IN THIS ISSUE
STILL WAITING…AS USUAL
As I begin this article, the Hebrew month of Tishri has arrived. The first day of Tishri is the Feast of Trumpets, a festival that many of us associate with the prophesied return of Jesus the Messiah and the resurrection of the righteous, events to be announced by the sounding of the “Last Trump” (Rev. 11:15-18; I Cor. 15:51-52; Matt. 24:30-31; I Thes. 4:16-17).
Interest in these future events has been high in 2004, stimulated in part by the best-selling novel Glorious Appearing, which pictures the Second Coming of Jesus. But even when books on biblical prophecy do not make the best-seller lists, the Second Coming is eagerly anticipated by Christians everywhere. It has been that way for over 1970 years now, ever since Jesus' original disciples received the promise of his return (Acts ).
Those first disciples were confident that their Master would come back in their lifetime (see for example I Thes. ; ; -18; 5:1-11). Christians in each generation since then have shared their expectations. It would be fascinating to see a list of all the different years in which the Second Coming has been predicted to occur. I would not be at all surprised if that list included the majority of the years since 30 A.D.
Waiting as a Way of Life
If we extend our view from the subject of “waiting for the Second Coming” to the broader one of “waiting for the coming of the Messiah,” then we are looking at an even longer stretch of history. Like almost every aspect of Christianity, hoping for the fulfillment of divine promises has “Jewish roots.”
In the book Till Jesus Comes: Origins of Christian Apocalyptic Expectation (Hendrickson, 1996), Professor Charles Holman of Regent University observes that the balancing act of coping with delay while waiting in expectation was nothing new to Jesus' disciples. They and their ancestors had been “waiting on the edge of their seats,” so to speak, for over 500 years by the time Jesus was born.
Consider, for example, the perspective of an educated Jew living in exile in
“He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (NIV).
Beginning in about 537 B.C., thousands of Jews did have the opportunity to
In the second century B.C.,
Lessons from Daniel 9
We see, then, that waiting for the arrival of the fullness of God's kingdom on the earth has been an integral part of the lives of God's people for over 2500 years. There must be lessons that God wants us to learn from the experience. We can find out what some of these lessons are by studying the history of the centuries of waiting. From this history we can learn much about how---and how not---to wait for the Messiah's return.
One instructive episode in this history involves the prophet Daniel, a prime example of the “educated exile” I mentioned earlier. As a boy, Daniel was taken captive with other members of the Jewish nobility in about 605 B.C. (Dan. 1:1-5). He spent most of his life as an official in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar and other Gentile kings.
Late in Daniel's life, in 539 B.C., the Medes and Persians captured
Daniel's prayer is summarized for us in Dan. 9:4-19. Reading these verses, I am impressed by
Daniel's deep understanding of the character of God. “O Lord, the great and awesome God,” the
prayer begins. Daniel recognized God as
the Orchestrator of history. He knew that
Although Daniel had lived in exile for almost all of his life, he also knew
that his merciful God (v.9) was waiting to hear
Another notable feature of Daniel's prayer is that it followed biblical
precedent. In particular, it is
reminiscent of the great prayers of intercession made by Moses after the golden
calf incident (Exod. 32:11-13, 31-32;33:15-16; 34:8-9).
Like Moses, Daniel confessed
Daniel understood a principle that James, the brother of Jesus, would write down centuries later: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James ). Remembering the examples of Moses and others, he knew that one person acting in accordance with the will of God could make a great difference. And so he prayed wholeheartedly.
Daniel's prayer received a clear and prompt response. God sent the archangel Gabriel with the news
As our wait for the Messiah's return continues, let us remember, with Daniel, that God is faithful and his promises sure. We can confidently follow biblical examples of intercessory prayer, knowing that one person's prayer in accordance with the will of God can achieve powerful results.
In This Issue
This issue of Grace and Knowledge
features an article about another prophecy
from the time of
Jesus himself gave much instruction about how to approach our wait for his return. One example is the puzzling parable of Luke 16:1-8, often called the parable of the unjust steward or the parable of the shrewd manager. Our article on the parable shows that its message becomes clearer when we learn more about the culture of Jesus' time.
The incomparable prophet Moses (Deut. 34:10) was an important role model for Daniel and a key forerunner of the Messiah (Deut. , 18). This issue includes an article on the character of Moses, exploring the meaning of the ``meekness'' for which he is well known.
Our attention in the “end time” often turns toward events in the volatile
I am completing this article just a few days before the American Thanksgiving holiday. Our waiting goes on, but there is much for which to be thankful. We hope that Issue 17 of Grace and Knowledge will be a source of edification and encouragement for you.