Q. In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus mentioned the need to watch for His 2nd coming (Matthew 24:42). I understand that we must keep watch for the Rapture since it will take place in “a twinkling of the eye” on an unknown date and time. However, the Second coming of Jesus is certain to happen after the 7-year Tribulation which will be known to the entire world including believers who survive the Tribulation (because everyone can see Him coming in the clouds!). So why watch for the Second Coming? What will be the consequences if one fails to watch for Jesus’ second coming?
A. First, let’s be sure we understand that the rapture will include all born again believers whether they’re looking for it or not. Our place was guaranteed from the moment we heard the Gospel and believed it (Ephes. 1:13-14). Like everything else with the Church we’re not punished for failing to do something, we’re rewarded for doing it. For example, by longing for the Lord’s appearing, we’re earning a crown (2 Tim. 4:8).
The Lord’s admonition to watch for the 2nd Coming is another matter. We know it’s important because He repeated it several limes in the span of just a few verses. (Matt. 24:42, 44, Matt. 24:50, Matt. 25:13). Unlike the church, Tribulation believers will not have eternal security. Because of the incredible pressures of the Great Tribulation, some will grow tired of waiting for His coming and will give up. When they finally see Him coming on the clouds it will be too late. This loss of faith will result in their exclusion from the Millennial Kingdom. This is symbolized in the parable of the 10 virgins where Jesus told the five who arrived late, “I tell you the truth I don’t know you” (Matt. 25:12).