Last week, I wrote about the noteworthy fact that a group of Christians in the United States believes that the final judgment of humanity will take place tomorrow. Yep, tomorrow: May 21, 2011. And I wrote about how sceptical I am about that, because even Jesus said that only the Father knows for sure when all this will take place.
When we casually read the book of the Revelation, at the end of the New Testament, it is easy either to become scared or confused by what we read. Part of that is a response to the nature of apocalyptic literature. These reactions also can occur when we’re reading about something that seems generally foreign.
Revelation is about a cosmic battle – a spiritual war that is beyond what we can understand or imagine. That makes it, naturally, confusing. But as I also wrote last week, if we have trusted Jesus as Lord and Saviour and are ready for his return anytime in the next five minutes, there’s nothing in that book we need fear.
That’s also true about the promised judgment, whether it takes place tomorrow or in 200 years – we don’t know when it will happen, but we can be ready for it. In concluding the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.1-13, Jesus said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
“Keeping watch” is a common theme in the gospels, and a happy one: Jesus tells the people to keep watch for his return; the father kept watch for the return of his lost son. What does it mean for us to keep watch?
We can’t keep watch for what, or whom, we don’t know. So Step Number One is to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”, said Paul in Romans 10.9. And once we know the Lord Jesus by faith, it’s natural for us to long to see him face-to-face, which will happen either when we die or when he returns, whichever comes first.
When my wife goes away on business trips, I can’t wait for her to come home – that’s how much I love her. I wait for the phone to ring to tell me she’s landed at the airport and it’s time to pick her up. My heart goes all a-flutter while I’m driving down the highway, because I’m going to see the one I love face-to-face again.
I want us all to feel that way about Jesus, too. We wait expectantly, and we ‘keep watch’, but we can’t predict when he will come again. But to know him is to love him, and to love him is to wait confidently, knowing that whatever may unfold at the consummation of time, we will know and be known by the One who consummates time.
So if the judgment happens tomorrow, will you be ready? If you know and trust Jesus, you are ready. Be confident, and trust in his grace to carry you safely through.
And if judgment doesn’t happen tomorrow, we’ll talk again next week. 🙂 God’s best!