Jesus hasn’t come back, so where does that leave Us?
In 1979, I was 13 years old, and I read a book about the Second Coming. The author argued that while the Bible was clear that no one would know the hour or day of Jesus’ Triumphant Return, surely the signs were in place for Jesus to come back within ten years.
The book had actually been published in 1970. I read it with one year to spare.
The author made convincing arguments about the fig tree blooming (Israel’s re-birth as a nation in 1948), the last generation (which in the Bible is typically counted as 40 years), the dangerous bear from the north (the Soviet Union), and a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the faithful seven years before Jesus’ return.
So I’m seeing all of this stuff (as a 13 year old) and then in 1980, Ronald Reagan becomes President. Yep, Ronald Wilson Reagan–a man with 6 letters in all 3 names.
I was convinced. There really was no reason to do my algebra homework in the short time we had left.
That was 33 years ago. Jesus did not come back, so, I was recently asked, what does that do to my faith in the whole thing?
Well, not much.
It wasn’t that the Bible said Jesus was coming back sometime in 1980 or 1981, a man said it. And people have been thinking that since New Testament times. Of course, part of why they expected a quick return is because there are references to the Last Days in the NT. So, are we to believe that there have been 2000 years’ worth of Last Days?
Sure, why not?
One explanation: Even if you believe in the youngest of Young Earth Creationist models, you believe that the Earth is at minimum well over 6000 years old. For Old Earth Creationists/theistic evolutionists/Intelligent Design theorists, the Earth seems much older. Under either scenario, Last Days that stretch less than 2000 years might still qualify as, well, the last of the days.
Another explanation: Some of the references to Last Days might refer to the Last Days of some Christians and communities that are about to face attacks/persecutions/expulsions.
And one final thing since I am on the subject: A pre-Tribulation Rapture whereby the Christians escape years of torment by the Anti-Christ was not something that was widely believed in. There was, like, one guy in the ancient world who might have believed it then a Scottish guy came along within the last few hundred years and propagated the theory. It is a popular view in America that Christians will escape the Final Tribulation, but that might partially be due to the fact that we’re soft. Many American Christians feel persecuted when the kid in the checkout line says, “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” We want to believe there is a scenario that allows us to escape persecution. Many Christians around the world do not assume we will avoid a final tribulation because they are being persecuted now.
To sum up: I don’t get too worked up when people make guesses about Jesus that turn out to be wrong. I accept on faith that some day either Jesus is going to come for me, or I am going to go to Him. And this belief makes each day, and each person I encounter, special.