We speak of it so often, but let us refresh it again. Jesus’ arrival will be SUDDEN.
One moment ordinary. The next moment: never ordinary again!
Jesus would have us constantly mindful of the fact that our primary dealings are with God, from whom we come, and to whom we are accountable.
Think how Jesus compared the time of His return with arrival of judgment in the time of Noah.
Matthew 24:36–39 36“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38For 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, 39and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
The New Living Translation is right to the point.
Matthew 24:38–39 (NLT) 38In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
The wording suggests that the apocalypse and divine judgment came at the most unlikely moment of ordinary life. They were enjoying their banquets, their parties, their weddings right up to the time it started to rain, and the flood came and swept them all away.
The same is said of the time of Lot:
Luke 17:28–30 28Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Again the New Living Translation brings the prophecy to sharper focus:
Luke 17:28–30 (NLT) 28“…the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— 29until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
“Business as usual” has been interrupted with Covid-19. But things are returning slowly to normal, and whatever the “new normal” is, it will go on until Christ intervenes—suddenly.
There is no hint that it is wrong to eat and drink, or plant and build. What was wrong was the general carefree attitude, the unconcern for the bigger picture, the total disregard of spiritual values, the absorption with the things at hand?
They misread life. They thought it would always go on as it was. But Peter had prophesied it. He told just how it would be:
2 Peter 3:3–4 3knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
They misread God, then and now. They were pushing even the thought of God away until now they almost totally disregard and deny Him. Like the proud Pharaoh in the time of Moses, they say:
Exodus 5:2 2And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”
And almost the same from the book of Job, those who reject God say,
Job 21:15 15Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?’
They have it right—there is no profit in prayers God does not hear!
Do we wonder that the New Testament writers were constantly impressing the imminence of Christ’s return?
Why? Because we are so inclined to delay, to live in our own small circle and forget that God is working, that His plan is going forward even as we speak!
It is a fact each of us must confront personally, lest we—you and I—be caught off guard. Unawares. We find it again in Luke 21. I would like to take it from the New English Bible:
Luke 21:34–35 (NEB) 34‘Keep a watch on yourselves; do not let your minds be dulled by dissipation and drunkenness and worldly cares so that the great Day closes upon you suddenly 35like a trap; for that day will come on all men, wherever they are, the whole world over.
Suddenly. Like a trap.
His coming will interrupt the most normal, ordinary day. We may be on the job. Or on the way to the store. Or cleaning the house. Or washing our clothes. Or weeding the garden.
His coming will interrupt our most ordinary tasks.
Matthew 24:40–42 40Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
Only one way. It is reason enough to watch!
42Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
Think about the comparison Jesus made to illustrate His arrival: like a thief breaking in. Suddenly.
Luke 12:39 39But 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.
But is the thief going to post the time of his coming on the door? Again, only one way to be ready: Watch.
Suddenly, some ordinary day, while we plant or harvest, walk or relax. Everything will be very ordinary and normal. The beginning of that final hour will look just like the beginning of every hour before it. Then, suddenly, “quickly,”
2 Peter 3:10 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Everything to do with man’s system, man’s government, man’s works, will END. “With a great noise”—can’t we imagine the worldwide howl? Far louder than Covid! And it will go away “with fervent heat”—there will be so much friction, so much resistance.
But there is no stopping God’s work. It is all FORWARD!
Our only concern is to be READY. Jesus’ very last words in Revelations carry one final appeal. John says:
Revelation 22:20 20He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
We echo back with John:
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Let’s repeat it together:
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!