by Dr. David R. Reagan
As every new year dawns, I find myself earnestly yearning that it will be the year that will initiate the end time events that will lead to the Lord's return to this earth.
The first of those events will be the Rapture of the Church. That will be followed by the Great Tribulation of seven years, a period of unparalleled horror that will culminate in the return of Jesus to reign over all the world.
The writings of the early Church Fathers (100 to 300 A.D.) reveal that one of the earliest prayers of the Church was "Maranatha!" (1 Corinthians 16:22). That word is actually an Aramaic phrase that means "Our Lord come!"
This prayer expresses a fact that is confirmed by many other scriptures; namely, that the First Century Church had an ardent desire for the soon return of Jesus.
A Waning of the Zeal
The Twentieth Century Church seems to have lost that desire. Most professing Christians today do not pray "Maranatha!" They do not yearn for the return of the Lord. Instead of yearning, they are yawning.
Christendom at large is caught up in apathy regarding the return of Jesus. And that is sad, for the Word says that the return of the Lord is our "Blessed Hope" (Titus 2:13).
Also, we are constantly admonished in Scripture to watch for the Lord's coming and to be ready. Jesus Himself said, "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight . . . for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect" (Luke 12:35,40). Paul exhorted Titus to live "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13). And as Paul faced death in prison, he wrote:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. — 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Think of it, Paul says that a special reward — "a crown of righteousness," will be given to any person who lives his or her life loving the appearing of the Lord.
Are you a candidate for this reward? Do you have a zealous yearning in your heart for the Lord's soon return? Do you pray daily, "Maranatha!"?
Looking for Jesus
There are at least six reasons why every Christian should earnestly desire the soon return of Jesus:
1) Jesus — When Jesus returns He will get what He deserves — honor, glory and power.
When He came the first time, He was repudiated by the Jews, rejected by His home town, and spurned by his family. He was persecuted by the religious leaders, betrayed by a friend, denied by another friend, deserted by His disciples, and mocked by the masses. He had no place to lay His head. His only possession was a robe.
He was born in a stable, raised in poverty, nailed to a tree, and buried in a borrowed tomb. Today, people scoff at Him and ridicule Him. His name is used as a curse word.
That is not what He deserves!
It is going to be different when He returns. The first time He came as a gentle and helpless baby. He is going to return as a mighty warrior. He came the first time as a suffering lamb to die for the sins of the world, but He will return as a conquering lion who will pour out the wrath of God on those who have rejected the love, mercy and grace of God. His first coming was marked by compassion, humility, and a willingness to be judged and to die. He will return in triumph and in wrath to judge and make war against the enemies of God. He came the first time as a Servant; He is returning as a Monarch.
Jesus was humiliated in history. I want to see Him vindicated and glorified in history. And He will be because His Father has promised Him that He will reign over all the earth (Psalm 2:7-9). He has also been promised that He will manifest His glory before His saints (Isaiah 24:21-23) and before the nations of the earth (Isaiah 66:18 & Psalm 22:27-31). Paul says He is returning "to be glorified in His saints . . . and to be marveled at among all who have believed" (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
2) Satan — When Jesus returns, Satan will receive what he deserves — defeat, dishonor and humiliation.
I'm sick of Satan. I'm tired of his plots and schemes and lies and deceptions. I'm fed up with his sicknesses and temptations. I'm weary of his physical, emotional and spiritual pollution. I'm disgusted with his wrecking of marriages and homes. I loath his wars and terrorism. I despise His ceaseless attacks on the Church.
I often feel like the martyrs portrayed in Revelation who cry out day and night before the throne of God, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?" (Revelation 6:10) Like Isaiah, I want to cry out to God, "Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down!" (Isaiah 64:1).
The fate of Satan was sealed by the Cross, but his nefarious activities will not cease until the Lord returns. At that time, the Word says that God will deal with Satan decisively. Luke 18:7 says that God will vindicate His elect who cry out to Him day and night by providing them justice. Romans 16:20 says that Satan will be "crushed." The book of Revelation says he will then be thrown into the lake of fire where he "will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10 — see also, Isaiah 14:12-17).
But Satan doesn't want to go to Hell alone. He's working overtime to take as many people with him as he can. And I want that work stopped! I want Satan to get what he deserves.
3) The Creation — When Jesus returns, the creation will receive what it has been promised — restoration.
The material universe was originally created in beauty and perfection. There were no poisonous plants or animals, nor were there any meat eating animals. There were no natural cataclysms like earthquakes and tornados. Mankind lived in perfect harmony with nature.
But when Man rebelled against God, one of the consequences of his sin was that God placed a curse on the creation. Poisonous plants and animals suddenly appeared. The animal kingdom turned against itself and Man as some of the animals became meat eaters. And the natural cataclysms began to take their toll. Man now had to strive against nature to survive.
But the moment God placed the curse on the creation, He promised that one day it would be lifted through "the seed of woman" (Genesis 3:15). That promise is repeated throughout the Scriptures. For example, in Isaiah 11, the prophet says that when the Messiah comes to reign, "the wolf will dwell with the lamb" and "the lion will eat straw like the ox." He further states that "the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra" because the snake will no longer be poisonous.
Paul reaffirms this promise in the New Testament in the eighth chapter of Romans. He pictures the whole creation as being like a pregnant woman gripped by birth pains, crying out for the moment of delivery. He says that moment will come when "the sons of God are revealed." In other words, it will occur at the resurrection when the Lord returns (Romans 8:18-23).
On the day the Lord returns, the earth will be renovated by earthquakes and supernatural phenomena in the heavens (Revelation 6:12-17). The result will be a refreshed and beautified earth. The destructive forces of nature will be curtailed. Deserts will bloom. The plant and animal kingdoms will be redeemed. Poisonous plants and animals will cease to be poisonous. The carnivorous animals will become herbivorous. All of nature will cease to strive against itself. Instead, it will work together harmoniously to the benefit of Man. (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 35:1-10; Isaiah 65:17-25; Acts 3:19-21; and Romans 8:18-23)
4) The Nations — When Jesus returns, the nations will receive what they have been promised — peace, righteousness and justice.
Mankind has dreamed of world peace throughout history. Disarmament treaties have been negotiated, peace treaties have been signed, international organizations have been created, but true peace has remained elusive.
The Bible says that permanent world peace will never be achieved until the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, returns. Both Isaiah and Micah prophesied that when the Lord returns, the nations "will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks" and that "nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war" (Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3).
The hope of the world for peace will never be realized in summit conferences between heads of state. The only hope is the return of Jesus who will rule the world with "a rod of iron" (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:26-27).
5) The Jews — When Jesus returns, the Jews will receive what they have been promised — salvation and primacy.
God has made many wonderful promises to His chosen people, the nation of Israel. Most of these are unfulfilled and will not be fulfilled until a remnant of the Jews turn to Jesus and accept Him as their Messiah. The prophetic scriptures tell us this will happen at the end of the Tribulation when the Jews who are left alive have come to the end of themselves and decide to turn to God.
Zechariah says this remnant will "look upon Him whom they have pierced and will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son" (Zechariah 12:10). The prophet also says that on that day of repentance, "a fountain of salvation will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity" (Zechariah 13:1).
This believing remnant will then be regathered to the land of Israel to receive the blessings that God has promised the nation. Those incredible blessings are described in great detail in chapters 60 through 62 of Isaiah. God's Shekinah glory will return (60:2) to a rebuilt Temple (60:7). The nations will send all kinds of assistance (60:10), including their wealth (60:5). The land of Israel will be reclaimed (60:13), the nation will receive respect (60:15), the people will enjoy peace (60: 18), and the Messiah will live in their presence (60:13,19). All the ruins will be rebuilt (61:4) and the land will be filled with joy (61:7-8) and praise (61:10-11). The nation will be a beacon of righteousness, and its glory will be witnessed all over the world (62:1-3). To sum it up, Isaiah says the nation of Israel will be "a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of God" (62:3).
In effect, the world will be turned upside down regarding its relationship to the Jews. Today the Jewish people are despised and persecuted. They are the butt of jokes and ridicule. But a day is coming when all that will cease. Zechariah says that during the Lord's millennial reign the Jewish people will be so honored that when a Jew walks by, ten Gentiles will grab his clothing and say, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23).
6) The Saints — Some of the promises to the Saints — to those who are member's of the Lord's Church — will be fulfilled at the time of the Rapture. The Rapture is an event that could occur any moment. It will precede the Second Coming.
At the Rapture, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and the living will be translated to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is at this time that both the living and dead in Christ will receive their glorified bodies. These will be immortal, perfected bodies — like the body that Jesus had after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:42-53 and Philippians 3:21).
When Jesus returns to this earth, the Saints will come with Him and will witness His glorious victory over the Antichrist and his forces (Revelation 19:11-21). The Saints will then receive what they have been promised — a redeemed earth and ruling power over the nations (Matthew 5:5 and Revelation 2:26-27).
Jesus will reign from Mount Zion in Jerusalem as King of kings and Lord of lords (Isaiah 24:21-23). David in his glorified body will reign as king of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9 and Ezekiel 34:23-24). The Saints in their glorified bodies will be scattered all over the world to assist with the Lord's reign (2 Timothy 2:12 and Revelation 2:26-27). Some will serve as administrators (mayors, governors, presidents, and kings), others will serve as judges, but most will serve as teachers, for the entire educational system of the world will be in the hands of glorified Saints. It will be their responsibility to teach those who are in the flesh about the Lord. There will be no legislators (thank God!), for Jesus Himself will give the law. (See Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 66:19-21; Jeremiah 3:12-18; and Luke 19:11-27.)
These six reasons make it clear that every Christian should be earnestly desiring the return of the Lord. Yet apathy prevails. Why?
Yawning about Jesus
I have found four reasons for the apathy and indifference that characterize the Christian community concerning the return of Jesus: unbelief, ignorance, fear, and carnality.
Unbelief — Regarding unbelief, many professing Christians simply do not believe that Jesus will ever return. Most of these are people with a liberal view of Scripture. They have spiritualized away the meaning of the Second Coming, just as they have spiritualized the virgin birth and the miracles. To them, the Second Coming is nothing more than a fairy tale. In 2 Peter 3:3-4 we are told that the end times will be characterized by scoffers who will mock the Lord's promise to return. The tragedy is that many of these are people who profess to be Christians.
Ignorance — I think most of the Christians who are apathetic about the Lord's return are just ignorant about what will happen when He comes back. As a result, they cannot get excited about an event they know nothing about. I was in this category for thirty years. Although I attended church faithfully, my church ignored the teaching and preaching of God's Prophetic Word. I didn't have the foggiest idea about what would happen when the Lord came back, and the result was apathy about His return. But when I began studying Bible prophecy and learned what is in store for believers when the Lord returns, I started jumping pews and shouting "Maranatha!" I have never been apathetic since that time.
Fear — The apathy of some Christians is due to the fact that they fear the Lord's return. Because of that fear, they try to repress the thought that He might break from the Heavens at any moment. They fear He might return on one of their "bad" days or when they have an "unconfessed sin" on their conscience. These people are caught up in works salvation. They do not understand that they are saved by grace and that "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
Carnality — Finally, there are many carnal Christians who cannot get excited about the coming of the Lord because they are in love with the world. They are walking with one foot in the church and one foot in the country club. They want the Lord to come, but they want Him to come when they are 80 years old and have experienced all that this world has to offer. In other words, they want Him to come, but they don't want Him to mess up their lives.
A Seventh Reason
Let me conclude with a personal note. There is another reason I want Jesus to return. It has to do with the fact that when you love someone, you want to be with them. I love to fellowship with Jesus in worship, in prayer, and in His Word. But these forms of fellowship are no substitute for being with Him. I love Him, and therefore . . .
I want to be with Him.
I want to bask in the presence of His love and
I want to see the glory of God in His face.
I want to kiss His nail-scarred hands and say,
Thank you for . . .
dying for me,
and for giving my life meaning and purpose.
And I want to join the Saints and the Heavenly
Host in singing, "Worthy is the Lamb!"