“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
~ Matthew 24:36-51 NASB
What is the main point of what Jesus is saying to His disciples? Be ready! No one knows when the Father will have Jesus return. There was a sense of urgency to be on the alert when Jesus was still on the earth, which continued to permeate throughout New Testament teaching and even to this day. My goal with this post is not to pick apart premillennialism, but to simply point out that the teaching regarding seven years of tribulation, where people can have a “second chance” to come to Christ, violates Scripture. Why does it violate Scripture? Because even though people may have missed the first rapture, they will then know that Jesus will return again within seven years. They will have exactly that time to “make things right.” If that’s the case, then why not live like the world now if we are going to get another chance later? Is there really a sense of urgency? Better yet, have we forgotten that we’re living our second chance right now?
Before the Law there was no prescriptive way to be made right before God. This is why Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are held in high esteem. They had no Law, yet they acted in faith and did instinctively the things that would become Law. God gave Moses and His people the Law in order to set themselves apart and be right with Him. It was rigid and full of regulations. We read it now and wonder how it was even possible to fulfill. That’s the point; it couldn’t be fulfilled. This was the first chance—until Jesus.
Jesus’ sacrifice became the second and ultimate chance. Through His sacrifice we are no longer bound by the rigidity of the Law. We no longer have to offer sacrifices or perform cleansing rituals. We have been baptized with Him and will be resurrected to eternal life because of His grace and mercy. These things cannot be taken lightly, which is why Jesus spends much time talking about being ready and on the alert. Do we want to be like the slave who is found doing what his master desires, or do we want to be like the evil slave who thinks he can do whatever he wants because his master won’t be back for awhile?
A little over seven years ago, I was admonished by close Christian friends (now family) that my spiritual house was not in order. I was encouraged to make myself ready. I have been a Christian since I was seven years old, yet I still needed to be shown that my spiritual life needed a change. Even though we accept Christ and claim to be Christians, we still need to do spiritual cleaning. Just like our actual homes, dust gathers and things that seem gross and terrible at first become part of the norm. There may be an eyesore in our living room, but we wouldn’t notice it because it has become part of our lives. This can also be applied to our spiritual houses. In truth, we can become complacent with behaviors and thoughts that used to convict us, and we may not even realize it until someone else has the right kind of love to point it out. As Paul clearly shares with the Corinthians, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and should act accordingly:
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NASB
We have been given a gracious, wonderful second chance at eternal life. Let us do our best to live according to God’s will for our lives and in such a way that others will want to follow God now.