Some time ago my wife had an evening meeting at church. As my daughters and I watched her get some things ready, we noticed that she was leaving with two delectable desserts. When we couldn’t get her to give us samples before she left, we pleaded with her to bring some home after the meeting. She promised that she would.
As the night went on, the girls repeatedly asked me just one question, “Dad, when’s mom coming home?” When it got dark, the questions crescendoed. I told them I wasn’t sure of the exact time but I knew she was going to come. At about 8:30, the troops were getting restless so we went outside to wait for her. No one had shoes on and some of us were in our pajamas (you can tell that I was in charge that night!).
At first we sat on the front porch and just waited. But then, the girls started doing cartwheels in the grass. Eventually, one of them got out her pogo stick and we all tried jumping on it. The girls really laughed when I attempted to hop around. The later it got, the more distracted we became. We were so focused on just being goofy that we stopped asking about mom. Our youngest got tired so I put her to bed (that way I could eat her dessert). About 9:20, Beth rolled into the driveway. She was startled to see us outside in our pajamas and we were tickled to finally get our treat.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is a bit like this. The Bible tells us that Jesus is returning but we don’t know when. While many are filled with expectation, a good number are distracted by other activities, and some have just fallen asleep.
Did you know that according to one estimate, there are over 2,000 references to the second coming of Jesus in the Bible? For every prophecy concerning the first coming of Christ, there are eight that look forward to His second. I recognize that you may be rolling your eyes right now, thinking that you’re going to hear about some wild-eyed predictions related to the end times. Don’t worry — I’m not going to do any date-setting, for as Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour…”
Even though theologians differ over the details of His return, there is widespread agreement that Jesus is coming back. Jesus said in John 14:3: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” The Bible clearly pictures the coming of Christ at a time when the world does not expect it. 1 Thessalonians 5:3: “While people are saying, ‘Peace and Safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
There are signs, however, that the return of Jesus is closer than we may think. Jesus mentioned increasing wars, famines and earthquakes as the “beginning of birth pains.” Coupled with natural disasters and runaway diseases, we will see an acceleration of unbridled evil as 2 Timothy 3:1 says, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” Trouble is coming.
I’m thankful that Jesus meets us in the storms of life. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, lost his home and church building to Hurricane Katrina. Most of his 7,000 members were scattered across the United States. In his sermon after the storm, Luter concluded with these words: “Always remember that when the storms show up, so does the Savior.”
That leads to a question: Is there a hurricane in your heart right now? If so, run to the Redeemer for refuge. The only way to weather Category 5 challenges in your life is to make sure your levees are built on the Rock of Ages.
If you have never turned your life over to Christ and received His salvation, please do so before it’s too late. Ponder the words of 2 Peter 3:9-10 in the Message: “God isn’t late with His promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining Himself on account of you, holding back the end because He doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. But when the day of God’s judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.”
If you’re alive when He returns, will you have an attitude of expectation? Or are you distracted… or maybe even asleep?
(Rev. Brian Bill is the Senior Pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church in Rock Island, Illinois. His sermons can be found in video or audio formats or full-text manuscripts at: www.edgewoodbaptist.net).