“But no one knows the day or the hour. No! Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows... Because of this, watch! You do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: If the owner of a house had known when the robber was coming, he would have watched. He would not have allowed his house to have been broken into. You must be ready also. The Son of Man is coming at a time when you do not think He will come.” Matthew 24:36, 42-44
When I was young, I used to spend considerable time worrying over when Jesus would return. What if Jesus came, and I wasn’t ready? What if Jesus came, and I was caught in some sinful deed or thought, and I would be cast into the Lake of Fire? Mostly, I was concerned because I was having too much fun, and I wasn’t ready to stop having so much fun and have to go to heaven, where people sat around all day and played harps. After my struggles with the piano, then the saxophone, learning to play a harp did not sound like heaven to me!
Now that I have become older, I do not worry at all about Jesus’s second coming. I have come to terms with the fact that Jesus comes for all of us, sooner or later, in God’s good time. And I will not waste my time with charts and calendars, trying to figure out when. As our scripture says, “no one knows the day or the hour.”
No, the point of the apocalyptic teachings of scripture, Matthew 24 included, is to give comfort to those who are still here on earth. Instead of worrying about “the mark of the beast” and “the latter days” (which we have been in since Jesus’s day), we need simply to trust that God has a plan, and that God is working out that plan. With or without our understanding, our foreknowledge, or our consent, God will work out God’s plan. There is nothing we puny humans can do to change that.
The important thing is to be ready, as Jesus says in Matthew 24:44. Any of us could be called into God’s presence at any time. So put away your calendar and your “Playing Harp for Dummies” book. Instead, live as God’s forgiven, loving children, adopted by grace into God’s family of faith. Trust in God. Follow the teachings of Jesus. Love your neighbor. Live out your faith in loving service to others. After all, the time for Jesus’s return is God’s business, not ours. Our business is living for Jesus.