A guest post by Adam Graham
Many will gloat today, thanks to those who proclaimed Christ’s return today only for it not to happen. Their words come to us in scripture:
knowing this first: that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”-2 Peters 3:3,4 (KJ21)
Scripture disallows predicting Christ’s return. The Lord tells us that “No man knows the day or the hour.” (Matthew 24:36). Peter echoes Christ’s words, saying, “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in a night.” (2 Peter 3:10). A thief, of course, comes suddenly and unexpectedly. They don’t put up billboards and they don’t tell other people to put up billboards.
Rather, the people who predicted Christ would return today (May 21, 2011) were false prophets. In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter warned, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.” And stated that because of these false prophets, “the way of truth shall be evilly spoken of.” This particular type of false prophet follows right in line with Christ’s warnings in Matthew 24:23-27 (KJ21):
Then if any man shall say unto you, `Lo, here is Christ,’ or `there,’ believe it not. For there shall arise false christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.
Therefore, if they shall say unto you, `Behold, He is in the desert!’ go not forth; or `Behold, He is in the secret chambers!’ believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
So, we should not be astounded that people falsely predict the date Christ’s return. Christ knew about this sort of nonsense while he was on Earth.
A little know secret, if one only follows popular media and culture, is that Christians have a lot of debate about the end times. Will there be a literal millennium? Will Christians have to suffer through the tribulation before Christ returns, or will he catch us away ahead of the tribulation or at some point in the middle? Will the tribulation be 3 1/2 years or seven years? Did any of the relevant end times prophesies have their final fulfillment in Nero and the destruction of the temple clear back in 70 AD? None of these questions have been settled definitely, nor can they be until the final chapter of His Story is written and Christ returns.
The scriptures used to support any particular set of answers to these question is endued with possible double meanings, dream imagery, and vagueness that it is often misquoted and taken out of context. Though some of the potential answers seem more likely to me than others, I’ve given up on trying to discern a timeline. Still, I agree with the generations-old testimony of many Christians, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
Christ will come again, but he’ll come on his time line, not ours. And he told us to “occupy until I come” not to “occupy with my coming.”
But what exactly does the coming of Christ mean? I’ve long struggled with that. When I was a childish little boy, I was angry with older people for their exuberance and hope that Christ would soon return. I considered it was selfish of them to want my life on Earth to end before I’d even gotten started.
When I grew into a young man, I noticed that some Christians in the post-trib, mid-trib, and the pre-trib rapture camps use the eminent return of Christ as an excuse to let the world go to pot. For too many, the return of Christ has become an exercise in escapism from our responsibilities here on Earth.
At thirty, I’ve come to understand that, while there are selfish reasons to hope for Christ’s return, and there are lazy or cowardly to hope for Christ’s return, there are also some very good reasons to hope for Christ’s return.
First is the idea of being reunited physically with Christ, with the one who first loved us. To be physically in the presence of the Lord is an awesome thought.
When we look upon this world, suffering and evil are all around us. Abortion, child abuse, drug abuse, human trafficking, war, poverty, and hatred run rampant across the globe, leaving countless victims in their wake. This has been brought home to me in the trial of the alleged murderer of Robert Manwill, a local eight-year old here in Boise, Idaho who died of horrific abuse. For the Robert Manwills of the world, for the abused and oppressed across the face of the Earth, Christ’s return will bring peace and deliverance.
We should do what we can to address these problems, but our solutions are rarely adequate. Often, good-intentioned efforts end up creating a whole new set of problems. In Christ’s reign, we will realize our long-held dreams of peace and brotherhood. The more I see of our world’s problems, the more I believe earnestly in the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come.”
Adam Graham is the author of the comedic superhero novel Tales of the Dim Knight from Splashdown Books. He writes for Pajamasmedia.com, laserandsword.com, and hosts the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio podcast. He lives with his wife and writing partner, Andrea Graham, and their cat Joybell in Boise, Idaho.