Summary: Will Jesus come at just any minute now? A seriously important question?
‘"Jesus could come at any time." I know what the people who say this mean, but we must take objection to that statement as it stands. In fact, Heaven has a day circled on the Heavenly Calendar when Jesus must come. [Acts 17:31, (God) has appointed a day in which He will judge the world by the Man Whom He has ordained.] That is to say, GOD knows when Jesus is coming. It is not random. It is clear. Jesus cannot come at just “any” time, but only on the day He has appointed.
So the problem is not that there is uncertainty in Heaven, but that we are uncertain. The question is, just how far is that uncertainty to extend? When the disciples asked Jesus, "What shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3) why did Jesus even suggest a time frame? Why did He answer such a thing at all, if we are not to know something ? Why not say, as we hear commonly today, "Don’t worry about it! It will all pan out. I’ll come when I come." That was not His approach. Jesus for all time laid out a clear description of a particular generation, a season, if you will, when He will come, so that those believers living in that generation will know it is time! All others of all time, not totally certain of what He was saying, since the time was not ready, have been commanded to watch, and be ready. Of course, the coming of Jesus at a man’s death is reason enough for any person, any time, to be on guard against foolish behavior.
The importance of knowing a particular season is confirmed by brother Paul, in I Thessalonians 5. First he says (verse 2) that Jesus is coming as “a thief in the night.” This is the concept that has been passed on to godly people as their own norm for looking for Jesus to come! But moving even one more verse leads us to : "For when they say, “Peace and Safety”, then comes sudden destruction upon them…" Who are they and them? The world! The unbelievers! The ungodly! Verse 4 insists, "You are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief!"
That means we can and should know the general time of His coming, especially if we are living in the last generation. That generation is described further by Paul in II Thessalonians 2:3. In words that could not be more clear, Paul demands that that Day will not come unless there is a noticeable world-wide apostasy and the revealing of the man of sin. Oh my! Jesus could come at any moment? Yes, in death. Yes, theoretically to those who walk in darkness and have not read the words of the apostles. But in fact? No! He must come when Paul says He must come, and that is after the great apostasy, and after antichrist.
The man or woman who is seeking God with all the heart about the coming of Jesus will see the plan unfold clearly and will indeed be watching when He comes. The ungodly "carnal" Christian, if there be such a thing, will be loudly proclaiming His love for a Jesus who might come just any time, and for him the coming will be a surprise, for that person has never dug deeply into God’s Word to find the truth. I am saying that more light is revealed to those who seek, and those who do not seek will be still in darkness and fulfill their own prophecies about how "we can never really know."
The only thing that has been denied to us is the very day on the calendar and the very hour on the clock when Jesus will come. Let us be diligent though to comprehend with all the saints what are the times and seasons God has revealed to us .
A word about the specific teachings of Jesus on this matter. In Mark 13:32-37, all are admonished to watch, for "you do not know when the time is." Even if Bible prophecy is a muddle to us, we are to be diligently living for Jesus, ready for Him at any moment. But as we grow in grace, we grow in understanding, and as He sees He can trust us with more knowledge about His coming, He gives us that light. For some, the knowing that Jesus will not come until after antichrist arrives would be a signal to let down and let up. These babes need to grow awhile before these other truths can sink in.
In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus tells people to watch and pray all the time, to be worthy to escape the horrible judgment that will come on the Day of His return. This is not to be taken lightly. Again, if prophecy makes no sense to you, and you are not sure of the validity of any of the books out there, and the Scriptures are not yet clear, just watch and pray. You will miss nothing! But, ask for more grace as the days go by to slowly get a hold of the hope of the calling of God. It can bring sunshine to a dark day, and downright overwhelming floods of joy when it is discovered even more.