2008 is already half over and "all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation" (2 Pet. 3:4). From the mere standpoint of human observation, "A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever" (Eccl. 1:4). Day after day, it's the same thing over and over again. The sun rises. The sun sets. The people walking this globe come and go. But do not be fooled! This seemingly endless cycle will not continue indefinitely.
Your Inevitable Appointment: -- God has appointed a final day of judgment. The resurrection of Jesus confirms that such a day will occur (Acts 17:31). Because many years have passed since that announcement, Peter said some questioned God's promise (2 Pet. 3:3ff). Perhaps for the same reason, others wrongly believe now that God has already fulfilled that promise. Both extremes scoff at Scripture.
While more time has passed since the initial calls unto readiness for first century disciples, you must "...not let one fact escape your notice, beloved, tht with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Pet. 3:8). Why would such a statement be recorded unless the "promise of His coming" could potentially be down the road in time?
God has no more forgotten this promise than any other that He has ever made. The working out of the promise to Abraham did not happen in a short period of time, but what an amazing fulfillment unfolded! Because of His marvelous doings throughout hundreds of years, we can now exclaim, "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psa. 118:23,24). A final great day comes as well!
Every man faces an inevitable appointment with God (Heb. 9:27). Just as man dies once, Jesus' sacrifice for sin was a one- time offering coinciding with His first appearance (Heb. 9:28). Yet He "...shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."
Temporal Judgment Comings Versus The Final Coming: -- The Hebrew writer addresses a first and unique coming of our Lord, a most obvious reference to the incarnation of Jesus. While in one sense, the Lord came or visited many times in the Old Testament for the blessing of His people and judgment upon His enemies (Zeph. 1:4,7,14,15), only once did God become flesh and walk among men (Jno. 1:14,18). (In Gen. 18 three men visited Abraham and Sarah. They told that Sarah would bear a son in the appointed time the following year. Two of the men left and one stayed and talked to Abraham about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham referred to the man that he was talking to as Lord. In vs. 33 it is said that "the Lord went on His way." This seems to refer to the Lord, in the body of a fleshly man, visiting with Abraham. So, this seems to indicate that the Lord took on the form of a fleshly man as He discussed these matters with Abraham, JWS).
We should not confuse the "great day of the Lord" in Zehpaniah with the second coming of (Heb. 9:28). Neither shou-ld we confuse the "the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory" (Mk. 13:26) or its "great trumpet" (Matt. 24:31) with the unique and final coming signaled by "the last trumpet" (1 Cor. 15:52). While the Lord has come many times in temporal judgments upon the ungodly (1 Pet. 4:17), we must not confuse those events with the final and irrevocable end of everything material (2 Pet. 3:10,11).
Biblical evidence confirms that we should not equate His coming in Matt. 24:30 with His second appearance in Heb. 9:28. And we should not equate either of those with His proposed comings in Rev. 2:5,16; 3:5,11. How would the destruction of Jerusalem or the end described in 2 Pet. 3 relate to those comings of the Lord? A majority of the comings of the Lord described in Scripture involved a limited geographical area such as a single nation and a limited number of people. But what the Hebrew writer describes is universal in scope!
The Climax Of History: -- Perhaps part of the misunderstanding about the portrait of the Jerusalem destruction in A.D. 70 stems from the nature of the catastrophic figures used to describe it. But such figures are not new. Similar imagery, world-shaking judgment (Isa. 24), is found amidst the writings of the Old Testament prophets. And all of thse intermediate judgments point forward to a much larger and ultimate fulfillment. When the climax of all history comes, when the final judgment comes -- all men will be included, the Lord will be literally visible in the sky and the dead in Christ will literally be raised.
While various visible signs preceded the day of the Lord in Matt. 24, the Lord's final coming will approach in stealth "as a thief" (1 Thes. 5:2,3).
The Bible clearly describes future events that did not occur in A.D. 70 and have yet to occur...
"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed...for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor.15:51,52).
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thes. 4:16,17).
"When He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is" (1 Jno. 3:2). --- Stay ready for that day!
By Tony Mauck in Biblical Insights, Vol. 8, No. 7, July, 2008
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