Living in Anticipation of Christ’s Return
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In this article, we want to continue the discussion we started sometime ago. We live in the last days of this age, which started with Christ’s first coming. We know He will come back because His promises are sure. But exactly when is not for us to know; “no man knows the day or the hour” (Matthew 24:36-37).
While Jesus is certainly coming back, we don’t want to use His return as an excuse for inaction. The attitudes of “He’s coming back so it doesn’t matter” will lead to apathy and spiritual discontentment. There are prophecies in the New Testament that people would get weary of waiting for Jesus return. I have some examples below:
“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (Matthew 25:5).
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Every since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation…” (2 Peter 3:3-5)
We want to avoid falling asleep spiritually and being lulled by the cares and desires of this world. We also don’t want to lose heart or become bitter about not seeing His return in the time frame that we thought it would happen (see also Mark 13:35-37, Matthew 24:48). As mentioned last week, we also don’t want to set dates.
We should look forward to the return of Jesus! “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17). We want our Savior to return and should always want this event to happen.
However, we have duties to carry out as we long for His coming.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
While we certainly have been in the last days of this age for nearly 2,000 years, we live even closer to Christ’s return than the earliest disciples. As we see the day drawing closer, we are supposed to meet together even more and encourage each other. This means isolationism is not God’s will for the Christian. Even in the time of quarantines and other restrictions, we can still communicate and keep in touch with each other (we have tools such as online media).
Later in Hebrews 10:35-36, Paul wrote: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised.”
Another key as we anticipate the return of the Lord is not to lose confidence. While we anticipate His return, our enemy, satan, will try to discourage us about this event. He will use attitudes, other people and the world as instruments to suppress your hope.
Third, we need to stay busy for the Kingdom of God. In Luke chapter 19, Jesus taught the parable of the minas. In the parable, the man of noble birth gave minas to ten of his servants. When He gave the minas, He said, “occupy until I come.” The goal of this story was to teach us about working for the Kingdom as we await Christ’s return. The Greek word translated as ‘occupy’ means to transact official Kingdom business. We should be busy carrying out acts of service for the Kingdom of God during this time. We want to be found doing so when He returns (see also Matthew 24:39-51).
Fourth, learn to think trans-generational. We should not look down on the young (I Timothy 4:12), but we should also respect the older (I Tim. 5:1-5, I Peter 5:5). If we live long enough, we will experience both! We cannot neglect to remember the old or to train the young.
As discussed in the article “Are We Living in the Last Days?” (click here), there have been certain groups and individuals that tried to predict the coming of Jesus. This was a problematic approach. A significant number of people in these groups didn’t get necessary medical work done for their own health. Some people quit their jobs and/or sold all their possessions. They neglected to teach their children the basics of the faith. In a sense, the concept of ‘Jesus is coming back, so it does not matter’ became the answer for everything.
In John 14:12, Jesus said to His disciples: “You shall do greater works.” It is the duty of every generation to want the upcoming generation to accomplish more, go further, and reach higher than they did.
In this article, we have reviewed definite actions we can take as we anticipate the Second Coming. In summary: Live in holiness and humility before God as if Christ was coming back any moment, but plan your life like Christ is not coming back for 100 years. Don’t stop contributing to your retirement plan and managing your money wisely and responsibly. Take care of your health. Don’t stop believing in His promises!
Our love for Him and to be with Him should drive us to keep going forward.
The idea that our Lord could return any moment is part of our hope! Paul called it the blessed hope! “…while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ..” (Titus 2:13). Let’s run the race and seek His face like never before as we keep these things in mind. Let’s continue the work begun almost 2,000 years ago by those who started to labor in the last days.
Kelly McDonald, Jr
BSA President www.biblesabbath.org