Many of us have struggled for years over the issue of the timing of Jesus' coming. In one sense it doesn't matter, since we are to be faithful at all times. But in a more important sense it matters terrifically, since Jesus took time to tell HIs disciples and us all the clues we need to figure things out, if we will examine them. We must never treat lightly what Jesus considers important.
I have been re-reading Revelation lately, and right there in verse one, there it is! The Book of Revelation is about "things which must soon take place." What? The second coming, the Millennium, the judgment, they are all in Revelation, and it's been 2,000 years already? How can this be "soon" ?
Pre-trib people point right away to their doctrine of “imminence.” But this teaching has been proved false in several ways in Scripture. First, Paul says that day (of Jesus’ return) will not come until the man of sin is revealed. Second, Jesus Himself said that His return will be after the Great Tribulation. On a lesser level, both Paul and Peter talked about their coming deaths, which the Lord had confirmed to them. At the very least, Jesus could not have come until they died. It wasn’t “any day now, any minute now” to them.
No, we must examine further, for imminence does not answer Revelation 1:1, or even 1:3 that states the time is “near” or “at hand.” There must be another way to approach these statements about Jesus’ “soon” coming.
Here are some possibilities:
One day is with the Lord as 1,000 years, or a million years, or whatever. In God’s eyes, the coming of Jesus truly is VERY soon, all the time. The only reason things have slowed down in our world of time is that Jesus is giving a long space of time for His church to get busy saving people, and giving the world much time to repent of their sin. Thus, He shows His great mercy and longsuffering.
The gap in Bible prophecies. Isaiah saw One who would come as a child, but then the government would be on His shoulders. The government of the whole world. Isaiah wrote what he heard, but his brain, like ours, could not see a 2,000 year gap between child and governor. Micah likewise sees one coming from Bethlehem who will rule all. He has come from Bethlehem, but He doesn’t rule yet. Huge gap in the prophecies. What’s missing? This age in which we live. Only the very beginnings and endings of the church age, the age of grace and mercy on all the Gentiles, are mentioned by prophets. Take away the church age and you jump from the first coming of Christ to His second coming, very soon!
Some have opined that “soon” has to do with the beginning of the series of events recorded in Revelation, or at most, the things promised to those seven churches in Asia. Those things indeed would happen soon.
An appeal to the Greek. Strong says that the word used means “briefly in time or in manner. That last phrase about “manner” opens up a whole new world to the interpretation. When Jesus talked about coming “quickly” , could He have been talking about “manner” instead of time? To say “I come soon” means you should look for Him today or tomorrow (I’m speaking now only of the English sense of the words). To say “I come “quickly” (a perfectly valid translation of the Greek) can easily mean that, when I finally do come, it will be swift! Does not Jesus’ reference to lightning and vultures point in this direction? He may not come for another 2,000 years, but when He does, it will be breathtakingly quick. One moment He is not here. The next, He is! I believe this could answer much of the mystery about these sayings.
For me, the jury is still out. This I know: God cannot lie. If He says He is coming quickly, and the time is at hand, and the things in Revelation must shortly come to pass, I believe it. But as is true with much of Scripture, I don’t yet fully understand it.
Please take what I have offered and go a little deeper. Why shouldn’t we be engrossed with the promises of His Word?
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