Pietist mystic and scholar Johannes Kelpius and his followers settled in present-day Philadelphia in 1694. Known as the “Hermits of the Wissahickon” because they lived along the banks of Wissahickon Creek, these 40 men thought the apocalypse and Second Coming would happen that very year. They were the first group in America to make such a prediction—though they were of course wrong.
Many false prophecies have been made about Christ’s return. The truth is that no one knows the day or the hour (see Matt. 24:36). Like a “thief in the night,” it will be an unwelcome surprise for unbelievers (vv. 1–2). It won’t come out of nowhere, however. A pregnant woman cannot say exactly when labor pains will begin, but when they do it’s not usually a total surprise (v. 3).
In fact, believers shouldn’t be surprised at all (v. 4). For us, His return will mark a joyful end to our waiting. Like a pregnant woman who has her hospital bag packed and ready for when labor pains begin, we, too, can be prepared. After all, we are “children of the light,” meaning we’re spiritually awake and attentive. God has given us the spiritual life and knowledge we need to be on the alert for Christ’s return (vv. 5–7). Our daily waiting involves “putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (v. 8). By contrast, unbelievers live in darkness, meaning they’re ignorant or oblivious (like a drunken person).
Christ’s return is the consummation of God’s plan of salvation (vv. 9–10)! Those who reject Christ will suffer God’s wrath, but for believers His death has saved us from that fate and given us instead eternal life with Him. As we continue to wait, this is the most encouraging and edifying truth we can share with one another (v. 11).
A good prayer for today is Maranatha, or “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). We do not wait in vain on a false prophecy or wishful thinking. The object of our faith is absolutely truthful and trustworthy. No matter how difficult our immediate circumstances, each of our days can be filled with hope and expectancy. Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming back!