A friend sent me a video of a guy offering $20 to anyone who could recite one Bible verse. The challenge was being filmed inside a Walmart-type supermarket, and you can see the Jackson note being extended to shoppers as the questioner asks if anyone can recite one Bible verse. No one could do it. People looked to the heavens for help, giggled nervously, went to their smartphones, or kept walking. No one could give a single Bible verse—not even the famous John 3:16 you see on banners at football games. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV*).
Before we ridicule those shoppers who missed out on free money to help at the checkout line, let me press you a bit. Who said those words? If you answered, Jesus, you’d be right. Now, consider a few more questions: If most people don’t know what Jesus said, what are the chances those same people know that He’s coming again? And if they don’t even know that He’s coming again, how can they possibly be ready?
how do we know Jesus is coming again?
The main reason we know Jesus is coming again is that He said so (John 14:1–3). But why should we believe Him? Good question. After all, not long ago, the far-right group QAnon held a vigil at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas—the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination—in hopes that his son JFK Jr., who died in a plane crash in 1999, would make a comeback. That comeback has yet to happen.
Jesus’ comeback is also yet to happen. What’s the difference between them? The difference is the trustworthiness and track record of who is making the forecast. In addition to John 14:1–3, Jesus made other predictions: a fish with a coin in its mouth (Matthew 17:27); the destruction of Jerusalem some 40 years in the future (Matthew 24:1, 2); the kind of death He would die (John 12:31–33); His betrayal by a friend (Mark 14:17–20), who would deny Him and how many times (verse 30); and He would rise in three days (Matthew 16:21). He was right on every point.
His death and resurrection assure us that Jesus is who He said He was. He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. And if all these things He said were true and came to pass, then is there any reason to doubt what He said about His second coming? What did He say about it? Do you know? If I was standing in front of you now with $20, could you tell me? Let’s see.
First, He promised that He would come again. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1–3, NKJV). Jesus essentially gives a wedding invitation but without a “save the date.”
As I write these thoughts, I’m waiting to board a flight to Spokane from Seattle to officiate a wedding. I prepared the couple for their big day, so I am acquainted with the details of the wedding, including the date, time, and location. So are the guests. But Jesus didn’t share that information. Instead, He gave clues so we would know the trustworthiness of His promise and so we could be ready. What were those clues?
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37). First, Jesus lets us know that His coming will take place in times that resemble “the days of Noah.” The world before the global deluge that Noah warned about “was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11). And “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (verse 5).
Mass murder in schools, houses of worship, parades, and shopping centers has lost its ability to shock us. Lawlessness and violence are so widespread and random that teachers feel the need to arm themselves so they can safely teach the ABCs to our children, and some fear that a trip to the grocery store for a loaf of bread could be fatal.
“There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11). AIDS and Ebola were bad enough, but the global pestilence known as COVID-19 shut down the world and claimed (as of this writing) more than 6.58 million lives. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, although they have always occurred, have quadrupled since 1950. Not long ago, in the Amazon jungle, there were two 1-in-100-year droughts, except they didn’t happen 100 years apart. They happened within 5 years! And 100-year floods are now happening with annual frequency. These “fearful events” are commonplace, and anxiety is the new breakfast of champions.
The apostle Paul warned, “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1–5).
This sign needs no commentary. The 24-hour news cycle and what we experience and witness daily are all the proof we need that we are living in “the last days.”
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6, 7).
As I write this, North Korea has declared itself a nuclear weapons state. Greece warns that tensions with Turkey could pull Europe into another armed conflict, and the bloody Russian-Ukrainian war continues to rage with a nuclear power plant in the crosshairs. For all the scientific and technological advancements humankind has made, as with cancer, there continues to be no cure for war.
The Old Testament prophet Daniel recorded these words: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4, NKJV). Here, the increase in knowledge refers primarily to understanding the prophecies of Daniel, but it may also allude to the overwhelming mass of accessible information in “the time of the end.”
If you own a smart watch, you have access to more information on your wrist than existed throughout the world before 1940. Civilians in space, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the metaverse—where avatars interact with each other in a three-dimensional world—all testify to the rapid increase in knowledge. Interestingly, even as big tech races to create a virtual world free of the violence, greed, and social ills of the real world, metaverse platforms have come under fire for not providing safety from sexual harassment. Apparently, even in a cyberworld, if humans are there, wickedness will be present.
“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Jesus predicted that just before His return, the gospel—the good news about His life, death, resurrection, and coming kingdom—would be preached to the whole world. The technological advances we just talked about have made it possible for all to hear about Jesus through ever-emerging communication systems. This is the final and most important sign of them all, and it is in the process of fulfillment even as you read these words.
The $20 experiment mentioned at the beginning of this article is just a small example of a society that has largely forgotten Jesus’ promise, never knew it in the first place, or no longer cares. But “the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The world may no longer care, but Jesus still does, and He lingers to give each soul every opportunity to be ready for “the wedding.”
So how should you feel about all this? Hopeless? No! In Luke 21:28, Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (NKJV). If what the Bible says is true, the world coming to its end isn’t really the end but the beginning of something new and wonderful. The Bible says that when Jesus returns (unlike our present state), there will be no more death, no more pain, and no more sorrow (see Revelation 21:1–5).
When Jesus comes back, He’s going to make all things new. This is good news. The heartbreak and pain of our own present experience will soon be a thing of the past. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus said. “I am coming back and will take you with Me” (see John 14:1–3).
How can you be ready for His coming?
- Say yes to Jesus, trust Him with your life, and receive adoption as a child of God (John 1:12).
- Stay connected to Jesus through prayer, service, studying His words, and putting them into practice (John 15:5–17).
- Invite Jesus to come into your life (Revelation 3:20).
Won’t you come to Him now? If the other things He said are true and have come to pass, is there any reason to doubt what He said about His return? What do you say about it? Do you know? Jesus is standing in front of you now with everlasting life in His hands. Go ahead. Grab hold of those hands by faith while there’s still time. There’s a lot more at stake than $20.
Randy Maxwell writes from Renton, Washington. He is the author of Boot Camp for the Last Days and Closing Prayers.
* Bible quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version.