The Pope it is said condemned the use of the cross bow when it was first introduced. He apparently thought it could be the demise of the whole world because it was so deadly. When cannons were first invented some thought that marked the end of the world. Now we have a weapon that could bring an end to all life on the planet, the hydrogen bomb, and certainly there are people who still believe that it might yet bring about the end of civilization. Adding to this there has always been someone or some group insisting that their generation would surely be the last.
Who hasn’t seen the person wearing or carrying the sign that reads something like, Repent for the end of the world is near? Hollywood makes sure to show such people in the movies and usually they are depicted as neurotic and mentally deranged weirdoes who only need to be avoided and ignored. By now it is easy to understand why some Christians may he a little embarrassed to bring up the subject of the second coming of Christ. Add to this the fact that Jesus said that no one would know the day or the hour of his return and you have the right mix to produce the wholesale indifference that emerges among more and more of today’s believers.
The enemy certainly has been able to capitalize on these eccentric second coming enthusiasts with their spurious interpretations of scripture. But we would be foolish and remiss to allow him this victory because of the excess of a few, or our fear of embarrassment. The misinterpretation of a sign is possible with any theological position. One of the safest ways to be surer about the signs is to be patient and wait for them to unfold.
It is alright to speculate and watch as things begin to materialize but hold back on some conclusions and give God space to show us what he is doing. We must always keep in mind that some of the Jews missed the coming of their messiah because they had nailed down an exact path for his appearance without allowing that some of their speculation may not have been exactly on the mark.
For example, it was well known that messiah was to come from Bethlehem but Jesus was from Nazareth. A little research, questioning and openness could have resulted in finding the rest of the story. The birth of Christ was never meant to be a secret, and anyone making even cursory inquiries could have found out that he was actually born in Bethlehem. But many were clinging hard to their pet beliefs and would not allow themselves this knowledge. One might say that they missed salvation itself, not because they were so sinful but because they were so stubborn. They had created a formula, a viewpoint or a theory that by sheer force of time and repetition had become like an immutable law.
A lack of pliability in second coming doctrine is far more serious than rigidity in any other area of scripture. Much of eschatology is yet to unfold; being rigid about an unknown is foolishness on the level of finding moral guidance from the stories of ancient mythology. No one should think that guidance comes from make believe characters and events, unfortunately, they do! Many second coming buffs are also deriving some sort of guidance from events that haven’t occurred yet. The best answer to this dilemma is found in a single saying of the Lord Jesus concerning signs. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Mt 24:34
This verse could he called, the sign of signs. It is a capstone or the key to all the events preceding the second coming of Christ. Jesus knew the second coming would not take place in his generation so it had to be some future and seemingly unspecified generation. Yet, it is specified. That generation, is the generation in which all the other signs happen together. They cannot be spread out over millennia, centuries or even more than one single generation. This sign is what qualifies all the other signs. Simply put, if all the signs are happening concurrently, that is the sign that it is the last generation, and it will culminate with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we are given a failsafe or a perfect way to keep from falling into error in today’s second coming doctrinal maze. If you haven’t checked lately, you might want to look again, because no generation in over twenty centuries has had all the signs happening at once, except this one.