THE DAY CHRIST CANE AGAIN
It was just an ordinary day. In fact, it was the most ordinary day. That day the Lord came again. It would seem that George Jones should have had at least some kind of premonition as he rose that morning, but had he done so the promise of Christ would not have been sure which he spoke in Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” So George arose as usual, feeling a little tired and still not used to these early hours, even after two years. George was a milk a milk man. He decided this morning he would not awaken his wife, Marge. “She needs the rest,” he thought, “what with running around after our active little daughter all day.” As he got up quietly he looked down at his still sleeping wife and smiled. Marge was a Christian, and she so badly wanted him to become one! In fact, they had a long discussion about it just a few days ago. And then, following that, it seemed like last Sunday the preacher had preached right at him! “Of course that was not actually true,” he admitted with a smile as he started breakfast. “After all, I was not the only one there. But I guess the shoe did fit. What was that he preached on? Oh yes, he preached on Christ coming again.” George had enjoyed most of the sermon. He had especially enjoyed the stories of those who had tried to set the date of Christ'scoming, how some had donned white robes on the day set and had climbed to the top of houses, trees, and mountains to be ready to meet the Lord. He had also been impressed with the Biblical proof that Christ was coming again and that according to New Testament teachings, Christ could come most any time. “I do think, though,” pondered George as he chewed on his bacon and eggs, “that the preacher was being a little dramatic when he said Christ could come again in the next five minutes.” And he smiled as he thought again, “But he did not come.” Of course Marge and the preacher are probably right,” he admitted as he stacked his dishes in the sink. “I don't really know what I'm waiting on. But some day I will take the step and become a Christian.”
When he was ready he peeked in to see their sleeping daughter, Julie. His heart we filled with love as he looked on her innocent little face. Then he went in to kiss Marge goodby. As she returned his kiss sleepily, he smiled to think how happy she would be when he went down the aisle to be baptized. “What are you smiling about?” she asked. “Oh, nothing, ” he said and went out the door. Little did he know that he would never see them again. For the next hour or so, George was too busy to think of much more than his job. There were instructions to check, bottles to load, and arrangements to make. Finally, however, he started his deliveries. It was a beautiful day one of the things that he liked about his job was to see the world wake up each morning. He liked to see it bright and fresh after a night's rest and before it had a chance to become tired and soiled again. He also enjoyed the quietness, for it gave him a chance to think between deliveries. As he drove along, he smiled as he saw signs of the neighborhoods beginning to stir. From the homes came the sound of electric razors and the smell of bacon frying. Behind him he could see housewives in their housecoats and their hair still up in curlers as they opened their doors. Quickly grabbing their bottles of milk, they ducked back inside. George continued on his way, enjoying the beautiful day. But for some reason, the preacher's sermon from last Sunday kept coming back to him. A passage quoted by the preacher about the second coming of Christ forced itself into his mind. It was the passage in Matthew 24:38, “They were eating and drinking>” He passed a church building and noticed rice scattered around from a wedding the night before, and remembered the words of the preacher that when Jesus suddenly appears people will be,“marrying and giving in marriage.”(Matthew 24:38) He passed a bakery and recalled the scripture passage in Luke 17:35, “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” On the door of one of the homes he passed by was the sign: “Night workers. Please do not disturb.” And the thought of the Bible verse, “There shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left”(Luke 17:34). As his route took him near the edge of town, he saw a group of farm workers on their way to the field. And another passage from that Sunday sermon came to mind. It was the words, “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left”(Luke 17:36). In spite of himself, George gave a little shudder and then pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind. “Why am I getting so nervous? If Christ has no± come in over 1900 years, why should He suddenly choose now? And after all I am strong and healthy and good for a long time yet. I should be thinking about living, not the end of everything.” It really was a beautiful day. All the people he saw smiled at him and waved. “On a wonderful day like this,” he thought, “It is hard to realize that there are so many troubles in the world like famine, war, sickness, and death. On a morning like this, it is ust good to be alive.” But this too should have sounded a warning for the Bible says in I Thessalonians 5:2,3, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them...” George continued on his way and carried full bottles to homes and carried empty bottles to his truck. He went down the street, back and forth the same as every morning. But not quite the same.
There really was no advance warning at all when it happened. Generally there is a feeling in the air when something is about to happen, but there was nothing. Generally animals , with some sort of special “sixth sense” are nervous nervous when tragedy is about to strike, but there was nothing. As usual men were growling and snarling; women were screaming at their children, and boys and girls were turning up their nose at the food before them. In China a sleeping child was whimpering in its sleep because it had no food. In Russia, an official working late, was checking the quotas set for the week. In Australia a bushman was stalking his game, as he and ancestors had done for centuries. In America, a man was fretting himself sick over how he was ever going to make his payments. He needed not have bothered. A woman was quarreling with her husband over the new furniture she wanted to have. She too need not have bothered. A preacher was looking through his sermon outline books wondering what to preach next. He also needed have not bothered. There was no warning. Life, with all of its good and evil, was going on as usual. And then it happened. “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them.”(I Thessalonians 5:2,3). Jesus said in Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The Bible says, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first”(I Thess. 4:16). George was near a cemetary when it happened. The shout traveled through the atmosphere faster than the speed of sound or light. It was a shout that penetrated to the core of the earth, to the depths of the ocean, and to the center of a man's soul. George wrecked his truck but it didn't matter. He had never before heard the voice of God, but there was no question in his mind as to what this this was. Neither had he before seen Jesus, but again some way he knew exactly who this was and what was happening. Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” The Bible also says in 2 Thessalonians 1:7,8, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” George noticed that the blue sky was blotted out by the whiteness of the cloud, the glory of the angels, the appearance of the fire, and all of this was almost blotted out by the brightness of Jesus himself. Next the earth began to tremble, and its surface began to be filled with cracks. In the cemetery nearby the graves began to open.
The dead started to come forth from here, there, and everywhere. Their bodies were unlike anything George had ever seen. He could not describe them. For some reason the word “incorruptible” came to his mind. It was no surprise to him that some looked happy and some did not. George could also feel that something was happening to himself. The Bible says, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the~ resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28). Furthermore, the word of God says, “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51,52). George was now running. He was not far from home, and his only thoughts were to reach that haven. He was in a daze but could faintly hear the sound of a trumpet, a sound that chilled him to the bones. Out of the corner of his vision, he was aware of many glorious bodies rising into the air to meet the Lord. It was hard now to keep his feet for the tremors were increasing. In his head, he was aware of the most terrible cry he had ever heard in his life, a hopeless cry of a soul in agony. It was some time before he realized that this cry was coming from himself. He passed several people standing whose funerals he had attended. But this did not surprise him. Nothing surprised him now. He passed a funeral procession that had stopped in the midd1e of the road. The back door of the hearse was open, and the lid of the casket was thrown back. It was empty. From above him came the sound of singing, a glorious refrain of rejoicing and triumph. But it brought no comfort to George's soul. He glanced up and only a few were still rising to meet the Lord in the air. Evidently most all were there now. George ran and ran and passed block after block, and suddenly he was at home. Bursting in the front door, he ran from room to room shouting for his wife and daughter. There was the favorite rag doll of Julie on the floor. The housecoat of his wife was still lying on the chair beside the bed. There were evidences of her housework everywhere. He ran into the kitchen and there were the dishes half done. He felt of the dishwater, and it was still warm. It was almost as if.....almost as if....,and suddenly he knew. They were prepared, and were among those who had been caught up to meet Jesus in the air. He raced back into the front yard and looked up and the universe was literally flying to pieces. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up.” The thought finally struck George that he must~ now face God in the judgment. His first thought was to hide but there was no hiding. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.” George knew that he was with all the people who had ever lived upon the face of the earth and that all would be judged. Yes, he knew many things now, too late. He knew now that there had been time for religion and that those other things he had put first were really not important at all. He knew too, that those hypocrites in the church, whom he had thrown up to his wife time and time again, would spend eternity where he was going to spend it, and there was little comfort now in the fact that he was as good as they. And he even knew that somehow his wife and little girl would be happy without him, for an Almighty God that can do everything would see to that. But he also knew that he would have to spend eternity without them and without God and Christ. When George appeared before the judgment seat of Christ he already knew what is sentence would be. Jesus said in Matthew 25:31—46, “When the son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, come you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.....Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Now the story which you have just heard is not true. It cannot be, of course, since Christ has not yet come. This story has been a simulation of a lost man's experience at the second coming of Christ. It is impossible to really know what it will be like to be lost when Jesus comes back from heaven. However, the story is based upon scriptural teaching and a knowledge of natural reaction. It has been told for one reason, and that is to make you think and thus motivate you to make the necessary preparation to meet your God. We cannot tear these pages out of the Bible which tell of the catastrophic events connected with the second coming of Christ, such as the destruction of this earth, the final judgment, and eternal punishment in hell. We cannot receive as true the parts of the Bible which we like and reject parts of the Bible which we do not like. If the statements are not true regarding hell, then how could we have confidence in the statements about heaen? If the apostles of Christ did not know what they were talking about on the subject of eternal of eternal punishment, then why should we believe their words about heaven? The fact of the matter is, the apostles knew what they were talking about on both heaven and hell. Jesus said they were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that no one knows the day or hour when Christ will return in judgment. Jesus said in Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” The only safe course is to be ready religiously at all times, and the only way we can do this is to live daily in preparation for death. The brevity and uncertainty of our lives are compounded by the unannounced coming of Christ. It is imperative therefore that we be constant in pursuing the life of a Christian. We can make preparation until the time of death, and after that preparation is impossible. We should live with the expectation and hope that Christ will return in our lifetime. However, if he does not return in our lifetime, it is imperative that we consider death as equivalent to his second coming, for that is the end of our probation and time of preparation. For all practical purposes we are just as close to the second coming of Christ as we are close to death.
How true it is that time is passing swiftly, and there is no time to delay in doing the most important things. Don's make the mistake of George in the story, and put off obedience to the gospel until it is too late. No one of us has any guarantee of tomorrow. What is important must be done today. Someone has prepared a very interesting timetable. It makes a mathematical parallel of a life span with a twenty—four—hour day. As one looks at it he cannot help but have some rather serious reflections. As I read these calculations, see where your life is and then think of what this signifies. If you are 15 years old, it is 8:51 in the morning. If you are 20, it is 11:08 in the morning. If you are 25, it is 12:25 in the early afternoon. If you are 30, it is 1:25 p.m. If you are 35 it is 2:59 in the afternoon. If you are 40 it is 4:16. If you are 45 it is 5:43. If you are 50 it is 6:50 in the early evening. If you are 55 it is 8:08 p.m. If you are 60 it is 10:11. If you are 70 it is approaching midnight. And if you are older than 70 then you are living on borrowed time. Of course, too, none of us has the guarantee that our lives will reach the normal life span. Every day, all about us, lives are being cut short by accidents and illnesses. And the really big question is, “When the bell tolls for you at the midnight hour of death, on which side of God's judgment seat will you stand? Have you made any preparation? Have you made sufficient preparation? If you would like for a qualified person to visit in your home to help you analyze the extent of your preparation, turn to the yellow pages in your telephone directory and call the Church of Christ nearest your location.
* This sermon is a reproduction of a tract sermon by David Roper written many years ago. Copies of this tract may possibly be obtained by writing Christian Publishing Company, 214 Lake Highlands Village, Dallas 18, Texas.