Summary: This message looks at what we know and don't know about Jesus' promise to return.
It was March 21st, 1942 standing in the Terowie Train Station in South Australia, following his retreat from the Philippines that General Douglas MacArthur promised the people of the Philippines "I came out of Bataan and I shall return".
And he did. Two and a half years later, after wading ashore on the Island of Leyte, MacArthur made a radio broadcast announcing, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!”
In the 1984 movie the Terminator, the main Character was rebuffed at a Police station as he looked for Sarah Connor and the Terminator said, “I’ll be back”, and he was. Just moments later he drove a car through the front doors of the very same police station. As a matter fact the terminator made that promise again in 1991 and in 2003 and 2009 and 2015.
This is week five of our Pinky Swear: The Promises of Jesus series. And through the month of June we’ve been looking at various promises Jesus made in the gospels to those who followed him.
And so, over the past four weeks, we’ve looked at Jesus’ promise of rest, his Promise of the Holy Spirit, His promise of inner peace and last week at his promise of a relationship with God the Father. A Father who loves us, affirms us and will protect us.
Depending on the translation of the bible that you are using the heading for the scripture that was read earlier could be “The Coming of the Son of Man” or “Jesus foretells the Future” or “Signs of the End of the Age”. And it is in the chapter that we read Jesus’ promise in Matthew 24:30-31 Jesus said "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
This, of course, is Jesus’ promise of his return. Now at this point, you are probably expecting me to break out the charts and the timetables that will pinpoint all of the appropriate events and happenings with an appropriate guess as to when it may happen.
And there was a time that I would have done that. Oh, did I have charts and timetables.
But the older I get, I don’t know if I become smarter or simply more aware of my ignorance. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t want to be identified with the chart and timetable people. So, we aren’t going there.
Through the years I’ve come to understand the truth of the statement that William Barclay made about the study of the end times when he said
“The result is that it . . . has sometimes become the playground of religious eccentrics, who use it to map out celestial time-tables of what is to come or find in it evidence for their own eccentricities.”
So, let’s start this morning with what we Don’t Know
Matthew 24:36 Jesus said “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
We Don’t know when Jesus Will Return
There is a natural curiosity as to when Jesus is coming back. For the past two thousand years, Christians have been wondering, and the apostles themselves wondered that same thing.
In the book of Mark Jesus had been talking about the end times and the apostles demanded an answer to the question in Mark 13:4 “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to be fulfilled?”
And in verse 32 of the same chapter Jesus answers them by saying, “It’s none of your business” well actually that isn’t exactly what he said, but it’s close because he says Mark 13:32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
But that reply hasn’t kept men and women from playing neat little mathematical games with Biblical prophecies over the past two thousand years in an effort to figure out some kind of time frame for the last days. Through the years many sincere men have sought by various formulas and mathematical techniques, primarily using the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation to arrive at; if not the day and hour of Christ's arrival then at least the month and year.
500, April 6 - 793, January 1 - 1000, January 1 - 2000, February 20 - 1524, October 22 - 1844, August 7 - 1847, September 28 - 2015 are just some of the various dates that have been suggested for the return of Christ.