Do you know how to listen to God’s voice and welcome the Lord?
By Congming, South Korea
Thesaid: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:32-34). We Christians all know that these are some scriptures prophesying about the return of the Lord. Here, that the fig tree’s branch is tender and puts forth leaves refers to the return of Israel, which is to say, when it returns, we will know that the Lord will come back soon. Now, the Israel has been recovered for decades, so this prophecy has already been fulfilled.
The Lord Jesus also said: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. … Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come” (Matthew 24:37-39, 42). “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:7-8). We all know that in the time of Noah, people all strayed from God, did not worship Him, battled with each other and became ever more evil and debauched. They had been filthy and corrupt to such a point that it was unbearable for God to witness and finally were destroyed in the flood because of provoking God’s disposition. Look at the society now: People don’t worship the true God but worship false gods or evil spirits, compete for wealth and fame, fight both openly and in secret, and outwit each other—their evil and corruption have reached the peak and all the societal trends are becoming more and more evil and degenerate. Look at us believers in the Lord. We believe in the Lord only in name, but in actuality, we don’t live with His word in our life at all; the churches have also become the marketplaces, trapped in desolation; many believers even pursue the evil trends, follow the worldly path, covet the glory and wealth of the world, revel in the pleasures of the flesh and feasting, living in midst of sin yet not believing it to be sin. … Such a society is far worse than that of the days of Noah. Nowadays, in the world, there are unending fights between countries and disasters happen more frequently everywhere. All these signs fulfill the prophecies of the Lord’s return. It is clear and easy to know that the time of the Lord’s return has already arrived.
I had believed in the Lord for many years. Like most of the brothers and sisters in the Lord, I was waiting for the Lord’s return at every moment; especially when I saw the fulfillment of prophecies of the Lord’s return, my heart would feel eager.says: “You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). At that time, the Lord just left upon a white cloud; now the signs of the Lord’s return have all appeared, but why have I still not seen the Lord coming with a cloud to take us? I felt very anxious and worried, deeply fearful that I would miss the Lord’s return. Thus, I often prayed to the Lord to ask Him to lead me so that I could understand how I could better welcome His return and not cast off.
I had an old friend whom I had known for a long time. He had preached and worked for many years. Recently, it was so nice to have an opportunity to meet him, so I told him my worries within. He shared with me: “The Bible verses indeed say that ‘this same Jesus … shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven,’ so we all think that when the Lord returns, He will surely descend upon the white clouds. However, are such thoughts and definitions in accordance with the Lord’s will? In reality, the brothers and sisters who are familiar with the Bible all know that there are still many verses in the Bible which prophesy the method of the Lord’s return, such as ‘But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’ (Matthew 24:36). ‘If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you” (Revelation 3:3). ‘The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of’ (Matthew 24:50). ‘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. Even so, Amen’ (Revelation 1:7). Some of the verses above say that the Lord will come with clouds and every eye shall see Him; some others say that He will come as a thief, without everyone knowing. From these we can see that the methods of the Lord’s return are divided into two types: openly descending with the clouds and secretly coming as a thief. We believe that every word of the Lord will not be unfulfilled, so both these two methods will be fulfilled. God’s thoughts are higher than man’s thoughts. So we shouldn’t define the method of the Lord’s return within our own conceptions. If we only hold on to the verses of the Lord openly descending with the clouds but deny the Lord’s coming secretly, then we will easily miss God’s work of saving man in secret. The Lord will openly descend on a cloud, just as the prophecy foretold, ‘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’ (Revelation 1:7). At that time, if we become those who woe for failing to welcome the Lord when He has come secretly, then won’t we ruin ourselves?”
When I heard this, I said to him, “What you say is quite enlightening. It seems that my thinking on the Lord’s return is too simple. There are so many prophecies in the Bible regarding the Lord’s return, but I’ve defined the method of the Lord’s return without reading or pondering them carefully. Luckily, today I talk this thing with you and I come to know that, actually the Bible not only prophesied that the Lord will openly come with clouds but also prophesied that He will return secretly. Without such communication it would be easy for me to miss the Lord returning in a concealed fashion.”
He smiled and said, “Thank the Lord for His preparation. Let’s take a look at a passage of God’s word: ‘God and man cannot be spoken of as equals. His substance and His work are most unfathomable and incomprehensible to man. … For the thoughts of God shall always be higher than the thoughts of man, and the wisdom of God is unfathomable to man. And so I say that those who have “seen through” God and His work are ineffectual, they are all arrogant and ignorant. Man should not define the work of God; moreover, man cannot define the work of God. In the eyes of God, man is smaller than an ant, so how can man fathom God’s work?’
These words give us a great revelation: We whomust have reason. We can’t define how God works. God’s thoughts are higher than man’s thoughts. The prophecies all contain God’s wisdom and wondrousness, so they are not something we can define based on our conceptions and imaginations. There is a prophecy in the Old Testament, ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this’ (Isaiah 9:6-7). When the Pharisees studied the prophecies in the Old Testament, relying on their own imaginations, they thought when the Messiah came, He should be a king, born in the imperial palace, and of great stature, with a commanding presence and dignified and extraordinary appearance, but the result exceeded the expectations of them. When the Lord Jesus came, He was born in a manger and in the eyes of men, He was the son of a poor carpenter without great identity or high status. Because the Lord Jesus was not in accordance with their conceptions, no matter how many miracles and wonders He performed, how much truth He expressed, how profound His words were, they just didn’t accept the truth spoken by Him, much less did they acknowledge that He was the Messiah prophesied to come; they even nailed Him to the cross, becoming people who opposed God and were condemned throughout the ages.
Today, if we define the Lord Jesus’ return relying on our own conceptions and imaginations, and also say that whoever does not ride upon a cloud is not the Lord Jesus, then how are we any different from the Pharisees who condemned the Lord Jesus two thousand years ago. Aren’t we taking the old paths as the Pharisees? It can be seen that, it is too dangerous that we rely on our arrogant and self-righteous corrupt disposition to define the method of the Lord’s return and the literal meaning of the Bible verses to appreciate the Lord’s will. Today we must learn a lesson from the failure. We humans can’t fully understand how the Lord will come and how He will do the work to come and moreover are not qualified to define how God should do His work. Otherwise, even if we’ve heard the God’s word and seen His work, we won’t welcome the Lord’s return and can only nail Him to the cross once again, like the Pharisees. No wonder that the Lord Jesus said at that time, ‘And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive’ (Matthew 13:14). Are we not just foolish virgins? What a pity that we are unable to wait for the Lord’s return and ruin the opportunity to be saved!”
Not until I heard this passage of God’s word my friend read and his fellowship did I realize that I was really too arrogant and ignorant: How can we humans fathom God’s deeds? I am defining the return of the Lord based on my own conceptions and imaginations. This will easily cause me to make the same mistake as the Pharisees, and thus become the one who opposes the Lord and be punished by Him. The Bible says: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34). Hence, I asked him hurriedly, “How can I welcome the Lord’s return?”
He shared with me a passage of God’s word: “Since we are searching for the footprints of God, we must search for, for the words of God, for the utterances of God—for where there are the new words of God, there is the voice of God, and where there are the footsteps of God, there are the deeds of God. Where there is the expression of God, there is the appearance of God, and where there is the appearance of God, there exists the truth, the way, and the life. … If you desire to witness the appearance of God, if you wish to follow the footprints of God, then you must first transcend your own conceptions. You must not demand that God do this or that, much less should you place Him within your own confines and limit Him to your own conceptions. Instead, you should ask how you should seek the footprints of God, how you should accept the appearance of God, and how you should submit to the new work of God; that is what should be done by man. Since man is not the truth, and is not possessed of the truth, man should seek, accept, and obey.”
Thank God! After hearing God’s word and through his fellowship, I understood that if I desired to welcome God’s appearance and follow His footsteps, I needed to transcend my own conceptions and actively seek, accept and obey God’s work. Only by doing these would I have the hope to welcome the Lord and do what the prophecy in the Book of the Revelation said, “These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4). The Lord Jesus once prophesied, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:12-13). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). The Lord clearly told us that when He returns, He will certainly bring us the truth and also remind us to carefully listen to the words the Holy Spirit speaks to the churches. If we want to verify whether it is the Lord’s return, we should seek and study actively and listen to, which is the attitude that every person who is waiting for the Lord’s appearance sincerely must take. The Lord Jesus said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). This is the Lord’s promise. God’s sheep will hear the voice of God. God is also seeking for His sheep. Facing the Lord’s return, what kind of attitude we should take on earth? It is worthy of our serious consideration …
Do you want to know more about how to welcome Jesus’ return? Learn more on our Prepare for Jesus’ Return page in the section Devotional Topics, or in the following content: