Each Christmas season, Advent calls attention to Jesus’ first coming as an infant who grew to be a man. We remember his ministry, his sinless life, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension to heaven, from whence he shall come again to judge the living and the dead. But Advent also anticipates the return of Messiah Jesus.
The English word advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, which is translated as parousia in the Greek. Parousia means “The Coming,” a term indicating the first coming, but also the return of Christ, the long anticipated Second Coming.
We yearn for Christ’s Return, for these past two years have felt downright apocalyptic. Some of us speak and act as if the pandemic were over, but it definitely is not. COVID-19 continues to take lives. The pale horse whose rider is Death has visited us.
Globally, there have now been in excess of 270,252,555 cases of COVID-19 that we know of, WAY UP from the 74,200,000 cases we had reached by last year’s Christmas season, a gain of 196,052,555 cases for 2021.
Last Christmas, more than 1,700,000 loved ones had been lost all over the world, but now 5,308,651 loved ones have died, a crushing loss of 3,608,651 more than last Christmas (Johns Hopkins COVID-19 map).
No, the pandemic is not over.
The number of vaccine doses administered — 8,406,205,187 — is one number we hope helps to turn around the continual increase of sickness and death when added to the immunity gained by those who have recovered from COVID-19. That vaccination number is higher than the total cases. Praise the Lord for that!
Last Christmas, we had hoped that by mid-summer or the fall of 2021 the majority of us would be vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 and that herd immunity would be reached. However, that didn’t happen, neither here nor worldwide. Instead, it got worse.
“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:7-8 ESV).
This is not the first plague nor pestilence, nor will it be the last. Each plague cycle since Christ ascended probably prompted the same question:
Could this be the time of Christ’s return? Many have now thought the same.
“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus” (Revelation 1:9a ESV). The tribulation and the kingdom of God were already in effect when John wrote. Both continue as people put their faith in Christ and are persecuted around the world. Patient endurance is still required, and is found in Christ.
Tribulation is thlípsis in Koine Greek, which means “to crush, press, compress, squeeze, which is from thláō (n.f.), to break. Tribulation, trouble, affliction.” 1.
In Mark 13:5-13, Jesus foretold that tribulation would occur as the Gospel was going out to all the nations. This is still occuring, the Gospel is still going out, so we remain in this time of tribulation, which will be followed by an even worse tribulation. However, all tribulation will end when Christ returns.
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mark 13:24-27 ESV). For context, see Mark 13 here.
Only God knows when the nations will all have been reached, and at what time all his people will be gathered from the four winds when he returns.
Peter’s final words to the church are significant. They were penned right before he was martyred in Rome. These last words prepare us for The Second Coming, so that we are ready.
2 PETER 1:3-11 ESV
”His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
“For this very reason, make every effort [begin now] to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are [continually] increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“For whoever lacks these qualities is so [habitually] nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent [begin now] to confirm your calling and election, for if you [habitually] practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”(2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV).
Growth in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love are evidence of Christ in us. We are born again, sealed by His Spirit.Growth in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love are evidence of Christ in us. We are born again, sealed by His Spirit. #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
These are the very character qualities that have been tried and tested since this pandemic began. During this time, we may have learned that our faith is wobbly, our self-control lacking, our steadfastness quaking, our virtue not what we had imagined, and our brotherly affection and love not what we had hoped as we quibbled with our housemates during lockdowns or argued with others over pandemic containment tactics.Since this pandemic began, we may have learned that our faith is wobbly, our self-control lacking, our steadfastness quaking, our virtue not what we had imagined, and our brother affection not what we had hoped. #bgbg2 #faith Click To Tweet
If so, turn around and face Jesus again, repent (turn and go the other way), apologize to those you have offended, and begin again. Repeat this cycle as often as necessary. The Lord Jesus is a God of grace. Keep moving toward him, rather than away from his ways. This is evidence of Christ in you.Face Jesus again, repent, apologize to those you have offended, and begin again. Repeat as often as necessary. The Lord Jesus is a God of grace. Keep moving toward him. This is evidence of Christ in you. #bgbg2 #Faith Click To Tweet
Our God fulfills every one of his promises, so he will most certainly fulfill the promise of his Son’s return.Our God fulfills every one of his promises, so he will most certainly fulfill the promise of his Son's return. Only God knows when. #EndTimes #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
Only God knows when.
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill 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 / elements will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:8-10 ESV).
Only God knows when.
“God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Number 23:19 ESV).
God works out his will in his own time. He doesn’t work according to days, hours, minutes, and seconds. These are constructs he created into our solar system alone. Every framework of time imaginable has no correlation whatsoever to how God works.
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36 ESV).
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13 ESV).
However, these realities will remain:
- Whether we are growing toward loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves.
- Whether our lives demonstrate some measure of increasing holiness, purity, pursuit of Christ, and kindness.
- Whether we care for what God cares about: justice, mercy, the sick and imprisoned, the poor, immigrants/refugees, and the oppressed.
Do we live like people awaiting the return of Christ? Are we anticipating fulfillment of the Lord’s promise? Or are we so consumed with this current reality that we take no thought for others, for justice, nor for mercy?Do we live like people awaiting the return of Christ? Are we anticipating the fulfillment of the Lord's promise? Or are we so consumed with our current reality that we take no thought for others, for justice, nor for mercy? #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation“ (2 Peter 3:14-15a ESV).
As we await the Second Coming, pray for all who are in authority. Pray that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. Move toward Jesus and learn to love the world’s people with the kindness and passion he has. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and Only Son. Are we prepared for his Second Coming?
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52 ESV).
- Zodhiates, S. (2000), Strong’s #2347. The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.