Eyes to the sky
Truly believing Christ’s Second Coming
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I can’t say “I’ll be back” to my husband without him repeating, in a spectral imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Ah’ll be bahck.” I hear it even when he’s not around. When, for instance, I think of Jesus promising to return, the pledge of the Terminator often comes to mind, and his promise seems about as real to me as Jesus’.
I’m ashamed to admit it. I know the Bible is true, that all came to pass as it’s recorded, that Jesus Christ walked this earth and changed history forever, and that the Holy Spirit continues to act in my life and others’. Prayers of gratitude come easily when times are good, and prayers of petition when they aren’t. But “Come, Lord Jesus” feels as remote a possibility as mountains melting and stars falling from the sky—because those events are on the schedule too.
He’s wrapped up the past, but does He really hold the future? Of course, and yet. It’s been so long, and so much has happened. With multiplying crises and confusion, the fall of hopes and the rise of chaos, it seems that now would be a good time to return.
The earth seems as restless as its inhabitants. Here’s a headline from early in November: “Unnerving Study Reveals There May Be No Warning for the Next Supervolcano Eruption.” Toba Peak in Indonesia is one of the dozen or so volcanoes capable of an eruption that could shroud the earth in 10 years of winter. Research into its prehistoric activity indicates that magma buildup can occur slowly beneath the surface and break out with no warning. Not that it will happen anytime soon, but researchers are keeping an eye on the steady growth of an island in Toba’s caldera.
And what about the asteroids continually bombarding us from space? In 1910, some scientists popularized the notion that the return of Halley’s Comet that year would fry us all. Apophis, nicknamed the Doomsday Asteroid, bypassed Earth with room to spare last March, but close enough for amateur astronomers to track. Scary predictions of the rock’s return (I’ll be back) have gone the rounds, but by the best estimates it won’t hit us. Not this century, anyway.
Still, blazing headlines about Yellowstone blowing up or the New Madrid Fault Line buckling the Mississippi cause a momentary twinge. And how’s a layman to know whether the climate-change alarmists are entirely wrong? “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice,” mused Robert Frost, but almost everyone says it will end. While we don’t know how or when, the Word of God is clear about whether. Fervent heat will consume this planet, wrote Peter. “God has appointed a day,” preached Paul. It’s all pointing to one event: He’s coming back, and this time no one will miss it, or escape it.
Just as there was a precise moment in time when a human/divine zygote attached itself to the womb of a virgin, there will be a precise moment when the divine/human Lord declares history over and rolls up the universe. The first event is easier to imagine—if not explain—than the second, but if there was a beginning, there must be an end. Thousands of years into the future or day after tomorrow?
The earliest followers of Jesus favored the day-after-tomorrow scenario, for scoffers were already saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:4). Jesus himself claimed ignorance while He was on earth, so of course Peter couldn’t say. Nor could he have imagined us, 2000 years into the future. But God could.
That’s the only satisfactory answer. We’re impatient and fearful and doubtful that it will ever happen. It’s been so long, and times are so frightening—what is He waiting for?
He’s waiting for you. He’s waiting for me. Perhaps He’s cast His favorable eye on great-grandchildren yet unborn to complete His kingdom. If He’s willing to wait, so can we. But with hope and expectation.
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