Some Christians say Jesus cannot be present because we cannot literally see him. The Scriptures teach that Jesus not only comes unawares “as a thief,” but he is also
present unawares “as  a thief.” Why? Because he returned as an invisible spirit being. That is why Jesus told his disciples in John 14:19 — “yet a little while, and the world
seeth me no more….” When the time comes for his revealing to the world, they will mentally discern him. In Revelation 1:7, the Greek word translated “see” — “every eye shall see him” — is often used to denote mental perception. Blind people say, ‘I
see,’ to express mental discernment.
Proof That Hecko Means “Be Here” or “Be Present”
Strong’s Concordance, #2240 — to arrive, that is to be present.
Young’s Concordance — to have come, be here.
Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon
— to have come, be present, be here.
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
— to have come, have arrived, be here.
Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by Vine — “I come and am here.”
As Vine observes, hecko means — come (arrive) and be here.
Hecko does not mean the instant of arrival, but includes both arrival and presence.
For the general use of hecko in the New Testament, see Luke 15:27, John 4:47, and 1 John 5:20.
Why Some Christians Are Unaware
Luke 21:34-36 warns that when Christ returns, some Christians will be unaware of his presence. This “Day” comes as a snare upon two kinds of Christians. Some are overcharged with the cares of this life; others neglect the Word and Spirit of God to follow leaders who misguide them.
Luke 21:34-36 also refers to signs of Christ’s second presence. Notice how watching Christians are aware when
“the day of the Lord” comes upon them, whereas the world and negligent Christians are not.
Our Lord says, “Take heed to
yourselves, lest at any time
your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you [Christians]
 unexpectedly. For as a snare shall it come on all them [the world] that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch [watch yourselves and also the word of prophecy] ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
The phrase “that ye may be accounted worthy to escape” in verse 36 of the
King James Version is a poor translation. Compare the following translations:
Revised Standard Version: “praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place.”
New American Standard Version: “praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place.”
Rotherham: “making supplication that ye may gain full vigour to escape all these things that are about to be coming to pass.”
New English Bible: “praying at all times for strength to pass safely through all these imminent troubles.”
These translations prove the thought of the Greek* is that watching and praying Christians will receive the strength to pass through the troubles during the early period of that “day.” Note that the church is still on the earth. Strength is not necessary for an experience from which the Lord removes you, but the Lord gives strength to endure the dangers Christians must encounter in the tribulation. However, negligent Christians are ensnared by these dangers. Note well the implications of this scripture.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words and
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament observe that the Greek word in Luke 21:36 translated “accounted worthy” in the
King James Version is not found in the most authentic manuscripts. Instead, the Greek word
katischuo, which means “full strength,” appears. The word “escape” is a translation of the Greek word
ekpheugo which means “to seek safety.” Thayer defines
katischuo ekpheugo — “to have full strength to overpower or overcome.”
Faithful Christians are here during part of the tribulation period, but are sustained by the strength of the Lord.
Luke 21:29-31 discusses the “fig tree”—Israel coming to life. This parallels the “fig tree” passage of Matthew 24:31-33. In Matthew 24 the “fig tree”—Israel coming to life again—was one of the signs of the parousia—presence—of Christ. The “great tribulation” of Matthew 24:21,22 was also a proof that Christ was present. The “great tribulation” of Matthew 24 parallels the “distress of nations with perplexity” of Luke 21:25. Luke 21:29-31 shows “that day” of Christ’s presence includes severe tribulation that only the Lord’s people who are watching and praying will have the spiritual “strength” to endure. Notice Luke 21 confirms the twofold lesson of 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10. First, the faithful watchers will not be caught unaware of his return. Second, they will be aware of his invisible presence during the troublous events of “that day of the Lord.” Because they are watching, the Lord’s people will receive the spiritual strength to endure some of the trying experiences of that day before they are taken to be with their invisible Bridegroom.
The Church Lives Into Part of the Tribulation
Nahum 1:5-8 confirms this thought. Verse 5 describes mountains quaking, hills melting, and the whole world being devoured by the presence of the Lord. Verse 6 asks, “Who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?” Verses 7 and 8 answer this question: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”
The “day of trouble” which accompanies the Lord’s presence finds the church still here on the earth. (Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 1:14-15) The Lord is their stronghold during this tribulation. By contrast, in Verse 8, he will pursue his enemies with an overrunning flood and darkness.
Psalms 46:1-6 deals with the tribulation period that brings the present world to an end. While the earth is being removed, while the mountains are being carried into the sea, while the sea is roaring, and while the mountains are shaking, we find in verse 4 that the church, the “City of God,” is still on the earth.
Why is it that “she shall not be moved” during the tribulation? Is it because the church is with Christ in heaven? No! “God is in the midst of her” while she is yet here on earth. The church would not need this protection if she were already taken home, but she needs it in the time of trouble while she is still here. God will protect her in the trouble and, additionally, He “will help her right early.” The church will only experience part of the tribulation before her resurrection change. This cannot refer to “tribulation saints” of Revelation since only the church, the bride of Christ, is symbolized in Scripture as the “City of God.” (Compare Psalms 46:5 and Revelation 21:2.)
A deeper insight into the nature of the tribulation in Psalms 46 is obtained from the meaning of the word mountain as used in the Bible.
Mountains are symbolic of kingdoms or nations. In Jeremiah 51:24-25, the nation of Babylon is called a “destroying mountain” because of her many military victories. Speaking of the nations that opposed Israel, Isaiah 41:15 states that Israel would “thresh the mountains” and “make the hills as chaff.” In Daniel 2:35, 44, 45, the Kingdom of God is described as a “great mountain” that “filled the whole earth.” Thus we see in scriptural usage, mountains are symbolic of kingdoms or nations.
Water is often symbolic of people (Revelation 17:15).
The roaring sea would represent the restless or anarchistic elements of mankind.
When Psalms 46 says, “The waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the
mountains shake with the swelling thereof” and “though the
mountains be carried into the midst of the sea,” it means “the great tribulation” will result in the destruction of the nations by anarchistic elements of society.
A further proof that the church is still here during part of the tribulation is found in Matthew 24:21. As discussed, Matthew 24 contains a series of signs or events that denote, not the imminent coming, but
the secret presence of Christ. Faithful watchers would discern these signs of Christ’s presence. A period of unprecedented trouble is spoken of in Matthew 24:21 as one of the signs of Christ’s presence; and faithful watchers will see these
 signs. Therefore, some of the church will be on earth when the tribulation begins and discern it as a sign of Christ’s presence.
These scriptures are but a few that reveal that the church will still be on earth during part of the tribulation.
Is the Tribulation a Period of Seven Years?
The tribulation period is variously referred to in Scripture as follows:
Matthew 24:21 — “Great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
— “A time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.”
Isaiah 22:5; Obadiah 14; Nahum 1:7; Habakkuk 3:16; Zephaniah 1:15; Ezekiel 7:7 — “A day of
Note that nowhere in these tribulation scriptures is a seven-year period mentioned.
Many fundamentalists are unaware that the “seven-year tribulation” is mistakenly based on Daniel 9:24-27—a scripture that has nothing to do with the “tribulation” which closes the Christian Age. (See
Appendix E for a detailed discussion on the “Origin and Scriptural Evaluation of the Seven-Year Tribulation Theory.”)