henever we have the opportunity, my wife and I go walking on the trail that runs close to our home. This gives us one of few opportunities for some quiet time away from everyone and everything else. Our two children, ages 14 and 10, sometimes accompany us, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
On a recent walk both my wife and I forgot to bring our cell phones, and our absence seemed to be longer than our children anticipated. Upon arriving home our daughter exclaimed, “Where were you? I thought you would have been home by now, and we were worried about you.”
“Why were you worrying?” I asked. “I told you we’d be back when we finished our route.” It didn’t seem a long wait to me, but it was much longer than my daughter anticipated.
About a week later, my wife and I took a different trail that required about the same amount of time. Toward the end of the walk, it started raining. We had hoped to get back home before the rain started falling more heavily--but to no avail.
When we finally arrived home--drenching wet--our children ran to hug us more tightly than normal. “We were so worried we started praying that you would be all right and would get home safely and soon.”
The disciples probably wanted to hug Jesus more tightly than normal--not because He had just arrived safely, but because He was about to leave. They’d spent three and a half of the best years of their lives with Him, and they could not bear the thought of their time with Him coming to an end. Yes, He warned them that this day was coming, but in this case, reality was worse than the anticipation.
As Jesus ascended, they looked intently upward--until they couldn’t see Him any longer. Suddenly, two men appeared to them, speaking these words: “Men of Galilee, . . . why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back [emphasis supplied] in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
As the disciples reflected on these words, so many memories flooded their thoughts. So many sayings that Jesus shared with them began to make more sense. One of those sayings Jesus had told them only six weeks earlier: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back [emphasis supplied] and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).
When I was a child, I had a vivid imagination about the Second Coming. I looked at artists’ portrayals in books and magazines and longed earnestly for that day. At home and at church we enjoyed singing hymns that reminded us of His return. We sang songs such as “Lift Up the Trumpet,” “Lo! He Comes,” and “We Know Not the Hour.”
From time to time ever since then, the happenings of life have obstructed my view of Christ’s return. But my children’s inquiries about the events of Revelation 19-22 serve as a healthy reminder to view the “not yet.” Their questions motivate me to ponder His return.
Jesus described His return while answering some inquiries of His disciples. He said of those who are on the earth at that time, “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30, NASB).* What descriptive terms. Power! Great glory! Power isn’t something Jesus appeared to have while He walked on earth as a human. In fact, the last time some people saw Him He was being mercilessly beaten, and He didn’t fight back. He didn’t seem to have great glory, either--or any glory, for that matter. Isaiah prophesied of Him, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Isa. 53:2, NASB).
But look at Him now! Riding on the clouds, surrounded by all the heavenly hosts. I can see Him--not wearing a crown of thorns, but a shining diadem. Not wearing that purple robe (John 19:5), but a bright robe of splendor. John the revelator calls Him “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11), and He bears the title, “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). There can be no doubt that to Him belongs victory--and that victory also belongs to all those who have been eternally washed in the blood.
I can hear the blasts of countless trumpets (Matt. 24:31) announcing His return. What a marvelous serenade! The same angels who announced His first coming with song now add an instrumental encore to announce His second coming.
Rekindling the Hope
Yet I fear that some react to the Second Coming as though it were a fable--something accepted in theory but not anticipated in reality. The cares of life may have snuffed out our vivid imagination. We don’t preach or hear these words of hope from the pulpit like we once did. We don’t sing the old songs of hope like we once did. Songs with words such as:
“Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face, what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ, who died for me?”
”It may be at morn, when the day is
When sunlight through darkness
and shadow is breaking,
That Jesus will come in the fullness
To receive from the world His own.”
“Tis almost time for the Lord to
come, I hear the people say;
The stars of heaven are growing dim,
It must be the breaking of the day.”
I fear that as a result of our now-dulled imaginations we are spiritually shriveling--shriveling because we’ve lost all hope. It’s easy for us to lose hope when we have no words of hope; that is, when we fail to ponder God’s words of hope.
Today, it’s time for us to rekindle that hope. And right now I am indeed reminded of yet another song, sung at many a global convocation throughout the years:
“We have this Hope that burns
Questions for Reflection
1. We are AdventistsÑwe believe that Jesus is coming again. But has our hope begun to grow dim? If so, why?
2. Some of us have been awaiting Jesus' return for 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years. How can we keep the hope burning bright as the years continue to pass?
3. Which are your favorite hymns or songs about the Second Coming?
within our hearts,
Hope in the coming of the Lord.
We have this faith that Christ
Faith in the promise of His Word.”
My son still doesn’t like it when
I leave the house in the darkness of night--the only spare time during the day that I have--to go walking. “Do you have to go walking?” he asks. “Yes,” I respond. “But I’ll be back within 45 minutes.” At that moment his only hope is that he hasn’t fallen asleep before I return. There have been those occasions when, as those 45 minutes are just about up, I see him peering through the living room windows, waving at me as I approach the house. It may be nighttime outside, but all of a sudden, life has just gotten brighter.
Borrowing the words of the songwriter, do we see the “gleams of the golden morning piercing through this night of gloom”? Indeed that golden morning is fast approaching--that day in which Jesus will take His faithful and happy children to their promised home.
Let us talk about it in our homes. Let us preach about it from our pulpits. Let us sing about it in our choirs and congregations. Why? Because if Jesus said it, it has to be true: “If I go [away], I will come back [emphasis supplied] and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).
*Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Willie E. Hucks II is associate editor of Ministrymagazine.