Psalm 33:16–22, Luke 21:25–28, Titus 2:13–3:7 (read online ⧉)
Waiting is hard. The psalmist is waiting for God. The psalmist grasps the truth that an army—no matter how big and powerful—will not save a soul. Such an army might save the physical wellbeing, but physical wellbeing is not the ultimate goal of God’s salvation. Often God will act on our physical circumstances. That doesn’t reduce the importance of the eternal in salvation. It actually emphasizes it. The other—perhaps more important—piece is that the physical saving is a moment in time, while salvation is eternal and timeless. That salvation is both a moment in time (i.e., when we “were saved”) and is ongoing (i.e., we are still being and will continue being saved) is at the heart of understanding God’s own nature.
When Jesus “arrived”, the people were waiting for the Messiah. Some were waiting in optimism (i.e., “wouldn’t it be nice if the Messiah showed up?”). Others were waiting in hope (i.e, “God has saved us before. God will save us again.”). While Jesus was walking on the Earth, he conveyed that (such as we just read) that his time then was, even as Messiah, a foreshadowing of his final return, which would unite all of Creation with God. So, even while fulfilling the hopes of the Messiah, there was still more to come! There was still more to wait for!
Paul understands this as he refers to his “present age” with the acknowledgement that Jesus would return. Paul had missed Jesus on Earth. Yes, he had had a life-changing encounter with Jesus, but it wasn’t the same as the other Apostles had had. For Paul, Jesus’ return was hope and fulfillment. As Jesus would be returning, Paul wanted everyone to be encouraged to continue on. He didn’t want them to lose heart or hope. For Paul, and any Christian, Jesus’ return is always just around the corner.
1) What do you hope for? Is it hope, or is it optimistic wishing?
2) How does the timelessness of salvation affect hope?
3) Why do you think so many people concern themselves with the exact date of Jesus’ return?