When Israel’s promised Messiah finally came in the person of Jesus Christ, many of the Jews, especially the religious leaders, rejected Him. They refused to believe that this poor carpenter from Nazareth was their long anticipated Savior.
But there were some among them who did believe, and these very last of the Old Testament saints themselves bore witness of their anticipation of God fulfilling His promise of grace through Christ. Clearly, ones like Simeon who was, “waiting for the Consolation of Israel”, to whom, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”, Anna who, “gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:25-26, 38), Zacharias who praised God for having, “raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David” (1:69), and John the Baptist who leaped for joy in his mother’s womb upon coming into the presence of pregnant Mary, all bear testimony to their living in joyful hope of the coming of Christ, the Messiah.
Indeed Christ has come, and accomplished His great work of redemption on the cross. As such, we don’t live in anticipation of the cross, but are able to look back and see God’s glorious fulfillment of His promise to send the One, Jesus Christ, who would save His people from their sins.
However, just as the Old Testament saints lived in anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise, so too we, the saints in the New Testament age, look ahead to the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus will come again, “in that Day, to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Thessalonians 1:10), when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). As the Old Testament saints lives were lifted up by the promise of the coming Messiah, shouldn’t the promise of Christ coming again lift us up so that we joyfully anticipate Christ’s coming again? Shouldn’t this also affect the way we live?
To start with, we have strong incentive to truly believe this promise because God is a God of truth, and He is not only willing to keep His promises, but He is able to keep them. He is also faithful in keeping His promises. Indeed, He fulfilled His promise to send a Savior, will He not also keep His promise to send Him again? Jesus Himself promised, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).
We should be encouraged by this promise in knowing that the best is yet to come, “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”, “for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17). “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). We also know that our sufferings, afflictions, crosses, and chastenings are in fact preparing us for that great Day of Christ’s return. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote; “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We should have a sense of urgency for the lost, knowing that a time is coming when the gospel will no longer be proclaimed and the “Day of Salvation” will come to a close. Let’s continue to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to Adam’s dying race, and labor in prayer for not only our loved ones, but for the nations, confident in the Father’s promise to the Son when He said, “I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (Psalm 2:8).
We should be diligent in the practice of holiness and righteousness. We are exhorted to, “pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), “knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14).
But what of you who do not believe, who are not trusting in Christ alone for you salvation? What will become of you when Christ returns? You who are ignoring His pleas from His ministers to be reconciled to God, to humbly confess your sins, to repent of them, to look to Christ as the One who paid the penalty for your sins, as the One who lived the perfect life you didn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t live. If you would only believe, then your sins would be blotted out, and Christ’s righteousness would be credited as if it were your righteousness. But perhaps you can’t because as Jesus said, “no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (John 6:44). Should you therefore just throw up your hands and blame God for your unbelief, or should you humbly go to Him and ask that He change your heart and give you faith? Don’t wait; remember, Christ is coming!
Can you by faith say joyfully today, “Come, Lord Jesus”? By God’s grace, may it be so!