It seems that at all times, people have wondered about the imminent end of this world — as we know it. The Jews hoped that the Messiah would restore the kingdom to Israel at the time of Christ’s first coming, making an end to Roman occupation. The early apostles asked Christ what the sign of His coming and the end of this present age or civilization would be — believing that Christ would return during their life time (Matthew 24:3; Acts 1:6). For a while, Paul believed that he would experience the return of Christ during his life (compare 1 Thessalonians 4:17) Professing and true Christians wondered about Christ’s return at the time of Charlemagne, the Middle Ages, the 19th and the 20th centuries. Now we have reached the 21st century, and we can say, without any doubt, that the time of our salvation has drawn nearer than when we first believed (Romans 13:11).
But — how imminent is Christ’s return?
Christ said that the generation of the last days will be able to see by the signs of the time that His return will be near (Matthew 24:32-35). But how near?
These are some of the events which we know will still have to happen first:
We know that the last and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire must still occur, headed by a powerful religious and a powerful political leader who will receive authority from ten European nations or groups of nations for “one hour” (Revelation 17:12-13; compare, too, Daniel 2:41-44). We see the beginning stages of this final resurrection, and we are watching world events to observe the fulfillment of those prophetic events.
We know that the Middle East, and especially Jerusalem, will be overrun by armies of the coming European Empire, once it has reached its final formation (Luke 21:20-24; Daniel 11:41).
We also know that this future European Empire will fight against the United States of America, Great Britain, and other English-speaking nations, as well as, ultimately, a powerful Eurasian bloc, consisting of, in all likelihood, Russia, China, India and Japan (Daniel 11:44-45; Revelation 9:13-21).
We know that it is very likely that a temple will be built in Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1-2; Psalm 79:1-7) — we know that the Jews will start to bring sacrifices within Jerusalem, prior to the European armies invading Jerusalem and preventing those sacrifices to continue (Daniel 8:13; 11:31; 12:11).
We also know that the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God must still go forward (Matthew 10:23) — that it is to be proclaimed in all the world as a witness unto all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
We know that the end will come at a time when most won’t expect it. We know that it will come at a time when people live in relative peace (1 Thessalonians 5:3) — a fragile and temporary “peace” which might have been brought about with the means of force, weapons and war.
From everything we can observe, we know that we are living in the end time. But — how much time we have to collectively fulfill the job God gave us, and to individually prepare for Christ’s return — only the Father knows — because it is the Father who will determine the exact timing (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7).
The real question which we should ask ourselves, is: Would we be ready if Christ were to return today? Not that He will — but ARE WE READY, NOW?
We read that God does not want anyone to perish, but that all of us come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). We read, too, that at the time of Christ’s return, the bride will have made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). This means that the Church, as a whole, will be ready — but this does not mean that everyone claiming to be part of the Church, will be ready. Christ says to the members of the last era of His Church that unless He sees repentance, He will vomit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16, 19-20).
Rather than trying to figure out, when, exactly, Christ will return, we should concentrate on getting READY for that event. Paul tells us that we should not be in spiritual darkness when that Day comes (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, 8). Let us, instead, heed Christ’s sobering warning: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44).