Why Jesus Won’t Show Up September 23

19 Sep

September 23, 2017. I find I have mixed emotions over it. If you have seen the news about it, you know a new group is claiming this Saturday is the day of the Lord’s return. Such claims have come so frequently in the last several years that few are paying much attention to it. I’ve not seen the number of hoots and catcalls being cast about as in the past. However, one did get my attention and a chuckle from me. It portrayed God telling Jesus to relax. He had planned on sending him to earth on September 23rd, but someone spoiled the surprise so the date has to be rescheduled…again. The quip reminds us not only that no one knows the day nor the time, but also no one will know it. No mathematical formula, no alignment of the planets, no hidden clues in the Bible will reveal it.

Thus, I groan when another date is set and advertised. It serves as a tool to turn more people away from Jesus. It becomes fuel for the mockery first recorded in the Psalms 115, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where, now, is their God?” and echoed by Peter in 2 Peter 3:4 “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” Genuine faith becomes foolish superstition in others’ eyes.

At the same time, I rejoice in the truth being proclaimed: Jesus is coming back and based on the conditions in the world, it looks to be real soon. I am challenged anew by it. But I don’t turn anxious eyes to the sky. While Jesus’ return will be soon, it is not yet and I believe for this one reason: the church isn’t ready. Yes, you read that correctly. The church is not ready.

• Revelation 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (my emphasis)
• Ephesians 5:27 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
• 1 John 2:6 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

And in Jesus’ longest and most direct discourse on the subject to his disciples, note how many times responsibility is put on his followers:

• Matthew 24:21-22 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
• Matthew 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
• Matthew 24:42-44 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
• Matthew 25:13 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Before, between, and after these verses, Jesus tells us what we can expect to see happening around us leading up to his return. He adds depth to his warning and exhortation with parables to teach us what being alert means to him. I gain understanding and experience each time I come back to these verses, but I know I am not even close to living them out. I am so distracted by the little urgencies life throws at me. Building my own house and comfort most often takes priority in my life. And then there is the self-effort to fulfill God’s expectation—forgetting the futility of trying to earn his grace.

And while it is grace that allows us to enter his kingdom, we mustn’t forget it is by his grace that we put his kingdom on display through the temptations and trials we daily face, and even more so as the day of his returning gets closer. His kingdom reveals the purity, the love, the power of the Father and the Son, and the victory over the signs of the time. We become like the burning bush Moses turned aside to see. The fire of God’s glory burning and shining within us. When his bride is ready, he will come.

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