10, 9, 8 Wait

10, 9, 8 Wait

TEN, NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN, SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE…

“I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my watch station. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how He will answer my complaint.

Then the Lord said to me, ‘Write My answer plainly on tablets so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  

If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.’” (Habakkuk 2:1-3)  

WHEN WILL JESUS RETURN? GOOD QUESTION

We hear it often as Watchmen – “You say Jesus is coming back. People have been saying that for thousands of years.”

It’s easy to become defensive, and the message becomes muddled when we argue instead of standing watch and faithfully delivering God’s message. What is the answer to someone who asks, “When will Jesus return?”

The best answer to a question like this is a question. Jesus often taught this way. “Who do men say I am? Whose image is on this coin? Is it legal to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus asked many questions in parables, in teaching the 12 Apostles, and in addressing large crowds. And yet we know Jesus never asked a question because He needed to know the answer.

Jesus asked questions because He understands the human heart. Any sales professional can tell you if you tell someone something, even if it’s true, they doubt it because you’re selling something. But if the customer says it, it’s true. So the most successful salespeople ask questions that allow a person to find out the truth about a product or service and come to their own conclusion.

Questions get to the heart of the discussion. You could tell someone all the facts about Jesus, and quote pages of Bible verses, and we encourage Watchmen to use the Bible and know the answers to important Bible topics. But most people don’t like to be told or sold.

How do you present the truth so people listen? Ask questions. How do we handle the argument that appears in the introduction? The next time someone brings up the question of why Jesus hasn’t returned yet, try this approach – it’s from a conversation I had recently. Q is the questioner; A is my answer.

Q: You say Jesus is coming back. People have been saying that for thousands of years and He still hasn’t returned. When is He coming?

A: When does a timebomb explode?

Q: What?

A: When does a timebomb explode? Does it explode when the timer is at 30 seconds? 10? 5? 2? When is it supposed to explode?

Q: At zero, of course. It’s always zero.

A: You’re right. If it detonated at 10 or 5 or 2, that would be a problem. That’s not the way it was designed to work. What’s supposed to happen at 10 or 5 or 2?

Q: Nothing… well, at least no explosion. People run and panic and scream.

A: And try to warn people or disarm the bomb?

Q: Yes, that too.

A: I don’t know when Jesus will return. Do you?

Q: No.

A: Everyone who has ever picked a date or year, or time has been wrong. Why?

Q: Because they don’t know.

A: Right. Why don’t they know?

Q: Duhhh, because they’re not God.

A: So, we both agree that only God knows when Jesus will return?

Q: Yeah, I guess we can agree on that.

A: And we can both agree I’m not God.

Q: (too much laughter) Definitely.

A: It’s like that bomb or a rocket countdown to liftoff – nothing happens before zero because nothing is supposed to happen before time expires. How much time do you have to prepare, or run, or warn once the timer hits zero?

Q: None. Time’s up… BOOM!

A: Exactly right. So why hasn’t Jesus come yet?

Q: The timer is still running?

A: Exactly, and since I’m not God, I can’t tell you whether it’s at 10 or 2 or 10,000. I do know one thing about God’s timing.

Q: What’s that?

A: He’s never missed an appointment. He’s never late, and never early because He sets the appointments, and He arrives at exactly the right moment to do exactly what He planned, exactly when He planned it.

Q: So, what is He waiting for?

A: The world is still a mess, right? Wars, death, disease? Are people ready to meet Jesus if He DID return today?

Q: No, I don’t think people are ready. Are you saying nothing’s changed, so that’s why Jesus hasn’t returned?

A: It’s not about people and how good or bad they are. Jesus hasn’t returned because the timer is still ticking. For all of us, that’s a good thing, because the Bible says when Jesus returns, the really bad part begins.

Q: It gets worse?

A: Much worse. So if you’re Jesus, and could return any moment, why wait? What could He possibly be waiting for?

Q: I’m not sure I follow.

A: What do people do when the timer is at 10 seconds or 5 or 2?

Q: They panic, or run, or try to disarm the bomb to save the world.

A: Save as many people as possible? Good idea. Saving people sounds like God doesn’t it?

Q: He’s waiting so more people can be saved? Saved from what?

We talked more about God’s heart and that He does not want destruction for anyone (Matthew 18:14), that He patiently waits for us to repent (2 Corinthians 7:10), and that God has an eternal plan to save humanity from sin (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21; Ephesians 2:8,9).

Last of all, we discussed 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some people think. Instead, He is patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but He wants everyone to come to repentance.

God waits, not because He must or because He’s waiting for an event or sign to appear or a world leader to die. God waits because God loves.

One more day means one more soul – maybe that one is your friend or your child or your dad. Right now, God’s eternal clock could be at 10. Nothing is supposed to happen at 10, or 9, or 7, or 2. But, if you knew that your unsaved dad would be saved at 5, would you want Jesus to wait?

GOD’S PROPHETIC COUNTDOWN

Many messages have been preached, and many books written about God’s timetable for the last days. Many good teachers and authors disagree about the when, and many have been wrong trying to guess. Sadly, many more will be wrong in 2020, just like they were in 2016, and 1999, and many times before that.

I like to think of an eternal timer. It’s God’s clock, and it’s counting down. That may be a disadvantage of being human – we see time as only running forward—escaping, elapsing, slipping away. The longer we wait, the later we are.

We cannot regain or reverse time, so we have difficulty seeing time as God sees it. Every day Jesus doesn’t appear seems like a delay, like He’s waiting too long, like He’s late, and getting later.

God gave Isaiah a glimpse of His eternal timing.

Isaiah 25:1 “You have worked wonders—plans formed long ago in perfect faithfulness.”

14:24 “The Lord of Hosts has promised: “As I have planned, so it will be; as I have purposed, so it will stand.”

40:8 “the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

41:4 “Who has performed this or carried it out, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I the Lord—the first and the last—I Am He.”

46:10 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”

48:3I foretold the former things long ago; they came out of My mouth; I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.”

55:11 “so My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to me void, [empty or unfulfilled] but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it.”

We must reverse our perspective on time. God sees the clock, and He isn’t the least bit worried about wars or politics, or global catastrophes, or anything else that keeps us distracted.

I wonder if God laughs when He hears brash statements that Jesus must return because this or that just happened, or He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Nonsense!

He’s looking at the timer and it’s not at zero. Nothing must happen just because we think it must. We don’t see the eternal timer.

All the scholars and charts and interpretations claiming why this one thing proves Jesus MUST return before this or that occurs will ultimately be proved wrong, again, and God will one day be right – when the timer runs out, and He won’t be early or late, and nothing we see or believe will make Him come sooner, or wait longer.

HOW DOES GOD’S TIMING WORK?

Forget what you’ve read or seen in bombastic online videos. There is no catalyst, or trigger, or cataclysmic terrorist event that can force God’s hand. Nothing in heaven or on Earth can make God say, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” The time is appointed, settled, determined before the foundations of the earth. God, who created history before it happened, knows exactly what will happen in what order at what time. For that reason, there cannot be an action, event, or human intervention that can cause God to move early or inhibit Him from moving on time – His time.

Jesus isn’t waiting for the New York Times Bestsellers list to determine when He should return. “A lot of people are watching the moon (again); I better show up this time.”

God isn’t watching world events for the right moment. Why? Because He can see the timer. He saw the world events before they ever happened. He is the Creator of time, and thus time obeys Him, He is not subject to time. It’s the opposite of human thinking.

World events cannot speed up or slow down God’s timing – they are nothing more than little stick markers, the ticks and tocks on the clock. They’re little lighted numbers that appear and disappear each second. Each one must come and go. After they all expire, at exactly zero, and not a nanosecond before, a trumpet will sound, an angel will shout, Christ will leave heaven and rapture the saints to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

God set the timer long ago, and He knows the exact moment when Christ will return. Jesus made it very clear that only God the Father knows the time of His return and the Father isn’t telling anyone. No modern-day “prophet” or TV host or famous scholar knows. No Watchman knows.

Jesus taught about the wars and rumors of wars, nations rising and falling, earthquakes and natural disasters, famines, world turmoil, birth pangs, false teachers and multiplied wickedness, false christs, signs and wonders in the sky …all of that in the same chapter – Matthew 24. Christ stakes His claim to God’s eternal timing in verse 25, “See, I have told you in advance.”

After all that information and warning, near the end of the teaching, Jesus issued a stern disclaimer. He said we would observe all these things, all of it happening around us; then, He adds this one little comment that even the disciples thought was out of place. They began the conversation by asking when all these things would happen. Jesus told them,

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)

Do not walk, RUN, from anyone who tells you they know when Jesus is coming back because they had a vision or heard a voice or saw a magical circle of stars or the moon turned red or the vultures are multiplying in Israel, or there is a red heifer or a gold menorah or a purple jelly bean.

THE END OF THE END OF ALL THE LOOSE ENDS

Jesus will return at zero, not 10, not 5, not 2, and not 1. Where is the prophetic timer now? If we search the thousands of charts and graphs and volumes of research from thousands of scholars over many centuries, what will we discover? We will discover that those great teachers preachers and students of Bible Prophecy did not know if the timer was at 10 seconds, 10 days, or 10 million years

… and neither do we.

We cannot alter, change, hurry or delay God’s appointed time. So, what are Watchmen to do while we wait for God’s perfect moment in time to arrive?

We watch. We warn. We witness. We patiently wait. And we thank God for His amazing grace and eternal love that gives us a little more time to reach one more soul.

We finish well.

 

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