22:7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.
The apostle Paul’s views summarized his obedience to the Lord’s beatitude. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ....” Philippians 3:20. Eagerly...translated as eager in some of the various contexts of the Greek. It certainly implies watching for it, anticipating it, desiring it.
When Jesus discussed his Return, Luke 12:39, he likened its appearance to a thief coming—that is, unexpectedly. In the same reference, in Revelation 16:15 Jesus said, “Behold, I come like a thief”, that is, unexpectedly. In I Thessalonians 5:2 Paul told the Christians...”You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Again, unexpectedly.
It involves the sudden, instant and complete removal of our present planetary system, giving us no chance to identify, let alone understand his arrival; the instantaneous occurrence of all its events rather than the immanence of his coming is what he emphasized.
Given that understanding of soon, Jesus warned John’s readers to live in expectation of his Return. Shall we criticize that generation for being obedient to Jesus in desiring and patiently waiting for it? They made no mistake by looking for his Return since he commanded it. We have made the mistake of neglecting it by being so comfortable in the padded chairs or pews of our air-conditioned sanctuaries; our comfortable life-styles, with wide-screen television and internet access. We’ve hardly broken a sweat in our discipleship, let alone shed blood in living for Jesus.
Point of integrity: we can’t blame early Christians for anticipating the Savior’s Return, given the price they paid to serve Christ. Read Hebrews 10:32-34, I Thessalonians 2:13-18, 3:1-7 and Revelation 2:3, 10-11, 13 for just a few of other passages relating to persecution first century disciples suffered.
Before we criticize them for looking to Christ’s Return, consider the slaves in America in ante-bellum South; gathering in their secret places, they sang songs of Zion, deliverance, Heaven, delight. White owners and overseers pilloried them for their attention to the next world in their worship. But it was all they had. That existed as their only hope. The owners would sit in the spacious living rooms, sipping mint-juleps while their human property performed the back-breaking work. End Part II