Eclipse fever took hold of America yesterday. Networks broadcast from locations along the totality path. Millions bought special glasses to see it or turned cereal boxes into viewers. Millions more posted pictures on Facebook (this writer included). The big build-up left some underwhelmed by the actual event! Unless you were in a narrow band a few miles wide along a path that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina, you did not get the experience of darkness in midday that most expected!
Here in NJ, I stood on my deck and saw the sky dim somewhat but nothing like darkness. It was, none the less, an interesting phenomenon for me to see the sun hidden by the moon. What really intrigued me was the lengths to which so many people went to see the sun go dark for a couple of minutes. One man interviewed on CNN traveled from Ireland to Oregon- 5,000 miles- for the experience. Then, there was the man I spoke with who brushed it all off – “Yeah, so what? There is work to do.” I wonder if he even looked up?
Christian, there is an event on God’s calendar of time that will exceed all expectations, a moment of realization of the hopes of all the ages. The Bible calls us the “blessed hope” of the Christian. It is Christ’s return. This doctrine has been twisted inside out, abused misused, made into a coercive threat, and wrapped up in speculation. For many, it is the forgotten promise.
But, here is what we read – “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NIV)
Paul reasons that as surely as he knew that Jesus had died and come back from the dead, established truth for the Church, he also knew that He would return for His Church – both those dead and those alive. In an instant, all will be changed from mortal to immortal, all those who longed to see their King will be caught up into His eternal embrace. Honestly, that passage creates as many questions as it answers, but I choose to live in the wonder, the mystery of the promise. I remind myself often that Jesus could return today.
Jesus promised to return.
Paul expected that He would.
Peter wrote of the promise and of those who even in that first century scoffed at the idea.
“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” (2 Peter 3:3-4, NLT) He goes on to say that God’s timing is nothing like ours. In a verse much misunderstood, he uses a metaphor to illustration the difference. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9, NIV) Don’t miss the point! It’s not about days and thousands of years. It is about God’s view of time versus ours. God, the Eternal One, feels no pressure from time and is not rushed. But, He never forgets what He has determined.
At the end of the day, this is the lesson of the return of Christ. We are to live expectantly and hopefully, our choices shaped by a sure expectation of our Lord’s return.
Here is a word from the Word. Please do not rush through it. Savor it, think about it, store in your mind even as you pray for your heart to be changed by the Promise.
“Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?
Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival.
The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness. So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.” (2 Peter 3:11-14, The Message)
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen
Our God and firm foundation
Our Rock the only solid ground
The nations rise and fall
Kingdoms once strong now shaken
We trust forever in Your name
The name of Jesus
We trust in the name of Jesus
You are the only King forever
Almighty God we lift You higher
You are the only King forever
Forevermore You are victorious
Unmatched in all Your wisdom
In love and justice You will reign
And ev’ry knee will bow
We bring our expectations
Our hope is anchored in Your name
The name of Jesus
Oh we trust the name of Jesus
We lift our banner high
We lift the name of Jesus
From age to age You reign
Your kingdom has no end
Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye
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