"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” - Matthew 24:42
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” - Matthew 25:13
Every Christian alive today on this sin-troubled planet will exit this world in one of two ways, either by death or by the rapture at the Second Coming of Christ. Concerning the first, we are instructed by Hebrews 9:27, It is appointed for man to die once, and after that to face judgment. Concerning the second, Paul speaks of a mysterious generation, the final one in history: Behold I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:51-52); and again, Paul says the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
So, in one of these two ways, we will all depart this world. We will not be here forever, our time here is fixed and the hours are fleeting. James says What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes! (Jam. 4:14). One of the most significant things a Christian can do after conversion is to number his or her days, to gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). And as we do, it becomes obvious that both the day and hour of our death and the day and hour of the Lord’s return are shrouded in mystery. Moses makes a distinction between the “secret things” and the “things revealed”: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law (Deut. 29:29). The day and hour of our departure from this world are “secret things”, and the Lord has given this clear command to us all: watch, be ready at any moment, live in such a way that you will not be ashamed no matter when the Lord calls you out of this world. In a series of exhortations to this end in Matthew 24-25, Jesus says again and again, “keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour.” He speaks 1) of a householder being constantly prepared for the thief in the night, 2) of a chief steward who is entrusted with charge of the master’s household to give the other servants their food at the proper time while the master is away, 3) of five wise and five foolish virgins, some of whom were ready for the bridegroom when he came and some of whom were not. The bottom line is that we are all to live in a state of unknowing concerning this aspect of the future. That we will exit this world is abundantly clear. That we will give our King a full account of our lives and all our decisions is just as clear. That we believers will be received by God as fully righteous in Christ is the centerpiece of our faith. But the exact time of our departure is shrouded in mystery, hidden in the mind of God.
"That we believers will be received by God as fully righteous in Christ is the centerpiece of our faith."
Therefore, let us resolve to make the most of today, to do all the good works God has ordained for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Let us resolve concerning our departure from this world as nineteen-year-old Jonathan Edwards did in his famous “Resolutions”:
Resolution #7: “Resolved: Never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”
Resolution #19: “Resolved: Never to do anything which I should be ashamed to do if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trumpet.”