A young boy was spending the day in his grandfather’s clock shop, and a broken clock that a customer had dropped off loudly chimed 10, 11, 12, then 13, finally ending at 15.
The grandfather turned to the boy and asked, “I thought I just heard a clock chime. What time is it?”
The boy, surprised, responded, “I don’t know, but it’s later than it’s ever been!”
It’s true! It’s later than it’s ever been—and Jesus is coming soon! But the question is, Why has Jesus’ return taken so long? After all, it’s been almost 2,000 years since Jesus said, “I will come back and take you to be with me” ( John 14:3). It’s been almost 2,000 years since He told the apostle John “I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20). So how soon is soon? And how should Christians respond when they’re challenged with this seeming incongruity?
Well, the fact is that God is sovereign. He has reasons for the delay that we can’t understand. When He returns is up to Him, not us. Additionally, Jesus told us that we couldn’t know the day and hour of His return, and He advised us to always be ready (Matthew 24:36, 45–51). Do we believe Jesus lived and spoke these words? If so, we will trust and wait. But how should we wait, and what should we be doing while we wait?
When I was a kid, I thought that Christmas morning would never, ever come! The fact is that I had been waiting and dreaming about it all year long, but the waiting seemed the most painful, the most acute, on Christmas Eve!
The New Testament writers expected Jesus to come in their day. For example, in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul said, “The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here” (Romans 13:11, 12). Paul wrote these words in the mid- to late 50s A.D., which would have been 20 to 22 years after his conversion on the road to Damascus. And notice that Paul said, “Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” and “the day is almost here.” Paul meant that the second coming of Jesus was “almost here” and “nearer now than when we first believed.” But unfortunately, 2,000 years later, you and I are still here. So what’s the holdup, and why is it taking so long for Jesus to return?
The storm is coming
I have family in both Florida and Puerto Rico, and several months ago we were all glued to the weather reports of the ongoing and worsening tropical storms and hurricanes. And this didn’t just happen during the most recent tropical storm season. The same thing has happened for several years now. Moment by moment and hour by hour, my family has been checking in with each other and keeping everybody informed about the latest updates related to these weather forecasts.
Jesus also told us to be watching forecasts and signs related to the coming spiritual storm: “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:2, 3).
How attentive to the signs of the times have you been? Are you ready? Are your family and friends and neighbors ready? Do you care? If you do, I ask you again: What are you doing to let others know? What are you doing to push up the date of Jesus’ second coming? What? Did you Yes, you did. I said you can change God’s schedule!
Rescheduling Jesus’ second coming
The apostle Peter addressed this issue with Christians, and his words are more relevant and important now than when they were first written. Peter warned us that Christians shouldn’t be surprised or bothered by people who will not only disbelieve but will actually bully and make fun of those who do believe that Jesus will return and are eagerly awaiting it. “Most importantly,” he said, “I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, ‘What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created’ ” (2 Peter 3:3, 4, NLT).1
Additionally, Peter tells us the reason why Jesus hasn’t returned yet: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved” (verses 9, 15, NLT).
In fact, Peter made the incredible claim that you and I, by what we do, by how we live our lives in the knowledge of Jesus’ second coming, can actually speed up His return—and he said that we shouldn’t be afraid of this: “What holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along” (verses 11, 12).
Worldly waiting room
I recently took some time off from work to attend my 12-year-old son’s wellness check with our family physician. My wife and I have had the wonderful opportunity to homeschool both of our children. Homeschooling is a double-edged sword. My children—if they wanted to—could do their schoolwork in their pajamas (generally perceived by kids as a positive). However, this also means that on days when students who go to public school don’t have to attend school due to inclement weather or some other issue, my kids still have to do their schoolwork (generally perceived by kids as a negative). Well, on this day, sitting in the doctor’s waiting room was no different.
As I sat beside my solemn son with his soured expression—he labored over math and complained the entire time—my thoughts turned to the alternatives. His drawing paper and his digital tablet were sitting beside him, and had it been up to him, he would have eagerly engaged in those “no-brainer” activities. But his parents were flanking him on either side, and we had a much different expectation for him: while he waited for the coming of the doctor, he was to be busy working!
Now, maybe my metaphor is somewhat lacking, but God expects all of His followers not to be lazy or off task but to be focused and doing heavenly homework: “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. . . .
. . . “So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (verses 14, 17, 18).
“Don’t be stupid!”
Ellen White wrote this stinging rebuke: “The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given to us to proclaim to the world. The proclamation of these truths is to be our work. The world is to be warned, and God’s people are to be true to the trust committed to them.”
I’m not trying to make you angry or scare you; I’m simply reminding you that all you have to do is take a look around at our world to know that something is up. Jesus hasn’t come back yet, but based on what’s happening, He is getting ready to come back—soon!
So what’s the bottom line? It’s my hope that after reading what I’ve said in this article you will
- fall in love with Jesus, and fully give Him your heart, your life, and your will. Basically, don’t hold anything back from Him, and totally follow Him all the rest of your days,
- continue growing and flourishing in your relationship with God through Jesus, and
- not do or continue to do stupid, purposeful, or careless behaviors that get you tangled up in years and years of chronic sin, addictions, bad life situations, and the consequences that go with them.
But, instead, you’ll be able to sidestep those things and share that love and freedom that you’ve found in Christ with as many people as you can in order to speed Christ’s return so we can all go home to spend eternity with Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is coming back soon, and none of us have time to waste! The writer of Ephesians 5:15–17 puts it like this “Act like people with good sense and not like fools. These are evil times, so make every minute count. Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do” (CEV).2
It’s later than it’s ever been, and the storm is coming! Get to work to get yourself and others ready!
Omar Miranda was the last editor of Insight magazine, a Seventh-day Adventist publication for teens that is no longer published. He also contributes frequently to Signs of the Times®. He lives in Plainville, Georgia, USA.
1. Bible verses marked NLT are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
2. Bible verses quoted from CEV are from the Contemporary English Version®. Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.