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Posts Tagged ‘Second Coming’

If salvation is believing and loving the Christ without direct contact but still appropriating the benefits (covering of sin that separates us from God), that is Grace. And apparently, the old guys knew about it and were waiting for the manifestation of Him. We’ve lost the wonder that comes with waiting.

I Peter 1:10-11
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

Am I alone in taking for granted the marvel and mystery of God’s appearance in Christ to reunite human with Spirit, to recreate relationship, to begin a new age of life through the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, to inspire and encourage the walking out of paradoxes like loving enemies, giving to receive, and dying to live?

The prophets were all waiting in expectation of a “new earth” through the appearance of the Messiah/Christ. The prophets tried to prepare the way, but many of their prophecies were misinterpreted over the years. As a result, later generations began looking for a military leader, a benevolent dictator, a king of kings. The people lost discernment of the spiritual revolution that was foretold. Even Jesus’s disciples could not get a handle on the mission until after Christ’s resurrection, the greatest mystery of all, despite the predictions.

Supposedly, believers of today are waiting for a second return of Christ. But I think most of this is lip service: we may even “talk this talk” but few tangibly believe it. Besides, when someone does get the notion of an imminent second coming, he (or she) is considered a kook (and, by the way, rightly so — for now).

We’ve lost the ability to wait with anticipation. With true waiting for something huge like the second coming of Christ, there should be truth searching, longing, intense investigation, escalating hope, growing expectation, and discovery all along the way. It’s been too drawn out. We have become almost cavalier. Or, at the least, in our current time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m lumping myself in this same group and mindset. The last time I felt true expectation in my heart and soul was on our trip to Europe to adopt our children; or perhaps, when I was a child myself. Children know about eager waiting.

Our kids give us a peek at that kind of excitement regularly. Just look at young people before the holidays or at teens before a prom. They know the basics of these events, but the particulars cannot be known until the actual day. And so, they wait and wonder and enjoy. Unfortunately, for adults, keen anticipation rolls into a disappointment at the event itself.

For the last two thousand years, we have been living the event. We are part of the promise. We have been given the keys to the mystery of the ages, the Grace of God in Christ. But time has eroded our wonder. Interpretations and habits and silos of belief (e.g. denominations) have worn away the impact of the reunion between God and Human. We’ve grown bland and insipid, much like the church of Laodicea [Revelation 3:14-21].

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! [Revelation 2:4-5a]

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The second appearance of the Christ is critical to the faith. But I must say, it’s been an event a long time coming. No one can really imagine what the Second Coming might look like. Scriptures are fairly vague at best.

Hebrews 9:28
. . . so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

There’s Revelation 1:7 — “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him. . . ” and Matthew 24:30 — “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” and II Thessalonians 1:7b — “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”

So what do we have here: clouds, flames, and signs with the Son of Man manifesting in the midst of it all. Artists have rendered this idea/image as either the Bible School Jesus all in white, robes flowing, or some kind of King image, all in gold, often times on a horse, and full of majesty (whatever that means). In either case, he is recognizable. Me? I don’t think so. I don’t think we’ll understand the Second Coming any more than we understand the ways of nature. We may be able to describe its properties, but not its essence.

Some people talk about the Second Coming of Christ as their chance to say to unbelievers, “See, I told you so,” “I warned you!” They act as though they wouldn’t be in the same shock and terror and wonder! Face it. How many times do things appear out of nowhere in the sky? I have to laugh as I consider whether all the spaceship movies are getting us ready for that appearance.

Of course, not everyone believes this can even happen. I remember standing at a bus stop every day to wait for the public bus that would carry me to high school (this is pre-school buses in Indianapolis). On the corner was a church of some type or another and on their sign, it always said, “Jesus is coming soon!” From my limited understanding of Christianity in those years, I thought they were really stupid. How could Jesus come again if he had already come. This was a teaching I never got (or understood) in Vacation Bible School or the more formal Latvian Lutheran church services. I don’t think I was alone.

A Second Coming is not something which we can prepare for in any way. When Harold Camping touted his May 21st forecast of judgment day (now pushed back to October 21st), he made it sound like people could actually do something in time for that day. That’s not the purpose of Christ’s coming. It’s the end of the age. Whatever happens next will be new, different, not recognizable. It may mean death or it may mean transformation. It’s a nexus moment. When the Christ comes, and if indeed, it’s “in the sky,” then the universe has changed dramatically. Both things cannot co-exist and be the same as before.

And why do the scriptures say that people will mourn? Is it because they didn’t believe or is it the loss of what we know. Our children and our children’s children will not know life as we know it. Everything must change. Everything will change. And if we don’t like change now, “Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

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In biblical times, the “hope of Israel” referred to the long-awaited Messiah. In recent years, this phrase has been adopted my Messianic Jews as a way of communicating that the Messiah has come. What is our hope?

Acts 28:20
For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.

Hope is a powerful word but one that is used too casually. Hope is actually entwined with faith. Hope is believing in things or people not seen, things that have not happened, people who have not yet done what has been promised. Hope, corralled, is pure energy.

As Christians, supposedly, we are awaiting the second coming of the Messiah. When Christ returns, He returns not just as the “hope of Israel” but the “hope of the world.”

I confess, I have not put much personal energy into the idea of a returning Christ and I’m not sure why. Is it because the world has “waited” so long? Perhaps it is because I haven’t full understood what that waiting should look like, much less the arrival. Or, do I fear such a return? Heaven is one thing: a non-dimensional place where my non-dimensional spirit will exist in pure joy. But the returning Christ will enter this world and in this dimension. This is Christ returning and changing time, changing everything.

There are all kinds of teachings and predictions about the Second Coming. And of course, as soon as that discussion starts, there’s the controversy over post or pre-millennialism, dispensationalism, etc. These conversations are of not interest to me. We can’t just talk about hope anymore.

Many Jews did not recognize Jesus when He came and proclaimed that He was, indeed, the long awaited Messiah. They, too, had many theological discussions about his appearance. The second coming is supposed to be clear as day: no doubts.

But, lately, I’ve become aware of the power of denial, and I’m thinking that even second coming Messiah will not be accepted or even recognized. If there is no expectation and no hope, there may not be recognition. It may just appear as a cataclysm or 2012 predictions come true or natural disaster. Deaf and blind to the truth.

Today, I ask for the stirring of hope in my soul, for the stirring of expectation. Open my ears, open my eyes, I want to see Jesus.

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