Article of the week: The day draws ever closer

6 February 2021

GROANING CREATION

Concluding his series, Major Howard Webber looks ahead to the second coming of Jesus

SOMETIMES during salvation meetings when I was a boy, as a song such as ‘The Day of Victory’s Coming’ concluded, someone would immediately start another chorus and everyone would join in. As that ended, someone else would begin another, which would then be followed by another and another. These were choruses such as ‘At the End of Our Journey’, ‘Bright Crowns There Are’, ‘When We All Get to Heaven’ and ‘We’re Marching to Zion’.

Often the officer would sit down and delight in the spontaneity of the congregation. Stirred deeply by it all, what I remember most about these choruses was that they were all focused on the day of Christ’s return and the life to come.

The natural world is full of wonders, with unique plants and animals still being discovered. Yet it is but a foretaste of what lies ahead. God has promised to create ‘a new Heaven and a new Earth’ (2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1).

As creation was and continues to be afflicted by the sin of humankind, so it will be released into ‘the freedom and glory of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21) – of those who have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus. In having such a wonderful personal experience of God through Jesus
Christ, we have a taste of Heaven now, but as amazing as this is, it is nothing compared to what awaits us.

What lies ahead is unimaginable, despite the Bible’s attempts to compare it with the best of what we experience now. Paul quite rightly says when quoting the prophet Isaiah: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived [are] the things God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). Those who suffer for their faith or who are distressed at the suffering and ungodliness of the world around them have a longing, an inner groaning, for that great day (see Romans 8:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:2–4).

One of the dangers of the comfortable lives that many of us have is that we can so easily be seduced into enjoying the things of this world at the cost of the glories of the next. We can become more focused on what God has given than on God himself. There is also the danger that by concentrating on relieving the suffering and injustice of this world we can easily lose our focus on eternal issues. It was a danger the early Church experienced and was quick to remedy, as we see in Acts 6: 1–7, when the Twelve were able to give their attention to ‘prayer and the ministry of the word’ because seven men, ‘full of the Spirit and wisdom’, were chosen to give practical service.

For many Christians around the world, verses such as ‘For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come’ (Hebrews 13:14) and ‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18) are special. They are aware of how temporary their sojourn on Earth is and are able to forgo much or bear any suffering they experience because they are focused on what lies before them in eternity.

That day when Christ comes draws ever closer. Though we would be foolish to attempt to predict it, am I wrong in suggesting that we are becoming more aware that this day is not far away? The Bible makes it clear that life on Earth is moving towards a climax.

That day will come when least expected, like ‘a thief in the night’ (1 Thessalonians 5:2). May we be ready and not wanting when Jesus comes. May he find us alert, loving one another, sharing the gospel with people who have not heard it, and being worthy emissaries of his help and healing, shining as lights in the darkness, pleasing to him.

‘I am coming soon!’ says Jesus in Revelation 22:12. ‘My reward is with me.’

 

 

MAJOR WEBBER LIVES IN RETIREMENT IN BOURNEMOUTH

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