Will some have a general idea of when these events will take place?
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief" (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!" (Matthew 24:32-33).
Although the Bible is clear that no one will know the exact time of Christ's return, both Jesus and Paul said that Christ's followers should be able to recognize the signs leading to it. Many prophecies give us explicit details that can help us know when that time is near. That is why it is vital that you read and study these prophecies in your own Bible (comparing other versions and translations can often help increase your comprehension).
How are we to prepare for these momentous events?
". . . Let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:6-11).
"Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36, NASB).
"Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is. It is like a man, away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert" (Mark 13:33-35, NASB).
"Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all, 'Be on the alert!'" (Mark 13:35-37, NASB).
"Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you" (Revelation 3:3).
God's Word gives us plenty of direction so we can be spiritually prepared for these events: ". . . Let us not sleep . . . Watch and be sober . . . [Put on] the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation . . . Be on guard . . . Keep on the alert . . . [Pray] in order that you may have strength to escape all these things . . . Hold fast and repent . . ."
The apostle Paul vividly describes mankind's attitude, approach and outlook in the end time: "But be certain of this, that in the last days . . . men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, uplifted in pride, given to bitter words, going against the authority of their fathers, never giving praise, having no religion, without natural love, bitter haters, saying evil of others, violent and uncontrolled, hating all good, false to their friends, acting without thought, lifted up in mind, loving pleasure more than God" (2 Timothy 3:1-4, Bible in Basic English).
At the end of this age, men and women will be utterly selfish and self-absorbed. They will be blind to the increasing danger signs all around—and taken by surprise. If we do not follow God's instructions to be sober-minded, watchful and alert, we run the risk of falling asleep and being spiritually unprepared—and we will suffer the consequences of our neglect.
Will some assume that Jesus Christ will not return after all?
"Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to 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 creation'" (2 Peter 3:3-4).
What is God's perspective on the timing of Christ's return?
"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Peter tells us that some will misunderstand the conditions leading up to Christ's return because they view time from a limited human outlook rather than from God's perspective. God, who is immortal and eternal and has always existed, doesn't look at time the same way we do. When trends and events don't develop as we think they should, or when Jesus doesn't return when we expect, some fall into the trap of assuming that the biblical promises and prophecies will not take place.
These people, said Peter, make a fundamental mistake. They fail to recognize that God is patient, allowing time for us to turn to Him in repentance. God "now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world . . ." (Acts 17:30-31).