Second Coming of Jesus Christ Part III

We all want to shout, like that waitress, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus! My world is too crazy and I am hurting too much!” But, the message of the Second Coming and the First Coming (Christmas), for that matter, is that no matter what happens on earth, it is all going to end in victory for Christ and those who belong to him. Period. The hope of the Second Coming is that, beyond all our doubts, he is afterall Lord of all, the king of kings.

The doctrine of the Second Coming reminds us always to look to the future, but not to forget the past. We are a pilgrim people on the move. Our faces are forever set toward the future. As we resolutely and confidently move forward, we should keep glancing back over our shoulders to see where we have come. We keep remembering and hoping, but it is hope that gives us light for the journey into the unknown.

We still look for the coming of Christ. It has the long look. It reminds us that our lives are intertwined with the misery we see around us, but that we are forever faced to the future. Someday, we will face our returning Lord. He will consummate history, offer some explanation, justification, for all this heartbreak we experience and see around us. The Second Coming promises a clarity that we do not now experience.

We cannot live without hope. Walter Bruggemann, in his book Hope Within History explores the meaning of apocalyptic hope in history. Using Jeremiah as background, Bruggemann argues that the true history makers are not those whom we expect–politicians, doctors, and lawyers. Real history makers, he argues, are those who can invest in a dream. In spite of pretty bleak conditions–Jeremiah’s nation was about to be conquered and taken in captivity–Jeremiah was able to still have great hope. He had apocalyptic hope. He understood who really had power–those who had hope in spite of the circumstances they faced. God told Jeremiah to buy a piece of land (Jeremiah 32:6; 29:4-9). He did. Even though Jeremiah was never to enjoy this land, never to really own it, he invested in it anyway. Apocalyptic hope causes us to invest in dreams we may never see consummated. People with apocalyptic hope, assert the sovereign and omnipotent will of God in all circumstances no matter how bad things may be. They “have a bold conviction about alternative possibilities which go under the name of hope . . . they see clearly that things are deeply wrong, but they still have hope.”3

Modern, existential hope of men like Viktor E. Frankl pales in the light of the apocalyptic hope of a committed Christian. “Was Du erleht, kann keine Macht der Welt Dir rauben,” (What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you.), Frankl writes.4 The world does not give us this hope nor can it take it away. “We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!” Paul writes (Romans 8).

I remember a duck hunting trip almost fifteen years ago when I nearly lost all hope. As any serious duck hunter, Dad and I entered a swamp named appropriately Devil’s Den, long before day-light. As usual, within an hour or two Dad had us hopelessly lost. I began to worry. Not that I did not trust my father, but I was old enough to understand that Arkansas swamps held all kinds of dangerous surprises for lost daddies and little boys. But, even worse, I sensed worry in my father’s voice too. Finally, though, we paused and Dad calmly said, “Never mind Jim. It will be dawn soon. We’ll get our bearings from the sun.” Sure enough, the dawn came and we were able to escape Devil’s Den.

Even now after all these years, after I watched my dad go to be with our Lord, I have never forgotten Dad’s voice, “Never mind, Jim, the dawn will come soon.”

That is the true meaning of the Parousia. In the face of inevitable nuclear holocaust, impenetrable loneliness, when we are lost and confused, God says to us in a clear voice, “The dawn is coming”. As Milliard Erickson cautions us, we must keep perspective.5 But we must also keep the Parousia in our sermons and in the minds and hearts of our congregants. I sincerely believe, in the days ahead, that we will need more than the wimpish God of so much of our theology. We need the God Who does not change, Whose will is irrevocable. As Walter Brueggemann says, we need to “assert the raw rule of God in the historical process.” Maranatha!

Christ will come back to see that history ends the way God intends it. When it appears that the world is going to hell in a breadbasket, we are tempted to be distressed and overwhelmed by the realities of the present. But we must not forget this message: Christ is here, now, living and loving us through hard times. But, we must never forget, especially when our present situations cause us to gasp for air, he is coming back, the dawn is coming. Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

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