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How close are we to the Second Coming?

How close are we to the Second Coming?

For those who are invested in it and are looking for it, the events leading to the second coming of Christ will happen with incredible speed. Two elements impact how near Christ’s return seems to us.

The first element is our relation to it. Physicists tell us that motion is relative to the observer. In other words, speed and the passing of time are different for different people, depending on where they are.

When the pioneers crossed the great American desert seeking gold in California, they rode in wagons pulled by oxen. It took them about five months to travel from Independence, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. With the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1876, however, the same trip took less than 83 hours and less than $65. Today, we can fly that same distance in five hours! Before 1876, a trip across the United States in 83 hours seemed unbelievably fast. But here in the twenty-first century, making the trip in five months seems incredibly slow!

Put another way, imagine standing on a seashore. A speedboat going 80 miles per hour passing right in front of you will seem to be going much faster than one going the same speed a quarter of a mile away.

Many brides and grooms sleep rather fitfully the night before their wedding day. But how do those planning to only attend the service sleep? Probably quite normally. For couples living with the expectation of being forever united, the passing of time raises their anticipation. Even for those who wait months to tie the knot, they are gripped by a sense that it will happen very soon.

Sometimes it appears that Christ’s return is just around the corner. That was the feeling of many on September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center towers crumbled to the earth. Yet the temporary spike in church attendance quickly settled to normal levels.

Regardless of where we stand in relation to Christ’s return, the prophetic events leading up to it continue moving toward their sure fulfillment. The signs of Christ’s coming will intensify for us, not only because His return is indeed approaching, but also because we are watching and waiting.

The second element determining how near Christ’s coming seems to us is our focus on it. People who pay no attention to the signs of the times may know that someday Jesus will come back, but if their focus is on other things, they will be surprised when the day comes. Jesus said, “Know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into” (Matthew 24:43).

If we are indifferent to Christ’s return and wrapped up in our own selfish affairs, prophetic events will appear to us distant and unimportant, even if they are happening all around us. But if we study prophecy with a focus on how soon we will be united with Jesus, the passing of time will increase our anticipation of being with the Lord, and we will feel that His return is “near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:33).

The apostle Peter warned us about those not focused on Christ’s coming. He wrote, “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). For these “scoffers,” the passing of time did not create anticipation but indifference because they were “walking according to their own lusts."

The speed with which we see prophecy being fulfilled is impacted by our own hearts. When we turn away from “holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11), then “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (verse 10). But for those who search the prophecies of Scripture and look for the promise of His coming, the final events will happen with incredible speed.

How near is Christ’s second coming? Two thousand years ago Jesus told the apostle John, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7).

Where are you in relation to Christ’s second coming? Where is your focus?

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