Garry continued his series about Messianic prophecies, today looking at the prophecies which have yet to be fulfilled, chiefly looking at the subject of the Second Coming of Jesus. Early Christians anticipated this event within their lifetimes (Paul had to write to the Thessalonians not to misuse their expectation by not working), but expectation faded over time as this event has not yet happened. At the start of the 20th century, the rise of the Pentecostal movement led to a renewed interest in the subject and it’s true that though we have waited a long time since Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and do not know when Jesus will come again, this is still an important doctrine which shapes how we should be living our daily lives.
Jesus’s Second Coming is a definite event (see Mk 13:26-27, Acts 1:9-11). We may not know the date or time of this, but we know it will come unexpectedly (see Matt 24:36-37) and must be prepared (see Matthew 25:1-13). It will affect all people (including those who have died before this happens, see 1 Thess 4:13-18).
One of the chief images used concerning this ‘arrival’ (or ‘parousia’) is that of a Middle Eastern wedding. Marriages were arranged in those days, but the bride and groom gave consent. Then the bridegroom would go away to prepare the home (see Matt 22:1-2, John14:1-5). This was a legally binding covenant (see Matt 1:18-19), with the bridegroom returning unexpectedly for his bride when his father deemed it to be the right time. The actual wedding ceremony involved a feast, and we are promised a wedding banquet when the Bride (the church) is reunited with the Bridegroom (Jesus.)
Practically, what does this mean for us? It means we must live with an awareness that this life is fragile and temporary, that we have here is not permanent. We live in the now, but we do not live for the now; we live with hope in an eternal future with Jesus. We must live in watchful anticipation of our Lord’s return, being vigilant, awake and prepared. 2 Pet 3:11 talks of us speeding His coming as we carry out His commission of making disciples of all nations. Our hearts cry out, ‘Maranatha!’ (‘Come, Lord Jesus!’)