Is the Bridegroom Coming?

by Doug Batchelor

If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of." Matthew 24:48-50.

During World War II, resistance fighters in France believed the Nazi occupation was temporary. They fought long and hard and suffered much when captured. These brave men and women continued their campaign against pathetic odds, spurred on by the faith that the Allied forces would soon come and deliver France from its cruel oppressors.

But, as days turned into weeks and then months into years, some of the freedom fighters grew weary of their life of constant resistance and fighting. To them, it began to seem that the Allies would never come-that they were too busy fighting the Nazis on other fronts. It looked as though France would forever be under the control of the enemy.

In time, a few freedom fighters discovered that it was much easier to cooperate with the Germans. They even began to make friends with them and to betray their fellow Frenchmen in exchange for favors and position. Then, suddenly, came D-Day. France was liberated, the freedom fighters who endured to the end were heroes, and the traitors who capitulated were publicly humiliated, tortured, and killed.

Could it be that final events in the church will closely resemble those in France during the war?

One of the greatest dangers facing God's people in the last days is not the big or small time of trouble. It is not the threat of imprisonment or torture or hunger. Rather, it is the apparent delay of the Lord's return that will lead to a paralyzing apathy among professed believers. To many, it will seem easier to join the world than to reject it.

Notice in Matthew 24:48 that the evil servant says in his heart, "My lord delayeth his coming." He makes no outward announcement. It is an inner erosion of his faith. This loss of faith in his Master's return may be evident in everything from sporadic church attendance to giving less mission offerings. Soon he begins to beat his fellow servants (mostly with his tongue) and to eat and drink with the drunkards (finding his friendships and amusement in the world). The evil servant is ultimately hoping his Master will not come after all, because he has aligned himself with the enemy.

Delay Foretold by Christ
The day of Christ's return has been later than most have expected, but this shouldn't surprise us. Jesus foretold this delay and what would be the general reaction.

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." 2 Peter 3:3, 4.

Notice that there is a connection between doubting His coming and walking after our own lusts. We will be in grave danger if we ever stop believing in and proclaiming the imminent return of Jesus!

On the other hand, faith in the imminent coming of Jesus has a sanctifying effect. "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." 2 Peter 3:14. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

1 John 3:3. We must not lose faith in His promise, "I will come again."

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." Matthew 24:13. Only those who thoroughly love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8) will last through this final delay that will test "the patience of the saints." Revelation 14:12.

We should expect and prepare for this time of delay! God's Word foretells it. The Bible was written that we should be armed and ready, with oil in our vessels.

Am I saying that, because a delay prior to the Lord's return is prophesied, we should hunker down and just watch the years roll by? Heaven forbid! I am saying, rather, that we have been in the time of delay for over 100 years now. It is almost over, and many seem about to lose heart and throw in the towel just before the last bell.

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9, emphasis added.

To God's remnant church has been committed the most precious message ever entrusted to mortals. Now, more than ever, we must not loose our moorings and join the world. Jesus is about to come!

Lessons from Noah
Matthew 24:37 reminds us that "as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."

In Noah's day, many at first believed his message of impending judgment and even helped prepare the ark. But when the years rolled by and the predicted Flood did not come, they lost faith and joined with the ranks of the mockers.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 declares, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."

There are those who say-not only in their hearts, but in their behavior-"My Lord delays His coming." As in the days of Noah, those who have had great light will reveal their inconsistency. Because Christ's coming has been long foretold, they will conclude that there is a mistake in regard to this doctrine. But the Lord says, "Though it [the vision] tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Habakkuk 2:3.

Two Ways to Deal with Delay
There are two popular yet conflicting proverbs which describe how people generally respond to a delay. The first is "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," and the second is "Out of sight means out of mind." These opposite attitudes are evident in the following examples of Saul and David.

The second proverb is illustrated by the story of Saul at Gilgal (see

1 Samuel 13:1-14). The Lord had told King Saul to wait seven days before venturing into battle. At the end of the week, the prophet Samuel was to meet Saul at Gilgal to present an offering to the Lord. But, for some reason, Samuel tarried. The people had become restless from waiting and were beginning to lose heart and desert the army, so Saul felt justified in disregarding Samuel's command. He took things into his own hands and altered the rules by usurping the position of priest and offering a sacrifice.

1 Samuel 13:10 says: "And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came." If only Saul had waited a little longer! So many give up just before the finish line. So many will desert the church just before Jesus comes. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A man is not a hero because he is braver than anyone else, but because he is braver ten minutes longer."

When Samuel came, Saul went out to meet him. "Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue." 1 Samuel 13:13, 14.

God allowed this delay to test Saul. When the king became impatient, he lost faith and failed the test. Thus he lost the kingdom. I fear this will happen to many in these last days.

I believe one reason the Lord is allowing this tarrying time is to sift His true servants from the false and to separate the precious wheat from the worthless chaff.

Now contrast Saul's experience with David's response to delay. Many years passed between the time David was anointed by Samuel to be king until he was actually crowned. During those years, David waited for God to give him Saul's crown. He had several opportunities to become impatient and take matters into his own hands. On more than one occasion, David held Saul's life like a helpless bird in his hands. All he had to do was say the word for Saul to be slain, and he would instantly have become king. But David patiently waited for God's timing.

"David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed." 1 Samuel 26:10, 11.

David did not understand the delay, but he trusted God's promise: "You will be king!" And his patience was richly rewarded.

Nearing the Promised Land
Delay tends to leave a vacuum that must be filled-either with faith and patience or with personal efforts to change the situation, perhaps even by creating a new god.

Exodus 32:1 says, "And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him."

This story of the children of Israel making the golden calf is one of the most striking examples of present trends, and I fear it is about to be repeated by God's people as we near the promised land.

In this passage, Moses is a type of Jesus. Moses said, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken." Deuteronomy 18:15.

When Moses was called up the mountain to receive the tables of stone from the Lord, he told the people that he would return. But evidently he did not say exactly when. They never dreamed it would take so long. Forty days? Why, it took less than that for the 10 plagues and the exodus from Egypt!

Moses tarried, and for some the unexpected delay was unbearable. "Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Exodus 32:2-4.

Before the children of Israel left Egypt, God allowed them to plunder the Egyptians as payment for their years of unpaid services. Just a short time later at Mt. Sinai, we find they were proudly wearing their money to display their wealth. The earrings were not only on the wives, but also on the sons and daughters.

Sound familiar? I can almost hear the excuses used by the children of Israel to persuade Aaron to sin. "The young people are getting restless and are clamoring to go back to Egypt. We need to make some compromises or we are going to lose them!" In their restlessness, they began to return to the pagan worship of the nations around them.

Are we making the same mistake today? As I travel around North America and visit various campuses, it appears that the standards for Christian appearance are not much different from those of the world. When I ask some of the school leaders why we don't hold the line, they generally reply, "We needed to make some adjustments to reach the youth."

Exodus 32:6 says, "They rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." The children of Israel made a rapid transition from worship to potluck, and then to play. Could this happen to us? Has this happened to us? Our sacred worship services, which should be dedicated to reverently offering adoration to a holy God and teaching the people present truth, has in some cases digressed into entertaining the flock.

"And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp." Exodus 32:17. Actually, war would have been preferable to what was actually happening!

What should have been a praise that beckoned the angels to draw near had degenerated into what Joshua interpreted as the confusing and disconcerting sounds of war. But Moses said, "It is not the noise of the shout of victory, Nor the noise of the cry of defeat, But the sound of singing I hear." Exodus 32:18, NKJV.

If the people had been shouting praise for victory over sin and for souls won, that would have been good. Or, even if they had been crying in repentance for giving in to temptation, that would have been preferred. Jesus says in Revelation 3:15, "I would thou wert cold or hot."

But to rise up and play-to throw a party at such a solemn time? Moses was about to descend the mountain with a contract from the Almighty, written in His own hand. God's people had grown weary of waiting, and when Moses did come they were unprepared. As a result, some were executed, and some were exalted. This will happen again. "Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Matthew 24:44.

Will We Watch and Wait?
Many years ago in New England, when the sailors went to sea on the merchant ships, one could witness a touching scene at the docks. As the sailing men bid their wives and children farewell, they would promise a safe return with exotic gifts from far-away ports. Such trips often took weeks or even months, and the exact time of return was impossible to predict.

Many a wife would say, "I will keep a light burning in the window until you come home."

The hardest part of this separation was the silence. This was before the age of radio or regular mail service, so whenever any new ship entered the harbor, the wives would run to the docks and inquire, "Have you any word of my husband's ship?"

Sometimes ship captains would extend their trips to California in order to make a rich profit. The Panama Canal had not yet been built, so such a detour could lengthen the journey from months to years!

Meanwhile, the sailors' wives would sometimes grow weary of waiting and blow out the light in the window. Some had their husbands declared dead so they might marry another. Others, in despair, would cease to care for the children or clean the house.

There is a faithful proverb that says, "The wives who love their husbands most wait the best." I read of one loyal woman who kept the light burning in her window every night for 50 years-until her death-for a husband who never returned from sea.

When a ship did return after an unusually long voyage, what a bittersweet drama was displayed on the docks! Some sailors would greet their wives and children with unspeakable joy, long embraces, and many gifts. Others, in anguish and tears, tossed their gifts into the sea upon hearing that their wives had not waited but had taken another husband. How awkward and humiliating it must have been for those impatient women when they learned their husbands had returned, as promised, with their sea bags full of money and treasure-only to find them in the arms of another.

Friends, how will Jesus find us when He comes?
"And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." Habakkuk 2:2-4, emphasis added.

The evil servant and the scoffer blame God for the delay (Matthew 24:48 and 2 Peter 3:3, 4). Ahab similarly accused Elijah when he demanded, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" 1 Kings 18:17.

It's easy to blame God or someone else, but perhaps the blame lies with us for not taking seriously the great gospel commission. For this reason, God in His mercy has delayed His coming.

What a loving God! He loves every person on earth as much as He loves you and me, and He is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). He wanted to come many years ago, but His mercy for those who have not heard and those who would not believe has delayed His return.

An inspired Christian writer has said, "It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years." 1

The basic test in these last days is going to be that of faith in the Master-faith in His return, in His Word, and in His promise, "I will come again." John 14:3.

We must daily place our faith in Him through prayer, study, and service. Keep the faith! Jesus is coming back soon. The delay is almost over!

Let our prayer be, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

1 Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 696.


When you post, you agree to the terms and conditions of our comments policy.

If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.
To help maintain a Christian environment, we closely moderate all comments.

  1. Please be patient. We strive to approve comments the day they are made, but please allow at least 24 hours for your comment to appear. Comments made on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday may not be approved until the following Monday.

  2. Comments that include name-calling, profanity, harassment, ridicule, etc. will be automatically deleted and the invitation to participate revoked.

  3. Comments containing URLs outside the family of Amazing Facts websites will not be approved.

  4. Comments containing telephone numbers or email addresses will not be approved.

  5. Comments off topic may be deleted.

  6. Please do not comment in languages other than English.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or by Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate.