Is Jesus Coming … Soon?

When I began seriously walking with the Lord in 1973, there was much talk about Jesus coming back. Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth had been out for a few years by that time, and had created quite a stir among many Bible believing Christians. The signs seemed to be everywhere. Matthew 24 prophecies (generalized signs) were being fulfilled. Israel was back in the land (miraculously) and was an independent state. The nations of Ezekiel 38 and 39 were being identified as current countries with a common agenda: wipe out Israel. At Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Pastor Chuck Smith would sometimes bring newspaper clippings into the pulpit as a commentary on the prophetic passage that we were studying that day. On the back wall of the Calvary Chapel bookstore was the statement, Jesus Is Coming … Soon!

I remember clearly the Yom Kippur war (October, 1973). Egypt and Syria opened a coordinated surprise attack against Israel on Israel’s holiest day of the year. On the Golan Heights, approximately 180 Israeli tanks faced an onslaught of 1,400 Syrian tanks. Along the Suez Canal, 436 Israeli defenders were attacked by 80,000 Egyptians. At least nine Arab states were involved in the attack in one form or another. Somehow, in spite of direct assistance from the Soviet Union, Israel fought back and survived the onslaught, but not without major losses (www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/73_War.html). So much was happening on a global scale that confirmed the prophetic word (Daniel 12:4, 6-10). But obviously it wasn’t God’s time for the rapture and the eventual tribulation period to begin.

Every day I lifted my eyes and looked up (Luke 21:28)—certain that I and millions of others would be snatched up into the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). In my mind, the Lord’s coming was imminent. There was no way that I would live to be as old as I am now. Jesus was coming back—soon and very soon we were going to see the King. Yet here it is … almost 40 years later … and we’re still here.

Has my belief in the 2nd coming of Christ left me? Not a chance. Have I altered my eschatology to adjust for the delay? No way. I’m as convinced as ever. Jesus is coming … soon!

What I have learned over the years is that I/we must be patient, and wait for the Lord’s perfect timing. This is not only true of the 2nd coming, but also of all of life. Patience is a requisite virtue. “Wait” is an important command. Difficult to obey, but vital to observe. God possesses unsurpassed wisdom. He knows what He is doing. Always.

The N.T. book of James speaks directly to this issue of the 2nd coming and our need to wait. (I love this passage.)

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. {8} You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8, NKJV)

The following is taken from my devotional on the book of James. I hope its application will be a blessing to you today.

With the anticipation of God’s righteous judgment (James 5:1-6), there is also the hope of Jesus’ return. We want the Lord to set the record straight and end all the pain and oppression of man, but we also know, as Bob Dylan once sang, that “He’ll replace wrong with right when He returns.” We view the Second Coming as our blessed hope (Titus 2:13John 14:1-3). All will be well when King Jesus shows up!

But we must be patient. Jesus will come in the exact proper time.

How do we prepare for the return of Christ? We watch, we pray, we stay busy with His work, we abide in Him, and we also wait patiently. It’s not always easy to do this, as we so deeply long to see our Savior’s face (Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:1-3).

The farmer is a perfect example for this. He waits patiently and is entirely dependent upon the seed, the land, and water from heaven. He doesn’t waiver in his hope that a rich crop will result. So we are to consider the farmer as we learn to wait for our Lord!

James Application Questions

1. How would you describe the intensity of your hope in Christ’s Second Coming? Rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. If it’s a low number, why is that so in your life?

2. In what ways will waiting patiently for the Lord’s return help us in relating to people, especially difficult people? Perhaps John 3:16-18Matthew 7:1-2, and 1 Corinthians 4:5 will help you with your response.

3. Find, discover the meaning of, and pray the last prayer of the Bible to conclude today’s devotional.

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  1. Barbara
    December 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Dear Pastor Bill,

    I am always interested to read your blog as soon as it hits the inbox. This evening it made me weep as I know God speaks through what you have written. I read the book of James again last Monday (7th time since James went home to be with our Lord). Karla Morgan called me that morning as God had put me on her heart. She told me to start there. I made it through to the end of Revelations by Tuesday evening. New understanding fell upon me about “good people and godly people” as we are called to fellowship and have faith through the trials of life. Now you’ve written this wonderfully vivid message and sent me back into the book of James!

    God bless you immensely, please read my prayer for today in agreement as God’s message is received: “I praise you, O God, for Your desire to save me. I thank You for demanding holiness from me to save me from the havoc sin causes in my life. I thank You for calling me to righteousness, so that my life will be a blessing to others and not a burden. I thank you for challenging me to have your character, so that others can see your glory in my good deeds. So please use me, Father. I know I am flawed, but I want to be one of Your tools letting the lost know about your mercy and grace in Jesus. Thank you for the gift of Your divine wisdom from the writing of Pastor Bill, the gift of godly people to temind me and all your chosen to stay close in the end times we wait together In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

  2. December 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Dear Barbara,

    Thank you so much for your testimony and feedback. I love the prayer you prayed! I prayed it for myself as well. Would you mind if I shared it (details excluded) with the fellowship as an illustration in an upcoming Bible study?

    God bless you, Barbara. I’m blessed and encouraged to see the way you’re hanging on to Jesus, and the way you’re allowing Him to hang on to you.

  3. Barbara
    December 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Please share! It is a humble privilege and a joyous blessing. Amen Iron striking iron often Holy Spirit sparks fly!

  4. Kathleen McCoy
    December 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Barbara’s prayer spoke the cry of my heart that I could not put words to…Praise the Lord! The coming of the Lord gives us the idea of rest from our trials, pain, and having to deal with the issues of our own sin. Being patient with others…yet, I find myself impatient with myself and my own sin… The Lord led me to the book of Hebrews today concerning patients and waiting and finding REST in the waiting…Chapter 4, He tells us if we hear his voice, not to harden our hearts…that God’s word is Powerful! Sharp as a two-edged sword, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Vs. 13, and there is no creature hidden from His sight, but ALL THINGS are NAKED and open to the eyes of Him to whom we MUST give account…These verses make me tremble for good reason!…However, in the next few verses I find my complete and total rest…REST and relief from even myself and my weakness! Hebrews 4: 14 – 16, Seeing then that we have a GREAT High Priest who has passed thrpugh

  5. Kathleen McCoy
    December 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Oops! Learning how to use my new iPhone…sorry…Hebrews 4, especially chapters 14-16 ministered to me deeply… Thank you, Bill for this blog, encouraging patient endurance…thank you, Barbara for putting my groans into words… and thank You, Jesus for being our High Priest, taking on our shame and giving us direct acsess to our wonderful Father that we may find grace and mercy in our time of need. Jesus, You are our REST!

  6. Barbara
    December 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Amen and amen!

  7. Sonny Craig
    December 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    “With the anticipation of God’s righteous judgment (James 5:1-6), there is also the hope of Jesus’ return. We want the Lord to set the record straight and end all the pain and oppression of man, but we also know, as Bob Dylan once sang, that “He’ll replace wrong with right when He returns.” We view the Second Coming as our blessed hope (Titus 2:13; John 14:1-3). All will be well when King Jesus shows up!”

    This paragraph says it all, very well, Pastor Bill. ” ‘to set the record straight’ is probably the most concise way of cramming a lot of theology about Christ’s return into few words. It is about Justice. God must deal with the problem of Evil (Lucifer’s Fall), and with the problem of the Curse of Sin and the Ground (Adam’s Fall) with no violence done to His character nor any done to human volition; we are of course, entirely in the realm of Free-Will here (and you know how much I like that topic….. You remember, ‘The Hypothetical Question’ and all….).

    That whole “Evil and Free Will” thing is the warp and woof of ALL THEOLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING, it is the key to Biblical Interpretation. If an interpretation fails the ‘justice’ test, it’s as rotten as last week’s garbage, and needs to be thrown out and replaced with a FRESH ONE, one that is Inspired, True, has Explanatory Power, and is Efficacious (meaning that the explanation of, or we could also say ‘the proclamation of’) the Gospel transfers God’s power to save and transform, and doesn’t contradict ITSELF.

    Truth is an absolute. There are no “versions” of the Truth, I remember Pastor Bill teaching one Sunday Morning. There are also no “versions” of Justice, either. Unless you are a complete Idjit, it is generally very apparent what comprises justice and tyranny in any given situation.

    This is why the NT makes the Second Coming our Blessed Hope, and why our eyes are to be on that Hope, Jesus as that Hope. There are no “versions” of Jesus, like the Pentecostal Jesus, or maybe the Baptist Jesus…..no, surely the Messianic Jesus….”I mean, Yeshua, would make the best Mahhhshiach for the most Maaaaashuganah world to come…after all, He was a Jew, you see.”

    Pastor Bill’s point, then, I hope, is taken.

    The first reason to love the Second Coming is……it brings Christ, physically, to the party. He is Justice, Truth, Word, Hope, Love, etc, etc.

    Jesus Comes = Fall Gone, Evil Gone, World Recreated, Death Gone, etc.

    The Second Reason to love the Second Coming is like the first, the quicker He comes, the quicker we move on to the Big Show. The Kingdom. And that means an end to Death, Hell, and the Grave.

    Come quickly, Lord Jesus….why? Not any academic, doctrinal, traditional, or denominational reason……that’s for sure. The Kingdom of God is not going to be some version of Sunday Church. It’s going to be ALIVE PEOPLE. Living forever. Fishing, going to the Circus, reading, mountain climbing, exploring and bringing the Gospel to new places…….good news. No more bad news.

    The arrogance of Bad Theology is that those who do so much of it never cop to the fact their motivations or protestations of protecting the Truth….reveal the opposite.

    There is no better reason than to simply want to see as many people LIVE, as possible.

    “He is the Light, and the Life of Men”

    Sonny Craig
    Apache Junction, Az.

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