Where is the Promise of His Coming?

"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:1-7)

Where is the promise of his coming? This is an easy mindset to adopt in these times. We have witnessed the formation of the state of Israel and the Arab states, the budding of "the fig tree and all the trees" (Luke 21:29-31) and the increased attention given by world leaders to their enmity. More recently, we have observed the formation and evolution of the European Union, now with a single currency rising in prestige in the world markets. Violence, corruption and immorality are rampant and are increasing, similar to the days of Noah and Lot. Money, materialism, and pleasure are worshipped, and "image" has become all-important for many. Each passing year seems to expose a new set of insurmountable problems in our country and in the world. We know the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ (Revelation 11:15), BUT WHEN? "For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

Slow down. First of all, there has never been a time when "all things continued as they were from the beginning of the creation". Ever since Noah and his sons stepped forth from the ark, the various peoples they fathered have been migrating, settling, rising in power, overcome by stronger peoples, further migrating, colonizing, integrating, and setting new roots. Prior to planting the children of Israel in the land of their inheritance, the LORD planted the peoples that He would have to be their neighbors into the surrounding area. The descendents of Moab displaced the Emims, the descendents of Esau destroyed the Horims, which dwelt in Mt. Seir, and the descendents of Ammon displaced the Zamzummims. (Deuteronomy 2) The Philistines migrated from Caphtor, and the Syrians were transplanted from Kir. In addition, both Egypt and the kingdom of Shinar (Babylon) were weakened to allow the children of Israel to take root in the land provided for them.

Waiting has often been required of those that have identified themselves with the LORD.

Many other examples could probably be cited. Most if not all of the persons mentioned above did not know, when that for which they hoped and longed for would be made manifest. They had the assurance, though, that it would. Our generation should not expect its experience to be different.

Some periods of waiting are the experience of all of mankind. Almost 10 months pass between the conception of a child and its birth. Several months pass between the planting of a seed crop and the time for harvest. Fruit bearing trees are not beneficial for about four years after they are planted.

Why the wait? So we can further learn endurance. Why is that so important?

1. Endurance indicates dedication, the principle of the burnt offering. True dedication does not include a time limit, so a seemingly extended waiting period may be a test of the degree of our dedication.

2. Time (and thus endurance) is necessary for one to trust God with one's welfare. A variety of experiences are typically required for this trust to develop, possibly including some experiences in which the child of God does not fully comprehend the objective. Trust in God fuels the transformation from the old man to the new, from a life focused on things of the earth to a life focused on things of heaven.

The New Testament Greek word "hupomone" (Strong's #5281) means "cheerful endurance" and is usually translated as "patience" in the King James Version. It was a quality of those representing the good ground in the parable of the sower. "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." (Luke 8:15)

Patience (endurance) was frequently cited by authors of New Testament writings as a quality that disciples of Christ should either have or develop. The need for it was particularly pronounced during periods of persecution and tribulation.

"But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings..." (II Corinthians 6:4,5)

"Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds." (II Corinthians 12:12)

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience (Strong's #1382 - "trustiness") and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." (Romans 5:1-5)

"But the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." (I Timothy 6:10,11)

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:2-4)

"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast bourne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." (Revelation 2:2,3 - Ephesus)

Some of our brethren in past generations endured grievous persecutions, being hunted down, tortured, and put to death for their scriptural teachings. How dark those days were, how difficult they would have been to remain steadfast through! But strengthened by their understanding of the prophetic word and their conviction in the true gospel, they endured.

Most of us do not face such persecution at the present time. Therefore let us dedicate ourselves to making these days profitable: searching out diligently and obeying the teachings of the scriptures, becoming strangers and sojourners in this age, and transferring our trust for our welfare to God. Things definitely do not continue as they were since the beginning of creation.

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promises. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Hebrews 10:35,37)

Randy Morrissette

Richmond, Virginia