The Last Day-Assurance

Jesus spoke of a day in which “the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matt. 16:27). Of that day, He says, “for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). This is the hope of all of God’s people—the second coming of Jesus Christ and a literal resurrection from the dead.

The first assurance we have of these promises is the resurrection of Jesus Himself. According to the gospel, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Jesus was literally raised from the dead. Faith in that fact is paramount to one’s salvation. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. … For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15: 13, 16-17)

Since Jesus Christ has risen, He “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). That is, among those who experience physical death, Jesus is the first to be eternally raised. Just as He was raised, those who belong to Him shall also be raised at the time appointed by the Father.

Secondly, we know that Jesus Christ is coming in judgment upon all ungodliness because God has already judged the world once in the flood. “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:5-7).

That judgment was literal. And now, not just the world, but the heavens and the earth are “reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” This coming fire is as literal as the water of the flood.

For those who believe and obey, Jesus is coming with eternal life. For those who will not obey, He is coming with eternal condemnation. Therefore, God “now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

 

The Last Day-No One Knows But The Father

God has given assurance that Jesus Christ is coming again. For the righteous, He is coming with eternal life. For the ungodly, He is coming with eternal condemnation (John 5:28-29). Speculations abound concerning the timing, the nature, and the events of that day. Many prophecies have been given concerning the date of Christ’s return. All have failed. This should neither surprise us, nor should we heed any man who claims to know the day or hour of His coming. For as the scripture says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36).

What About The “Signs Of The Times”?

When we talk about God’s judgment, many people fix their attention on the “signs” which Jesus discusses in Matthew chapter 24. Do these signs pertain to the last day, or to some other event? The discourse in this chapter took place during the last week before Jesus’ crucifixion. As He viewed the temple with His disciples, He foretold its utter ruin and destruction. “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matt. 24:2). Later, as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples questioned Him on this, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3).

The “signs” Jesus presents in Matt. 24:4-35 are in answer to the disciples’ question. They pertain to the destruction of Jerusalem. He said to His disciples that they would “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6), but that they should not be troubled, “for such things must happen, but the end is not yet” (Mark 13:7). There would be great tribulation, earthquakes, pestilence and famine. Then would come the “abomination of desolation”, which refers to the destruction of the Jewish temple and the end of the sacrificial system (Dan. 9:27; 12:11). At that time people would flee into the mountains and there would be false reports of Christ’s return.

Are we still waiting for these things to happen? Should we expect to see “wars and rumors of wars,” and increased earthquakes, pestilence, and famine to signify that the end of the world is near? Jesus gives the timeframe for these signs. “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matt. 24:34). “This generation” refers to people living in that day. In other words, looking back from the 21st century, all of these “signs” have already happened. The great tribulation, the fleeing of the people, the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, all of it took place in the first century A.D.

No Signs for the Last Day

As Jesus continues His discourse, He goes on to describe another day that would be different from the destruction of Jerusalem. This would be a “day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but My Father only” (vs. 36). Observe the abrupt change in language. Signs abounded for the judgment on Jerusalem. Now Jesus describes something that would take place at an unknown time and without warning. Read verses 35 and 36 together: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but My Father only.” Having used the passing of heaven and earth as a comparison, Jesus now turns to that event—the last day.

For that day there will be no signs. No one will know when the end is about to come. There will nothing to tell us to get ready except the admonitions already provided in the Scriptures. There will be no fleeing. We should not expect any great tribulation or famines or pestilence beyond what is common in the world. All will seem normal. Jesus goes on to illustrate, “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:38-39).

When the Thessalonians had questions concerning the coming of Christ, Paul reminded them, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:1-2). Will a thief notify the master of a house that he is coming? Will he provide signs that his arrival is near? No. The nature of Jesus’ second coming will be like that of a thief in the night—when it is least expected and without warning. Thus, Paul continues, “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3).

Jesus uses the analogy of a thief in the night to show the attitude we need to have concerning the last day. “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:43-44, emph. mine DP).

Are You Ready?

Could Jesus come today? Yes. Could He come in ten years, fifty years, or one-hundred years? Yes. When He will actually come no one knows but the Father. Ours is not to second-guess what God is going to do or when He is going to do it, but to heed what He says and to make ourselves ready. “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6). “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13).

Are you ready for that day? Are you watching? When the Master comes will you be caught by surprise, or will He find you ready and working?