(…continued) Jesus final words at the end of the book of Revelation are “I am coming soon.” Soon, he said. And that is followed by this urgent prayer: “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” Now, 2000 years later, the world is still suspended between Christ’s first coming as that baby in the manger, and this second coming at the end of the world. That, says the Bible, is how it will all turn out. Jesus will return and all will be made new and right again. The perfection of the original creation will be restored. But we do have to wait.
In the last days some will scoff at such prospects, said Peter (II Peter 3:4). He wrote, quoting his critics who were saying, “Where is this coming that Jesus promised. Ever since our ancestors died, everything keeps going on as it has since the beginning.” Peter himself believed that “the end of all things was near.” But he did not live to see it– and twenty centuries later we are still waiting. Obviously, God’s timing is different from our timing. “Soon” apparently means something different to an eternal God than it does to us time-bound creatures. This need not surprise us. ‘Soon’ means completely different things to different people. Tell an eight-year-old that you will take her to Disneyland world in a year and she will say, “A year? That’s like forever!” But tell a 58 year old that he has only a year to live, and what will he think? He will think, “Only a year? That will be over in no time.” Is it any wonder that God’s perspective on time is not like ours? After all, the Bible says that to God a thousand years are like a day.
The timing is actually only a minor detail. Sooner or later, Jesus will come again, and that hope and promise changes everything. To know that the end of our story is good, to know that our end is not just a hole in the ground but a new life in an eternal home, to know and be able to wait for that kind of end, makes us much more able to handle all the trials and troubles on the way.
G. K. Chesterton once said that the most wonderful thing in the world is to be “looking forward to something good that is just around the corner.” Jesus promises the greatest good possible for us, and he says it will be there, just around the very worst corner, death. Believing in that promise will give us an entirely different perspective on all our days until then.
In a German prison camp in World War II, the American prisoners had secretly acquired a radio. One day the news came over the radio that the German high command had surrendered and the war was over. But because of a breakdown in communication, the German guards did not yet know that. As word spread among the prisoners, a loud celebration broke out.
For three days, the prisoners were hardly recognizable. In a moment, they had gone from dejection to elation, from agonizing and seemingly endless waiting, to eager anticipation. They sang, they waved, they laughed at the guard dogs, and they shared old jokes at mealtime. On the fourth day, they awoke to find all that all the Germans were gone. The guards had all fled, leaving the gates wide open, and the American soldiers soon arrived. The prisoner’s time of waiting had come to an end.
Life in the prison had not yet changed immediately after the prisoners heard that good news. They were in the same miserable condition as they were before the news. But the prisoners knew that things would soon change and they would be all right; and that made all the difference
As those who believe in God’s Good News, we need not respond with fear and anxiety to the daily news of one crisis after another, along with those troubles in our personal lives. Rather, we can, like those prisoners of war act on that Good News that we have heard and believed, and live every day in the confident hope of God’s coming Kingdom.
II Peter 3:8 — Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
I Corinthians 15:51b-52 — In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, we shall be changed.
Colossians 3:1-2…4 — So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth… When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.