Thursday, October 1, 2009

No One Knows

Two men (both named Gregory) looked out over their world. They saw a world in anarchy. They saw the government in total disarray and society falling apart. They saw people, even people who claimed to be Christians, living debauched and immoral lifestyles with few traces of conscience. They thought that surely things had reached an all time low in the world. Surely it was time for the Lord's return. They lived in the 7th century AD.

There have been many who have tried to predict the second coming of Christ, and they have all been wrong. But this does not seem to discourage the next person from showing up and trying again. And in all this, the Scripture continues to state over and over again that we cannot, do not, and will not know when Christ will come (Matthew 24:36-51; 25:13; Acts 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Peter 3:8-10). (There is only one passage that can be used against this, and that is 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, but, in the context, this clearly does not mean we will know the time of Christ's coming. It means we will not be surprised if we are alert and watching.)

Now it is the Day of the Lord that will come as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2), and it is reasonable to believe that this includes, not only the coming itself, but the events immediately connected with it. There will come a point when it is obviously occurring (Matthew 24:27), when the redeemed will look up in anticipation (Luke 21:28) and those opposed will curse God and call for the rocks and hills to fall on them (Revelation 16:9; 6:15-17).

The question is whether it is possible, before it is blatantly clear, for the clever and knowledgeable to figure out the time. And, frankly, I see nothing in Scripture that encourages this idea. In fact, there is much in Scripture that rebukes reliance on human cleverness and knowledge (1 Corinthians 1:18-31; 3:18-20). Also, Scripture gives the impression that the whole point of God not giving us a time is so we would not know, but be prepared at all times (Luke 21:34-36). That is, we will not become too entangled in this world, which is about to pass away (2 Peter 3:11-13), or desert our normal duties, like the Thessalonians, on the assumption the Day has already come (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2; 3:6-15). Therefore, we should be skeptical of those who claim to know more than the angels in heaven (Matthew 24:36), but rather trust God for His timing.

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