The unexpected nature of life begins early. We speculate about the approximate date of a child’s birth and then, talk about the child as coming “early” or “late.” We know the day is coming, but the onset of labor is still a surprise. Paul spoke of the unexpected nature of the day of the Lord, saying it “will come…suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child…” (1 Thes. 5:3).
The end of life is, likewise, unexpected. Even when we are alerted to its approach, the hour of death is still quite a surprise. The brevity of life is described in Scripture as a vanishing vapor (Jas. 4:14), a vacating wind (Ps. 78:39), and a passing shadow (Ps. 144:4). Death is certain. It “is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…” (Heb. 9:27). Like “water spilled on the ground which cannot be taken up again”, “we will surely die” (2 Samuel 14:14). So much of what God says about the brevity of life leads us to the conclusion that we were never created for this life alone – we were created to “fly away” to our eternal home in heaven (Ps. 90:10). The departure date of that flight is yet unknown to everyone but the Father (Matt. 24:36).
While an eternal destiny is promised to everyone (Mt. 25:46); heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people (Jn. 14:1-3). Life is about preparing for the next life. Don’t let that day overtake you like a thief (1 Th. 5:4). On that day, “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). The good news is that “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but all to come to repentance” (vs. 9). We look for and hasten His coming by living holy and godly lives (vss. 11-12).
The day of the Lord is coming. We don’t know when, but the trumpet will sound and all who have died will be raised with an imperishable body (Jn. 5:28; 1 Cor. 15:42). But the dead in Christ will be raised first (1 Th. 4:16). All will stand before Christ and be judged according to His word (Acts 17:31; Jn. 12:48). In Christ, we will not stand alone, even in judgment. He is our “Advocate with the Father” – His blood, the atoning sacrifice applied to our sins (1 Jn. 2:1-2). Without Christ, nothing but hopeless, eternal destruction can be expected (2 Th. 1:9). Are you ready for that day to come?