Tag Archives: rapture

The Date That Jesus Returns

May 21. Circle the date on your calendar. Twenty-two days from today.

That’s the day Jesus is coming back. Don’t believe it? Harold Camping does, and a host of other people. Camping, 89 years young, owns and operates Family Radio, a network of 150 radio stations in the U.S. Years ago, the former civil engineer crunched some numbers based on his interpretation of Scripture and predicted a date in 1994. Somehow, God didn’t exactly fit into his arithmetic, and Jesus didn’t return. So, Camping crunched his numbers again and revised his date to May 21 of this year. On his website, the upcoming May Judgment Day claims “the Bible guarantees it!”

Scads of people believe, too. Around the U.S., Camping’s disciples are driving trucks with billboards on the back calling people to repent. After May 21, they claim Jesus will call his followers home, the Antichrist will reveal himself, and judgment on the rest of the world will commence. For more information, go to www.wecanknow.com.

My initial response to claims of Jesus’ impending return is, if you really believe it, then max out all your credit cards so that after you’re gone, you’ll bankrupt the Antichrist. Then I’ll know you really believe it.

Do We Really Know When Jesus Will Return?

Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

The first thing I’d like to know is, if Jesus doesn’t know the date of his return, how can Harold Camping??

Predictions about Jesus’ impending return press my buttons because I believed so deeply in their messages when I was a child. In the 1970s, dates and predictions about the rapture were legion. I was certain that I wouldn’t live to get my drivers’ license at age 16–add 30 years to that number, and I’m still waiting.

For two thousand years, well-meaning Christian leaders have been proclaiming that they’re living in the last generation And the last I heard, Jesus still hasn’t returned.

So why didn’t God rid us of the stress about dates by just giving us a date—even if it’s May 21, 2234?

He wants us living as if he could return at any time. If we know Jesus isn’t coming back for another 223 years, many of us would live like hell until just before the deadline.

But following Jesus is so much more than just waiting for his return. Following Jesus is so much more than receiving a “get out of hell” pass. Jesus came to give us an abundant life while we live on earth.

While I long to go to heaven and finally be released from frustration, pain, and bad coffee, I also firmly, deeply believe that God has placed us here for a reason. He wants to live through us, proclaiming the life that can only be known through Jesus.

Paul wrote in Romans 14:8: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

Paul describes a combination of contentment and longing. A contentment with living in this world, and a longing for heaven. And in that tension, Jesus lives through us.

But the good news is, if He doesn’t come back in May, he’ll surely come back in 2012—because that’s when the Mayan calendar comes to an end.

Join the conversation

  1. What happens inside you when you hears predictions about Jesus’ return? Do you even remotely believe it?
  2. Have you ever believe in a specific date about Jesus’ return? How did you cope with the disappointment?
  3. To what extent do you live with the tension between living in this world and longing for heaven?

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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Wasn’t Jesus Supposed To Come Back?

“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?

Please join us in our daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Daniel 6:1-28
2 Peter 3:1-18
Psalm 119:129-152
Proverbs 28:21-22

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.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. If you knew Jesus was coming back today, how would it affect your relationships and lifestyle?

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www.bibleconversation.com

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

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