Tag Archives: I Wish We’d All Been Ready

When is Jesus Coming Again? Or Has He Already?

Wearing my dress whites, I stood at parade rest on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. The sun heated the sky into a skillet gray. Sweat beaded on my face and threatened to soil my uniform. I was one of thousands of sailors enduring a full dress inspection. An Admiral slowly worked his way through our ranks randomly stopping in front one hapless sailor after another nailing each for uniform infractions.

Somehow I knew I would attract his attention and that I would fail inspection. Failing held dire consequences. The ridicule and punishment would be severe. Without moving my head, I gazed off into the cloudless sky and prayed that Jesus would suddenly appear in the sky and yank me (and any of the other Christians  present) out of this tribulation.

I was eighteen, unhappy, a seaman in the Navy, and a believer in something Christians call the Rapture. The Rapture is a belief that somewhere near the beginning of the end of the world (pre-tribulation) Jesus will appear in the sky and remove the Church from the coming wrath of God and tribulation.

As I predicted, I failed my inspection. And on top of that, either I was left behind or Jesus did not come back that day back in the 1970s.

I hope it’s the latter. If that’s the case, when is Jesus coming back?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Jeremiah 23:21-25:38

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

Psalm 84:1-12

Proverbs 25:15


Psalm 84:1-12: Even sparrows and swallows receive God’s care and attention. What does that mean for humans?

Not so much for many of us modern 21st Century humans, I’m afraid. We live too far away from the natural world of the sparrow and the swallow to really know what these agrarian, outdoorsy allusions in Scripture mean.

I call this the curse of air conditioning. Though modern advancements and technology deliver many blessings, they also tend to separate us from the real world and its all too real Creator. Like a child who believes money comes free and unfettered out of automatic teller machines, we believe our protection comes from our amazing technology and our sustenance from the grocery store.

But the “Lord God is a sun and shield” our source of life just as he is for lowly sparrows.

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When is Jesus coming back? Jesus said no one but the Father knows, not even Jesus knew at that point. I’m still waiting, though not as impatiently as that day on the Kitty Hawk. I no longer believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, however. Not because of that disappointing day on the flight deck but because, I now understand my belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture flowed out a deep misunderstanding of God and my misguided desire to escape trouble and difficulty and pain.

I’m not saying that all who believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture do so out of a need to escape pain (though it is a question worth asking ourselves). I know there are biblical passages that can be interpreted to support the Rapture. For example, Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:1: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, . . . .” Many interpret the phrase “gathered to” as a reference to Christians being gathered in the air to Jesus and then taken into heaven.

The myriad biblical interpretive nuances (too myriad to discuss here) aside, one major reason I left my Pre-Tribulation Rapture belief behind is that all through Scripture and history God seldom pulls his people out of tribulation or trouble. Sometimes God even led his people into trouble and always–always–walks his people through tribulation. See Abraham, Israel, Moses, David, the prophets, John, Jesus, Peter, Paul, the Church, and Martin Luther for just a few examples. In the end God also turns that trouble into a new story, a new opportunity to walk with God. This focus on God as a rescuer seems to diminish God’s role as redeemer.

And I don’t think I’m straining at gnats in making this theological distinction. If we expect God to rescue us from the ultimate tribulation, why not daily trouble such as a full dress inspection or real, worse trouble. Then what do we do when God doesn’t rescue us? Do we then miss the truth that, though Jesus will be coming back in bodily form, he is also already here in Spirit walking through trouble with us? What we believe about theological ideas such as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture reveal who we believe God is and shape what we expect life to be like.

When is Jesus coming back? In his time, but probably not just in time to rescue his beloved. While we wait, Paul does not want us to be unsettled or alarmed or to be deceived, however. Rather we are to stand fast in Christ. As I look back on that day on the Kitty Hawk flight deck, I realize I was not only immature but also not left behind. Rather I now see God’s grace has been sufficient for me in all and every situation, joyful and painful.

1. Which passage spoke most to you?

2. What did the four have in common?

2. How do you see God in nature?

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com


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Are You Ready?

In 1969, Larry Norman released his first solo Christian music album, Upon This Rock. The back side of the album–pressed in vinyl!–featured a song that became the rallying cry of the burgeoning hippie-driven Jesus Movement.

I Wish We’d All Been Ready (you can watch it in the video above) foretold the day when the world comes to an end and Jesus escorts his people home. Across the country, hippies raised their index fingers in the air and proclaimed, “There’s only one way, to Jesus,” and “Jesus is coming soon.”

So what happened? Did Jesus return? And what does the Bible say about Jesus’ coming back?

Join me as we explore this subject in today’s reading.

Note: An acquaintance of mine, David Di Sabatino, recently released a documentary on Larry Norman’s life entitled “Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman.” For more information go to http://www.fallenangeldoc.com/


Exodus 21:22-23:13
Matthew 24:1-28
Psalm 29:1-11
Proverbs 7:6-23


Exodus 20:20. I know this goes back to yesterday’s reading, but it really speaks to me: “The fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” Taking God seriously can keep us from sin.

Exodus 22:2-3. This seems like a precarious law: If a person robs you at night, you can kill the person. But if it happens after sunrise and you kill the person, you’re guilty of bloodshed. What’s the difference? The Bible Background Dictionary explains, “When a burglar enters a house at night and is killed by the homeowner, this is considered a case of self-defense…That changes, however, if the break-in occurs during the day, because the homeowner could more clearly see the degree of threat and could call for help.”

Exodus 22:21-24; 23:6,9-11. Of the litany of laws in today’s reading, the command to be kind to the alien, widow, and orphan speak to me the loudest. Roman Catholic theologians espouse the “preferential option” which means that all things being equal, God sides with the poor. Because of this, we must side with the poor.

Exodus 22:28. The command “Do not…curse the ruler of your people” is selectively obeyed today. Seems to me that most people obey it when their candidate is in office and invalidate it when the candidate they opposed in the last election is in office.

Matthew 23. In the chapter, Jesus gives the religious leaders of his day a whuppin’, which pretty much sealed his fate. His message? Appearance means nothing. Motives mean everything. And what motives is God looking for? Justice, mercy, and faithfulness (sounds reminiscent the comments made from Exodus 22). It’s important to remember that Jesus wasn’t against the Law (see Matthew 5:19). This is a good lesson for churches that get caught in the business of ministry–or stuck  following the rules and then neglect the true intention of our faith: loving God and loving our neighbors.

Matthew 24:15. A great deal of conjecture exists regarding the meaning of the “abomination that causes desolation.” First, it’s a reference to Daniel 11:31 and 12:11. Some historians believe it occurred in 167 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes placed a pagan statue in the Temple. Josephus, the first-century historian believed it was fulfilled when the Jewish temple was destroyed in 66 AD.

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In my childhood, I listened to sermons on Matthew 24 nearly every week for two years (at least that’s how it felt). Line-by-line, we were shown parallels between Matthew 24 and the present: rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, famines and earthquakes, people turning away from the faith, an increase in wickedness.

And I drank the Kool-Aid. In Sunday School I told my friends they needed to repent because Jesus was coming soon. I pored over books about the last days. Surely, I thought, I’ll never get my drivers’ license or get married.

But Jesus never came back—at least not in the way that I expected. In my seminary studies, I discovered that for two thousand years, preachers have pointed to sections of this chapter as evidence that they were living in the last generation. And up to this point, all of them have been wrong.

Nevertheless, people still flock to Bible prophecy conferences and feed on novels like Left Behind.

True confession: sometime, I’d like to attend one of those prophecy conferences and stand up in the middle of one of their general sessions and yell, “If you really believe it, run up your credit cards as high as you can so that after Jesus comes back, you’ll bankrupt the Anti-Christ!”

So how are we to respond to passages like Matthew 24?

We read them closely and take them seriously. Jesus could return any day now. Of course, he could return much differently than any of us expect. We also live as if we’re ready to go: keep our accounts short in our relationships and in our walk with God.

But beyond that, we keep on living.

Isn’t that how Jesus wants us to live anyway?


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Read Exodus 21:23-25 and then Matthew 5:38-40. The first passage instructs people to live by the rule of “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But in the second passage, Jesus directly contradicts it. How do you reconcile the two passages? Should one overrule the other? Why or why not?
  3. What would your life look like if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow? What prevents you from living that way right now?
  4. What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now? In light of Psalm 29, what do you think God is saying to you in response to it?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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