“And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, It is well with my soul.”
~“It is Well,” Horatio Gifford (1873).
The victory Jesus won on the cross was, in one way, complete. It cannot be undone; it is ultimate and successful. Yet, the Kingdom is not yet come. It begins to come, through God’s people, but while saved from sin, we are still under the effects of sin. And then there’s the whole world, still groaning for its release since the very beginning. This is a state we learn to live in and with, doing the best with what we have and relying on the Holy Spirit. But it isn’t going to stay this way forever. The victory will be completed.
When read in the Bible about the end of the story, you start to realize why God is delaying. That will be it: end game, no one else gets invited to the feast. God wants his message to get to the whole world before that happens, so learning about the end of things should have a direct impact on our attitude toward mission right now. Come to Jesus, before he comes back!
There is a lot of debate about what Jesus’ return will actually look like. Some aspects of that argument are more important than others. I hope to take a little time this week to write about what more or less the whole church agrees about Jesus’ second coming, and why, no matter what you think about it, it really does matter for your faith.
For now, I leave you with readings for this week. If you are reading along in The Drama of Scripture, the last chapter is waiting for you: “Act 6: The Return of the King: Redemption Completed,” pp. 207-213. Here are some Bible passages to focus on this week, in addition to your Holy Week meditations.
- Matthew 24:3-51: Here Jesus begins to discuss the end of the age, both stating events that will warn us leading up to the last days, and stating that no one knows (not even Jesus!) when it will happen.
- Matthew 25: Jesus continues, telling three parables about his return, each with a different message about the final judgment that all will face.
- 2 Peter 3: In this passage, Peter speaks directly into the doubts beginning to creep into the church (and which still exist today) about whether Jesus will return, and states why it matters that they believe.
- Revelation 20:7-15: John here gives another view of the final judgment, including the final defeat of Satan.
- Revelation 21:1-8: The Great Story ends with this incredible picture of the end of all things, which is really the beginning of new life in God’s Kingdom, finally fully established.