We live between the Advents.
The Second Advent will include the sudden, personal, visible, bodily return of Christ. Jesus promised, “I will come again” (John 14:3 RSV). The author of Hebrews declared, “Christ . . . will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28).
As he came, Christ will come. But He won’t come as He came.
He came quietly in Bethlehem. He will return in glory with a shout. “All who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out” (John 5:28–29).
In Bethlehem the just-born Jesus slept. When He returns, “the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thess. 4:16).
At His first coming few noticed. At His second “all the nations of the world will be gathered before Him” (Matthew 25:32 NCV).
In Bethlehem, Joseph placed Jesus in a manger. At His return Jesus will be seated on a throne: “The Son of Man will come again in His great glory, with all His angels. He will be King and sit on His great throne” (Matthew 25:31 NCV).
“What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new Heaven and a new earth where justice reigns” (2 Peter 3:13 The Voice). History is not an endless succession of meaningless circles but a directed movement toward a great event. God has a timeline. And because of Bethlehem, we have an idea where we stand on it. As the apostle John said, “My dear children, these are the last days”
(1 John 2:18 NCV). We enjoy the fruit of the first coming but anticipate the glory of the second. We refuse to believe that this present world is the sum total of human existence. We celebrate the First Advent to whet our appetites for the Second. We long for the next coming.
God has a timeline. And because of Bethlehem, we have an idea where we stand on it.
’Tis the season to be looking not for a jolly man in a red suit but for a grand King on a white horse. At His command the sea will give up the dead, the Devil will give up his quest, kings and queens will give up their crowns, broken hearts will give up their despair, and God’s children will lift up their worship. Wise is the saint who searches like Simeon. If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, how would you feel today? Anxious, afraid, unprepared? If so, you can take care of your fears by placing your trust in Christ. If your answer includes words like happy, relieved, and excited, hold tightly to your joy. Heaven is God’s answer to any suffering you may face.
If you knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, what would you do today? Then do it! Live in such a way that you would not have to change your plans.
Watch session one of the study
Let us know your thoughts on the Because of Bethlehem study in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!