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Hasten the Day

Christians do not have a death wish. Those of us who are Christians know this already, but others might misunderstand Christians' view of death. Passages like Philippians 1:21 (For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain) and 2Corinthians 5:8 (we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord) might be misinterpreted to mean that Christians are seeking death. Instead, those passages and others like them teach us to cope with the present hardships of this life and to work for the Lord with a view toward our future reward.

Nevertheless, we who are Christians are to have an eagerness about the end of life in this world. This eagerness is not about death itself, but rather it is about being with the Lord Jesus. Consider Philippians 3:20-21, which says, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." With such expectations of glory, a Christian naturally looks forward with eager anticipation to the coming of the Lord. For all those Christians who have already passed from this life and for some of us who still remain, Jesus will come after death. Others will remain until He comes, but all will be untied with Him when the dead are raised and the living are taken up with them to be with the Lord forever (1Thess. 4:13-17).

Knowing of the glory that is to come at the end of life in this world, we are to live in a state of constant anticipation. This faithful anticipation of the Lord's coming looks forward to a new dwelling place, for "according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells" (2Pet. 3:13). Not only that, but it also understands the temporary nature of the present world, for "the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2Pet. 3:10). Knowing these things, consider the words of 2Peter 3:11-12:

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!

This passage prompts a question: How can we hasten the coming of the day of God? We cannot know when that day will be (Matt. 24:36), and God has not made it a matter of our choosing. What then can we do to hasten the day? The Scriptures have answers.

Be ready for the day. The practical application of 2Peter 3:11-12 is that we should be a people of holy conduct and godliness. As children of God, it is natural that we should become holy in the likeness of our heavenly Father (1Pet. 1:14-16). Moreover, we want to be found by Him to be holy and blameless when He comes. Not knowing when He will come, this means that we should always be ready to present ourselves to Him in holiness (Matt. 24:44; 25:13). In this way, we will not be surprised by His coming, and that day will not overtake us like a thief, for we will be ready (1Thess. 5:1-11).

Help others be ready for the day. Part of our duties in the gospel is to herald the coming of the Lord. That means proclaiming messages such as that of the apostle Paul in Acts 17:30-31, when he said, "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." It also means encouraging our fellow Christians to remain faithful as we see the day approaching (1Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:23-25).

Pray for the day. Petitioning God in prayer concerning the day of the Lord's coming is not a matter of influencing the timing of it, but rather it is a way of expressing our eagerness for it. God is a "rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6), and we should be talking to our heavenly Father about our search every day. Sayings such as those seen in 1Corinthians 16:22 (Maranatha, Lord come) and Revelation 22:20 (Come, Lord Jesus) are good ways to express a Christian's desire for the coming of the Lord.

In a way, our lives as Christians can be described simply as a wait for the Lord Jesus. We have turned from sin "to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven" (1Thess. 1:9-10). We know that when Jesus returns, it will not be for sacrifice but for salvation, for Hebrews 9:27-28 says, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." Therefore, let us eagerly await Him and hasten the day of His coming.

Stacey E. Durham



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