The Book of Revelations in the Bible concludes with the prophecy on the triumphant coming again of Jesus Christ. Jesus says “I am coming soon” three times in the last chapter of Revelations (Chapter 22). There is a sense of urgency because He says “soon”. But more than 2,000 years have gone by and He still hasn’t returned.
How, then, do we respond to this prophecy? Do we dismiss it because it hasn’t happened? Or, do we hold our breath, stop living and wait in expectant anxiety for it to happen?
Humanly speaking, our instinctive response is to disbelieve. It is like being in a relationship and waiting for your partner to change or commit himself/herself to you but it is not happening. The logical thing to do is to give up on him or her and get out of that relationship. That’s what we do — unless we believe that he or she would change and or commit himself or herself at some point and, so, we wait.
That’s humanly speaking. But the prophecy on the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ was not uttered by human beings. It was made by our Lord Jesus Himself. That makes this prophecy imperative. If God said it, it is so. It will happen.
The issue isn’t when it will happen but how to wait for it. Through my own life experiences, our Lord showed me how to wait even though some of His promises did not come true. I would like to share here two important insights that I feel would be helpful.
1. Firstly, we should simply believe because it is God who said it. This is the hardest thing to do, especially when we do not see any evidence of the fulfillment of the promise. We want proof before we believe! If we need a reason to believe then that belief is based on rational thought; it is not belief by faith in Jesus who said it. When we believe by faith, the power of God is released into our lives and we will be able to accept the prophecy and live accordingly.
Whether or not the prophecy is fulfilled in our lifetime, we must believe it. All the great people of faith listed in Hebrews 11 died without seeing the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies of God — “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11: 13).
The key is to recognize that it is God who has said it. Then, it is easy to believe. Because we believe by faith, that faith empowers us to live in hope. There is only one reason why we don’t recognize what God is saying — pride, in whatever form. Pride prevents us from seeing as Jesus does, and so we can’t see what He is doing. Instead, we pride ourselves for our ability to reason or our track record or our way of doing things, but we are unable to summon faith in Jesus to believe. So, we become powerless to receive the prophecy, and, when it happens, it passes us by.
2. Secondly, live in the present. The fact that we believe that our Lord Jesus is coming soon does not mean that we should now fold our arms and live in austerity. If that is what He wants us to do, then He wouldn’t have told us to live life to the fullest. He says in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
We are to live fully, but ready to make the necessary changes when circumstances occur which we know point towards His coming. This is extremely important because the changes we make will affect those who come after us to endure their own experiences. In this way, we prepare ourselves and the Church of Christ to be ready to meet our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.