Be ready for the return of the Son of Man
by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf
"So you, also, must be ready (etoimos) because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him“ (Matthew 24:44 NIV).
The Greek word etoimos literally means 'prepare yourself to be ready'; and as this word has the root eteos signifying truth, this readiness will be based on the truth. The expression 'be ready' has the sense of bringing to life or creating, something which doesn’t exist. This means that, in the natural, we are not absolutely ready for the return of Jesus Christ. This readiness must be born then in our life so that we are caused to earnestly desire this return: “The Spirit and the Bride say come” (Revelation 22:17).
The Word of God is truth, which should teach us all things. Our Master invites us therefore to be faithful and wise servants, who do not let themselves be led by their emotions (in the sense of the word phronimos in Matthew 24:45), but by the Word and by the Spirit.
The day of the Son of Man will appear
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building; but the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).
In this passage we see that daily life goes on as normal, without any concern for spiritual things, up to the event planned by God occurred:
Remember Lot’s wife
"Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32).
Literally, we must guard against the spirit of Lot’s wife. She had been saved, but because of her ignorance of God and His plans she lost her life by looking to her old life, “whoever tries to keep his life will loose it” (Luke 17:33). We must then make a choice between our old life (the world) and our new life in Christ. There can be no compromise.
Jesus also said:
"On that day no-one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside should go down to get them. Likewise no-one in the field should go back for anything… I tell you on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken the other left. Two women will be grinding corn together; one will be taken the other left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken the other left” (Luke 17:31,34-36 NIV)
This passage concerns Christians: why will they not all be raised up on the return of Jesus Christ? Do you think that a thing can happen if you don’t believe it? Do you think that you are going to be raised up on the Lord’s return if you don’t believe it? It’s all a question of faith.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).
Faith is the assurance of receiving something for which we hope; what will happen if we do not hope for or believe in the return of Jesus Christ? There will be then a difference between the Christian who is prepared and longs for the return of the Lord and the Christian who has neglected to prepare himself, indeed who has even denied the return of the Lord.
Those who are prepared will enter their inheritance and will not see the Great Tribulation. Those who are not prepared will know this Great Tribulation and will be saved by the skin of their teeth but will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The starting point of our preparation is the truth, that is to say, the Word of God. The apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote:
"Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her through the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
The truth is that Jesus Christ the Bridegroom comes to seek the Church, His Bride, for the wedding of the Lamb. He is coming to seek a Bride who has prepared herself (Revelation 19:7). The apostle John also saw, coming down from the sky, the new Jerusalem, the Bride, “prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
The preparation consists, firstly of purifying herself (set apart for God), because God does not call us to impurity but to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7). In fact no-one impure (immoral, idolatrous, greedy), will have an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God (Ephesians 5:5), but only those who have a pure heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). In the process of sanctification the things of the world loose their attraction (Lot’s wife lost her life because of her attraction to the worldly life).
Secondly, preparation consists of watching for we do not know when the Lord will return (Matthew 22:42). When he was in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus said to his disciples whom he found sleeping: “could you men not keep watch (gregoreo) one hour with me” (Matthew 26:40). The Greek word gregoreo implies to be awake, to be actively attentive. If we consider that one day is like a thousand years, one hour of watching represents about forty years, that being a generation; we are therefore called to keep watch our whole lives with Jesus, that is to say to be in communion with Him.
Jesus has also said that our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak (Mark 14:38), and thus prone to falling asleep. But when our Master returns, he wants to find his spiritual servants alert (Luke 12:37). Jesus wants us to be alert, that is to say, listening to the Holy Spirit: “if you do not keep watch (gregoreo) I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (Revelation 3:3).
Listening to the Holy Spirit has two goals:
"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven which said: the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever… the time has come… for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who revere your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:15&18).
When the hour arrives the sons of the Kingdom will enter their inheritance.
The parable of the fig tree
Jesus invites us also to learn from the parable of the fig tree: “As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32).
It is essential to know in which times we are living. It is by observing Israel that we will know where we are situated in God's time: first the sap flows into the branches (Israel comes alive again), then the leaves grow (Israel becomes lush again and carries the first fruits on the old wood), that which announces the heat of summer (the fire of the Spirit on Israel and the harvest of fruit on the new wood). These are the three stages announced by the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 37.
"Behold I come like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake (gregoreo) and keeps his clothes with him so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed!” (Revelation 16:15).