One out of every 30 verses in the Bible mentions the subject of Christ’s return. Of the 216 chapters in the New Testament, there are over 300 references to the return of Jesus Christ.
Only 4 of the 27 New Testament books fail to mention it. That means that 1/20th of the entire New Testament is dedicated to the subject of our Lord’s return.
In the Old Testament, most of the minor prophets, such as Job, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Daniel gave major attention to The Lord’s return.
There are 160 verses devoted to Jesus’ return in the Gospels and seemingly, no one wants to talk about it in public. I believe that in the Word of God, there is one central passage and that is a key to the understanding of each separate doctrine. The chapter on the Rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4 and Matthew 24 and 25 are the most comprehensive sections of the Word of God about the future that God has planned for his people. The Olivet Discourse centers around Israel and her future and just about every prophetic theme that you can imagine is either mentioned or alluded to in these chapters.
In these two chapters, Matthew 24 and 25, we can begin to see these events we’ve heard so much about, The Tribulation Period and The Battle of Armageddon, and how they fit together. So, as we read these chapters together, we will begin to get a sense of what God has planned on the prophetic calendar.
These two chapters are the most conclusive answers to those who wish to set a date and time for Our Lord’s return. How do we know? We can’t know when Christ will return.
1Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7sup>“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13“But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. 15“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17“Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18“And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19“But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20“And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22“And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. 23“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25“See, I have told you beforehand. 26“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe 27“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28“For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. 29“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33“So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 36“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38“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, 39“and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41“Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43“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. 44“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46“Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47“Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming, 49“and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50“the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51“and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
1“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2“Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish 3“Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4“but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5“But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6”And at midnight a cry was heard, ‘Behold the bridegroom is coming go out to meet him!’ 7“Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8“And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9“But the wise answered, saying, ’No lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12“But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13”Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. 14“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15“And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16“Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17“And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18“But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19“After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21“His lord said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22“He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23“His lord said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24”Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25‘And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours. 26”But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29’For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 31“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33“And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36’I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37’Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38‘When did we see You a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe You? 39‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ 41”Then he will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44’Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Let me point out some verses that will help us, if anyone ever asks you the question. We’ve heard so much about it; some people say this is when it’s going to happen and many people have set dates, but let’s search the scriptures.
Let’s look at Matthew 24:36
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
Now let’s look at verse Matthew 24:42
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
“the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,”
Look at Matthew 25:13
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
And, there are two other passages where the Olivet Discourse is referred to or in some way referred to Luke 21.
And, Mark 13:32
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
No man, no human, knows the hour when Jesus will come back. Have you ever thought about what might happen if man knew when Christ would return? Suppose we knew Jesus would come back next week. How would that affect our lives? Can you imagine how some folk would respond to that? We probably know someone who would live in sin until the day they knew Jesus would return, get it all cleaned up and be ready to go because that’s the way they live their lives right now.
Then, there would be some who become totally immobile; go into neutral. Some would change their lifestyle and be worthless to their family, church and God.
The Lord did not choose to reveal to us the time of His return and we can think of many reasons. I believe it was His infinite wisdom that kept us from knowing. Even the angels don’t know.
The angels have constant access to God. So, think about this for a moment. In Isaiah 6:1, 2
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
It shows us that they are awesome creatures and they are some of the first created beings of Our Lord. They have power and wisdom, and they protect us.
What it tells us is that the natural world does not know when Christ is coming back and the heavenly world doesn’t know either. By the angels having constant access to God, Isaiah 6 gives us the picture of them hovering around His throne awaiting His command. Matthew 18:10 says
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
According to Matthew 13:49, 50
49“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50“and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
This says the angels are going to be the agents of judgment at the 2nd coming. They are the reapers who are going to gather the wheat and tares and throw the tares in the fire.
Matthew 24:31 tells us
“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
And in spite of all these things, Jesus said,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
So, even the angels don’t know when Jesus is going to return and God has not chosen to reveal it to them.
Think for a moment. How in the world does somebody find out something no man nor angel knows that even The Lord didn’t know when He was here on earth? How do people think they know? No one knows and we are human beings, a little lower than angels. There is no way we can predict when Jesus will come. We must be ready at all times.
Not knowing is part of God’s plan. If we knew when he was coming, would we live in readiness of His coming. You might say what’s the reason for all the signs in Chapter 24 and 25? Read the parable that The Lord gave to His disciples.
Matthew 24:32 and 33
32“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!”
Jesus never told a story that never had a major purpose. He was a great story-teller and His stories always had a punch, if you’d stop and think about them.
As I studied these scriptures, I looked out my window and noticed my fig tree. It was exactly how Jesus described the fig tree; and I’ll sure welcome the summer. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples what day the tree would bear fruit, but it was a reminder that the season is approaching and, what Jesus is telling us as we study the signs of His return is while we do not know the day nor the hour; and don’t let anyone fool you or try to give you a date when Jesus will come back.
Jesus is saying that you won’t know the day nor the hour, but that the time is approaching. When you see the Christmas decorations going up, you know Christmas is coming.
Christmas now is so commercialized until people have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas. The true Christian knows the real meaning and why we celebrate it.
Other things are going to happen also when we read about the signs of Christ coming in Matthew 24 and 25. Jesus is coming back with the angels and His saints to set up His rule on this earth.
This has nothing to do with the Rapture except those signs we read about. Seven years before The Lord comes back with His angels and His bride will be the Rapture.
It could be today or tonight that the Rapture will take place. We cannot know. We must be ready but when He comes, I want to be studying His Word and preparing to teach my Sunday School class. Whenever He calls me, I want to die doing what he has called me to do. (Teaching His Word.)
What are you doing today that you would change if the Rapture would take place today? Or what would you not be doing? When He comes, we won’t have time to change anything. We’re ready or we’re not ready.
And Jesus also said as we move toward the end of the age, there’s going to be more famine and earthquakes. The Bible says as we are nearing the end, there will be more earthquakes.
Some interesting statistics – The 1992 Canadian Global Almanac reported 48 major earthquakes rocked the world between 1900 and 1969, averaging about 6 each 10 years.
Beginning in 1970 a new and alarming pattern began. From 1970 to 1989, there were 33 quakes that shook parts of the world, or about 17 per decade.
In the first six months of 1990 there were 10 major quakes that killed more than 100,000 people. The frequency during the period increased from six real bad quakes to ten every six months. We know about it because it’s on the news on TV and the radio. We hear about it but the Scripture says that as we get near the Rapture of the bride of Christ and the tribulation takes place, and all of these signs, there will be a growing intensity of all these things.
Pestilence will increase (meaning a plague), diseases that we can’t control. Do you read what’s going on the world today? A medical doctor said that one of the main contributing factors of the spread of disease is space age travel. Airliners turned epidemics into global panics as more and more businesses and governments send representatives around the world. No country is immune to an outbreak of major plagues and disease.
Diseases travel the world these days, first class in jumbo jets. We think that AIDS is the worst plague in human history. It is estimated that this disease has already killed more than 200,000 people in America alone.
But in other parts of the world, particularly in Africa, and in the Caribbean, it is estimated as incredible and in Thailand it is to be found that 12 of all military inductees are HIV positive. Missionary sources tell us that in Uganda, almost 50 percent of the population is infected with the virus.
A missionary, who pastors a large church, said a government official told him that he could expect to conduct a dozen funerals a day for people who were dying with AIDS.
Also, Jesus told us we could expect an escalation of deception as we near the Rapture.
We’re living in a strange, frightening world, if we let ourselves think about it, and, if I didn’t have the Word of God, I would be frightened.
But, what this tells me as this gets worse, is the Christians that were ready and went in the Rapture with The Lord are not here.
The last sign in the deliverance is the Tribulation for those who endure. Notice what He says.
Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.”
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”
As we near the time of Christ’s return, Christians are going to be persecuted more than they have ever been.
Let’s be ready to go in the Rapture!