Waiting for the Promise

Dear people clinging to the promise of God: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

God promised that the offspring of Adam and Eve would crush the serpent’s head. In fact, when Eve had her firstborn son, she thought that she had given birth to the Lord (a literal translation of Eve’s words in Gen. 4:1 is, “I have given birth to a man, Yahweh”.) That of course turned out not to be the case. Not only was Cain not the Saviour, but he did not even believe in the promise of the Saviour (Heb. 11:4). And when his brother Abel’s offering was accepted because he offered it in faith, Cain got angry and murdered his brother (Gen. 4:8). Nevertheless, Adam and Eve had faith in the promise of God that He would send a Saviour to save them from their sin.

Throughout history, God’s promise of a Saviour was awaited in faith. Noah, seeing the godlessness of the world around him, waited for the Saviour. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob waited for the Saviour. Moses preached of the promise of the Saviour to the people of Israel (Dt. 18:15-19). David received the promise from God that his Son would reign forever on his throne (2 Sam. 7). The Old Testament prophets all proclaimed this promise.

Thousands of years passed from the initial promise, but the Saviour had not come. Generations passed. Had God forgotten His promise? Many doubted that God would do what He had said He would do.

But then John the Baptist appears on the scene. The voice crying in the wilderness says that the Saviour has come. He tells those listening to him that the Lord stands among them but they don’t know Him (Jn. 1:26).

And John’s father, Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit prophesied that the Saviour had come. Jesus hadn’t been born yet but was being carried inside of His mother Mary, and Zechariah says:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Lk. 1:68-75)

Zechariah proclaims that God has visited and redeemed His people. The Son of David has come. The oath sworn to Abraham has been fulfilled. The long awaited Saviour has come to save us. The Son of God came, born of the virgin Mary. He suffered and died for us, taking the punishment for all of our sins. He has purchased us and made us His children.

But now, once again, we wait. We wait for the promised return of Christ. Once again, thousands of years have passed since the promise of His return but the Saviour has not come. Generations have passed. Has God forgotten His promise? Many doubt that God will do what He has said He would do. The Holy Spirit warns us through St Peter that this is exactly what will happen. Peter writes, “Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pt. 3:3-4).

Where is the promise of Jesus’ second coming? Why all this waiting? Peter gives us the answer for this also: “Do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Pt. 3:8-9)

Jesus has not come because He is being patient with us. He is giving us opportunity to repent. He is working in our lives through His Word to show us our sin so that we would turn away from it. Jesus sees how sin has even infested the church. People continue in sin thinking that it is not a big deal. The “everybody’s doing it attitude” doesn’t help anyone. Instead we have the warning from Hebrews 11, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” This is a direct warning for us. It says that those who continue to live in deliberate sin are not Christians. This is the reason why I as a pastor am so concerned and my heart breaks when I talk to people who don’t take sin seriously. They live as if God and His Word don’t matter, yet think that they are Christians. They are making a clear statement that they don’t care what Scripture says about sin. For those who live in deliberate sin there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin, only a fearful expectation of judgment.

That’s why Jesus hasn’t returned yet. He’s giving you an opportunity to repent and turn away from your sins and receive His forgiveness. He doesn’t wish that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. He loves you so much that He is being patient with you and giving you opportunity to turn away from your sin. He does not desire the eternal death of anyone. His desire is to give eternal life to you. His love for you is so great, that He is ready to forgive every sin you have ever committed. That’s why He died on the cross – to earn forgiveness of sins for you.

Christ will return. We don’t know when, but we do know that God keeps His promises. So turn from your sins and receive His forgiveness. Then you will be prepared for His coming. Then you will be prepared for death if it comes for you before Jesus returns.

History will go on. Believers throughout all generations will cling in faith to the promise of Christ’s return. So we wait, trusting the promise of God. Christ will return. And with His return, He will take us to be with Him since He has earned the forgiveness of sins for us. Christ did come and crush the serpent’s head as promised so many years ago, and He saved us from our sin. And He will also return again as He has promised. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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