Can we postpone Jesus' coming by expecting it?

19 May

On Saturday, we are all going to be singing the classic 90’s REM song, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”

There’s been a lot of hoopla about the May 21st people.

The obvious answer from most Christians is simply quoting verses like Matthew 24:36. But how far is too far when expecting the end of the world? Maybe a better
question is, what exactly are we expecting?

The following is  excerpt from “The Cloud and the Line- Alternative Thoughts on Morality” By Paul Gibbs. It gives unique insight into these questions. It is also the book I’ve been helping type out and edit, and I am very excited about it. 🙂

Please click here and like the page to get updates on release information.

Jesus paints a wonderful picture filled with hope of his kingdom on earth, but only hints at what is to come. He is not exactly explicit about times and dates. Instead He urges us to build towards something very cool, somewhere, at some time in the future.

Why would the Father tease us?

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

He seems to be stressing the importance of being prepared for His coming, while purposely withholding any real clue as to when that might be.

Why?

First of all, we have to understand that Jesus agreed with His fellow sages about the Judgment Day. Much of what He says about His coming seems to be in line with their thinking. His statements seem to be more like reminders than something totally new.

What makes Jesus’ statement different from His contemporaries is that they believed that the coming of the Messiah and the Day of Judgment would be simultaneous. Jesus, however, teaches His disciples that these two events will not happen together. He, the Messiah, has come yet there is still time to get ready. So how much time do we have?

We do not know.

And there is a reason for that.

There is a reason why this is hidden, why it is not yet being disclosed, why you and I should not waste too much time trying to work it out.

It was said by these sages:

“May the bones of those who calculate the end be blasted away.”[i]

Why would the rabbis so harshly warn people not to spend their time calculating the end?

You may find the answer quite shocking.

Because they also said:

“It has been taught that three things come when the mind is diverted: The Messiah, finding a lost article and a scorpion.

So don’t postpone his coming by thinking about it![ii]

I was taught as a young man that we can speed up the coming of Christ by reaching the whole world with His message. Now here, the writing of Jesus’ colleagues suggest that there are also ways we can slow it down.

Can this be true?

And if so, why?

On a road trip back from California, my family and I pulled in to a New Mexico motel. It was the usual simple set up, just two double beds and a shower. I prepared to crash and sleep as usual before getting up to complete the second leg of our journey.

This particular night, however, was a little different.

There was a scorpion in the room.

It was the first time I’d seen a scorpion in real life and I wasn’t expecting to see one ambling along the foot of my bed. I was quite sleepy, but still a little panicked. My tired mind went through a questioning process:

“There’s a scorpion in my bedroom! Is this usual? Is it dangerous? Should I just leave it? Should I get rid of it? How do I get rid of it?”

For a moment I considered letting it go, hoping it would crawl back outside, but then my imagination ushered in the possibility of one of my sons getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and stepping barefoot onto it. I am one of those people who doesn’t find it easy to kill insects. Instead I spend considerable time hunting them down, catching them in paper cups in order to re-enact the film Born Free, and then setting them loose in my garden. The idea of hurting this scorpion that seemed so little was troublesome to me. It was only small and fairly transparent.

Could it really do that much damage?

Finally, I decided not to take the risk, and I squashed it with my shoe. Only later did I find out that with this particular scorpion, that was exactly the right thing to do!

My biggest problem with the scorpion was that I was not expecting it and, therefore, unable to handle it.

If we expect things, we tend to handle them. Our humanity wants to handle God. We secretly hope to force Him into some kind of deal. Deadlines and deals seem to go hand in hand.

But God is not only unimaginable. He is also unmanageable.

Could it be that God purposely wants us to be ready but not expectant?

Why? Because our readiness will be more genuine.

If we are expecting God to turn up and judge us, we are more likely to be doing the things He tells us to do only to avoid punishment or gain a reward. If we are not expecting it, then our actions are more likely to be motivated by authentic faith.

Many of us are tempted to give depending upon what we will get in return.

The Father is calling you not to a deadline, but to become a lifeline.

 


[i] Rabii Shmuel bar Nachmani said this in the name of Rabbi Yonaton (Sanhedrin 97b)

[ii] Rabbi Zera (Sanhedrin 97a)

 

2 Responses to “Can we postpone Jesus' coming by expecting it?”

  1. Esther O. Gold May 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    A fascinating discussion..

  2. Sarah May 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Interesting stuff! I have never heard that before, thank you for sharing.

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