“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Luke 12:40
In the many centuries before the first Christmas, the prophets foretelling of the coming of the Messiah was often a blend of both His Nativity and His Second Coming (e.g. Malachi 3). Though these two world-defining events are vastly different in their effect, these Advent scriptures, if indeed we read them during the season, direct our thoughts to not just the Nativity, but to its grand sequel, our Lord’s return.
Together with the Cross, the Nativity is the quintessential expression of love and romance. No expression of human love or the wooing of man’s heart can ever duplicate the love or the manner of God’s communication of Himself in the Nativity and the Cross. The apostle Paul’s inspired expression of this very thought in Philippians 2:5-11 says it all. Choosing to be wedded to human flesh for eternity and giving His all on the Cross for our behalf is the highest expression and the very source of all love.
The Second Coming, however, is not something we may view with the same love, the same eagerness, or the same commitment of thought as the Nativity and the Cross. Is your thought life characterized by a “yearning for His appearing?” Do you actually want to “speed its coming,” as Peter encourages us in his second epistle (2 Peter 3:12)?
The Nativity took place in obscurity, though its story and the story of the Cross have become the best known stories in the world. But the Second Coming falls into a different category, partly because it has not yet happened, partly because we do not know when it will take place, and partly because we are not quite sure how it is all going to come off; all this despite the numerous descriptions and warnings of it in the Bible. C.S. Lewis writes in his essay “The World’s Last Night” of a modern embarrassment about the doctrine of the Second Coming for a number of reasons. There have been those who have predicted the very day and hour of its occurrence, which did not prove reliable, to theirs and others great embarrassment. They chose to ignore Jesus’ own words that no man, not even Himself, as the Son of Man, knew the day or the hour, only His Father in heaven. While few knew about or participated in the Nativity, and though a greater number actually witnessed the scene of the crucifixion, every person will be at the Second Coming. “Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7), indicating that all the past population of the world, instantly restored, and all the living population at the time of His appearing, will be at this “closing curtain” on human history. It is hardly wise to ignore something in which your personal involvement is certain. Especially when there are irrevocable conclusions for your eternal future.
That in itself to anyone who admits even a quasi-acceptance of the truth of the Second Coming must evoke some level of fear. What will happen to me at the Second Coming, and what if tonight really is “the world’s last night?” “I’m getting married next week,” or “my baby for which I have waited so long is due next month,” or “the vacation for which I have saved for ten years begins soon,” or “I have so much more to accomplish in my plans,” all express the myriads of reasons which flood our mind as to why the Second Coming can’t come yet. Or it may be simply, “I am not ready because my spiritual status is still a huge question mark, and I do not know what the consequences will be for me in my present quandary.”
But fear, like any intense emotion, is never sustained for long periods of time in the human body. It is replaced with other activity and feelings: lethargy, busyness, other interjections. Fear may instigate a momentary change in your life toward a preparation for Christ’s return, but it will never sustain a life fully content with the thought “this may be the world’s last night.” Not only content, but eagerly anticipating it. This is the emotion which Scripture exhorts in us. If anything more can penetrate our thoughts in these next few weeks, this deserves a place. We may not have all the details, but we have enough!
“Heavenly Father, I have alot to think about right now, but I can still think of this. Help me so live that I fulfill my calling and “speed” the return of my Lord and Savior.”
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