Jesus is returning. Sooner than you think.

by K.W. Leslie, 17 February 2022
IMMEDIACY ɪ'mi.di.ə.si noun. Bringing one into direct, instant involvement with something. (Usually including a sense of urgency or excitement.)
2. Christian doctrine that Christ Jesus may return at any time.
[Immediacist ɪ'mi.di.ə.sɪst adjective.]

I don’t know when Jesus will return.

Neither do you. Neither does anyone. Neither did Jesus, Mk 13.32 although some Christians are mighty sure he found out once he ascended to heaven. And occasionally some nutjob will claim the Father told them when it’s gonna happen, and use the occasion to whip gullible Christians into a frenzy; maybe get ’em to join their death cult or something.

All of them have been, and will be, lying. Because Jesus said that info is none of our business.

Acts 1.6-7 NRSVue
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.”

We don’t need to know when. We only need to know it’s gonna happen. Jesus is coming back.

It’s part of orthodox Christianity, y’know. Like the Apostles Creed has it, “He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.” Any Christian who thinks Jesus isn’t coming back to us from heaven is heretic. Doesn’t mean they’re going to hell; just means they’ve gone horribly wrong.

And a big part of knowing Jesus is coming back, is knowing he can return at any time. We’re even instructed to watch for it. If we’re not, he’ll return when we don’t expect him. Which is why he intentionally warned us to expect him. Stay awake and watch for it. Mk 13.37 Don’t let him take you by surprise!

Luke 12.35-48 NRSVue
35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night or near dawn and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 That slave who knew what his master wanted but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required, and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”

Much of the reason Jesus hasn’t yet returned, is because he’s giving the world many, many chances to repent before he returns. 2Pe 3.9 So take advantage of this time!Get right with God. Because once Jesus does return, time’s up. 2Pe 3.10

What about the End Times events which’re meant to come first?

In the first century, the Thessalonians heard a rumor Jesus had returned already… but they missed him.

The purpose of the letter 2 Thessalonians was to correct this error, among others. Jesus hasn’t returned yet! The apostles wrote ’em that a few things had to first happen before Jesus returns. And a number of “prophecy scholars” insist lots of things must first happen before Jesus returns—including the stuff in 2 Thessalonians the stuff in Revelation, a great number of things in Daniel and the gospels and even Psalms. They’ve got a backlog of prophecies, ’cause the fellas they got their idea from were cessationists who believed God stopped fulfilling prophecy when the bible was complete, and now we gotta wait till the great tribulation for prophecy to be fulfilled again.

So which prophecies are they thinking of? Well there’s the “lawless one” whom they call Antichrist (not an antichrist but the Antichrist, with a capital A) whom Jesus defeats when he returns. 2Th 2.8 These “scholars” figure he’s the same person as the Beast of Revelation 13. In any event there’s gotta be an Antichrist for Jesus to conquer, and they can’t identify any Antichrist just yet. But Jesus can’t return till we got one. No Antichrist, no Christ.

Thing is, read 2 Thessalonians again, particularly 2.9. The “lawless one” whom the apostles described actually isn’t the Beast. It’s Satan.

2 Thessalonians 2.6-12 NRSVue
6 And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, 10 and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, 12 so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

For the most part the Darbyists among the “prophecy scholars” agree… ’cause they believe the Beast literally is the devil, incarnate. Even though in Revelation the dragon (i.e. Satan Rv 12.9) and Beast are two different beings; Rv 13.2 Satan is not a trinity. See, many Darbyists like to imagine Antichrist is Bizarro Jesus: He’s a fake Christ who pretends to be Christ and tries to fake-fulfill all the prophecies of Messiah. Including Messiah’s death and resurrection: In their timeline there’s a seven-year tribulation, and about three years six months in, the Beast dies (like Jesus), then rises three days later (like Jesus). That’s how they spin the “mortal wound that’d been cured” Rv 13.3 —the Beast died, then rose. Bizarro.

Of course since the Beast is a lawbreaker, this has gotta be a fake resurrection, so Darbyists imagine Satan will pull it off by full-on possessing the Beast’s body, and working it like a meat puppet. They even include this scenario in the Left Behind novels. But not a word of this whatsoever is found in the bible. Doesn’t matter to Darbyists though. They claim special insight. They know what’s gonna happen. They’re “prophecy scholars,” remember?

Regardless of which entity is responsible for all the tribulational chaos, Darbyists insist the Beast (whether an evil man or Satan incarnate) has to show up and muck around so Jesus can destroy him. And Jesus can’t return till then.

But anyone who knows their history and bible is fully aware the devil has shown up to muck around. Rv 12.7-8 It’s been doing so for centuries. It already has been playing God, getting people to follow it, exalting itself. Like the apostles said, that secret’s already been at work. 2Th 2.7 2 Thessalonians isn’t about a future event anymore. Satan got started millennia ago.

This is true of nearly all the prophecies of Revelation, Daniel, the gospels, and any passage legitimately about the End. If you know anything about prophecy, you’ll know it’s rare for any prophecy to be about the distant future—because if a prophecy never comes to pass in your lifetime, you can’t test it to confirm it. Hence prophecies are usually about the near future; often within the year. Yes, sometimes it’s longer. Maybe a decade or two before things happen as foretold, like when Abraham was told he’d have a son. But it will happen so that you see it for yourself, same as Simeon getting to see Messiah.

We’ve had 20 centuries between now and when the New Testament was written. We’ve had a lot of time for End Ties prophecies to be fulfilled; hence nearly all of them have been. They’re achieved. They’re done. They’re out of the way. Nothing more needs to happen before Jesus returns. He can do so at any time—and in so doing, fulfill the rest of the bible’s statements about the second coming. And after the millennium, the end of the world.

Hence our word immediacy: Jesus can return immediately, if the Father so chooses. Nothing’s in his way. Nothing’s stopping him… except his own desire to wait till everybody who might be saved, is.

“My master tarries.”

The biggest problem with the idea of a seven-year tribulation has always been how it gets in the way of immediacy. If Jesus can’t return till the Beast shows up to destroy the world… it means Jesus isn’t returning any day now. Can’t. Not for another three and a half to seven years.

Three and a half to seven years, in which people can put off repentance and salvation. Supposedly there’s time before Jesus comes back. Time enough to get drunk and beat the servants.

To deal with this seven-year delay, Darbyists invented the idea of a separate pretrib rapture of all the Christians. There’s no evidence in the scriptures for any such thing; it was entirely invented so they could eat their cake yet have it: Now they can hae their seven-year tribulation, and preach immediacy. But the problematic side effect is now date fixing. If Christians get raptured seven years before the second coming, it means everybody in the world now knows the day and hour of Jesus’s return. Even though he straight-up told us nobody gets to know that.

Plus, for everybody left behind: Still no immediacy. They know Jesus won’t come back at any time. They got seven whole years to sin themselves sticky, then repent at the last minute.

Nope, doesn’t fit the rest of the bible. The Old Testament prophets frequently talked about “the LORD’s Day.” By which they didn’t mean Sunday; they meant the day the LORD decides time’s up and he’s gonna judge the world. No, not just the nation of Israel, the world. It’s Judgment Day.

Obadiah 1.15 NRSVue
For the day of the LORD is near against all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
your deeds shall return on your own head.

Obadiah wasn’t sharing the LORD’s word to Israel; this message was for Israel’s neighbor Edom. Who were also Hebrews—and centuries later were forcibly assimilated into Judea, so they’re Jews now. But at the time they weren’t yet part of Israel; they were another nation. Didn’t matter. ’Cause the LORD’s Day isn’t just for Israel.

Really, the way the prophets phrased it, the LORD’s Day was more for pagan nations than for God’s people. God had chosen to intervene in history to put a stop to all their evil.

Nope, there’s nothing in there about how God was gonna swoop in and rapture Israel away, leaving the wicked behind to do horrible evil things to one another. It’d be nice, but that’s wish fulfillment. Not scripture.

Isaiah 13.9-13 NRSVue
9 See, the day of the LORD is coming,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the earth a desolation
and to destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not shed its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant
and lay low the insolence of tyrants.
12 I will make mortals more rare than fine gold
and humans than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
and the earth will be shaken out of its place
at the wrath of the LORD of hosts
in the day of his fierce anger.

The apostles considered Jesus’s return to be the very same thing as the LORD’s Day. 1Co 5.5, 1Th 5.2, 2Pe 3.10 Just as the Old Testament prophets proclaimed time and again, this event didn’t only affect Israel. Nor, in the New Testament understanding, just us Christians. It affects everyone. The entire planet.

So immediacy isn’t just the idea Jesus will return for us Christians, to rapture us before tribulation comes. That’d be contrary to every warning Jesus gave us that tribulation will come, people will persecute us, and suffering is part of life. That’d be contrary to the experience of every Christian who died for Jesus by the hands of pagans, heretic Muslims, and even fellow Christians of different sects. That’d be contrary to every middle eastern Christian who’s currently suffering because they’re Christian in a land which has grown entirely intolerant of anyone who doesn’t believe as those in power. And for that matter every Asian Christian, every African Christian, every European Christian. (What about Christians in the Americas? With few exceptions, our inconveniences don’t deserve to be called martyrdom.)

Yes, Jesus warned us Christians he’s coming quickly:

Revelation 2.16 NRSVue
“Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and wage war against them with the sword of my mouth.”
Revelation 3.11 NRSVue
“I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one takes away your crown.“
Revelation 22.12 NRSVue
“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.”
Revelation 22.20 NRSVue
The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

These aren’t merely warnings for us Christians. They’re for the world. Part of the reason Jesus hasn’t returned yet, is because he’s giving the world a chance to repent before he returns. 2Pe 3.9 Take advantage of that time: Get right with God. Because when he does return, time’s up. 2Pe 3.10

Humanity doesn’t get seven years to shape up, to repent and become “tribulation saints,” to dodge the Beast till Jesus finally returns as predicted by the seven-year timeline. When Jesus returns, he’s leading an army of every heavenly angel, and two billion Christians are gonna get immediately transformed into mighty eternal beings and join this army. That’s the future facing everyone who isn’t prepared for Jesus’s return. They’ll either surrender to his Lordship, or suffer his consequences. He’s merciful, but still: Times’s up.

This can happen at any time.

And even if Jesus doesn’t return for the whole world, it can still happen to each and every one of us at any time. You don’t know when you’re gonna die.

I don’t know when I’m gonna die either. My family history contains a lot of alcoholics and premature deaths, so I can’t say anything with certainty. I may live into my 100s; I’d hope my mind is still intact by then, although that’s not guaranteed either. But accidents happen. I could be killed by an inattentive driver tomorrow. I could choke on something tonight. A meteor might fall on me. I dunno. And at that time, at my death, Jesus is coming for me. I’m ready.

Are you? Hope so.