PERHAPS no era in the history of the "church" has seen
such a deep desire for the coming of Christ, and a widespread discussion concerning it, or
so general a feeling that the time is near. There have been occasions of more intense
excitement, such as occurred in the year one thousand, or during the Millerite movement,
or in 1914, when some freely predicted the rapture of the saints. But these were confined
to comparatively small bands of believers, who based their belief on chronological
computations which seemed to them infallible, but which were not received by the mass of
those who love His appearing.
It is doubtless true that the present undercurrent is due in some
measure to a similar cause. Though without any scriptural warrant, many imagine that the
"times of the gentiles" must be 2520 years in duration, hence must end somewhere
within the next seven years. Others suppose that we are entering the seventh millennium
from the creation of Adam, which, they take it, must be the millennium.
Such a tense state of expectancy is liable to lead to many
extravagances. Not many months ago the air above us was filled with flying messengers of
doom, dropped from an aeroplane, foretelling the exact day, as received in a vision by one
who proclaimed herself a prophetess. Only today I received a postcard with the startling
statement: "The day is near at hand. Jesus is coming. Tell the people. Pray the
message will be heard through the world." Nothing else. No name or address.
The spirit of such warnings is false. The words may be true. At least
we devoutly hope these are. But we are not dreading the coming of a day. We are not
disturbed by its nearness. The only date we have ever set was "today," so that
we are always on the alert and eager and expectant. However, we are not waiting for a time
but a Person. Throughout this whole administration of God's grace believers have
waited for the Son of God. His return has always been imminent. Nothing has ever been put
between His saints and Himself. This expectation should be a continual source of joy and
strength every day of our lives.
I do not wish to know the day, nor even the year, for it would rob me
of the daily and hourly and momentary attitude of joyous, expectation. Perhaps, if I were
certain of its nearness, I would fall into feverish and futile preparations. Were it far
off, I also, like the slaves in the parable, might take advantage of His delay. In either
case it would be an abnormal experience, and not that happy expectation which should be
the constant companion of all who long for Him Whom they have learned to love, and yearn
to be with Him.
Yet, while we do not depend on chronological miscalculations and signs
of the approach of the next eon, we know that He will come for us before He comes
to Israel and the world, and if that advent is near then His call for us is nearer.
Whatever there is in the world or among His people Israel which indicates that the era of
the end is nigh has a voice for us, bidding us lift up our heads, for our Deliverer is
There is much in the world which presages His advent. Only recently has
the universal empire of the end time become practicable. The whole earth can now be swayed
as a unit. A single man can claim the attention of continents in the course of a single
Moreover, the nations are seeking to unite as never before. The
machinery for a world empire is at hand. The public mind is becoming reconciled to the
idea of a dictatorship. Since the war many men have seized the reigns, and have given a
good account of their action. Notwithstanding all the efforts for peace there are constant
preparations for war. The eastern nations are rousing from their lethargy and are
determined to fight for their rights. Little, indeed, is needed, to plunge the world into
the great struggle of the end time, out of which the Man of Sin will arise.
Much more significant and striking are the signs in Judaism. The return
to Palestine, the rehabitation of the land, the national spirit, the softening in the
attitude toward the Messiah- -these and a thousand details point to a national revival
which can have no other object than the fulfillment of the prophecies which precede the
return of the Son of Man.
Perhaps the most convincing sign of all is the place the apostate Jew
is making for himself. He is getting a strangle hold on international finance and through
it is already able to control the policies of many a nation. All of these things are more
in keeping with the next administration of God's indignation, rather than the present
grace. We are being crowded out. Often we wonder why God allows us to linger longer.
The early believers waited for Him. We not only have the same promise,
but a world of external intimations of His return. How much more should we encourage our
hearts by the prospect! He is waiting. It is not natural for us to be separated from One
Whom we adore. It is not normal for Him to withhold Himself from us. Let us live each
moment in joyful anticipation of that meeting. Let us exult that it will not only satisfy
our longings, but fill His cup to overflowing just to have us with Him. That is the
delight of love.