The Certainty of His Coming -Final newsletter of the year

   It happened like clockwork: right down to the last minute, the last detail. It may have taken the world by surprise, but it was all part of God's schedule; all part of God's perfect plan. Details of that plan had been popping up here and there throughout the ages—mysteriously hinted at in the strange utterances and unearthly messages of prophets and kings and men of God since the very beginnings of time. 

   From the earliest beginnings of mankind, the promise had been made that He was coming to 'crush" the Enemy, the Tempter. (Gen 3:15). Abraham (1900BC) would discover that the Promised One was to come from his family and be a "blessing to all the peoples of the earth" (Gen. 12:3). Jacob (1100 BC) would learn that He was coming with the "scepter of a King" and that his name would be called "Shiloh"—"the one who brings peace" (Gen 49:10). Even ancient Balaam, the troubled prophet (1500 BC), would be the one to speak of 'a star' that would shine on the day of his coming (Num 24:17). 

   And I almost forgot old Job! We're back to 2000 BC again. How he knew, way back then, that he had a "witness in heaven, an Advocate on high, who is my intercessor and my Friend," is beyond me! It was an awesome miracle of prophecy! (Job 16:19-20). Job also knew that that same person would one day be his "Redeemer...alive and standing upon the earth"! (Job 19:25-26). 

   And then there was Isaiah: the prophet who knew more about Christ in 740 BC than many folks know of Him now! He would be "born of a virgin!" (Is 7:14). From far away lands, "Kings would come to His light"! (Is 60:3). His name would be called "wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!" (Is 9:20)

   Bethlehem would be the blessed little town where "the righteous One" would be born, as Micah foretold (742 BC). And Jeremiah (580 BC) predicted the horrors of Herod's infanticide—his effort to kill the new-born King—throughout all the countryside of Bethlehem: or "Ramah" as it was called in Jeremiah's day (Jer 31:15). Most astounding of all, even Christ's death was predicted by the prophet Daniel (538 BC) down to the very year of the Cross—29 AD. (Dan 9:25-27). 

   Well, I guess you get the point. Like I said: that first Christmas night, everything happened like clockwork! The world may have been taken by surprise, but certainly not the Father! 

   Do you know what we need to do? We need to be as certain of His second coming as we have been of His first! I know that's a little more challenging for all of us. After all, it's often hard to see the hand of God, and the plan of God, in the day-to-day affairs of our struggling, chaotic world. But God's perfect plan is right on schedule. His coming is certain. Christ Himself has told us: "If I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you with me" (Jn 14:3). Let nothing shake you in your assurance of the Coming of Christ. 

   Would you like a great example from history of that principle? You can't do better than Ernest Henry Shackleton, the great British naval captain who led an exploratory voyage to the Antarctic. But his ship, the Endurance, got caught in one of the deadly ice-floes, drifting with the ice-pack for fourteen months. Eventually, the powerful expanding ice sheets crushed the ship. Shackleton and his crew had to abandon it and sledge their way to the rugged, uninhabited Elephant Island. There was absolutely no food or shelter on the island. Shackleton and his men had to make do with salvagings from the Endurance. 

   Months later, when the sea began to thaw a bit, Shackleton set off with five crewmen in a tiny lifeboat—are you ready for this?—hoping to sail or row the 800-mile distance to South Georgia Island, where help might be found! It was an outrageous endeavor, but when he left his men behind, he assured them that he would return. 

   Incredibly enough, Shackleton and his men survived that horrendous 800-mile ordeal. The 'return' however, was next to impossible! Three times Shackleton tried-and-failed to sail back to Elephant Island and rescue his men: the frozen seas would not let him in.

   Finally, on the fourth attempt, a narrow channel of water opened up in the thawing water, just wide enough for the ship to pass through. There was not a moment to lose; by early afternoon, the waterway would be frozen again. Shackleton ploughed right in and made straight for the island. 

   To his astonishment, while he was still a few miles away, he saw through his glass, all his men, packed and ready there on the shore! After months and months of hopeless waiting, there they were ready to go! Quickly he brought the men on board, reversed his course, and raced back out through the tiny channel. The entire rescue operation took 30 minutes!

   When all the excitement of the rescue had died down, Shackleton asked his first mate how it happened that everybody had been packed and ready like that? And the first mate replied: "Well, sir, you said you would come, and we never doubted that. So, once the seas started to thaw, every morning I would wake them up with: "Get packed and be ready men! The Boss just might be coming today."

   You know? Christmas is the perfect time to be encouraged, no matter how this world is turning out! So take heart, dear faithful ones, and by all means be ready, because The Boss is coming; just as surely as He did the first time!

See you Sunday! RAS

 

2021 Welcome Back!
Advent 2020 (part 2)