Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
It's a question that has been asked for many years: Why has the second coming of Christ been so long delayed? He told us clearly that there would be "signs" that when we should "see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors." For a long time now, "we" have seen the "signs." And then Jesus adds, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled" (Matt. 24:33, 34). The question is, What does "near" mean? What "generation" did He mean?
According to Daniel 11:35 in the context of his prophecies, "we" have been living in "the time of the end" ever since the close of the Dark Ages of persecution (the "wearing out of the saints," 7:25, KJV). It's this age of "increase of knowledge" and worldwide missionary activity.
The Books of Daniel and Hebrews are complementary and make clear that we are living in the cosmic Day of Atonement, the antitypical time when the great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary is performing His final work of preparing a people for the long-awaited second coming.
So, when we ask the question, How soon is "near"? we are really asking, How long will the Day of Atonement last? And when we ask that question, we are really asking a deeper one, "How long will it take the High Priest to cleanse the sanctuary from the sins of His people" (see Dan. 8:14)? And the answer has to be, Not long, if His people will let Him do it. He cannot force them to be reconciled to Him. The cleansing of human hearts must precede the cleansing of the sanctuary, according to Leviticus 16:29, 30. That is as true in this antitypical Day of Atonement as it was in the Levitical typical day of atonement "in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month."
And so our ultimate question must be, How "near" is the time when God's people will permit their great High Priest to do His work in their hearts that He longs to do? According to Hebrews 7:25, "He is able" to do His part "to the uttermost [perfectly]."
So, in the final analysis, we started off asking the wrong question. It's not for us to ask God "how long," but He is asking us, "How long?"
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 6, 2000.
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