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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Are you ready?

Having a late lunch today, I switched on the TV to the History Channel, and caught the last ten minutes of a programme that seemed to be claiming that there could be, in the next few decades (and certainly, this century) the collapse of a large part of one of the Canary Islands into the sea. This, it was being confidently predicted, would happen when the flank of a volcano was disturbed by volcanic activity. One of the main emphases of the part of the programme that I saw was that it was impossible for us to know exactly when this would happen. However, the result would be a “mega-tsunami” that would sweep across the Atlantic Ocean, and hit the eastern seaboard of the USA with a gigantic (750 metre high?) wave.

Scary stuff but, as I have mentioned in my response to a comment on an earlier post, I have learned – sometimes the hard way! – not to take everything that I receive from the popular media at face value. A quick search brought me to this website that may be worth visiting (especially if you live in either the Canary Islands, or the eastern seaboard of the USA!!).

However, the warning about not knowing exactly when such a disaster would take place sent my mind in another direction. The church has known for some 2,000 years that Jesus is coming back. He made it perfectly clear. Listen: “And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Mt.24:30); “... when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne.” (Mt.25:31); “Then everyone will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mk.13:26, Lk21:27); “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am.” (Jn.14:3)

And the apostle Paul adds to the evidence. In that great passage in his first letter to the believers in Thessalonica, he writes: “And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died. I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.” (4:13-18).

So, we are left in no doubt that Jesus is going to return – and not, this time, as a helpless infant in a mucky, smelly, part of a building that was reserved for the family’s animals; but breaking into time and space as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

However, when the disciples asked Jesus about the date of His return (Matt. 24:3), He told them that only God the Father knows: "… no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows." (v.36).

We don't know when Jesus will return; He may come at any time. Dr. Richard De Haan, founder of Radio Bible Class Ministries, kept a two-word motto in his office: "Perhaps Today." The important thing is to be ready. Are you?

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