Christians have been awaiting the return of Jesus Christ since the very beginning of the church. In fact, as early as Amos (almost 800 years before Christ), people were looking forward to the Day of the Lord. And beginning with Amos, the prophets and apostles have warned us it won’t be a pleasant time.
The coming wrath of God is not a pleasant thought. Many Christians recoil because they can’t reconcile it with his love. But we must remember that every syllable of the Bible perfectly describes God’s love. Even the parts we don’t like. With that in mind, let’s take a careful look at 2 Peter 3.… Read the rest
John the Baptist burst on the scene with such power that people wondered if he could be the Messiah. He identified Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
In explaining what the Messiah would do, he didn’t refer to anything Jesus did in his earthly ministry. He pointed to Jesus’ post-resurrection work and used an agricultural image to do so. The message was plain to those who heard John, but it’s obscure to us today.
In 1 Corinthians 13:9-12, Paul reminds us that now, we know only in part. Our knowledge of God’s ways and plans is like looking at an image in a dirty mirror. We can at least clean up the mirror a little by looking at less-familiar scriptures from time to time.
Our focus on Christmas (and Easter) is like taking a picture with a telephoto lens.
The familiar Christmas story in the gospels portrays a young peasant woman becoming pregnant in an unusual way, then having a very ordinary pregnancy.
The birth experience was certainly inconvenient, but many other women have given birth in awkward circumstances.… Read the rest
The law of Moses ordained the celebration of several feasts. Christians with any familiarity with Scripture know of the Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of Booths. They appear in the New Testament. It’s easy to miss the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible, however. The few Old Testament descriptions are short.
Modern Jews call it Rosh Hashana. Rosh Hashana begins the Jewish High Holy Days. Although the name is less than 2,000 years old, it corresponds to the ancient Feast of Trumpets.
Not only that, but the feast foreshadows the last days. We can understand all the New Testament references to trumpets better when we understand the Feast of Trumpets.… Read the rest
In recent decades, the environment has become a contentious issue. We argue about whether the climate is changing and how much it matters. We argue about the need for environmental regulations. Are the ones we have too harsh on industry or too lenient?
In all this controversy, we tend to forget that God made the heavens and the earth. He has expressed his own thoughts on the environment throughout Scripture. We find some of them in well-known passages. Or, we would find them if we didn’t focus so much on the other issues in the same passages.
Others come in parts of the Bible we seldom read, parts devotional and teaching literature seldom quote.… Read the rest
Would you ever think to compare Jesus to a thief? The Bible does in describing Jesus’ return. More than once.
Living by faith requires living not only in the light of the resurrection, but also in the hope of the second coming of Christ.
In his flesh, Jesus didn’t know when he’d return, but he knew it will be a time when no one expects him.
Jesus himself said, “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” (Matthew 24:43, NASB).”… Read the rest
The church sets aside the season of Advent to prepare for Christ’s coming. It is a season of penitence to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas, the first coming of Christ. He entered the world by stealth, being born in an obscure village.
But the New Testament proclaims in many ways that Christ will return in triumph. Advent prepares us for that event, too.
Regarding John the Baptist, Luke 3:4-6 quotes a passage from Isaiah that has not yet seen its entire fulfillment:
The season of Advent is a time of anticipation. The word itself means “coming.” In secular contexts we can properly refer to the advent of any significant event. In the church year, it can refer only to the coming of Jesus Christ.
Scripture affirms that Christ has come, Christ has risen, and Christ is coming again. Two passages commonly read at this time of year point to both the first and second coming.
Advent is a time of preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ child. Less often acknowledged, it is a time of preparing our hearts for the return of the triumphant Christ. Are we perhaps too comfortable with the homey images of the baby Jesus? Perhaps we should pay more careful attention to what the uncomfortably supernatural Jesus Christ has already accomplished in his first coming.
He was born of a virgin, as God promised as early as Genesis 3:15. There we read that the “seed of the woman” would crush the devil. He lived as an ordinary human, suffering every temptation any other human has ever faced.… Read the rest