Everyone is subject to making “knee jerk” reactions in life. The idiom refers to the reflex of a normal person when a physician taps the tendon in the knee with a little rubber hammer. The lower leg moves in response to the hammer’s impact without any conscious thought on the part of the patient. Each of us has particular ideas, training, or experiences which make our response to life almost as predictable hence ‘the knee jerk reaction.’ Now you know.
Evangelical Christians tend to have that kind of response to times of crisis and/or uncertainty. When the world gets confusing, when there are clouds of war, or when we feel threatened – just wait – here come the books and sermons on the Second Coming of Jesus. I am not expressing doubt about this key Bible truth! The “Blessed Hope” of the return of Christ for His Church is a cornerstone of my theology.
But, Christian friend, we are wrong and risk looking foolish if our knee-jerk reaction to every world crisis is a declaration that Jesus must be about to return to this earth, as He promised. Those who do so diminish the wonder of this great doctrine and start to sound a bit like Chicken Little who thought the sky was falling!
Jesus told us that history would include cycles of war, famine, natural disasters, and plague! And, He warned about the empty words of those who claim to have ‘inside information’ about the time or date of His return. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8, NIV) “No one knows about that day or hour, (of the return of Christ) not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36, NIV)
Instead of ‘getting ready’ when life goes haywire, our faith in His Return should cause us to live faithfully, serving always. If you read those chapters at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, you will find some stories about faithful service and this closing line – “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13, NIV)
We have real hope! There were some Christians in the first century Church thought they had missed out. False teachers told them that Jesus had already returned. Paul, inspired by the Spirit, tells them (and us) that fear is baseless. “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-7, NIV)
Consistently, the teaching of the Bible about the “End Times” before Christ returns goes to the theme of increasing evil. We know that there will be a ‘man of lawlessness,’ John calls this person ‘the Anti-Christ.’ Spiritual rebellion has been and will always be part of this world, but in the last days of history, this evil will escalate to unprecedented levels as a Rebel Leader attempts to take God’s place and becomes the false god of humanity.
John’s Revelation calls this deceiver ‘the beast’ and says that his evil is unimaginable, his authority coming directly from the Devil himself. “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” (Revelation 13:5-7, NIV)
God has given us these glimpses of the future not to make us fearful but so that we will remain anchored in the hope of Christ’s Return, that day when His long awaited Kingdom is fully revealed. This great hope must not be trivialized by making every blip in history a reason for apocalyptic musings. And yet, we must not set that Hope aside forgetting it because some have mis-taught the truth about Him or because there is a long delay in fulfillment.
Christ will come again! “For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape. But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. … let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-8, NLT)
Peter’s that assure us that God is faithful to do what He says He will do!
Here is a word from the Word – “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:2-9, NLT)
Renew the Hope!
Christ will return, and when He comes, sin and evil will be defeated;
those dead resurrected, those alive transformed;
His kingdom come.
Wonderful? Absolutely! The Word of God?
Yes, and our blessed Hope.
Abide With Me
(a song of HOPE!)
I have a home eternal home
But for now I walk this broken world
You walked it first You know our pain
But You show hope can rise
Again up from the grave
Abide with me abide with me
Don’t let me fall and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close God abide with me
There in the night Gethsemane
Before the cross before the nails
Overwhelmed alone You prayed
You met us in our suffering
And bore our shame
Oh love that will not ever let me go
Love that will not ever let me go
You never let me go
Love that will not ever let me go
Well You never let us go
And up ahead eternity
We’ll weep no more we’ll sing for joy
Abide with me
David Crowder | Jason Ingram | Matt Maher | Matt Redman
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