What Does Jesus Say About His Coming?
Second in a Series of Six Messages
Journey Into Kairos
October 7, 1995
A man had been driving all night and by morning was still far from his destination. He decided to stop somewhere quiet in the next town so he could sleep and hour or two. But the quiet place he chose happened to be on one of the town’s jogging routes. No sooner had he started to snooze than a knock came on his window. There was a jogger running in place. "Excuse me, sir," the jogger said, "do you have the time?" The snoozer looked at the car clock: "8:15". The jogger said thanks and left. About the time the snoozer dozed off there was another knock on the window. "Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?" "8:25!" The jogger said thanks and left. The snoozer knew he would be disturbed again, so he put a sign in his window saying, "I don’t know the time!" He was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window. "Sir, sir? It's 8:45!"
Mark 13:4: "Tell us, at what time will these things happen?" the disciples ask Jesus in response to his saying that the Jerusalem Temple would be destroyed. But Jesus understands this question to have a double meaning:
(1) "When?" will the temple come to an end and
(2) "When?" will everything it stands for come to an end.
Jesus answers the disciples immediately and directly in terms they could understand. But before we can understand "when," we must first understand Jesus' concept of time.
Time - Chronos vs. Kairos
In our Bibles, there are two Greek words used for "time." One word is chronos; the other is kairos. Chronos has to do with calendars, seasons, dates, clocks, chronometers. Modern people are ruled by appointments, alarm clocks, schedules, and date books. But ancients had little use for this concept of time.
On the contrary, those who lived in Jesus' day understood time in relationship to circumstances. Kairos, then, has to do with the fullness of time, when circumstances are right for something to take place. The Wise Men knew it was time for the King of Kings to be born not because it was September 7, 5 B.C. at 1:23 AM, but because they had seen the long awaited star in the East. That is a good example of kairos time.
When Gina was 10, I took her the opera Don Giovanni by Mozart. The story is about Don Juan, who woos several women, leaving them broken-hearted after nearly singing them to death. This sounds like a poor choice for a 10-year-old, but in
Mozart's day, such stories were not presented in the obscene ways they are today. It was my first opera, too. I didn't know much about the story, or how long the opera was to last. I only knew how it was supposed to end. In the final scene, Don Juan is in a graveyard confronting his father's ghost. The ghost finds Don Juan guilty of disrespecting women and condemns him to flames. The Lake of Fire opens up right on stage, and Don Juan is dragged down into the flames by the gruesome green hands of demons. I had read about how the opera ended, so I knew what signs to look for.
We enjoyed the show for an hour until the first intermission. Then Gina asked me, "Dad, it's hot in here and I can't understand what they're saying. How long is this going to last, anyway?" She wanted to know how many more minutes. Gina was expecting a chronos kind of answer. But I could only give her a kairos answer. I said, "I don't know how much longer, but when Don Juan goes into the graveyard, and the earth opens up, and fire comes out, and he's pulled down into the fire, then you know that the end is coming."
An hour later, at the second intermission, Gina was really getting impatient. "Da-a-ad, when's this going to be over?" I honestly didn't know, but I told her again, "When Don Juan is pulled into the fiery hole, then it's about over."
After almost another hour, a trap door on the stage opened up, and Don Juan was dragged down into the Lake of Fire. Gina sighed, "Finally...." And sure enough, the opera was over five minutes later, nearly three hours after it started.
Although Gina didn't know the chronos time of the end, she easily recognized the kairos time. When circumstances were right, she knew it would soon be over, and it was. Does that help you understand how the ancients figured time?
Four Truths About His Coming
Kairos is our way of figuring out the Father's time. It's a time of circumstances and signs rather than clocks and alarms. Now that we understand time from Jesus' point of view, we know that Jesus doesn't hedge, but answers his disciples' question precisely by listing conditions of the his presence and the final battle for the souls of humanity. Yes, when conditions are right, then Jesus and His Kingdom will come. When He comes, it will be "like a huge rock heaved into the middle of our quiet pond of devotional Christianity, upsetting everything." But we can be psychologically ready for His coming if we realize four truths that Jesus tried to teach his disciples in the course of this chapter.
1. Mark 13:32 "no one knows the day or hour" - not even Jesus. Why? Because no date or hour in the chronos sense of time has been set. The Father isn't a slave to our calendars. So the question "When?" can't be answered by picking a date on the calendar, for, when Jesus comes, both calendar and clock will perish. All past attempts at exact setting calendar dates have come to naught but grief and disappointment. (Maybe cite an example.)
Jesus shows us that though "when?" can't be answered exactly by a chronos time period, it can be answered in kairos time.
A week after the opera, Gina was in hot water. She asked me, "When can I watch television, Dad?" I might have answered her chronologically: "You can watch TV at 6:30." But I actually answered her kairotically: "You can watch TV after you finish your homework!" This is the way Jesus chooses to answer his disciples. "Under certain conditions, I will come. You'll know the time because circumstances will be as I describe." We will have an opportunity to look at circumstances in a few minutes.
2. Although scripture indicates that Jesus’ coming may be in secret, when his Kingdom is being established on earth, the event will be apparent to everyone.
(a) In his discourse about his return, Jesus speaks of something that seems quite out of place. Matthew 24:28: "Where the corpse is rife on earth because it stinks so, and now like never before, because there's never been such disobedience to Yahweh in all of history. We like to berate, the buzzards gather." When buzzards are overhead, everyone knows there's something dead below. Everyone today knows that the corpse of sin is the Israelites for their disobedience in ancient times. But our culture now is far worse. When the buzzards gather around the corpse, and everyone knows.
(b) Luke 17:24: "For the Son of Man in his day will be like lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other." When Jesus chooses to reveal his glory, it won't be privileged information. As all smell the corpse of this sin-sick, war-torn society (and many love that rotten smell), all will also see the Son of Man coming in glory. For most, his coming will be one of great anguish. But for the righteous, there will be great joy. Either way, when Jesus returns, nobody will wonder what's going on.
3. The Evil Empire of Satan has subverted this present world over the course of time in stages. Listen to the strategy of the Antichrist:
“A shrewd conqueror will always enforce his exactions on the conquered only by stages. The more numerous the extortions thus passively accepted, so much the less will resistance appear justified in the eyes of other people.” --Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf
In contrast, the Messiah will not need slow subversion to take over for he hold all power. His Kingdom will break in upon ordinary life in the world suddenly. Jesus illustrates this with the story of the destruction of Sodom. People "will be eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage, buying, selling, planting, building" (Luke 17:27-28). All but the elect will be going about their normal routine when His Kingdom comes. Thus "…it will take most people by surprise. They will expect only the next day, and they will discover the last day."
These first three truths show that Yahweh will respond to our times and our actions rather than to the date on the calendar. But the next point probably has the greatest bearing on the question of "When?"
4. When the Kingdom comes, it comes (1) in judgment of sin for rebellion against Yahweh and (2) with deliverance for those who have already become a part in the Kingdom. Just like the corpse draws buzzards, evil draws Yahweh’s judgment. The image of His judgment in scripture isn't pretty, but it isn’t intended to be pretty. Jesus plainly sets out the conditions that will draw his Father’s judgment like a sponge draws water:
(1) False messiahs and prophets - anything you set your hopes on.
(2) Deceptions, causing the
(3) Falling away of the religious (Europe),
(4) Persecutions of the righteous ("10/40 Window"),
(5) Hot wars and cold wars,
(6) Political upheaval (the breaking up of political "unions"),
(7) Jerusalem surrounded by armies (she is),
(8) Worldwide famines (unlike ever before),
(9) Plagues of disease (unlike ever before),
(10) Earthquakes (unlike ever before),
(11) Unusual weather (unlike ever before),
(12) Signs in outer and inner space (unlike ever before),
(13) Heart attacks (unlike ever before),
(14) Increase in immorality (unlike ever before),
(15) Natural affection (familial love) one for another will wane.
At the kairos moment, when these circumstances all occur simultaneously, then the Lord of the Universe will respond to the need for 1) judgment of the sinful, and 2) deliverance of the righteous. I'll cover these in the next two messages.
In the meantime, there is only one major prediction that has not yet manifested, but is "right around the corner." That prediction is the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus calls this "the abomination that desolates." Next Sunday we'll focus on the last prediction.
The Romans had two worthwhile sayings in regard to time. The first is tempus fugit - "time flies." Chronos-time is passing swiftly away. Soon it will be gone. "Like sands from the hourglass, so are the days of our lives." Are you more involved in Days of our Lives than the days of Christ's soon coming? Are you spending your time in Don Juan's graveyard, about to face the judge in the filthy rags, unaware that the earth is about to open and burn away your apathy-filled life? Friend, there is no time like now invite Jesus Christ in. Come to him now, and he will visit you later not with judgment, but deliverance.
The second saying is carpe diem - "seize the day." The kairos-time of Messiah's return is imminent. All has come to pass that is required. Knowing the good news of Yahweh's sure response to evil and his promise to deliver those who belong to him helps us understand why Jesus often taught about the Kingdom as a present reality. Each day we are met with choices. In each choice we make we are called upon to acknowledge the sovereignty of Yahweh. For those who watch, as Jesus commanded, the Kingdom of Heaven is with them in every decision they make; it becomes a constant orientation of life. We need not ask, "What day?" or "What season?" for in this day and each day, we choose how we are to meet Christ when he comes. Today, judgment is being drawn like a sponge draws water. Dedicate all you have and all you are and each minute you spend to Jesus while you can. Seize the day; redeem the time!