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How to wait

The Christian is expectant.  We wait for Christ our Bridegroom.

But how do we wait?  Like this?

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I recently read Sam Harris quoting this statistic: 44% of Americans believe Jesus will 'certainly' or 'probably' return in the next 50 years.  That's not 44% of American Christians.  That's 44% of Americans!

Now I think Jesus could return today.  But I also think He could be another few millennia.  I'm not sure it's fruitful to put a time frame to this.  But perhaps we know people who scour the newspapers for signs of antichrist - certain that the end is nigh.  And by nigh - they mean Tuesday week.

Just before Jesus ascended His followers wanted to get an eschatological timetable from Him:

Acts 1:6-9:  So when they had come together, they asked Him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

They wanted to know times and seasons.  Jesus says 'That's not your job!  Your job is to be witnesses to the ends of the earth."

We do not wait by worrying about when.  We wait by witnessing. 

Notice how Acts 1 continues:

10 And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven."

Even as Jesus goes - even as they're told that Jesus will return the same way! - the disciples receive a rebuke for gawping at the skies.  They've been given their marching orders. 

The posture of the church as we wait for Christ is not stationary, faces heavenwards.  It's, verse 8, moving out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth witnessing to Christ.

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We wait by witnessing.

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0 thoughts on “How to wait

  1. Gav

    I have a concern. I friend at church believes the Lord's comming is soon. He sent me an email the other day with the following link: http://lasttrumpetnewsletter.org/2009/01_09_l.html

    I read the article and was a bit disturbed. I'm not a theological guru like you guys but I think this bloke possibly could be a touch judgmental and counterproductive. Your thoughts?

  2. glenscriv

    Wowsers! Gav, that's exactly the kind of mindset that provoked me writing this post. Wars and rumours of wars will come - but it's not the end of the world! (Matt 24:6) Not even Jesus knows the day (24:36) And He commands us not to play the speculation game (Acts 1:7)

    It's basically matching a bunch of internet assembled conspiracy theories with contextless snippets from Revelation and elsewhere. And alluding to Scriptures that aren't there doesn't help the credibility. "As the Scripture says, there are many fearful sights, and they come in many forms." What the? Where the? It's a tornado of semi-Scripture and paranoid politics.

    The teaching you link to is the reason I wrote this post. We wait by witnessing (which is the context for our service, holiness, etc) - not by speculating. He will come when the Father chooses. Our posture is not looking up to the heavens or scouring the papers for signs, it's looking out to the world in witness.

  3. francisdrakeprivateer

    I have to say that I believe you have totally got the wrong end of the stick on this one.

    Note the question the disciples were asking, and therefore the purpose of the answer.

    Thedisciples had seen Jesus overturn the actions of the Jewish leadership and THE ROMANS by rising from the dead.

    Israel was a nation which was under enemy occupation.

    Their question was absolutely and only about DRIVING OUT THE ROMAN ARMY.
    Look at the words--
    "......RESTORE THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL"
    This was because the Romans had the nation in their control, and standing here before them was the declared and victorious king of Israel, (who was clearly invincible)
    His response was to that question alone, and as he rightly said, (paraphrased) "it doesn't concern you," or "wrong question guys."
    The disciples had wanted to make him king all along, and had very little understanding of the long term agenda that the father had.

  4. glenscriv

    Hi francis,

    Good to have you on the blog.

    From my (amill) eschatology this restoration happens at the return of Christ. For you would you say it occurs 1948? The millenium?

    Glen

  5. francisdrakeprivateer

    Hi Glen, good blog. Just starting mine so trawling for ideas!

    If anything I am premill. But that is light years away from the point I am making. Any view on the millenium has no bearing on what was said by Jesus in Acts.

    Remember these verses?

    Mat 20:21 And He said to her, What do you desire? She said to Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit in Your kingdom, the one on Your right hand and the other on the left.

    John6:15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they would come and take Him by force, that they might make Him a king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain alone by Himself.

    Jn12v13 ...hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel.

    Act 1:6 Then, indeed, these coming together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, do You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
    Act 1:7 And He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own authority.

    I can't remember any more verses without searching, but they were all looking and desiring a king NOW, not thousands of years away. They were certainly not arguing over pre/mid/or post trib, nor do I believe that the verses in Acts are anything to do with it.

    TO THE DISCIPLES THIS WAS STILL THE FIRST AND ONLY COMING OF THE MESSIAH. (He'd only missed three days)
    The MESSIAH, VICTORIOUS is here right now, what is He going to do NOW about these evil pagan Romans!!!!!

    They were currently oppressed by Rome. Every Old Testament deliverance had been about God miraculously getting rid of the oppressors.

    None of the disciples had the view of things that Jesus and the father had. When Jesus said he would be killed, Peter made it clear that he would never allow it! (get thee behind me Satan etc.)

    The disciples wanted the Romans out. All Israel wanted a Messiah. When Jesus emerged victorious, although they were chastened by their failure to believe him, they had not yet lost their immediate world view. It would take Pentecost to shake that.

    Put yourself in their shoes. Given the slightest opportunity Jesus would have been swept to power. He would have made more votes than Obama.

    Sometimes it is easy to forget what the sentiments and experience and teachings of the people of the time when reading the bible. ie there was no New Testament around during the New Testament time.

  6. glenscriv

    Hi francis,
    The disciples don't mention Rome. Jesus doesn't mention Rome. I don't really see Rome as the context here.
    Certainly if Israel was restored in all its eschatological fullness then Rome (along with every other power) would be brought low. But I'm not sure that fore-grounding this theme helps our interpretation.

    Even if you could prove that the disciples had some very narrow political aspirations here, Jesus affirms that 'restoration' is going to come. And surely He at least sees restoration in a far broader sense than kicking out the Romans.

    What is this broad sense? It's interesting to note that, as far as Matthew 1 is concerned 1st century Israel is still in exile. Israel is only restored from exile in Jesus. And so, naturally, after Jesus' death and resurrection the disciples ask 'is the restoration now?'

    And Jesus doesn't say 'Silly disciples, I'm not into 'restoration''. He *is* into restoration. He just says 'the *when* is not for you guys to figure out.'

    Implication - this restoration is a matter of *when* and not if. I think v7 would be quite a deceptive way of phrasing things if what Jesus really meant was, "Stop thinking about the restoration of Israel guys." He's not saying this - He's saying 'the Father has fixed a day, and it's not for you to know.'

    My conclusion: at the very least Jesus means by 'restoration' a future eschatological event of theological significance that would also included any political sense that the disciples may or may not have intended.

    Being amill I think this happens on the last day. (that's why I mentioned eschatology).

    Therefore this is a perfectly valid verse to turn to when thinking about eschatological speculation.

    See the logic?

    Glen

    PS Send me a link to your blog if/when it's up and running.

  7. francisdrakeprivateer

    http://francisdrakeprivateer.wordpress.com/

    Hi Glen.
    I do see your logic, but still don't agree. You open by saying the disciples wanted an eschatological time frame from him. This means an end time review, does it not?

    However their question was much simpler. "Lord will you at THIS time, (ie now, today, tomorrow maybe?) restore the kingdom to Israel."

    This is not about end times, it was about the "TODAY" of the disciples. And today the nation was occupied by a cruel pagan enemy.

    To the O.T. generation, salvation was always deliverance from Philistine famine and plague and never Heaven when you die!

    Here in front of them was their Victor, "SALVATION" Himself. Salvation had always, historically, been a victorious RESTORED Israel and therefore a defeated Rome.

    You are right, that he corrects their view of the time scale, and puts it in the hand of the father.

    However to take his answer as a rebuke for asking the question about his second coming is a leap beyond the question.

    This little paragraph is always used to convince people that to enquire about the second coming is erroneous theology, and that God doesn't want us to know. I do not accept this. Jesus gives a lot of information about the circumstances of the end, which if he didn't actually want it to be considered, is very confusing.

    "As in the days of Noah". Did Noah know that there would be a flood, and that he needed to be prepared? He knew alright. It was the others who were in darkness and blind, the saints absolutely knew.

    Maybe Noah didn't know the exact hour, however they knew the season, the month, the week, and maybe the day pretty well as they had been gathering animals and food.

    I don't think Noah had all the created species of earth in his boat, feeding and mucking them out for months on end, wondering when it might start.

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