Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, (2 Peter 3:11)
You might conclude from some of my writings that I expect Jesus to return for His Church at any moment, and you would be correct. I look forward to changing “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Then, along with millions of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I “shall be caught [Greek: harpazō — i.e. “raptured”] up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). I cannot help it; I just get excited about that!
In my last article, I suggested that the “signs” make September 23, 2017, an excellent candidate for the Rapture event. Truthfully, the Rapture could take place at any time. Christ’s return is imminent, and it has been so since the beginning of Church history. The early church fathers (I mean the real ones, not the ones that came 300 years after the Resurrection) all expected Christ to return at any time. Paul reminded the Church of Thessaloniki, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, emphasis mine).
What victim of a home invasion is prepared when the thief brakes into his home in the middle of the night? Jesus said, “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (Matthew 24:43, emphasis mine). We cannot predict the inevitable, but we can certainly prepare for it.
Paul charged young Timothy, “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:14, emphasis mine). Apparently, Paul expected Christ to return in Timothy’s lifetime and his own. To Titus he wrote, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men [i.e. Jesus], Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13, emphasis mine). “This present world” was the world in which Paul and Titus lived, and they were to look for His appearing at that time. Again Paul, whom I believe wrote the letter to the Hebrews, reminded them, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come [i.e., Jesus] will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37, emphasis mine). Well, it has been almost 2000 years, and we are still waiting!
James wrote, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:8-9, emphasis mine). Peter said, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7, emphasis mine). Clearly, the Apostles expected Jesus’ return at any moment, yet 2000 years later, we continue to wait. Yet Peter cautioned, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4, emphasis mine). Yet, we wait.
As we wait, what must we do? If I truly believe that Jesus will return on September 23, 2017, should I divest myself of all my worldly possessions, move to Israel and go wait it out on one of the mountains around Jerusalem? No!
Jesus related a parable depicting the kingdom of God (Luke 19:12-27). In the parable, a “nobleman” was leaving for “a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (v. 12). To His ten servants, he left equal amounts of money (a mina) with instructions to “Occupy till I come” (v. 13). Jesus is the “nobleman” who has gone to heaven to receive His kingdom, and soon He will return. We are the servants He has left behind with the instructions to “Occupy till I come.” He charged us all with the same task, “Ye shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). The verb “Go” in the Greek is a present, passive participle, which could be better translated, “As you are going.” “Teach all nations” could be better translated “make disciples” of all nations. That means that day by day as we go about our daily routines, we are His witnesses and our task is to share Christ with others wherever we are, whatever we are doing. That is our job. That is the task He left for us.
In the parable, Jesus says that the “citizens” the nobleman was to rule (v. 14) hated him. The “citizens” are the people of the world that reject Christ. With just a casual look around, we can see how the world hates Christ and everything for which He stands. Jesus left His servants on earth to gain a profit for His investment, and He will demand an accounting when He returns.
In the parable, one of the servants did nothing with the mina that was given him, and he returned the full amount to the nobleman (vv. 20-25). It is comforting to note that even though the servant was unprofitable, he did not lose his position as a servant; he did, however, lose his position of responsibility in the new kingdom.
The parable applies to Jesus’ servants, all Christians, as we await His imminent return for us at the Rapture. We do not know when that will take place exactly, but we know the time is very close. September 23, 2017, makes sense for all the reasons I pointed out in my last article (and more), but it could happen today, tomorrow, or perhaps next year. It does not matter. We have our orders. “Occupy till I come.”