Summary: To get ready for Christ's soon return, be aware of the times, prepare for the trip, and care for each other.
Doug Mendenhall wrote a parable that gives us all something to think about:
Jesus called the other day to say he was passing through and [wondered if] he could spend a day or two with us.
I said, “Sure. Love to see you. When will you hit town?”
That's when Jesus told me he was actually at a convenience store out by the interstate.
I must have gotten that Bambi-in-headlights look, because my wife hissed, “What is it? What's wrong? Who is that?”
So I covered the receiver and told her Jesus was going to arrive in eight minutes, and she ran out of the room and started giving guidance to the kids—in that effective way that Marine drill instructors give guidance to recruits…
My mind was already racing with what needed to be done in the next eight—no seven—minutes so Jesus wouldn't think we were reprobate loser slobs.
I turned off the TV in the den, which was blaring some weird scary movie I'd been half watching. But I could still hear screams from our bedroom, so I turned off the reality show it was tuned to. Plus, I turned off the kids' set out on the sun porch, because I didn't want to have to explain Jon & Kate Plus Eight to Jesus, either, six minutes from now.
My wife had already thinned out the magazines that had been accumulating on the coffee table. She put Christianity Today on top for a good first impression. Five minutes to go.
I looked out the front window, but the yard actually looked great thanks to my long, hard work, so I let it go. What could I improve in four minutes anyway?
I did notice the mail had come, so I ran out to grab it. Mostly it was Netflix envelopes and a bunch of catalogs tied into recent purchases, so I stuffed it back in the box. Jesus doesn't need to get the wrong idea—three minutes from now—about how much on-line shopping we do.
I ran back in and picked up a bunch of shoes left by the door. Tried to stuff them in the front closet, but it was overflowing with heavy coats and work coats and snow coats and pretty coats and raincoats and extra coats. We live in the South; why'd we buy so many coats? I squeezed the shoes in with two minutes to go.
I plumped up sofa pillows, my wife tossed dishes into the sink, I scolded the kids, and she shooed the dog. With one minute left I realized something important: Getting ready for a visit from Jesus is not an eight-minute job.
Then the doorbell rang. (Doug Mendenhall, “Getting Prepared for the Arrival of Jesus,” www.reporternews.com, 9-24-09; www. PreachingToday.com)
Jesus told us, “I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:7). And with world events signaling the end of the age as described in the Bible, that coming could be in eight minutes or less.
So what do you do to prepare for His coming? What do you do to get ready for His arrival? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 5, 1 Thessalonians 5, where the Bible tells us how.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (ESV)
The Day of the Lord, according to Joel 2, is “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,” with a devastating locus invasion, earthquakes, and a darkened sun and moon (Joel 2:1-11). Now, the “day” is not 24-hours here. It’s a period of time, a time of judgment to come on this earth. The book of Revelation goes into great detail, describing those judgments taking place over a period of 7 years (Revelation 11:2-3; 12:6; 13:5). Those judgments include a supernatural locus invasion (Revelation 9:1-11), huge earthquakes (Revelation 6:12; 16:16), and deep darkness (Revelation 6:12-14; 16:10). It will be a terrible time of tribulation for unbelievers, which will come upon them unexpectedly, like a thief in the night, or like labor pains on a pregnant woman.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (ESV)
God’s judgment will be sudden and certain. The Day of the Lord will surprise the unbeliever, who cannot escape it.
Soren Kierkegaard once told the story of a variety show in a crowded theater with various acts. Each act was more fantastic than the one prior, so it created louder and louder applause from the audience. Suddenly, a clown rushed on to the stage and said, “I apologize for this interruption, but I regret to inform you that our theater is on fire! You need to leave right away, and in an orderly fashion.”