By Li Yang
It was a summer afternoon, the blazing sun was beating down. Li Jiayin and several co-workers were sitting in the shadow of an old locust tree. Watching the old tree, she recollected her childhood, in which she used to sit under the tree with her uncle, hearing him tell Bible stories and the testimonies of experiences of the spiritual seniors. A few years ago, her uncle once reminded her to be watchful. Now, disasters are getting worse and worse, and the four blood moons have appeared. From various signs it can be said with some certainty: The day of the Lord has come; the Lord will come to reap and rapture Christians at any minute. But how ever to be watchful and wait for the Lord’s return? How to wait to conform to the Lord’s will? What does it mean to be watchful? Jiayin sensed that she was not clear about these questions, and then commenced a discussion with her co-workers.
Co-worker Wang said, “Being watchful, I think, mainly refers to always praying and reading , working hard for the Lord and restricting ourselves in everything. Just as what is written in the Bible, ‘And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming’ (1 Jn 2:28). Christians can never have confidence before the Lord when He comes, unless we watch and guard ourselves every day. Now, we should practice to watch and pray in turn around the clock in the church, and establish the watchtower. Watching and waiting like this, we won’t be forsaken by the Lord at His return.”
Co-worker Zhang took the thread of the conversation and said, “In my view, this’s still not perfect. The most important aspect of being watchful and waiting is keeping the name of the Lord and following His way, for in the last days, difficult times shall come, and man’s love for the world will be victory over the Lord, and on top of that various heresies will appear. The also said, ‘Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect’ (Mat 24:23-24). For this reason, I think the Lord’s requirement for us to be watchful is mainly to let us guard against all manner of heresies before His coming upon a cloud to receive us. If anybody preaches that the Lord has come, we can’t listen or believe. We should hold onto the Lord’s name and His way, otherwise we can’t be taken into the kingdom of heaven.”
Co-worker Zheng retorted, “It’s sure that false Christs will appear in the last days, nevertheless when they appear will also be the time that the Lord comes again. If we do not listen to or believe the news that the Lord has come, when He is really back, how can we welcome Him? With reference to these verses, I think, what the Lord meant was that we should gain discernment so as to not be deceived by false Christs and to be watchful to welcome Him, as the Lord said, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Mat 25:6). So, I think in the final age of the last days, when we hear the news ‘the bridegroom comes,’ that is, hear someone preach about the Lord’s return, we should heed the words of the Lord, much like the wise virgins did. This is the real ‘being watchful and waiting.’ Only in this way can we welcome the return of the Lord. If we hold onto the thoughts: All news preaching the Lord has returned is false; no one is allowed to receive these preachers. He who claims to be the Lord Jesus but does not come with a cloud is a false Christ. And we blindly refuse to listen and believe, then I think it may be improper to do so!”
Co-worker Mao said seriously, “Is it kind of arbitrary to leap to conclusions just by a part of scriptures? I’m thinking: At that time, the Jewish Pharisees longed desperately for the arrival of the Messiah, and they often read the prophecies concerning His coming. However, when the Lord Jesus came to work, for His work was not in line with their conceptions and imaginations, not only did they not acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah, but they resisted and condemned Him, nailing Him to the cross. As a result, they became eternal sinners and were cursed by God. I hold that in the matter of waiting for the Lord’s second coming, we’d better be cautious lest we sin against God like the Pharisees. In case someone witnesses the Lord’s return to us, we should investigate practically before deciding. I have searched many scriptures relating to the Lord’s coming these days, and I found that the prophecies about the reappearance of the Lord can generally be divided into two categories. One kind foretells the Lord’s arrival upon a cloud, witnessed by all. The other predicts that the Lord will come like a thief, just as it is said in Revelation 3:3: ‘I will come on you as a thief.’ There’s also Matthew 25:6, in which it is said: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him.’ These scriptures demonstrate that there are two kinds of sayings about the arrival of the Lord: One is that He’ll come as a thief, unbeknown to anyone. He will, perhaps, come in secret. The other is that He’ll come upon a cloud, and be seen by all. He will, perhaps, appear to all people publicly. My personal understanding is that the Lord may well first come in secret, and will appear publicly after He has completed His work. It will be like when Jesus came to work: He first became flesh as the Son of man and descended in secret. After completing His work He was nailed to the cross, after which He was raised from the dead. He publicly appeared to people for forty days, and then ascended to heaven. We all know this fact.
In many parts of the Bible it is predicted that the return of the Lord will be the ‘coming of the Son of man.’ This is clearly stated in Luke 17:24-25: The Lord Jesus said, ‘For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ This ‘Son of man’ refers to God become flesh. In addition, the Lord Jesus told us clearly, ‘so shall also the Son of man be in his day’ and ‘first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.’ If, when He comes, the Lord directly reveals Himself to all people, then it goes without saying He’ll not suffer for it and He can’t be rejected by this generation. So, I think ‘as a thief’ and ‘at midnight’ doesn’t simply mean that no one knows when the Lord will come. They could well be referring to how the Lord will return as the Son of man, in secret. If so, will He be resisted, condemned and rejected by the religious world, just like the time when He came to work? In this case, we must be more careful when we watch and wait. Given that someone witnesses the Lord’s second coming, and especially witnesses the work done by the returned Lord, which is condemned and rejected by the religious world again, we should seek and investigate even more.”
Co-worker Zheng said, “I don’t understand very well how to watch in order to welcome the reappearance of the Lord if He really comes in secret as the Son of man. Even so, I deem that we can’t neglect the matters involving the second coming of the Lord. Especially when we hear someone testify to the return and utterances of the Lord, we should investigate it carefully, praying and seeking more, to see if it is the voice of the Lord. Once we are sure He is the returned Lord, we should accept quickly. This is just as the words in Revelation, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me’ (Rev 3:20). This’s what it means to be watchful and waiting. It doesn’t refer to waiting for the Lord Jesus to come with the clouds to receive us, but means that we should hear attentively the voice of the Lord and seek His appearance. Only in this way can we not miss the coming of the Lord. We have believed in the Lord for many years; aren’t we longing for the Lord’s coming to take us? Supposing that we condemn the Jesus who doesn’t come on clouds as a false Christ, won’t it be easy for us to condemn the One coming as the Son of man through incarnation? If this is the case, then there’s no telling what the consequences may be.”
After hearing their discussion, there was light within Jiayin’s heart. She thought what co-workers Zheng and Mao said were reasonable and moreover, she knew how to treat the matter of being watchful and waiting.