"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens... let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years...' " (Ge 1:14).
Reflecting on the passage of time we have noted in the last couple weeks that the Lord has given us time to prepare for the future, and that in the scheme of things, we are only here for a very short time. In time we are able to see the unfolding love of God; the passage of time is a stage on which God demonstrates his loving mercy.
In this last short reflection on the passage of time, let me share with you an important reminder: Time is short. Although our reflection on the brevity of human life does connect with this, I want to specifically focus in on the coming of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came in time to live, die and resurrect to bring Salvation. Yet that was only his first coming, soon enough He will return again for his second coming! Although the messiah was promised to come with power and judgment, that was for the end of time as we know it. He needed to come in "the middle" of time to accomplish redemption, and now we live in the Last Days where that redemption is being applied across the world before final judgment.
We do not know when the Lord will return but we are told to expect it any day. There are copious examples across the New testament telling Christians to live in expectation of Jesus imminent arrival. The fact that he has not yet returned is not him being slow, it is him being gracious and kind to you, giving you more time to be justified, sanctified, forgiven and set free. It is more time for the wicked to repent and turn from death to life. It is more time for more people to come to Jesus seeking refuge in mercy and grace.
"The Lord is not slow to fulfil 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." (2 Pe 3:9–10). (Interpretive note: The "you" in this verse is the recipients of the letter, see 2 Pe 1:1)
Even if the Lord does not return for 10,000 years it is still the Last Days in anticipation of the return of Christ where God is patiently saving his own people. But we're not privy to the exact details of the future, and instead must live in reliance of the Lord every day. When we know the date, we tend to become haughty and prideful, like lazy students that leave exam prep to the night before. So God calls us to remember we don't know the date and to live in such a way that we are ready for what we do know - Jesus is coming back! Jesus will Judge! We could be caught unaware!
"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1 Th 5:1–11).
Our time, our season, is a time of anticipation. So knowing the outlines of what is come, but not the exact time it will come, we must live every day in readiness: We must be sober (1 The 5:6), have our wick's trimmed and oil ready (Ma 25:1–13), we must stay awake (Ma 24:36–51), we must be prepared, serving the Master as good servants.
Jesus says he is coming soon, in fact in Revelation he says it six times! I think it is something that Christians need to hear! As we coming into another year, the temptation may be to just see this as one more year in an endless stream of years and to get bogged down in earthly business without regard for the imminent return for Christ.
So as you put your hand to the plough for this year, let us have this mind: Serve God in Christ, rest in his salvation, work as if your labour will stand for a thousand years, and be prepared for Christ to return today. Time is in God's hands, you do not know how much of it you have, but all of it should be given over to the Lord.
"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Re 22:12–13).