Then, if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or “There he is!”—do not believe it. For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear; they will perform great miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible. Listen! I have told you this ahead of time.
Or, if people should tell you, “Look, he is out in the desert!”—don’t go there; or if they say, “Look, he is hiding here!”—don’t believe it. For the Son of Man will come like the lightning which flashes across the whole sky from the east to the west.
[This is the one of 15 scriptures in which Jesus provides his disciples with some details about the Second Coming of Christ. For more on the Second Coming see Day 150. For more on the Messiah see Day 145. For more on the End of the Age see Day 128.]
Clue #10: The Son of Man will come suddenly.
Jesus has warned his disciples several times about false Messiahs and prophets.
Way back on Day 87 he warns them, “Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves.”
On Day 124, as part of this prophecy, he says, “Then many false prophets will appear and fool many people. Such will be the spread of evil that many people’s love will grow cold.”
On Day 206 he says, “Watch out, and do not let anyone fool you. Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will fool many people.”
Jesus tells his disciples that they should ignore rumors that might pop up after his death that he is wandering around in the desert or that he is hiding out in a cave somewhere. This reminds me of all of the Elvis sightings that took place for years after his death in 1977. There was, for example, a rash of sightings in the late 1980s in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The people who believed that they saw him either asserted that his death had been faked or that he had been resurrected from the dead. Many believed that it was a conspiracy. Jesus said it would not be like Elvis. He said that when he returned from the dead it would be decisive and sudden and highly visible. Like lightning.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ resurrection picks up on this reference to lightning. It says that the angel who rolls the stone away from Jesus’ tomb appeared like lightning:
After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid that they trembled and became like dead men. (Matthew 28:1-4)
Then Matthew describes how the resurrected Jesus appeared to the women – suddenly:
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Peace be with you.” They came up to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. “Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to them. “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:9-10).
And so it seems that this particular prophecy was fulfilled at the time of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. And there will be one more great “suddenly” that follows in the Book of Acts after Jesus ascends into heaven:
When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. (Acts 2:1-4).
And that’s the way it has worked with my own spiritual journey. Long stretches of just plugging along uneventfully, and then something happens – suddenly – that changes everything. A visitation, a revelation, a prophecy, a rhema word, a divine appointment, and it’s a whole new world. We move from glory to glory in fits and starts, guided by flashes of the Kingdom of God that appear here and there. Suddenly. Always suddenly, and unexpected. Like lightning.
What does this scripture say to you?