Two Thousand Years and Still Counting
By Mark A. Finley
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven He gave His disciples this reassuring promise: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
But that was 2,000 years ago. The promise has not been fulfilled; Jesus has not come. Faithful believers have anticipated His return for centuries. Some have even set dates for His return. On each occasion they have been deeply disappointed.
Why hasn’t Jesus come? Why has His return been delayed? What is He waiting for? In this month’s study we will discover some answers.
1. According to Matthew 24:36, who alone knows the exact time of our Lord’s return?
Heaven has not revealed the exact time of Christ’s return. Let’s suppose the disciples knew that Christ’s coming was 2,000 years in the future. They certainly would have been quite discouraged. Since we do not know when Jesus will return, we are motivated to be ready for His return every day.
2. According to the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:3, 4, what is the longing of God’s heart?
There’s nothing more important to God than the salvation of those whom Jesus came to save. He longs for every human being to accept the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and be saved in His kingdom forever.
3. Read 2 Peter 3:9, 10. How should we regard God’s promises concerning Jesus’ return?
Have they failed?
The promises of God have not failed. The apostle Peter provides a vital key regarding the delay in our Lord’s return. One of the reasons Jesus has not come is that God “is longsuffering . . . , not willing that any should perish” (verse 9). God waits and suffers Himself as the result of this world’s sin become more apparent. He actively does everything He can to save every person He can.
4. Read Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 14:6, 7. According to these verses, what has to take place before Jesus returns?
When every person has had a reasonable opportunity to accept Jesus and His end-time message and make their final, irrevocable choice for or against Christ, Jesus will come. Read also Revelation 22:10-12.
5. Read Mark 4:26-29 and Revelation 14:14-20. What other factors contribute to the delay of Christ’s return?
Throughout the New Testament the concept of the harvest is linked with the second coming of Jesus. Jesus will return when the harvest is fully ripe. The fruits of the Holy Spirit manifest in the lives of God’s people will reveal the lovely character of Jesus before a waiting world and a watching universe. The love of God will be revealed through His church. The transforming power and abounding grace of the living Christ will be on full display through Christ’s people before the entire universe (see Eph. 3:8-12). The selfishness, greed, and pride of the evil one will be on full display in His followers. Lines will be drawn sharply between love and hate, self-centered egotism and unselfish service. The entire universe will see that God’s way of loving-kindness is best.
6. Read Titus 2:11-14. How does the hope of Christ’s soon return impact our lives today?
7. Read 1 John 3:1-3. What is the ultimate result of God’s love so graciously given to us? How does His love change our behavior?
When we make a conscious choice to accept Jesus, we become sons and daughters of God. We are justified, saved by His grace. We will be sanctified, transformed by His love, if we continue our daily walk with Him. As impossible as it may seem, He will transform us into His likeness and empower us to reveal His character before the world.
Redemption from beginning to end is a miracle of the amazing, life-changing grace of God.