How is it that Jesus declared that when the time of His coming had arrived that everyone would know it because every sign would have been fulfilled? "When ye shall see all these things(signs), know that it (his coming) is near, even at the doors" Matthew 24:33 Yet, a few moments later, He said just the opposite: "For in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh." (verse 44) The conditions upon earth cannot be such that everyone would know He is about to return to earth, yet at the same time the conditions be such that no one would even suspect He is about to return. Unless, Jesus was talking about two different events. (1)
First of all, one event comes as a complete surprise. There are no signs. Jesus says, "Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come." Matthew 24:42 We are not to set dates, but we are commanded to be watchful and ready with expectation that it could happen today. Jesus describes the conditions on earth that will precede this event. He declares " As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until..." Luke 17:26-27 So, it seems that conditions on earth are going very good. The economy is good, and people are enjoying peace and prosperity. It is business as usual. All is well! No worries! Jesus continues, " Likewise, also as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;" Luke 17:28 That does'nt sound like Armageddon. The world doesn't seem to be experiencing the disasters recorded in the Book of Revelation. Why? Its because they are not happening. Yet, Jesus said that He would come back at this very moment. What event could that be when nobody is expecting him and the disasters are not happening, yet? It is called the Rapture. Jesus comes back for those who trust in Him, His bride, to rescue her from the judgement to come. The Bible declares, "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." I Thessalonians 5:9 Our judgement for sin happened two thousand years ago. Jesus is going to save us from God's wrath. The Bible states, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation(wrath) be overpast." Isaiah 26:20
However, the next event is filled with signs and wonders. Jesus said,"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places." Matthew 24:7
This event is called the Second Coming of Christ. It comes after great wars and judgment from God. The Bible says that it gets so bad on earth, that if Jesus does not return to save the earth that "no flesh shall be saved" Matthew 24:22 Imagine, all life on earth would be gone. The Bible says, ."Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heaven shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" Matthew 24:29-30 Then, the prayer "Thy Kingdom come" will be answered.
Finally, the Bible says that Jesus would come as a "thief in the night" I Thessalonians 5:1, but God reminds us," Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." Revelation 3:10. In Genesis 19:22, a angel told Lot that he could not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, until Lot was outside the city. In verse 16, it says that "the Lord being merciful unto him." Jesus shows us that it is going to be the same way when He returns for His bride. In fact, He says, "But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all." Luke 17:29 God told Lot "Come out", and to Noah, "Come in", and to the church, "Come up" Revelation 4:1. Come Out, Come In, Come Up. Thats mercy!