We live in strange and crazy times. It feels like the entire world is “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22). But do current events mean Jesus is coming soon?
Over the years, I’ve heard many Christians say that Jesus is coming soon. These Christians have been friends and relatives, pastors, and theologians. I’ve heard these opinions in private and public. Some say Jesus is coming soon—in their lifetime, without a specific date; others set specific dates. The problems, however, with these predictions are many. I’ll mention three problems.
First, the predictions are cheap. It does not cost much to make a prediction. What happens when a person’s prediction does not come true? Not much. In today’s world, news older than a week feels like ancient history: we tend to forget the predictions people make. This is a far cry from how people used to think about false predictions (see Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
Second, the predictions are a-historical. When most people make predictions of Christ’s return, they only consider how the world has waxed worse in their lifetime. The problem is that the world is always changing—sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, depending on your perspective. In many ways, our world is much better than one hundred years ago. Advances in technology and modern medicine have brought much good to our world. In other ways, our world is much worse—we must now lock our doors at night and Western secularization hurls head-long into rebellion against God. Simply put, to make a prediction about how things have become “worse” in one’s own lifetime does not consider the entire history of the world—and the ebbs and flows of it all.
Moreover, people have been predicting Christ will return in their lifetime since the very beginning. Here are a few representatives: Montanus (180); Hippolytus of Rome (500); Pope Sylvester II (1000); Joachim of Fiore (1260); Thomas Muntzer (1524); John Wesley (1836); Sun Myung Moon (1917); and Harold Camping (1994)—to name only a few!
Third, and most importantly, predictions of Christ’s return are not biblical. Jesus Himself told us that no one, not even the angels of heaven, knows the day or hour that He will return (Matthew 24:36). Yes, “I am coming “soon,” said Jesus, in Revelation 22:7. But this was said almost two thousand years ago.
Is Jesus returning soon? Jesus may return today, tomorrow, next week, a year, or a thousand years from now, or anything in between or after. We simply do not know. Christ’s return is imminent, but we do not know when it will be.
Don’t put your hope in the predictions of fallible men who give general or specific dates for the return of Christ. Do not set a general or specific date yourself. Rather, acknowledge that you do not “know neither the day nor the hour” but be on the alert (Matthew 25:13). And pray with the Apostle John, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
What about the signs of the times? That’s for another blog!
For more on what the Bible says about the second coming of Christ, see here.