Q: Do you think Jesus has a concrete date fixed for His Second Coming, or can we advance His Second Coming through the proclamation of the gospel? — Becky, from Spain
A: Becky, some prophecies of the Bible are fixed and unconditional, but these are very rare. They relate to what God promises to do on His timetable.
For example, the first gospel promise, found in Genesis 3:15, is unconditional. God promises to save us through the seed of the woman, which will crush the serpent’s head. The time of the first advent of Jesus is fixed in Daniel 9:25-26. This prophecy indicates when Jesus would be anointed by the Holy Spirit and begin His Messianic work (27 A.D.), and when He would be “cut off but not for Himself,” dying on the cross for our sins and putting an end to sacrifice and the temple services because He was the fulfillment of them.
But the Bible doesn’t give a specific time for the Second Coming of Jesus. Although we don’t know exactly when it will be, we are told when it is near, and we should know the signs of His coming (see Luke 21:29-31). So in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, Paul tells us, “Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
But we’re not only to look for and anticipate Jesus’ coming; we are called to hasten it through the proclamation of the Gospel that will lighten the whole earth through God’s glory (see Revelation 18:1; 2 Peter 3:11-12).
We are also told that Christ could have already come to take us home. In the book “The Desire of Ages,” we read: “Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory” (pp. 633, 634).
Because God wants everyone to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4), the gospel must be preached everywhere so everyone has the opportunity to hear and make a decision for Jesus before it’s too late. Then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
This is why Mission to the Cities and Total Member Involvement is so important. As Ellen White clearly indicates, “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers. The salvation of sinners requires earnest, personal labor. We are to bear to them the word of life, not to wait for them to come to us” (“Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 9, p. 117).
You can read more about the Second Coming, its timing, and events leading up to it in the very insightful book “Last Day Events,” available for free download here.