Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Has Christ's second coming been delayed?
(1) Has the Father fixed the time of His coming so that His people can neither hasten nor delay it? Or, (2) can His people hasten His return as 2 Peter 3:12 suggests, "Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God ..."? The Greek can be understood as either (a) longing for its coming or (b) as hastening its coming. Those who believe the Father has fixed the date hold to (a). Those who believe we can delay His coming hold to (b).
Jesus makes clear that the Father alone knows the time of His second coming (Mark 13:32), but that does not mean that He has fixed the time as Calvinist predestination. He has "appointed" the time in the sense that it is contingent on the completion of the gospel commission: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14). The "when" is up to us.
The character of God is implicated in this question. If He has fixed the time, then He has deceived His people by repeated messages telling them that it is "near." Some argue that when He says, "know that it is near, at the very doors" (vs. 33), He means something different than all human language means by "near," but again that implies deception. If I tell a hungry person that lunch is "near" when I mean next week, I have deceived him.
What is clear is that the second coming of Christ cannot take place until the "marriage of the Lamb is come." And Revelation 19:1-9 makes clear that the only reason that "marriage" has not taken place is that His Bride "has [not] made herself ready," for when she does make herself "ready," the heavenly Bridegroom will not tarry.
Thus our question involves the character of Christ Himself. Does He love that Bride-to-be? And does He want to come?
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 5, 2002-1.
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