Why Has It Taken So Long for Jesus To Return? When Will He Return? #340

Hello friends, and a hearty “happy Tuesday” to you! We’ve had some new listeners jump on in the past few days, so shoutouts to new listeners in Monterey, California (close by the Bible Reading podcast bunker), and Queensland Australia, Austin, Texas, Dallas, Texas and Mobile, Alabama – thank you all for joining us!! Today’s readings begin with 1st Chronicles 29, then Micah 6, Luke 14 and 2nd Peter 3, which will serve as our focus chapter.

Today we are discussing the second coming – specifically the reason why Jesus has not returned for almost 2000 years now. This seems like a long time to wait, right? Why is it taking Jesus so long to return? Well, I will tell you that people in the church have been asking that question for many, many years. Similarly, people in the church have also been assuming that Jesus would return in their lifetimes for many years, and that has obviously not happened. So – what gives? Why the long delay? Let’s read our passage in 2nd Peter 3 and see if we can find some answers here.

Above all, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” They deliberately overlook this: By the word of God the heavens came into being long ago and the earth was brought about from water and through water. Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded. By the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. Dear friends, don’t overlook this one fact: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

2nd Peter 3:3-9

I would put this passage right there with Matthew 24 (and its parallels) and 2nd Thessalonians 2, 1 Thessalonians 5 and some chapters in Revelation, as being the most important Scriptures in the Bible on the return of Jesus. What do we learn hear about the end times and the second coming? Here’s a short list:

  • Scoffers will make fun of how long it has been since Jesus promised to return
  • A day of fire and judgment will come upon the present earth AND heavens
  • Time works very different for the Lord in a way that is not easily understandable
  • Jesus is not slow in returning, but is patient, wanting all to come to repentance.

Consider this: If Jesus had come in 1917, then 1918, then 1920, when many Jehovah’s Witnesses erroneously predicted He would, then none of us listening now would still be alive. I guess it is ageism to assume that nobody listening to this podcast is over 99, but if you are, my great apologies. If Jesus had returned in 1988 as a bestselling book from my teen years predicted, or 1994 as a less best selling book that i have on the bookshelf behind me predicted, then none of my kids would exist. I am glad the Lord has tarried in His return, and 2nd Peter 3 makes it abundantly clear that the Lord will indeed tarry. I certainly think that Peter’s inspired thousand years/day paradox seems to indicate that the Lord would wait at least 1000 years before returning….perhaps 2000. Who knows? The point is that there are multiple clear signs in this passage that the return of Jesus would be so long in happening that scoffers and skeptics would mock the very idea, and it would be so long before it happened that Peter’s 1000 years/day statement would actually make sense. I do not believe that the secret time or year of Christ’s return is hidden somehow in Scripture. You simply CANNOT figure it out from Scripture, as we discussed before because Jesus did NOT know the day of His return, and I don’t believe the Holy Spirit, who inspired Scripture, knew either, based on this testimony of Jesus:

36 “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels of heaven nor the Son —except the Father alone. Matthew 24:36

“Now concerning that day or hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son —but only the Father. Mark 13:32 

I take from that declaration that NOBODY can precisely decode the time of Jesus’ return from Scripture…but we can certainly find clues and what appear to be hints, and I believe the clues and hints in 2nd Peter 3 ALL seem to indicate that there will be many, many years that pass between the first Advent of Jesus and His Second Coming.

And now, lest this word make you relax, I need to tell you that there is a great tension in Scripture between God’s imminent return – it could happen suddenly, any second, and God’s patience that has drawn out the time greatly. We see BOTH elements of this tension in our passage today – God’s seeming delay is patient love for many of us…and yet, HE IS COMING LIKE A THIEF!  Here Spurgeon captures both sides of the coin well, and gives us quite a sobering warning:

How can you say, when we talk to you about preparing to die, that we are talking about things that are far off? Do not be so foolish. I implore you let these warnings lead you to decision. Far be it from me to cause you needless alarm, but is it needless? I am sure I love you too well to distress you without cause, but is there not cause enough? Come now, I press you most affectionately, answer me and say, does not your own reason tell you that anxiety for you is not misplaced? Ought you not at once to lay to heart your Redeemer’s call, and obey your Saviour’s appeal? The time is short, catch the moments as they fly and hasten to be blest.
Remember, also, that even if you knew that you should escape from accident and fever and sudden death, yet there is one grand event that we too often forget, which may put an end to your day of mercy on a sudden. Have you never heard that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was crucified on Calvary, died on the cross, and was laid in the tomb? Do you not know that He rose again on the third day, and that after He had spent a little while with His disciples, He took them to the top of the Mount of Olives, and there before their eyes ascended into Heaven, a cloud hiding Him from their view? Have you forgotten the words of the angels, who said, “This same Jesus who is taken up from you into Heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven”? Jesus will certainly come a second time to judge the world. Of that day and of that hour knoweth no man—no, not the angels of God. He will come as a thief in the night to an ungodly world; they shall be eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, just as they were when Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came and swept them all away. In a moment—we cannot tell when, perhaps it may be ere next the words escape my lips—a sound far louder than any mortal voice will be heard above the clamours of worldly traffic, ay, and above the roaring of the sea. That sound as of a trumpet will proclaim the day of the Son of man. “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet Him,” will sound throughout the Church; and to the world there will ring out this clarion note, “Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which crucified Him.” Jesus may come to-night. If He were to do so, would you then tell me that I am talking of far-off things? Did not Jesus say, “Behold, I come quickly”? His tarrying may be long to us, but to God it will be brief. We are to stand hourly watching and daily waiting for the coming of the Lord from Heaven. Oh, I pray you do not say that the Lord delayeth His coming, for that was the language of the wicked servant who was cut in pieces, and it is the mark of the mockers of the last days, that they say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong; but listen to the undoubted voice of prophecy and of the Word of God, “Behold, I come quickly.” “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

C. H. Spurgeon and Sir George Williams, A Good Start: A Book for Young Men and Women (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 209–211.

 


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