To be faithful is to know God is out there somewhere, connect to Him, and live accordingly. To be a Christian is to know He’s right here, with us as He promised, unto the end of the age.
Jesus promised this to the men who followed Him at the end of his earthly ministry. He was lifted up, as we’re told by the Apostles who witnessed His ascension. Afterwards, those same men in defiance of human nature relentlessly pursued martyrdom, and they did so for another three decades without denying what they had seen even.
Doing would have saved their own lives, but not their souls. How could they deny Him when their Master was there in the intangible but undeniable person of the Spirit, granting them the courage to do His will? Testimony in the face of death waters the seedbed of His church with blood just as His did. How can we do less if called?
Their ministry also proceeded from the assumption He would return within their lifetimes. From its first days the body of the church encouraged one another: “Jesus is coming soon!” Were they wrong?
Two thousand years later, skeptics point to the same facts as disproving the Gospel, being apparently more comfortable in the world view that a personal God and Creator is a myth. Some of those previous were unexpectedly convinced—through their research—of an actuality attested by a long inter-relational history with His people and even more by the testimony of many witnesses. An overwhelming conviction arrives with the realization that yes, God is here. We see Him as facets of a jewel in the Father and the Son and the Spirit, though whom Christ works in the world today, tending His field of souls and servants.
But still, we have the promise in Acts 1:11:
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Soon, they thought. Were they wrong?
I was introduced to Rapture theory by the writings of Pastor Hal Lindsey in 1983. His convincing end-times scenario—augmented by studies in Hebrew and Greek undertaken so as to access Scripture in its original languages—centers on passages in Daniel, the Gospels, and the Revelation of John. They expound on the hints Paul left us in his letters to the Church in Thessaly and Corinth: a shared secret that we shall not all sleep, but some of us who are alive and remain will be caught up by our Master to serve Him from then on.
The Editress and I were also edified by the ministry of the late Zola Levitt. His insights on the Jewish cultural context of Bible imagery, particularly how the ministry of Christ fulfilled in turn the festivals of Judaism, have been invaluable. Rosh Hashanah is next, by the way, falling this year on September 19. Seven years later, according to Rapture theory, there will be Yom Kippur, when we at last will call Him Emmanuel, God with us.
Rabbi Levitt died waiting for the return of Jesus. Did he wait in vain?
I’ve been waiting since I came to believe. In all that time, I’ve never seen anything in society or history in these nearly forty years to make me think the enabling scenarios in the world at large are anything but progressing toward the fulfillment of our great hope: of being the generation to see the return of Christ.
I believe Jesus is coming soon. Will I be wrong if He waits another day or another century for more souls to come along on that sudden flight to His presence? If the era of the church far outlasts my span of years in this world?
There are entire websites devoted to the premise that we are living the last days of the end of the Age of the Church. It’s an age that concludes with its Bridegroom claiming His bride: the Ecclesia, or those whom the Spirit has called out of the world into the ultimate clarity. Knowing Christ eventually awaits every soul in a universal journey bound toward grace or judgment. The sign of the times, as the artist Prince sang, mess with your mind.
I’ll share a secret, as Paul did: Christ is coming soon, regardless of how the rest of this present age goes.
My aunt, my mother’s sister, died in the house my father built, where I grew from a child to a young man. She and my mother, who appeared out of the Great Depression, lived an era where death at home was perhaps more common than it is today. My aunt was not a woman without faults. None of us are, but faith overcame hers by the end, when she had no reason to lie:
“Jesus is here,” she said.
“What does He look like?” Mother, her only company at the moment, wanted to know.
“Oh, you should know better than to ask.”
He returned, you see, within her lifetime, as He has for many others before and since. Just for her, and just for them. If they had expected Him soon, they were not wrong, and the brevity of this whisper of linear time that comprises our earthly life becomes more apparent with every passing year.
My last column touched on fear, and how refusal to embrace our essential mortality makes the enemy’s victims vulnerable to unwise action and needless angst as they desperately hold onto the only plane of existence known, in terror of life ends with a finality of blackness. So a faithful existence focuses on imminence in sure knowledge that it does not … once we are graced to believe.
“Oh, life goes by so fast,” Mom said toward the end. She wasn’t wrong. I look forward to seeing her again. Death for the Christian holds the same joy that most of us feel in returning home, only at the last it is to a New House, and one where our clock is counting up rather than down. It will be soon, relatively speaking, if you and I live to be one hundred. Jesus will be back just for you, I pray.
Choose to love. -DA
In production news, the Editress is approaching the halfway point in production editing our next release and Ritter’s experience at war in two subsequent decades, Twenty-Four Hours to Midnight. God willing, as with everything, it will be soon … if He tarries. Look upward, you folk of Galilee. It’s September, after all.