“Long ago… God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
We have been talking about the “last days” of planet earth – and pointing out what the Bible mentions as the “signs of the times.” Most of our focus has been on our culture, but in this last installment (for now) I wanted to talk about us, the people who love God and follow Jesus.
Something that we often miss is the fact that “the last days” have been with us ever since Jesus ascended back into Heaven (to sit at the Father’s Right Hand; Eph. 1:20-21).
Scripture tells us that from that moment on… we have been living in the last days.
From the day of Pentecost, when Peter stood and preached his first sermon, the theme was centered in Joel’s prophecy of “the last days” being initiated by the infilling of God’s Spirit (Acts 2:17). Paul often referred to living in “the last days.” As did James. And the writer of the Hebrew letter (as we quoted above).
It is a consistent theme – proclaimed from day one… we who believe in Jesus are living in the last days.
But a couple of questions emerge… IF we have always been living in the last days (from day one) why has Jesus not yet returned? In other words, why the centuries-long delay?
The answer to this question is that Jesus will only return at the time that the Father has determined. And only then.
This was at the heart of Jesus’ discussions with His disciples… “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only …as fixed by His Own authority.” (from Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7)
Well, okay… so what’s the hold-up? Why so slow in keeping His promise to return?
God is not dragging His feet. He has not forgotten His promise. He is not taking a two-millennia long nap. He is simply “leaving the door open” so that every person may receive what Jesus has done, and can enter in.
This ties in with the two admonitions for us who are waiting in these last days. 1) We are to be about the business of “making disciples” who will devote themselves to Jesus and His teaching (Matt. 28:19); and 2) we are to “live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2 Peter 3:11-12)
The concern is always that God’s people will get distracted, lose sight of Jesus’ eminent return, and go about life just like every other person who is unconcerned (doubtful) about Jesus’ return.
This was Jesus’ concern in one of His last conversations with His disciples about this topic. He exhorted them to “stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42; read vs. 36-51!)
And that is the test… for every generation of the Church. Will we live like Jesus’ return is… today! OR will we push aside all concerns and live in any way we want (and comfort ourselves with the fact that we profess to believe in Jesus).
It is the age-old question, but with a different (and eternal) twist… what would you do if you knew you only had one day to live?
Christians are supposed to live (and live accordingly) in the reality of Jesus’ sudden return. Like we may have only one more day to live on this earth. And His return really could happen at any moment!