Summary: Every day we move closer to Christ's return.
The Promise of the Lord’s Return
Rev. Brian Bill
This has been quite a week weather-wise in our country. With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the East Coast, people are worried and taking precautions. Earlier in the week an earthquake shook up many of these same people. Some headlines are asking if we are in the last days because of these cataclysmic events. Others are mocking and making fun of it all.
This was especially the case when many Californians scoffed at the scared people on the East Coast. One lifelong veteran of earthquakes had this to say: “Really all this excitement over a 5.8 quake? Come on East Coast, we have those for breakfast out here!” Another tweeted, “That's what us Californians use to stir our coffee with.”
My wife heard some talk radio people laughing their heads off this week after one of them read Isaiah 29:6 in a mocking way: “The Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.” I don’t know what they said next because she switched stations in a hurry.
Let’s face it. Some of the stuff we hear does make us roll our eyes, like when Harold Camping predicted the world was going to end this past May. I guess the countdown clock we’re supposed to follow now is the coming expiration of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012. Funny, I didn’t know we were following the pseudo-scientific and superstitious Mayan calendar!
With all this apocalyptic hyperbole, many Americans mock it all and others are seriously questioning if Christ is coming back at all. Friends, we should not be surprised when unbelievers laugh at the Lord’s return. Listen to the words of 2 Peter 3:3-4: “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised?’”
While Harold Camping was wrong in many things he said, he was right when he said Jesus is coming back. His timing was all messed up, but the truth of the second coming is a promise made by Christ Himself.
Before we ponder this promise, here are three thoughts.
1. This is a deep subject. One scholar has estimated that there are over 300 separate prophecies related to the second coming of Jesus in the Bible. For every prophecy concerning the first coming of Christ, there are eight that look forward to His second! (Today in the Word, April 1989, page 27). I’ve included three appendices at the end of the manuscript for those who would like to study more in-depth.
2. There are differences of opinion. The theology of the end times has been debated and argued down through the centuries. My own understanding of this doctrine has not been without some struggle because no one passage tells us everything. No matter which view you hold, you have to think about how Matthew 24 and 1 and 2 Thessalonians relate and how all this goes together with the Book of Daniel and Revelation. When we come to terms with what we believe the Bible to teach, we must be gracious towards those that have different views.
3. Avoid the dangers of two extremes. One extreme is to be more concerned about dates and times and signs than with His return. The other extreme is to ignore the promise of His return and go through life as if He’s not coming back. Frankly, I don’t know which one is worse.
I’ll Be Back
According to a survey in U.S. News and World Report, 61% of Americans believe in the Second Coming of Christ. A Newsweek poll reports that 45% believe that Christ will return in their lifetime. The people at Pew Research report that 79% of U.S. Christians believe in the return of Jesus, but there’s much less agreement about the timing and the circumstances surrounding His coming.
As helpful as polls might be, when it comes right down to it, what really matters are the promises of God as found in the Bible. That’s what we’ve learned together this summer – the promise of eternal life, the promise of victory, the promise of forgiveness, the promise of guidance, the promise of answered prayer, the promise of wisdom, the promise of peace, and the promise of God’s presence. You can jump online to catch any you might have missed at pontiacbible.org. The difference between all these promises and the one we’re studying today is that we’re still waiting for the fulfillment of His return.
The Bible is clear that the return of Christ is a promise that can be counted on. Jesus communicated this very clearly in John 14:3: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” This literally reads, “I come again.” His coming is meant to serve as a comfort to the disciples. The One who said, “I go,” is the same One who said, “I come.”