Confidently I can tell you, for the Bible is quite clear on this subject. Peter said Jesus will come “as a thief in the night” (II Peter 3:10).
That is, Jesus will come in the greatest darkness of the night of human history. He will come unexpectantly. The world will be totally surprised, shocked beyond words!
Think of a home and a thief coming to it in the middle of the night. The thief makes every effort to enter without arousing any attention. The skill of an intruder is his ability to somehow unlock the door or open a window and enter while the people are still sound asleep. And then suddenly, because of something unusual—a sound of breaking glass or a table turned over—everyone realizes the house has been entered by “a thief in the night.”
The thief chose his time, it was when everyone was asleep! Cannot we all see how this applies to our world? Therefore, I cannot tell you the day or the hour, but I can tell you He will come when humanity is sound asleep. When will Christ return to this world? — It will be when the world is in a very deep sleep spiritually. The moment when society snores and slumbers without any fear of being aroused.
A London bus had written on its side these words, “Good news, there is no God, and even if there was one, he wouldn’t want to bother you.” That spirit is the forerunner of people with absolutely no reverential fear of God and taking less bother to consider Him.
So, I have talked about how He will come—now let’s ask when!
In fact, He will come, as in Noah’s day, said Jesus, when it’s just like today! At a time when people have never been more morally sedated and spiritually asleep. This would, of course, be a time of antagonistic rejection of God’s Word, indifference, and total apathy. The attitude will be, “It will never happen.” Peter said with urgency, “… I want to remind you that in the last days there will come scoffers who will do every wrong they can think of and laugh at the truth … ‘He’ll never come!’ …” (II Peter 3:3, 4, TLB) Peter adds this, “They deliberately forget this fact: that God did destroy the world with a mighty flood …” (II Peter 3:5-6)
A university student on a train was asked by someone with a polite spirit, “What do you think about God?” He quickly replied, “God? I have not thought anything about God. I have lost all interest in that subject and I care nothing about answering your silly question. I have no taste for and care nothing for or about that matter. I am either an agnostic or an atheist, I’m not sure which—end of the talk!”
And it would seem for the man on the street in busy rush hour traffic, it has never been more true than today—is this not the middle of the night? — To most, it’s not even a realistic thought of Jesus’ invading history! So, it’s a great time for the thief to come—quickly and quietly at first, and then it will be a moment seized with shock, dramatic reaction, with the realization of the full reality of what is happening.
The world will be at ease—with everyday affairs controlling everything from banquets, to parties and weddings—just as it was in the days of Noah. Remember, they said to faithful Noah as he labored to build the ark, “A flood, are you joking?” and the people would not believe it was going to happen. But, as Jesus warned, in God’s time the flood actually came and swept them all away. And Jesus said—count on it, “So shall my coming be.” (Matthew 24:39)
Jesus adds, “But if you are evil and say to yourself, ‘My Lord won’t be coming for a while’ … your Lord will arrive unannounced and unexpected” (Matthew 24:48-50, TLB).
Jesus emphasized, “So be prepared, for you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” Therefore be like a smart man who prevents trouble from thieves by staying ready and keeping watch. Then He said, “you can avoid trouble by always being ready for my unannounced return.” (Matthew 24:44, TLB)
Noah must have pleaded standing in the open doorway of the ark, saying, “Please, see your error. Repent, I tell you it’s coming soon!” — “Not today and maybe even not someday,” was the reply. What do we learn? It is this: if God’s today is too soon for our repentance, our someday may be too late for His mercy!
The God who promises forgiveness to those that repent today has not promised mercy to those who wait till tomorrow. We cannot repent too soon, and we can wait too late. Jesus warned about ease that says, “We couldn’t care less.” With authority Jesus said:
“Watch out! Don’t let my sudden coming catch you unawares; don’t let me find you living in careless ease, carousing and drinking, and occupied with the problems of this life, like all the rest of the world. Keep a constant watch …” Luke 21:34-36, TLB
So, when is Jesus going to come back? — Why, at a moment in time just like today!
He concludes, “Just so, when you see all these things beginning to happen, you can know that my return is near, even at the doors. Then at last this age will come to its close.” (Matthew 24:23-24, TLB)
So, now we all know—when will Jesus return? Perhaps today!