As I interact with sceptics and non-Christians, the question as to why Christ has not returned despite it being over 2000 years now has come up time and time again. In the words of one of them, “Did Jesus hit snooze on His alarm clock?”. This “delay” in the estimation of sceptics render it improbable and even impractical to believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ.
A very quick response to this, before even going further is this. The sceptic does not understand the implications (especially for him) of the coming of Christ. They think it is a spectacle, an event which they would be able to sit back and enjoy with 3-D glasses while munching on popcorn and afterwards shrug their shoulders and go, “Cool! so it was true after all”.
This is not the picture of the second coming the Bible paints. Jesus’ second coming would not be as saviour (as it was under the second coming), He would be coming as an all conquering Judge. As the Psalmist says,
“…He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute the heads of many countries.” (Psalms 110:5–6)
There is a reason scripture says of His return,
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.”(Revelation 1:7)
There would be mourning by all the tribes of the earth (not of His people, who are of the tribe of heaven). The second coming would be a foreclosure on God’s offer of mercy, grace and atonement by virtue of the work finished in His first coming. It would signal an end to the possibility of repentance. It would be time for the purging of everything and everyone who is stands in rebellion to God (i.e. who have rejected Christ and the gospel) hence Paul writes of this day,
“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day…” (2 Thessalonians 1:7–10)
In light of this, the words of the prophet Amos are very apt for the sceptics keen for Christ’s return,
“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
For what good is the day of the Lord to you?
It will be darkness, and not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion,
And a bear met him!
Or as though he went into the house,
Leaned his hand on the wall,
And a serpent bit him!
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light?
Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18–20)
Now, if the second coming of Christ would have massive ramifications, would it not be apt that as much time as possible is given for men to repent? Of what use would Christ’s first coming be if ten seconds later, He came back and foreclosed all the mercy and grace His first coming brought to men?
Peter also shares this sentiment as he responds to the sceptics of his day raising this same question,
“knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to 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 creation.” (2 Peter 3:3 & 4)
“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:8 & 9)
Peter’s response is that the day of the Lord has not come because God does not want people to perish. Salvation ceases on that day, damnation sets in for all who are not saved at the time of its occurrence, this is no small matter and as such cannot be rushed.
Besides this, Peter also makes another very important point, a thousand years is like one day to God. Going by this logic, two thousand years is just two days. Now, it would not be very smart to think Peter is giving us an exact science as to how earthly years translate to heaven days. The point rather, is that God dwells outside of time. He dwells in eternity and in that context, our earthly time is nothing to Him. What we call a “long time” does not exist in God’s estimation. I dare say what we call two thousand years is nothing at all in God’s eyes and as such, it just might not be as long a time in the grand scheme of things as it seems to us.
Now, the second coming will surely come! How can we be so sure? Because the scriptures which prophesied the details of Christ’s first coming (His exact place of birth in Bethlehem, His tribe and lineage being of Judah and David, His betrayal by a friend, Judas, His method of death, crucifixion, years before it was invented, His resurrection and its implications for the world to mention a few) also prophesies of His second coming as Judge and of this day of the Lord.
More so, Jesus Christ Himself spoke of that day severally, describing it as a coming of the thief in the night,
“ Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” (Revelation 16:15)
And in another place,
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27)
And in another place, that He will judge between the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25).
Also the men in white apparel (possibly angels) immediately after His ascension said to those who witnessed it,
“…this same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
I don’t know about you, but I think if the scriptures were right before about His first coming, they certainly would be right again about His second. If Jesus accurately prophesied His death, His resurrection, His disciples abandoning Him, His betrayal by judas, His denial by Peter, the persecution of His disciples (to mention a few), you have to be a very brave man to bet against His return.
Now finally, this is not a message of all doom and gloom for the sceptic. It is not a call to panic or be scared, but it is a call to see God’s love in delaying the second coming and not bringing it upon mankind (both Christians and Non-Christians alike) as soon as we wish, because it is not in anybody’s interest for that to happen. It is a call for the sceptic to reason that God is longsuffering towards them, not willing that they perish in this day they long for, but that they come to know Him and accept the grace and mercy the first coming of Jesus Christ brought them.