I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:7). The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (Matthew 18:3-4)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:1-5). In the beginning, God and man walked together as friends; partners in the world. This was short lived, as we know. When we brought sin into our world, we pushed God out. But ever since then, he’s promised a return.
In the Old Testament, we can find a lot of promises like the one in Jeremiah. God promised to come not only to rule his people externally as their king. He promised to live with them internally as their beloved God. What sin separated, God was repairing. He would come to his people, and they would come to him.
This work was completed in Jesus Christ. God came to be with humanity. He taught us. He suffered for us. He died for us. He rose for us. Before returning to his Father, Jesus made another promise—he would return. God would come back to bring an end to the work of redemption. God would return.
In the two thousand years between Jesus’ words and today, many have begun to live as though Jesus wasn’t serious. It’s not unlike those people who wait outside the store on the night before black Friday. They spend so much time waiting that many of them start to live in the line. They bring tents, provisions, and start to live as though the line was the point. How we do the same! We get so moved in to our moment on earth that we act as though we don’t really believe there is a greater day coming when all this will change.
Be assured, God is returning. This is both good and bad. For those who find their joy and refuge in Jesus Christ, seeing him will be the consummation of their delight. Happiness and peace will flood their yearning souls like a tidal wave. But for those who’ve lived shortsightedly, imagining that this life is final reality, Jesus will be a terror.
This reality changes the way we live. Knowing that Jesus is returning first means that we who delight in him can hold our “stuff” with open hands. We can be generous with money, food, and resources because this treasures won’t last. It also means that our individual purposes fit under, not over, a high one. God is not excited about the wicked perishing. In fact, in the gospel he’s make provision for their rescue. So, whatever our purpose in life, it must be subservient to God’s purposes to rescue the lost. And finally, the coming of the Lord fills us with peace. When Jesus returns, he’ll take care of every injustice. He’ll right all wrongs. He’ll beautify the ugliest brokenness among us. Therefore, we can rest assured that our work for him on the earth will actually, in the end, last.
Today, let us see heaven’s coming in our distant vision. Pray that God would bring into your far sight the coming of his son. If he does, then the way you live will change.