Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 1-15 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) who is the AMI Teaching Pastor. He and Insil have been married for 28+ years and they have three children: Christy (teacher), Joshua (grad student) and Justin (college freshman). They live in Philadelphia.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Over the years, conservative Christians have rightfully called out liberal scholars for holding to a low view of Scripture that results in the denial of important Christian doctrines, such as Virgin birth and resurrection of Christ. But those who say they believe the Bible aren’t entirely guilt-free for doing the opposite. Despite being told, “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), that is exactly what some do, especially regarding the time of Christ’s second coming. Even though Jesus disprivileged himself by choosing to be agnostic about it, and reminded the disciples, just before his ascension, that “it is not for [us] to know the times or dates the Father has set,” there has been no shortage of people who do just that: setting the date of his return.
I remember hearing several Christian leaders say that Christ would return (i.e., rapture) in the 1980s; one advocate even wrote a book entitled, “88 reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988.” More recently, Harold Camping, erstwhile respected evangelist and Christian radio broadcaster, predicted that Christ would return to earth on May 21, 2011. When nothing occurred on that day, he re-dated it to October 21, 2011. Needless to say, he was wrong again.
One oft-forgotten historical doctrine of the church is the “Imminent Return of Christ,” which posits that Christ may come at any moment. But, ever since dispensationalism kept finding preconditions in the Bible that have be met before his coming, this doctrine lost its luster. Nevertheless, the time is right to reintroduce it to the church, as it was first taught by Apostle Paul: “About times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:1).
So, how should this doctrine affect us? We should daily render to God and His work the best of ourselves as if every day was our last day. No more setting dates! But let us live for God in such a manner that “this day should [not] surprise [us] like a thief” (1 Thess. 5:4). “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying . . .” (Eph. 6:18).
What an amazing God I worship! Father, remind me to always stay alert so that I may do the work of God. Instead of looking at the calendar to guess your Son’s return, may I look outside the window to see who is lost and hurt so that I may share the riches of Christ with them. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Peter 3
Lunch Break Study
Read Matt. 24:42-51: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Question to Consider
- Why do you think God didn’t inform us of the exact day of Christ’s return?
- Based on this parable, what is one drawback with this eschatological “strategy” (i.e., not telling the exact date)?
- What is God’s expectation of us in light of the uncertainty of the second coming? How are you measuring up to that expectation?
- If we knew the exact date, then we would have behaved like some Thessalonians who were erroneously told that “the day of the Lord ha[d] already come” (2 Thess. 2:1). What did they do? They stopped working! So Paul had to tell them, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (3:10).
- Among the immature and carnal Christians, besides laziness, this would lead to the misuse of the talents and gifts God gave them. Instead of prompting responsibleness, it results in self-indulgence and licentiousness.
- In fact, the uncertainty should be understood as “he can return at any time,” which changes the equation. God wants us to be faithful at all times so that when Christ does return, he can say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put in charge of many things” (Matt. 25:21).
Looking back to today, did you encounter an opportunity to share something that you have with those who lack it? It could be anything: spare time (that could be used to help someone facing a deadline with no time to spare), knowledge (that could be used to help a classmate struggling with the last lesson) or extra cash in your pocket (that could have been used to share a meal with a discouraged coworker). Think like that and do it; be a better steward of the gifts and talents that God saw fit to give you.