Where would you fit on the pendulum of watching for the Second Coming of Jesus? On one side of the pendulum are those who look at every earthquake or weather phenomenon as an indication that Jesus is about ready to split open the sky and surprise us all like a sneaky thief in the night. Let’s call this side “Sensationalist.” On the other side are those who appear to have all the information they need or want about the Second Coming. They don’t need to read about it or discuss it. They don’t need to pay any special attention to what is going on in the world or study what the Bible has to say about it. The matter is settled in their mind. They were given the answers long ago and now Bible prophecy has no further relevance for them. Jesus has made it simple for them. He is going to take care of everything. All that is left for the Church to do in regards to His coming is to be “faithful and ready.” Let’s call this side of the pendulum “Apathy.”
Some on the Apathy side of the pendulum just don’t want to get involved in the debate over such things as when the rapture of the Church will occur, or if the Church will be around to experience the persecution of the Antichrist. They may jokingly call this outlook on the Second Coming, “Pan-tribulationalism;” whatever “pans out” in regards to the return of Jesus, will be just fine with them. They too, only think it’s important to remain “faithful and ready.”
The question is, what do they mean by being faithful and “ready?” Faithful and ready for what? Without being knowledgeable of the prophetic scriptures, how do they even know what it is they are waiting faithfully for?
Ready? Are they going to be ready to give a new believer, or anyone for that matter, who has questions about the Second Coming and the end of the age a sound biblical answer, or are they going to propagate their own ignorance on the subject and tell whoever is asking the question not to worry about it? Are they going to be ready to recognize the specific signs Jesus gave that will indicate His return is within a few short years or months and point those signs out to others, or ready to avoid being deceived? Jesus said “even the elect” could be deceived in regards to His return. Are they going to be ready to see through the pervasive false teaching, false prophecies, and what appear to be supernatural occurrences in the last days? Or, are people who say they want to be faithful and “ready,” merely talking about being ready to save their own hides from being “left behind” on the earth to suffer through God’s wrath and a subsequent eternity in Hell, because they have their salvation “in the bag?”
Think. Just what if the Pretribulation rapture theory doesn’t work out to be true? This is the theory made popular in the early 1800’s that often supports the idea that we don’t need to worry about prophecy because Jesus is going to rescue His Church before anything bad happens. How ironic that often the same group of people that say you don’t need to study bible prophecy are often the most opinionated about how the Bible says it is all going to play out. It is this type of approach to understanding what God expects of us, by relying on traditions and what we want to believe because it best suits us, that people will be deceived. What an ingenious and insidious strategy on the part of the enemy; deceive Christians into believing they do not need to study the very scriptures that will keep them from being deceived!
Will this group have their hearts prepared and be ready to be martyred for their Lord, if that becomes necessary, or will they deny Him? Will they know when it is appropriate to stay or go, possibly saving their loved one’s lives, based on what the Bible has to say? Will they one day be able to explain to their un-saved neighbor that current world events were spoken of in the Bible or will they be confused because it didn’t happen like the Left Behind series said it would? Will they be ready to give their Master, Jesus an answer for why they were not faithful with the information He left for them regarding His return?
When someone tells me they don’t need to worry about what the Bible has to say about the Second Coming, I always wonder what other crucial doctrine(s) there are that they don’t know or care about. When a Pastor says that “prophecy just isn’t my thing,” I have to ask why imparting accurate information to “their flock” about the Second Coming of the Messiah in order that they may be prepared and ready to overcome deception is not “their thing.” It was very much Jesus’ thing.
To all my Pan-tribulation brothers and sisters, are you also a pan-salvationist? Saved by grace or saved by good works; whatever pans out is OK with you? Are you a pan-theist? Saved by Jesus or saved by Allah, it’s all good? Is there anything that we can understand and trust in the Bible, or is it only a collection of things that don’t really matter because the God you choose to believe in is merciful and everything will all pan out in the end? How do you know what your Master, Jesus, expects of you? Are there some things Jesus said that are not important for His disciples to know and others that are? How did you make that determination? Perhaps by listening to some other human opinion about what you should believe rather than relying on God’s own word?
There is much more at stake than your own personal salvation. What about the friends and family you influence in your life? The “elect of God,” have been appointed to be a “priest of God;” a minister to others on God’s behalf. Being “faithful and ready,” until the day Jesus returns includes fulfilling our role as a minister to others in the name of Christ. For those who will be alive during the end of the age, whenever that occurs, the role of priest or minister will include guiding others through that perilous time, armed only with the information that God has provided them in the Bible.
How is it going to “pan out” for you? Are you going to be faithful with God’s word and so be ready to avoid deception, and provide Biblical answers to others? Will you be ready to show love and guidance to others in the name of Jesus, or will your level of readiness only be enough to save your own eternal hide?
Falling between the sides of the pendulum, Sensationalism and Apathy, where the Antichrist namers, alarmists and date setters reside on one side and the “ain’t-my-thingers” and pan-tribbers live on the other, is a place I call “biblical watchfulness.” It is there, where gaining knowledge of the prophetic scriptures, applying that knowledge in wisdom to the world around us, and waiting for the Lord’s return with certainty and expectancy can be found. It is the approach to understanding what God has in store that does not try to cram all of today’s headlines into prophecy, but will endure for generations, if the Lord delays His return.
The best starting place for gaining such knowledge and understanding the essential information Jesus wants His followers to know in regards to His return, is the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24 & 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. May God lead you into His truth through the faithful study of His word, so that you may be found “faithful and ready” when He returns.