Friday, March 27, 2009


I had been considering a certain passage of Scripture and its implications.
It grew upon my young mind, a burgeoning paradox, until it could be contained no more.
"You know that verse," I asked of my friend, Darren, "that says that the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not?"
"Well, it seems that everyone is expecting Him all the time. . . . . sooo, how can He return when at every hour of every day, someone, somewhere is expecting Him?"
Darren, somewhat less enamored of abstract paradoxes than I, and somewhat more enamored of common sense than I, considered this.
"Well," came his response, "You can't keep Him from coming back just by thinking about it all the time."
Whether or not he had discerned my motivation for so eagerly considering this idea I don't know, but he had effectively put his finger on it. In my insecurity at the prospect of His return, I thought I might forestall Him by expecting Him.
Imbecilic, yes, but no more than supposing that you might prevent His return by not expecting Him.
It is true enough that I have been expecting Him with varying degrees of trepidation and anticipation for twenty years or so, and others no doubt precluded my expectancy by looking for Him years before I was born.
Let's talk about this elephant. When I, and I suspect other Christians, grow a little weary of the struggle, we turn with greater eagerness to the idea of His imminent return. No less exhausted but some less resigned than Sisyphus himself, we begin to wish not that the rock might finally be laid to rest, but that the rock and the mountain might disappear and the endless task of living might be resolved at last with our final rest. It is the same desperation that prompts a dreamer, when presented with an untenable nightmare, to awake rather than confront whatever horror awaits him in the dream.
Unfortunately, the exchange of our present reality for the next is not so easily attained.
It is easy for some to conclude that considering the ulterior motive or the self-interest that Christians stand to gain by His return nullifies their objectivity.
Could it be that the convergence of world events could always, since the Ascension, have been plausibly construed to fit all the signs of His Second Coming?
It has long been the contention of the elderly that things are getting worse all the time. And I suspect their parents said the same, and theirs the same, and so on.
Historic evil does not seem so much to have inclined as it has risen and fallen and risen and fallen. There is nothing new under the sun.
However, the view that the world will grow more evil and more evil until the Abomination of Desolations cannot help but occur is no more logical than the postmillenial view of Christian socialists that contends that the world will improve until it is finally ready for the eternal reign of Christ.
No, I think that whatever evil exists in the world today compared to the evil that will saturate our world with the reign of Antichrist is analogous to the crime that rampages under a democracy compared with the organized, authorized crime that is necessary for the existence of a corrupt dictatorship.
So, to acknowledge that the world is no more evil than it was one hundred years ago, or that America is no more debauched than ancient Greece is not to place the return of Christ further in the future. It simply has no bearing on the issue.
But, in a sense, those who would prove that His return is not imminent by pointing out the sometimes over eagerness of Christians to place it soon, are no more logical than I when I thought to prevent Him by expecting Him.
Certainly, the overall cause of Christ is not helped by those who fix dates. Not only because they always turn out to be wrong, but because Christ informed us that we could not know.
But, too often, those like Joel Rosenberg who rationally point out the convergence of prophesy and events are classed with the date-fixers.
And could it not be the Father of Confusion himself who prompts people to unthinkingly blurt out date-specific predictions? The passing of those dates robs the lost of a little more dread each time.
It's no good asking if I think it might be tomorrow. The point is, it is an unavoidable event. It is fixed by the Father. Everything that happens; time, events, false predictions, saber-rattling, regime changes, elections, solar storms, Mayan calendars, Middle East tremors, whether or not these things in and of themselves signify the immediacy, they bring it closer.
The absolute uncertainty is the unsettling method of God to bring us into a state of dependence, of hopefulness, and of faithfulness.
So, as unsatisfactory as it sounds, it could be a thousand years from now, and it could be . . . . .


wncjr said...

"A thousand years is but a day." I thought you might expect this,didn't want to disappoint you.

Anonymous said...

Second Timothy 3:1 through 17 Text v 13.

Nathan Carpenter said...

anon, you made my brain hurt. in light of v. 13, i obviously cannot dispute that things will get worse in the last days. but, that isn't exactly what i was getting at. i was pointing out the futility of arguing for a later date by contending that things are arguably no worse than they have been at previous low points in history.
and, maybe my working def. of evil would like a clarification. crime, debauchery, greed, lust, etc., i add that while i don't think that these are necessarily higher than ever, there is, however, an unprecedented level of moral relativism that i could relate to a cancer in that it has spread to every part of the body and has only to begin exhibiting symptoms. at this stage, given the advanced spread, it could progress at a dizzying speed.
to reiterate, i certainly see an environment ripe for His return and it is as foolish to forestall it in your mind as it is to set dates for it.

Anonymous said...

Good point.