My wife Anita, pastor Aaron and Norma, a school teacher at the mission school, went to a conference a few nights second comingago in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The speaker was a well known prophecy “expert”.   I opted to stay at the mission and watch my daughters.

The next morning we went to an outdoor market in Mitla.  Anita was visiting with her mother and the rest of us waited for here in the car.  It turned out to be a rather long wait and Norma began telling us about the conference and the second coming of Christ.  The speaker was convinced that the return of our Lord was imminent because he defined a generation as 70 years, give or take a few years and that it has been a little over 70 years since Israel has been a sovereign country again.  Jesus prophetically said that “this generation shall not pass away”, leading to his conclusion that Jesus return was soon.

Norma asked me what I thought.  I had been thinking back to my teenage years when I was into prophecy.  It was a heyday of prophecy with Hal Lindsyies book on prophecy called The Late Great Planet Earth was topping the charts and the movie A Thief In the Night was widely viewed by Christians and non-Christians alike.  Christians back then had their  ideas about what a generation was, and  were intent on interpreting the biblical prophecies from Isaiah to Revelation and found in them all the evidence they needed to be assured that the second coming was at hand.  That was more than 30 years ago.

I finally answered Norma saying basically that I didn’t see how it mattered much.  Perhaps she was somewhat taken aback and asked me if I thought Jesus would return in the next 10 or 20 years.  I told her that I didn’t see how it made a lot of difference if he came back tomorrow or in a 100 years.  The foundation for all of Jesus prophecies and prophetic parables was the idea of being ready for His return at all times.  Sure He talked about the future, but he talked a lot more about living our lives for the Father in the present.  Taking into account of the bulk of Jesus teachings, He seems to be telling his followers to live as if his return was imminent, but plan your lives as if you would live for a hundred years.  Just make sure you’re ready!

After my discussion with Norma, I happened to listen to a podcast by R.C. Sproul.  He recounted an incident where he and his wife were on a train that crashed.  It was the worst crash in Amtracks history.  Spoul and his wife emerged relatively unscathed, but more than 70 people lost their lives.  He was asked by reporters if he learned anything new theologically as a result of the tragedy. He told them no, because he knew before the accident that his life was in the hands of God, as was everyone’s life who was on the train.  Everybody’s life is ultimately in the providential hands of God and He determines when everyone’s life on this earth will end.  The important thing is to be ready for that end.

My daughters love to play hide-and-seek.  They are forever looking for new hiding places in and around the house where they hope they will never be found.  As the count begins – one,two,three,four… They scamper off to their hiding places, anxiously waiting to hear those ultimate words, “Ready or Not, here I come!”  One day, we too, will hear those words coming from heaven above.  It could be today, tomorrow or in years to come.  It may be as we lay dying on our death beds, or when the trumpet blows and the Lord descends in the clouds.

The important question is not When?, but, Are We Ready or Not?

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As to the question, “When will the second coming take place?”, Paul does little more than repeat the words of Jesus, that it would come unexpectedly, “like a thief in the night”.  The call to the people of Christ therefore is to “keep awake and sober” – “for God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9).         F.F. Bruce in Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free

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