“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to every one according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13 NIV)
Those of us who live in hurricane zones, especially the states in the U.S. along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico such as Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas, are familiar with what to do when the season for this natural disaster arrives from June to November. When hurricanes make landfalls, they bring in their wake heavy winds, heavy rainfalls, power outages and destruction of infrastructures, damages to homes and other properties, and injuries to or death of human beings, among others.
Meteorologists and other scientists are able to forecast or predict with some degree of accuracy the timing, paths, and intensity of hurricanes. They do so based in part on some signs and changes observed about things such as oceanic water temperature and regional air pressure system using satellites, radars, and tracking devices and models. They even give the hurricanes nice names and provide the appropriate hurricane warnings or alarms.
Apart from the grace of God which enables us to survive hurricanes and other natural disasters, which helps many people are planning, preparation, and prayers. Planning and preparation include storing up lots of bottled water and groceries; protecting the exterior of the house by boarding windows with plywood to prevent damage; cutting or trimming trees that are dangerously close to the house; moving cars to garage or from potential harm’s way; filling cars with fuel; keeping flashlights and portable radios, and planning for shelter or evacuation from home, if necessary.
An event even more dramatic and consequential than hurricanes and all other natural disasters combined that would shake the very foundations of this world is fast approaching. Jesus is coming soon. When Jesus was physically present on earth, he promised his followers that he was going to prepare a place for them and come back and take them home (John 14:1-3). From heaven, Jesus revealed to the Apostle John that he was coming soon (Revelation 22:12). The combined promise made by Jesus should be exciting to Christians. The promise is also a challenge by which Christians should live.
Because of the importance attached to the second coming of Jesus, many people during the time of Jesus on earth wanted to know what signs would precede the event. Jesus mentioned a few, including the following stated in Matthew Chapter 24: many will claim to be the Christ and deceive many; wars and rumors of wars; nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; famines and earthquakes; persecution, hatred and killing of Christians by all nations because of Jesus; many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other; increase in wickedness will cause the love of many to grow cold; the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world; and many false Christs and false prophets will perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect, if that were possible.
Many of these signs or events have occurred or are occurring to make us think seriously about the second coming of Jesus. Depending on the part of the world where one lives, a person may experience one or more of these signs or events.
Generally, however, it appears that Jesus did not want his followers to focus on signs -- whether regarding his second coming, his status as the Son of God or the Messiah or others. For example, Jesus once told his disciples that the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven had been given to them, but not to others (Matthew 13:11). Yet, the disciples did not know about the timing of his second coming. Even Jesus himself said that neither he nor anyone else knew about the day or hour he was to come, not even the angels in heaven, but only the Father (Mark 13:32; Matthew 24: 36, 42).
In addition, Jesus refused to show a miraculous sign from heaven when the Pharisees and Sadducees asked for it (Matthew 16: 1-4). Also, after the resurrection when the disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, he responded that “it is not for you to know the times or date the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7 NIV).
What Jesus emphasized was that all of us should watch and pray since we do not know the day or hour he would return. Just as we put our physical houses in order for hurricanes and other natural disasters, so should we put our spiritual lives in order for the second coming of Jesus through praying and watching on a daily basis. Praying should be done continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Watching involves awareness, planning, preparation, and readiness. Living the promise of the second coming of Jesus on a daily basis eliminates reliance on miraculous signs, guesswork, and predictions about the end time. It also plants our feet on solid grounds so that we are not swayed by every passing wind of doctrine, teaching, miracle or personality.
We serve a living God. We are to live a life worthy of our calling, daily. For example, we are called to be the salt of the earth so that we can enhance the flavor for the world to taste and see that the Lord is good. We are called to be the light of the world so that we can shine and brighten the dark corners of the world and thereby expose evil, and lead people to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we are called to live holy and righteous lives so that we would be prepared to meet Jesus whenever he comes. We should remind and encourage each other
Living the promise also means that we should help spread the Gospel. Among the signs Jesus gave was that the Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world. Therefore, those who are eagerly waiting for the second coming of Jesus may have a part to play: they can help preach the Gospel of the kingdom to the whole world! And those who are impatient or in doubt about Jesus’ coming should note that “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8 NIV).
Jesus is coming soon to take his followers to live with him eternally in heaven. To get there and occupy it, however, we need to plan and prepare to meet him. Unlike hurricanes and other natural disasters, the second coming of Jesus is not an event anyone can predict or forecast. Therefore, we should not rely on signs, miracles or personalities, but on building a personal and deeper relationship with Christ. As a starting point, we should repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We need to watch and pray. And we need to live in such a way that Jesus would tell us “well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV).
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.