it uses the term "parousia." The word

means "active presence." That is the "coming" we are to be ready

for: His presence -- once He gets here.

     I am ready for the PAROUSIA of Jesus Christ -- the second

coming -- if I am right NOW living in His presence. What I am right

now in Jesus Christ is determining my "readiness" for that event


Did Jesus Leave Clues?

     Now, there are a couple of other things which Jesus said which

indicate that there is NO information given to us which should lead

us to believe we know when He will return.

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels

which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take you

heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. (Mk. 13:


     If we would just believe this statement by Jesus! He says without

qualification that it is totally impossible for us to know when He is

coming back. But wait. He says something even MORE important.

He says that even HE doesn't know when He is coming back. Even

He doesn't know the time of His own coming.

     It used to puzzle me as to why Jesus would not know this. Why?

What purpose does it serve for Him to NOT know the time of His

OWN coming? He sure knew lots of other stuff. Why not THIS?

     It can't be because God didn't trust Jesus with the information.

That would mean Jesus was UNtrustworthy, and thus dishonest.

No. And it can't be because the day wasn't set yet, because

Jesus said the Father already knew the day. So there IS a day.

     Yet Jesus did not know. And since God does nothing unless there

is a reason, there had to be a reason why it was not given to Jesus

to know the hour of His return. What could that reason be?

     There can be only one: God did not tell Jesus when He would

return, so that we could be sure Jesus wasn't secretly telling us when 

He would return. If Jesus did not know, He couldn't have been leaving

clues or indications in His teaching!
     If Jesus KNEW the hour of His return, we might imagine that in His
teaching there could be clues.  But once we realize He did not know, we
must face the fact that there can be nothing in His teaching indicating the
time of His return.  There CAN'T be.  He did not know.  And you can't
leave clues and indications about something you don't know.

     Get that. If we thought Jesus knew the day of His return, we might

suspect that there were clues and hints in His teaching about it. But

once Jesus says, "I don't know the time," we can stop looking for

clues. Jesus didn't know. So there could not be clues. There could not

be hints. There is, in fact, NOTHING.

     If only we would see this. We are being assured -- by the fact

that Jesus Himself did not know the hour of His return -- that it is

impossible for there to be a single indication in any of the teaching

of Christ about the hour of that return. HE DID NOT KNOW.

     Despite this clear Truth, Christians for two-thousand years have

tried to twist and squeeze out of Jesus' words all kinds of teaching

as to WHEN He would come back. They take statements of Christ

and build upon them a prophecy chart. But this is wrong to do. And

frankly, it is without excuse. It is the product of unbelief.

     Of course, those who sell books predicting the time of the second

coming, or speculating as to it's nearness, do not want to hear such

news. But it is what the Word of God says. And we really ought to

ask: Has God today told US what He did not tell His own SON?


     Not surprisingly, people have come up with all kinds of

arguments around the fact that if Jesus didn't know the hour of His

return, that certainly we can't know the hour of His return. For

instance, some say that this revelation was not for THAT time, but

is now for OUR time -- for us, because WE live in the last days. But

such an argument is part of the same deception. Once you insist

we are living in the last days, you are already predicting the time

of Jesus return -- at least generally. And we cannot know that.

     We have been living in the last days since Jesus ascended into

heaven. Did you know that? The Bible says so:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past

unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto

us by His Son. (Heb. 1:1-2)

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world,

but was manifest in these last times for you, (I Pet . 1:20)

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist

shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we

know that it is the last time. (I Jn. 2:18)

     What this tells us is that the moment we take any Bible prophecy

about the "last days" and insist that it is for TODAY, we have no

authority for doing so. It can apply to anytime during the last two

thousand years, and to even the future.

     Another thing which has become popular today are such things

like the "Bible codes." Apparently, we have totally exhausted the

plain and simple Word of God. We now must turn to secret codes

and messages, unattainable until this computer age.

     Actually, the Bible has some things to say about such secret

codes and messages. Jesus talked about such things as they

pertain to His return to this earth. He said, "If they say unto you,

'Behold, He is in the secret chambers!,' believe it not."

     The bottom line is: There are no secrets on this issue. What you

read is all there is. And what you read is this: You cannot know the

time of Jesus' return. Jesus didn't know it, and you can't know it. So

stop trying to figure it out and be ready at ALL times.

     Finally, if there remains any doubt as to whether God left secret

indications in the teaching of Christ as to when He would return, we

need only turn to Acts 1. There the disciples, minutes before Jesus

ascended to heaven, asked Him, "Will you now, at this time, restore

the kingdom to Israel?" Did Jesus answer, "You haven't been

listening. For over three years I have been dropping hints as to

when I'm coming back. If you were listening, you would know that it

is going to be two-thousand years until that day?"

     Is that what Jesus said? No. Rather, He told them, "It is not for

you to know the times and the seasons set by the Father." (see

Acts 1:7)

     If it was NOT FOR THEM TO KNOW, there, in Acts 1, does it

seem likely that it WAS for them to know during the previous three

years? Would Jesus have told them it was NOT for them to know

in Acts 1, if He had been trying to make them to know for three and

one-half years leading up to this?

     One has to wonder just how many times, and in how many ways,

God must tell us the Truth on this matter. If we will not listen to Him

on this matter of Jesus' return, then in how many other ways, in the

deep things of the Spirit, are we also refusing to hear Him?


     The Y2K fiasco is a prime example of what Christians are

capable of, when it comes to these "end time" issues. Certainly,

not all Christians got on the bandwagon of panic and fear. But just

enough did -- especially those of highly visible ministries -- to once

again make all of us look like a bunch of fools. And to make

matters worse, when NOTHING happened, there were few who

admitted they were wrong. Many actually took credit for averting

the disaster. They said their warnings fended off what would have

been a great crisis.

     It is always nice to be able to "be right" no matter what happens.

I mean, this was a win-win situation. Predict disaster and get rich

doing it. If what you predicted happens, then you gain a following

and already have the money. But if what you predicted does not

happen, then just take credit for averting the disaster.

     Some of the excuses I heard Christian leadership give for being

wrong about Y2K were embarrassing. One leader said that the

disaster happened just as he predicted -- but it "all happened

spiritually." Another said that God, at the last minute, due to the

faithful prayers of believers, granted us "extra time." Another said

that God was merely using Y2K as a "trial run" for the REAL end,

which was coming soon. Great. Now we have time to sell a few

more books on the subject.

     Some Christians think we should not be so hard on such folks.

I've got news. Christianity is serious stuff. Eternal stuff. And when

we do not hold leaders accountable for these terrible things, we

are disobeying God. In fact, we are responsible for allowing THEM

to continue on deceived. We are not doing them, nor God, any

service. We are letting even the false teachers themselves think

they are ok, and that what they did was no big deal.

     "Now wait a minute," someone might say, "No one is perfect.

And we shouldn't judge."

     If you think that to call error by it's name is judging, then you had

better get on your knees fast. How did you become a Christian? By

confessing you were a sinner in need of God's grace. That's the

ONLY way. And to do that, you had to call sin by it's name. Error by

it's name -- in yourself. Was that judging -- the way the Bible forbids?

If it was, then you were wrong in confessing sin. Wrong in admitting

your need for Christ. That would be nonsense.

     We are to discern error from Truth. And in doing so, we are going

to see that some are false teachers. That doesn't mean we play

God and condemn them. But it does means we say, "What they are

doing is wrong, and I'm going to say so."

     It is not a crime to be wrong. But it is a crime, and to our shame,

to be wrong and refuse to admit it. Christians should never have

gotten our eyes off of Christ and onto Y2K. But once we did, we

should have admitted it. Personally, I have yet to hear of a single

ministry having admitted they were wrong about Y2K. Not a one.

Some probably fear law suits. But many have no place in their

vocabulary for such admissions of being mistaken.

     The truth of the matter is that the secular media, and even

President Clinton, had it right. They, and not Christians, saw Y2K

the way it was: An overblown fiasco. The only real threat there

ever was over Y2K was people's reaction to a mirage. And thanks

be to God, even THAT didn't materialize.

History Repeating Itself

     Why did many Christians get carried away with this Y2K event?

Several reasons. First, for the last 30 years, we have been almost

saturated by end-time teaching. Highly visible prophecy teachers,

such as Jack Van Impe and Hal Lindsey, dedicate weekly

programs to this subject alone. They hold the newspaper in one

hand, and the Bible in the other. They make them match. And what

these individuals teach is parroted across the land in many

churches, and on many Christian television programs. As a result,

many Christians accept almost without question what is being

taught. These guys seem so SURE. And they quote the Bible!

     There are many of us who cannot conceive that this many

Christian leaders could be wrong. We cannot imagine that such

learned men, with all that Bible knowledge, could be dead wrong

about such an important issue. But guess what? They ARE. And

if we would just wake up, we would discover that there is nothing

new about any of this. Christians have been wrong about this for

two thousand years.

     Why? We simply don't believe what Jesus said. Besides,

sensationalism is more fun. And it is big business.

     There are other reasons why Christians get carried away with

these things. Many, right now, have end-time events -- events which

have yet to happen -- memorized. They know all the Bible verses.

They have these events cataloged and figured out. This nation will

do this, and that nation will do that, etc. Israel will be invaded by

Russia, etc. They sit and they wait for these things to happen. For

them, this creates a certain expectation. They EXPECT things to

unfold a certain way -- the end of which will result in the return of


     Consequently, when the slightest thing happens in this world

which can be made to fit into these prophecy expectations, many

jump at it and say, "This is IT! It HAS to be it! Nothing else could

fulfill prophecy like this. The end is near!"

     There is nothing new about reading things into the Bible. There

is nothing new about being so sure about something like this and

being dead wrong. And God lets us. Why? Because He has

already told us to leave this issue alone. So if we won't, we are

on our own. We are ripe for deception.

     Here's what Jesus said about looking at world events in an

attempt to figure out when He was coming back. Here is the value

HE placed upon our expectations as to when He'd come back:

"Therefore be ye also ready. For in such an hour as you THINK

NOT the Son of Man comes." (Matt. 24:43-44)

     Do we read that? Do we believe it? Jesus said He was coming

back at an hour we DO NOT expect. Does that sound like it is even

remotely possible for us to catalog world events in such a way that

will enable us to know when to expect Him? No. It sounds like

world events are no indication whatsoever as to when Jesus will

return. It sounds like there is NOTHING which is going to happen

around which we can raise our expectation. Rather, Jesus is

coming at a time we least expect. At a time we think NOT.

     A third reason Christians get deceived by this stuff is human

nature. There is something about us which makes us think WE are

the center of the universe. That WE are the focal point of history. So

when we read the Bible, it certainly must be talking about us; about

our time. Our time is the time when there is evil as never before. Our

time is the time when world destruction is possible. Our time is the

time when communication has made world dominance possible.

Somehow, someway, it escapes us that no matter how bad things

are, and what possibilities are out there, that it is always possible

for things to get worse.

     If you ask the average European in 1941 if he thought it was the

time of the end, what answer do you think you would get? How

about a resident of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.? Or how about someone

who lived in Europe in the 1300's during the bubonic plague? The

point is, I can pull verses out of the Bible and make them mean

what I want. And we are all self-centered enough to think the verses

are talking about US -- today.

     Christians have been doing this for 2000 years. Every world

crisis signals the end of the world! But every time we have been

WRONG. When will we learn?

The Good News

     Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth. We cannot know

when. But it will be someday -- an actual day. That day will NOT be

a day we would expect His return. It will, in fact, be a day just like

today. The heavens will be opened, and Jesus will be there. And it

will be the end.

     The continual indication by the Bible is that the return of Christ will

be suddenly, and unexpected. Continually, we are warned to

WATCH. To BE READY -- lest that day catch us unawares. If we

want something to focus on that is it: Be ready.

But as the days of Noe 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 Noah 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.

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other

left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken,

and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your

Lord comes. (Matt. 24:37-42)

     Some people try to say that this is a teaching about the rapture.

But note: WHO was "taken away" in the days of Noah? The wicked.

Who remained? The just. The opposite of the rapture teaching,

where the good people are raptured, and the bad are left behind.

Such is the length to which we must evaluate our prophetic thinking.

Jesus Is Coming

     How can we know whether we are ready for Jesus to come back?

We are ready for Him THEN, if we are living in a readiness NOW.

If you are walking with Christ now, you will be able to embrace His

return then.

     This goes back to our analogy about getting married. If you are

living as if married to Christ NOW, you will be ready for Him THEN.

But if you are not living that way NOW, you will NOT be ready when

Jesus returns on that day.

     This applies to us even if Christ does not return in our lifetime.

Afterall, if we die before then, that will -- to us -- BE the day of His

return for US, won't it? All He will have to take is what we have

become to that point. We will either be ready or not be ready.

Yet despite all of these warnings, all throughout scripture, Jesus

said that there are going to be many who will NOT be ready. It will

be too late. The hour of their visitation came and went. They took

it lightly.

     One might ask as to why it will be too late? I mean, what if I am

not ready when Jesus comes? Can't I repent and then be ready?

This question is based on a misunderstanding. If I am that close

to repentance for not being ready, then I probably am ready. Those

who are not ready are NOT going to want to repent. That's the point.

That's why they aren't ready. There is no "ready" in them. And no

repentance. They want Jesus on their terms. They are NOT ready for

Him on HIS terms.

     The Truth about the second coming, or "parousia" of Jesus

Christ, is actually a wonderfully freeing thing. It shows us that we do

not have to give a single thought to WHEN Jesus is coming back,

but can concentrate on BEING READY for Him -- something we will

be doing anyways if we are walking with Him in faith and surrender.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all will be that there are going to

be those who preach and teach about the Second Coming, and

who think they have it all figured out -- but who themselves will not

be ready. May God keep us from such a situation.

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