Summary: We are to patiently wait expecting Christ’s return soon
SBC Philippi 9/2/05 pm
Rev. Jeff Simms
Patiently Waiting Christ’s Return
Primary Purpose: We are to patiently wait and endure through life’s trials knowing that Christ’s return is soon.
One of the careers that calls for much waiting and trusting in God is the farmer. If you think about it there is much that the farmer can’t control about his crops and their growth. He can put the seeds in the ground and work to fertilize and build up the soil, but he can’t control if it rains or if insects attack his crops. So, he has to be patient and wait on God to provide the rains that he needs. This was even more the case in Israel where the rainy seasons were in late October and early November then again in April or May. That’s a long time to wait between rainy cycles. So, it called for much patience in the face of waiting through many dry days and that kind of patience is what James calls for us to have here. (Read James 5:7-12)
I can recall working in a church in Virginia as a deacon. One of our men was a peanut farmer. Every summer he had the prayer request for rain. It seemed like there was either too much or too little. It was an issue that brought him much anxiety. The word patient that James uses in verse 7 and 8 here is the greek word Makrothumeo (mak-roth-oo-meh’-o) it means to be long spirit, not to lose heart, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others. This is a difficult trait to have sometimes. In the case of those James is writing to they are enduring great persecution and have become scattered. James is telling them to wait on the Lord and to trust Him. This is where true patience comes from—the Lord Jesus Himself who was always patient with the weaknesses of others. So, if we are really going to demonstrate this kind of patience then our focus needs to be on Him.
The second thing that James tells them to do is to “establish your hearts” vs.8. In waiting on God to work we should not complain or grumble against each other he says. But, rather we are to fix or strengthen our hearts. The reason that James says that we can do this is that “the judge standeth before the door” (door is the word Thura (Thoo’-rah)) vs.9. Brother, if he was standing at the door in James’s day then he must have the hand on the doorknob in ours. The idea of standeth before the door means that the visible return of the Lord Jesus is near. We are to live in the light of that return and to be ready. Our judge (krino- Kree’-no one who determines, judges, to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong, to pick out, to choose) who will come to judge the wicked and reward the righteous is on the way.
This is something that Jesus taught quite often: His return. In Matthew 24:42-44 we see Jesus refer to this coming again and our response to it is “keep watch, because you do not know what day your Lord will come.” Then later in verse 44 it says that the “Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” We are to be a people expecting the Lord to return. Many people want to make charts and graphs talking about all the details of the Lord’s return and prophecy and that is very interesting, but what are we to do with that information? We are to be prepared for his coming, so that he will find us working and living for him when he comes. His coming then causes us to become more diligent to live for him and to live in a state of readiness not wasting my time on trivial things. He is trying to be patient with people now giving them time to repent. But, one day he will come quickly. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says that it will be like a "thief in the night”. Again, that means that it will be sudden and when we don’t expect. So, be watchful and prepared.
Two other examples that James gives for those who suffered and were patient is the prophets and Job. When we think of the prophets we think of men who spoke the word of the Lord amidst much opposition. They lived for the most part in times when men didn’t live for the Lord, but they did and faithfully spoke God’s Word. For their effort they were ridiculed and some were murdered and some were simply ignored. Isaiah was said to be sawed in two. Jeremiah was ignored most of his life, endured the hostility of others as put in the stocks and then dragged off the Egypt at the end of his life against his will. But, they patiently endured the abuse they suffered because they knew they were being faithful to the Lord and that God would reward them one day for their efforts. Whether anyone listened or not, they knew that they were in the center of God’s will and that is what mattered.