The question is: “How long is soon?”
The 2,000 year-old question is: “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:4)
1. Guesstimating the date of His return by correlating Bible prophecies and contemporary events. This response has brought disrepute and discouragement to many believers.
In 1987-88, Edgar Whisenant sold 4.5 million copies of his book, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” He was a former NASA engineer and Bible teacher who staked his life on Jesus coming back in 1988. Whisenant followed up with predictions for 1989, 1993, 1994 and 1997. Then he stopped writing.
Over the past two decades Christians have seen signs of Jesus’ return in Y2K, “The Jupiter Effect,” Michael Drosnin’s “Bible Code,” “Comet ISON” and most recently the “blood moons.”
There are books by Bible teachers in the market now that say signs are pointing to everything changing sometime in the next two years (I wrote this over two years ago).
2. Writing and teaching about living in the “end times.” “End times” books could fill endless libraries. Best sellers (“The Late Great Planet Earth” and “Left Behind”) have found a place on the bookshelves of Christians, but have not created much, if any, sustained behavioral change in believers.
3. Giving up hope in the return of Jesus. This is a sad, and an untenable choice.
Six Reflections On The Timing Of Jesus’ Return
1. The return of Jesus is inevitable.
Jesus clearly and consistently said he would come again. He said:
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will COME AGAIN, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)
“When the Son of Man COMES in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31)
“For the Son of Man is to COME with his angels in the glory of his Father”(Mat 16:27)
2. The timing of the return of Jesus is not determined by critics, crises or calendars.
* Critics: They mock, “Where is the promise of his coming?” 2 Peter 3:4
* Crises: Famine…Floods…Global warming…unrest in the Middle East – Jesus will not return and the world will not end because of natural disasters or a zombie Apocalypse.
* Calendars: God’s sense of timing is not tied to calendars or clocks.
2 Peter 3:8 – “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Psalm 90:4 – “A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past or as a watch in the night.”
The Psalmist’s argument and Peter’s reference is that there is no difference whether a promise is near (one day in the future) or far (a thousand years in the future). God keeps His promises because his nature is to be faithful. What God has promised will come to pass.
3. Jesus is not slow or unfaithful – He is patient, and gracious.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9,10
The length of time between the promise and the fulfillment means one more person can come to believe the saving grace of Jesus. Could that person be you?
4. The return of Jesus is imminent.
Jesus can return at any time. His return is described as “like a thief in the night.” His consistent teaching to his disciples was to “live ready.”
Matthew 24:42-44 – “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming…if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
5. The assurance of Jesus’ return is the motivation for living a life of purpose.
The New Testament emphasis about Jesus’ return is not on “when” but on “what.” Jesus’ focus was on WHAT his followers should do to be ready for his coming.
“When he appears, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And every man who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3
“…live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope” Titus 2:12, 13
Live as if Jesus would return today…plan as if Jesus would return in 100 years.
6. What you believe is what gets you through.
“Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God.” John 14:1
Believing that Jesus loves you, died for you and was raised from the dead for you is the beginning of peace. It is also the power to live for Jesus and prepares you for His 2nd Coming. The Holy Spirit is given to you at the moment of believing to provide assurance of His love and salvation, everyday, until you see Jesus face to face.
APPLICATION: What do you believe about the return of Jesus?
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