Jesus is returning. Sooner than you think.

If not for everyone, at least for you personally.

Immediacy /ɪ'mi.di.ə.si/ n. Bringing one into direct, instant involvement with something. (Usually including a sense of urgency or excitement.)
2. Christian doctrine that Christ Jesus is returning at any time.
[Immediacist /ɪ'mi.di.ə.sɪst/ adj.]

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 after 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, and 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. Ac 1.7

But we do know 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.” Technically any Christian who thinks Jesus isn’t returning is a heretic. Doesn’t mean they’re going to hell; just means they’ve gone wrong.

A big part of knowing Jesus is coming back, is knowing he can return at any time. And if we’re not watching for it, he’ll return at a time we don’t expect him at all. That’s why he warned us to stay awake and watch for it. Mk 13.37 Don’t let him take you by surprise!

Luke 12.35-48 KWL
35 “Be people whose toolbelts are on, whose lamps are burning.
36 You should be like people waiting for their own master when he returns from weddings:
He arrives, knocks, and they can quickly unlock the door for him.
37 These slaves are awesome. The returning master will find them alert.
Amen, I promise you the master will put on a towel and have them recline to eat,
and he’ll come in to serve them.
38 Even at the second hour after sunrise, even at the third, he can come and find them ready.
These slaves are awesome.
39 You should know: If the homeowner knew what time the burglar came,
he’d never permit him to break into his house.
40 You be ready: The Son of Man comes at the time you don’t expect.”
41 Simon Peter said, “Master, are you saying this parable for us or for everyone?”
42 Master Jesus said, It’s to whoever’s a faithful, wise butler.
The master puts the butler over his waiters, giving them their trays at the right times.
43 This slave is awesome when the master, coming to the butler, will find them doing this job.
44 I tell you the truth: The master will put the butler in charge of everything.
45 But when this slave says in their mind, ‘My master delays in coming,’
and might start beating the boys and girls, or eating, drinking, and getting drunk,
46 that slave’s master will come on a day they don’t expect, at a time they don’t know,
and will cut them down to size, and assign them a position with the unreliable slaves.
47 That slave who knew their master’s will, and didn’t prepare, nor do his will: They’ll get skinned.
48 The one who didn’t know, who did what deserved a smack: They’ll get skinned a little.
To everyone who’s given much, much is sought from them.
To those with much set before them, more will be asked back.”

Much 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 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 supposed to come first?

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

The purpose of the letter 2 Thessalonians was to correct this error, among others. Jesus hasn’t returned yet, and the apostles pointed out a few things first had to happen before he’d return. Darbyists, who believe none of those events can happen till God turns the miracles back on (oh yeah; they think he turned them off) figure Jesus can’t return till they do. And that it’ll take seven years for all those things to happen, in an orgy of destruction they call the Great Tribulation. Or just “tribulation.”

Which things are they thinking of? Well, there’s a “lawless one” who’s meant to show up, play God, and lead people astray. When Jesus returns, he’ll defeat him. 2Th 2.8 Darbyists call this fellow “the Antichrist,” and figure he’s the same person as the Beast in Revelation 13. So if there’s no Antichrist yet for Jesus to conquer, he won’t return. No Antichrist, no Christ.

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

2 Thessalonians 2.6-12 KWL
6 Now you know about what’s been revealed in its own time—but is holding back
7 for the secret of the lawbreaker is already working.
It’s holding back now—only till it comes to the middle.
8 Then the lawbreaker will be revealed—whom Master Jesus will take out with his mouth’s breath.
He’ll abolish it at the manifestation of his second coming:
9 This is the coming against Satan’s works in every power, “miracle,” and fake wonder;
10 in every unrighteous trick towards those destroying themselves.
For fake miracles don’t accept the love of truth in their salvation.
11 Through it, God sends them off with their belief in fakes, in powerful error.
12 Thus everyone who didn’t trust truth, but were pleased with wrongness, can be judged.

Many Darbyists actually agree. They claim the Beast actually is the devil. Even though in Revelation the dragon (i.e. Satan Rv 12.9) and Beast are two different beings, Rv 13.2 many Darbyists like to imagine “the Antichrist” as being Bizarro Jesus: He’ll pretend to be Christ, and try to fake-fulfill all the prophecies about Messiah. Including Messiah’s death and resurrection: At the middle of their tribulation, about 3½ years in, the Beast will die (as did Jesus), then rise three days later (as did Jesus). That’s how they spin the “mortal wound that’d been cured” Rv 13.3 —it died, then rose, like Jesus. 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 include this scenario in the Left Behind novels. Of course it’s not in the bible.

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 it for centuries. It has been pretending to be God, and exalting itself. Like the apostles said, that secret’s already been working. 2Th 2.7 2 Thessalonians isn’t about a future event. It started millennia ago.

The problem with the Darbyists’ insistence on their End Times timetable—a seven-year tribulation where the Beast shows up only halfway through—is so much for immediacy. If Jesus can’t return till the Beast shows up, it means Jesus isn’t returning any day now; he can’t return for another three to seven years.

Three to seven years which always seem to be pushed back.

Since the rest of Christendom believes in and preaches immediacy, Darbyists invented the idea of a separate rapture of all the Christians. For them, it doesn’t happen when Jesus returns: It happens early. Either at the very beginning of tribulation, or at the halfway point when the Beast appears.

Here’s the problematic side effect:

  • If Christians get raptured before tribulation, it means everybody now knows the day of Jesus’s return: Seven years later.
  • If Christians get raptured in the middle of tribulation, it again means everybody now knows the day of Jesus’s return: Three years, six months later.

Violates scripture either way.

And no, a two-part return of Jesus isn’t in the bible either. It’s the Darybists’ way of juggling two contradictory statements: “Jesus can return at any time” and “Some things have to happen before Jesus returns.” It looks like immediacy, but really isn’t.

Immediacy for all.

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 KWL
“For the LORD’s Day approaches every nation.
What you did is done to you. Compensation returns to your head.”

Obadiah wasn’t prophesying to Israel. This message was for Israel’s neighbor Edom. Who were also Hebrews—and were assimilated into Judea centuries later, so they’re Jews now. But at the time they weren’t 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 KWL
9 “Look, the LORD’s Day. A fierce coming.
Wrath and burning nostrils, to make the earth desolate, to destroy sinners from it.
10 For heavenly stars and their constellations aren’t shining their light.
The sun went dark. The moon isn’t shining its light.
11 I dealt with the evil of civilization, the guilt of the wicked.
I stopped arrogant people’s pride. I lower the high things of the ruthless.
12 People are more precious than refined metal.
Humanity compares with Ofir’s gold.
13 For this reason the heavens are agitated, and earth shakes out of place
from the LORD of War’s wrath, on the day of his burning nostrils.”

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, 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 KWL
“Turn away! If not, I’ll come to you swiftly, and I’ll fight them with the saber in my mouth.”
Revelation 3.11 KWL
“I come to you quickly: Hold onto what you have.
Nobody should take your crown away.”
Revelation 22.12 KWL
“Look, I come to you quickly, and my reward’s with me.
Whatever works they did, I’m paying them back.”
Revelation 22.20 KWL
This witness says, “Yes, I’m coming to you quickly.”
Amen! Come to us, Master Jesus!

But these aren’t merely warnings for us. 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

They don’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 like my mind to still be intact, although that’s not guaranteed. 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.