The Time is Unknown

I don’t know about you, but when I travel by air, I am always worried about the flight being on time. I am sure you all can relate. I am sure you all have a travel horror story where you sat in the airport not knowing when or if the flight was going to take off.

One of my more memorable was when I was returning from seminary in Kentucky. It was winter. It was cold. I had been there for two weeks. I was ready to come home, sleep in my own bed and see my family. It was Friday. The flight was packed. There wasn’t an open seat on plane. 

As we boarded, notifications started popping up on my phone about the weather coming. There was a thunderstorm on the way. It was headed directly for the airport. My hope, as well as the other passengers, and the pilots was that we could take off before the storm came through. We were all set to roll back from the gate when the news everyone dreaded came over the speaker: “Folks, this is your pilot speaking. We are going to have to hold tight until this storm rolls by. We hope it will only be a few minutes.” I know you have heard that message. It’s one none of us wants to hear when we just want to get home.

After a few minutes, the storm rolled through. But just as soon as that one was out of the area, another spun up. It continued like that for hours. No one, not even the pilots knew if we were going to take off that night. We all wanted to get in the air and get home. But we can only predict the weather and track it. We can’t control it.

Eventually we made it in the air and home, but it wasn’t until midnight that we took off and around 2 in the morning when I landed. That is not something I expected when I showed up for my flight that day. I didn’t know I was going to be delayed until late that night. As I was waiting to take off, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to leave. Thankfully we were, but everything was up in the air. It was a big unknown. 

Do you know what else is unknown?

Jesus’ return is unknown. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the King of the World, not only the King but our Savior. We believe He is our only hope. The One who will set everything right in the world. 

We all know the world is broken. We all long, in one way or another, for something more, something better, a perfect world. For those of us who believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we all long for the day when Jesus will return and set things right. 

While we all long for the day when Jesus will return:

The Time of Jesus’ Return is Unknown

In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us just that:

““But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Mt 24:36)

The time of Jesus’ return is unknown to us and to Jesus while He was on earth. Jesus tells us He doesn’t know the time. 

That might seem a bit odd. Especially since Jesus is going to play a central role in that day. He is the One coming back. He is the One who will judge the nations. It might seem a bit odd that He doesn’t know, but that is how things have been arranged. In His humanity, Jesus does not know the day or the time of His return. Even if He wanted to, Jesus couldn’t tell His disciples when He was coming back because He didn’t know. Only the Father knew the date and time of His return. 

All those who attempt to date Jesus’ return are wrong. They have no idea when Jesus is going to return. Jesus Himself didn’t know when He walked the earth. If He didn’t know, no one else knows either. Not even that televangelist who is uber convinced they have discovered the date through some secretive code or a word from God Himself. No one knows the time of Jesus’ return.  

We know He is going to return, like I knew my flight would eventually take off back to DFW. But none of us know when. The Bible doesn’t tell us. Since the Bible doesn’t tell us, we shouldn’t bother speculating. Nor should we ignore the fact that Jesus will return one day, as many do. 

Since there is not a set definitive point in history when Jesus will return, many people believe they have time. Time to change the path on which they are on. Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven presents this idea loud and clear with the lyrics:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on
And it makes me wonder

Zeppelin pictured humanity coming together to create something beautiful, something wonderful, to make this world great — heaven. 

While they believed in a perfect world, they sought to find it in an imperfect way. 

No man can make this world heaven. We, in and of ourselves, can’t change the world. Only Jesus can. He will return one day. At a day and hour we do not know, which means we have no idea whether we have time to change our mind or not, to change the path on which we walk. We have no idea because we don’t know when Jesus will return. 

Where we go wrong is believing we have the time.When people say things like — I have time. That is really code for: I still have time to live how I want and do what I want. I still have time to live as the big “K” king of my life. 

But that is not true. We don’t know how much time we have, which means today is the day of salvation.

Your Works are Not Good Enough

Your Works are not Good Enough

“And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

(Re 20:13)

A time is coming when all will stand before the throne of Jesus. Judgment will occur. Those who are found wanting will be thrown into the lake of fire. Not a hopeful picture for us because judgment is based on our own actions. Yes, everything you have ever done will be judged. Every thought and action will testify against you at the judgment. 

You might be thinking, “That is ok. I have done more good than bad. I should be ok” While you might have lived a good life, your good works mean nothing to God. God is holy and we are not. Every action we undertake, no matter how good it is, does not earn us favor with a holy, perfect God. In reality, even our best works are not good enough. They are counted as filthy rags before the throne of God.

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

(Is 64:6)

The only way we can hope to escape the judgment seat of Christ is if our name has been written in the book of life.

“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(Re 20:15)

The only one’s who have their names written in the book of life are those who have turned to Jesus, who have repented of their unbelief and have exercised faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. Only those who have turned from living in rebellion to God to admit and live as if He is King of all creation, will find entrance into the heavenly kingdom. 

Do you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Or are you hoping your good works will gain you entrance into heaven? My prayer for you is that you believe in former and not the latter. 

We serve an amazing God who will bring His purposes about!

And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.

(Rev 17:16-17)

There is a vivid and scary scene near the end of the book of Revelation. In chapter 17, John sees a vision of a prostitute arrayed in purple and scarlet with gold and jewels and pearls. She has a golden cup in her hand and she is drunk on the blood of martyred Jesus followers. She is Babylon’s the great. She is riding on a scarlet beast with seven heads and 10 horns who has come from the bottomless pit (Rev 17:1-13). The beast with seven heads and horns represents nations and kings who have power. Who wage ware against Jesus and His followers (Rev 17:14).

The interesting part of John’s vision is not so much the vivid imagery but what happens to the prostitute. She is destroyed by the beast and the kings who are represented by the ten horns (Rev 17:16). But why? Why do they war against one another? Verse 17 reveals the answer:

for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.”

(Rev 17:17)

Her destruction occurs due God’s providence. God works His will even in the hearts of evil men who completely and utterly oppose Him. God is that great! He is absolutely sovereign, turning even the hearts of wicked men to accomplish His purposes. As one commentator puts it:

“You cannot overcome such a God! They are his enemies, and he puts it into their hearts to carry out his purposes by doing their wicked deeds. God is holy, righteous, and good. He is not evil. He is not tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone to it. He never does evil. But no evil is outside God’s control.”

(James Hamilton, Revelation, 331)

We serve an amazing God who will bring His purposes about!

There is no escaping the Lord’s Judgment

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

There is a day coming from which no one can hide. One day the fabric of the cosmos as we know it will roll back like a scroll to reveal the Creator and Judge of all the earth (Rev 6:14). A time of judgement will come. A time where the Lord’s wrath will be poured out.

What, when, and how this will take place is hotly disputed, but the most interesting aspect of the Day of the Lord is that no one can escape. Notice the text highlights “everyone” from those who are in power to those who are slaves. Kings and wealthy oligarchs and influencers will face the same wrath as those who are enslaved, used, and abused by those who wield power.

At the judgment seat, as well as at the foot of cross the ground is level. The ground is level because all are sinners. Sinners are not just those who miss the mark from time to time, or those who fall short of God’s commands, even though that is true. Sinners do fall short of God’s commands. We fall short because we are rebels. Not just because we messed up at that moment. No, we are rebels. We want to call the shots. We want to be King. We want to be Creator. We are rebels. As rebels, we all deserve God’s wrath.

Thankfully, there is a Lamb who was slain for our rebellion. The precious blood of Jesus was spilt on our behalf. Those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are united with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. The Father’s wrath passes over Christians, not because we are better or more righteous than another, but because Jesus is better and more righteous.

There is a judgment coming. The only way to prepare for it is to believe in Jesus. We cannot build a bunker or run far enough away. There is no escaping the Lord’s judgment.