Summary: Exposition of 1 Peter 4:7-11
Living Like There Is No Tomorrow
William Miller came to Christ in the mid-19th century, a period of great revival in the churches of the NE USA. It was a time when, much the same as today, there was a keen interest in the prophecies of the Bible, especially concerning the return of Christ. Right after his conversion, Miller immersed himself in the book of Daniel, and after 14 years of study, he announced Jesus Christ would return to earth sometime in 1843 or 1844. He eventually nailed down the date to October 22, 1844.
On the morning of October 22, 1844 thousands of people gathered on mountaintops and in churches. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in reunion with their departed loved ones. Philadelphia society ladies clustered together outside town to avoid entering God’s kingdom amid the common crowd. When the day passed uneventfully, many Christians grew disillusioned. The unsaved became cynical. The event became known as “The Great Disappointment”, while some of Miller’s followers evolved into the Seventh Day Adventist movement.”*
I wonder if you’ve ever found Bible prophecy to be a little disappointing. It’s not that you don’t believe Christ will return, but it can get confusing tying to make sense of all the conflicting theories about the rapture, the tribulation, and the millennium. I have seen charts depicting dragons and goats and angels and temples, depicting the same events in different ways, each claiming to be the only true one. You don’t want to get caught up in another “Great Disappointment.”
I believe the best way to approach Bible prophecy is to start with the right question, which is not “how can I figure out what God is going to do?” but instead, “Lord, since I believe You will return how should I live right now?”
The apostle Peter wrote his first epistle to a church that was suffering intense persecution, to people who were tempted to give up their hope. They didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, so in 1 Peter 4:7-11 Peter teaches them how to live as if Jesus would come back today—to live as if there is no tomorrow. His words here give us 3 ways for us to live like there’s no tomorrow:
I. LIVE EXPECTANTLY (v. 7a) …the end of all things is at hand…
At first glance it seems Peter is as mistaken as William Miller was. The end of all things… obviously refers to the end of the world as we know it. No more tomorrows: Jesus is soon coming back to fulfill
Revelation 11:15 …“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
All true Christians believe this will happen, but the Bible does not tell us when it will happen. But Peter specifically states this cataclysmic event is …at hand… = near in time or place. Since Peter wrote these words almost 2000 years ago, and obviously Christ has not returned. was Peter mistaken? No. Like all of the apostles, Peter had heard Jesus tell them no one could predict the hour or day of His coming. Yet throughout the NT, Jesus’ return is consistently said to be “at hand.”
Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
James 5:8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
The idea behind all of these verses is not that Christ’s coming is immediate but that His coming is imminent. It could happen at any time. Peter is emphasizing that we should all live expectantly because though we don’t know when, Jesus may come at any moment.
Matthew 24:44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
We ought to be looking for Jesus to return at any moment the way a wife waits for her husband to come home from a long journey, or a child waits for her dad to come from home. Christians are praying and desiring that their Savior will come and rescue us from evil and make this world right. We ought to be waiting with joy for Jesus to arrive!
If there’s any reason why we ought to be excited about Biblical prophecy it ought to be this: Jesus could come at any moment. Yet for some of us, that might not be such a thrill.
If Jesus came back tonight, how would you feel? Would you wish you had more time to get ready? Would you wish you had done more to please Him? Will you be afraid that you might miss something you wanted on this side of heaven?