My parents have an amazing library. First edition books, original expedition maps of the Arctic and Grand Canyon, and series of rare and antique books which we had the privilege of exploring when we helped them move. None of that was a surprise to us as we grew up loving books and were familiar with their library, but what I realized was my dear parents have child-like hearts. My very educated and successful parents kept and treasured the stuffed animals we (and others) had gifted them over the years. The menagerie includes a buffalo, monkey, and several bears – one plays the bagpipe from Scotland. I could see how those simple toys brought joy to them in such a stressful time of moving. Jesus said that unless we become like little children we will not enter the kingdom of God (Math. 18:3). How can we be mature and wise yet be childlike? What does this have to do with the return of Jesus? I think starting at Jesus's first coming and studying the "wise men" may help.
The wise men. I sometime giggle when I say that because honestly, they got lost at the end of the journey, asked the wrong guy for help, and said way too much. But I honor their dedication and the fact that they calculated and discerned the time when Jesus was to be born. These kings from the area near Babylon were most likely Chaldean astronomers who were of the school of knowledge taught by Daniel. So they would have been very skilled in astronomy and the prophecies concerning the Jewish Messiah. When Daniel was speaking to King Nebuchadnezzar, he made a statement that I think is important for us today as we watch for the return of Jesus: “No wise man, enchanter, magician, or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries..." (Daniel 2:27) The Holy Spirit reveals mysteries - no amount of knowledge, study or wisdom of man can compete with the One who knows everything.
I once heard a cute story of two little kids who went to the county fair together. One of them was so proud because he had $20.00 and joyfully told the other boy, "Look at what I have to spend today!" The other little boy grabbed onto his dad's hand and smiled, "Yeah, but I have Daddy." Little kids are so raw and real. As we get older, I think we have little moments when we violate small aspects of our conscience which over time accumulates and our spiritual senses can become dull. We say little things we don't really mean and eventually begin to lean more and more on our intellect instead of being led by the Spirit. This is why I try to pray daily, "Father, create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me." (Psalm 51:10-11) We need to ask Abba Father to give us a child-like heart of pure faith - and He will do it. Just come to Him humbly, on your knees is a good posture, and simply renounce pride and self-reliance. Even reliance on what we think we know from the word of God - some may be man-made religion and not Spirit and truth.
Jesus told the Pharisees, who asked Him when the Kingdom of God was coming, that it wouldn't be so apparent that someone will say, "Look! There it is!" (Luke 12:20-21) At that time, many Jews were taught that the Messiah would arrive in military grandeur and release them from the bondage of the Roman Empire. They were partly right - but the wrong timeframe. He WILL come as their military hero but not until the very end. His first coming was to release us from the bondage of sin and death. If we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, then we should have a witness of Jesus's return for us. Anna and Simeon were in the temple waiting for the Messiah because the Holy Spirit led them there. Simeon was told by God that he would not die until He saw the Messiah. This is the same Holy Spirit is who is telling our spirits that Jesus is coming soon...that He is coming very soon.
At the time of Jesus's first coming, He told the Jews they should have known His coming was at hand by the signs and the prophets. The Kings of the East were able to find the Jewish King they were seeking by following the prophetic words given by Isaiah, Daniel and Micah and the astronomical signs predicted. There were calculations and seasons and fullness of times that we need to know now. We should pay attention to reputable teachers anointed to teach on the end times. But at the end of the day, the real verification, the sure test of where we are in this dispensation, is the witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul told the Corinthians that God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; that He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27) Let us be good Bereans and study the word – being wise in what is good and harmless to that which is evil. We need to have our hearts purified by the washing of the water of the word and come to Jesus as little children. Knowing that if we follow a sign or a theory without the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we could end up at Herod’s house.
Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes."