Formations lesson for Dec. 2: Waiting for Christ
November 16 2001 by Tom Greene , Matthew 24:36-44

Formations lesson for Dec. 2: Waiting for Christ | Friday, Nov 16, 2001

Friday, Nov 16, 2001

Formations lesson for Dec. 2: Waiting for Christ

By Tom Greene Matthew 24:36-44 An unusual drama unfolded in Low Hampton, N.Y. on March 21, 1843, as an excited group of people gathered. They were followers of a preacher named William Miller, who predicted that this would be the night Jesus would return to earth. Some of them had given their property away; some were dressed in long white robes; and some climbed on barn roofs so they could meet their Lord sooner.

When the appointed hour of midnight approached, the anticipation reached a frenzied pitch. Midnight came and went as did other early-morning hours, and nothing appeared in the heavens except the stars that had been shining ever since creation. As the sun rose, a disillusioned crowd scattered and went home to an early breakfast, amid the jeers of a few drunkards.

This is not the only sad example of this kind of activity in the annals of Christian history. Again and again, people have attempted to predict the end of the world and have always come to this same result.

We need to ask ourselves: What about the concept of the end of history and the doctrine of the second coming of Christ? How are we, as believing Christians, to regard this and relate ourselves to it?

It should be obvious that Jesus' return to earth is a central part of the biblical message. The New Testament points to the actual return of our Lord. Jesus made this explicit again and again in His teachings.

After all, the world is the creation of a purposeful God and there will be some kind of fitting conclusion.

This is what the second-coming means in the overall view of history. The one who began a good work at creation is going to see it through to completion.

Already we have seen that Jesus specifically predicted that He would come again in the clouds. He also emphasized in His parables the note of uncertainty and challenged people to be eternally vigilant and prepared at all times (Matt. 24:42, 44). We mortals have no way of knowing precisely when this event will take place. If Jesus and the angels in heaven are not privy to such information (Matt. 24:36), it is hardly wise for us to spend our days and nights trying to predict the moment. All we know is that it will come unexpectedly, "like a thief in the night."

Why is it we take Jesus literally when He promises to return, but at the same time blatantly ignore Him about the sheer uncertainty of when this will occur? One factor at work can be the rising complexity of the times. When the going gets rough, our fears and insecurities intensify, and we begin to feel that things are in such a mess that only the intervention of God is capable of undoing what has been done.

Jesus did not tell us when He was going to return, but He did tell us what He wants us to be doing until He comes. We are not to let our interest in "the last things" divert us from faithfulness to "the first things" (2 Thess. 3:11). But rather, we are to commit ourselves to Christ and learn to love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves. First things first, which is not to speculate, but to love.

The story is told about an ancient warrior who was struck from his horse one day by a deadly poisonous arrow. He happened to be a speculative sort of person, so as he lay on the ground he mused to himself: "I wonder what kind of wood this arrow is made of? What sort of birds, do you suppose, the feathers come from? I wonder what type of man shot this arrow? Tall or short, dark or light?"

But his comrades, who saw his plight, could bear it no longer and cried out in frustration: "For God's sake man, stop speculating and pull out the arrow!"

Does anymore need to be said?

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11/16/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tom Greene , Matthew 24:36-44 | with 0 comments
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