“Kids, we need to get our lives right with Jesus because he’s going to come back any day now,” I proclaimed while standing on a folding chair in my 2nd grade Sunday School class. It was 1972 and the Second Coming of Christ was a major topic of discussion in nearly every church.
That same year a cheesy movie was released entitled “A Thief In The Night.” The movie was effective in scaring many teenagers into the kingdom of God—including my wife Kelley.
Today, I rarely hear about Jesus’ return.
Was all of the commotion much ado about nothing? Is he coming at all? And if so, what’s taking him so long?
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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Daniel 6:1-28. In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, King Darius was a much more humble man. He was a Persian, not a Babylonian, the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 5 that the Persians would invade Babylon. By the time King Darius was duped into signing an edict declaring that everyone must worship him, Daniel was well into his 80s.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
By the end of elementary school, I considered myself an authority on anything related to Jesus’ second coming. But after waiting and waiting, yet no return, I became very disillusioned and skeptical about any matters concerning the end of the age.
By the end of his life, the Apostle Peter realized that his timeline regarding Jesus’ return might not resemble God’s. He never thought he would live as long as he did (I never thought I’d live to get my driver’s license!). Here’s what 2 Peter 3 tells us about Jesus’ return:
In the last days scoffers will doubt Jesus’ return. To scoff means to mock or make fun of something. Peter then recalls the flood, reminding his readers that God intervenes whenever he sees fit.
God’s timing is different than ours. Peter writes that “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (verse 8). God isn’t constrained by time. He’s never in a hurry and he’s never late. But he is patient. At this point, Peter seems to be implying that Jesus may not come back for a lo-o-o-o-ng time. He was right!
The fact that Jesus hasn’t returned yet is an act of God’s mercy. After the resurrection, the disciples assumed Jesus’ second coming would occur within a few years. I’m sure Peter assumed Jesus would return much earlier in his life, but at this point, Peter had waited 30-35 years. He was confident of Jesus’ return, but now he writes with a bit more perspective. Jesus hadn’t returned because God is giving people time to give their hearts to him.
Jesus will return when no one is expecting it. This is a great reminder that predictions concerning dates will always be wrong. We explore the subject of dates and Jesus’ return in an earlier post, The End of The World As We Know It…Or Not. Judgment will come. The earth will be destroyed and we will someday experience a new heaven and earth.
Eugene also offered an excellent post entitled When Is Jesus Coming Again? Or Has He Already?
So, nearly 2000 years after Jesus, we still wait. How should we live?
Peter tells us to live holy lives because we don’t know when Jesus will return. Let’s keep our accounts short: Say what needs to be said, be quick to forgive, and live as if Jesus is coming back today. Then he reminds us that this world is not our home. All of it will one day be destroyed, so we need to avoid living as if this is all there is.
If you knew Jesus was coming back today, how would it affect your relationships and lifestyle?
Your answer to the question tells you how you should live.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- If you knew Jesus was coming back today, how would it affect your relationships and lifestyle?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.