Beth Moore - Between Two Advents - Part 2
Jesus said that the kingdom is near us and that the kingdom is in us, and yet our feet are not yet in it. So if you ever wonder why it is we are strangers in this world, well, because our citizenship is in a different place and here we are and very often we don't even speak the same language. Can anybody go there with me? So here the kingdom, our hearts beat for the kingdom whether we realize it or not, that longing that you have that you cannot identify.
You know, one of the things that I tell a sister who is really, really struggling to stay in her marriage and is being really, really tempted outside her marriage and I would say the same thing to a brother if I was face to face with him in a similar conversation. I said, "Well, you need to understand, 'cause I can tell that the situation is, that the newness has long since worn off, and what I say over and over is"... Yes, and the next newness is going to wear off too, and then that newness is gonna wear off and then you're gonna move to somebody new and the newness is always going to wear off because what it is you want so much, you cannot get here. We keep looking for something.
Somebody needs to know because it would set you free from your turmoil that with faith comes a longing. When we are really awakened with great faith, it puts a longing in us that we can't even always identify. We don't even know, well, it's to be. We are people in the kingdom of God. We would never get it satiated here. It's not to say a lot of things aren't fulfilling to us here. We have a lot of love, we have laughter, we have tears, we have turmoil, we have absurdity. We have all of those things that make life interesting. But our longings. The deepest longings of our heart are not going to be found and satiated here. I mean, like, I don't know about you but, like, nobody treats me like royalty.
Anybody find that to be true? Like, here we are and the world does not act like it even knows who we are. I've been thinking a lot about time lately. Maybe it's because, like, we just finished putting our Christmas stuff up, a few weeks ago. Doesn't it seem like that? And we just got it out again. We just get the lights off the house and it's time to put 'em right back up again. One reason I've been thinking a lot about time is because my little 7-pound grandson will turn 14 in the early part of the New Year and he has outgrown me by an inch and a half. I've got this little card that I keep right out where I see it.
You can't see it very well but it's got a little bitty boy and his face is looking around that corner right there. And about 14½ years ago, the doorbell rang at my house and I went and I opened the door and nobody was there but there was a gift there, and it was a really long cylinder kind of a box like that, and it had a little card on it. And you see, I, like most parents, love to embarrass my children. And one of the things from the time that Curtis came into our family, when they were just dating and decided to marry, then I, you know, I just set in and I set in about the things that I just could not wait to do with my grandchildren. And you know, he's not going to be one that's gonna be super-demonstrative during praise and worship and there's his mother-in-law. You understand what I'm saying to you?
And so, you know, I just had such a great time 'cause I said, "You know, one of these days when I get a little baby Curtis," I said, "I just can't wait. I'm gonna have lessons with him. It's gonna be called, 'Praise Dancing with Granny.' And I'm gonna get him a little banner. We're just gonna have little matching banners and in praise and worship we're just gonna take off and run the sanctuary". And of course, you know, I've never done that in my life but I have been places where people have done it and I've wanted to do it with 'em, frankly. I've wanted to. I sometimes in praise and worship, I look at myself and go, "Okay, any minute now. Any minute. If there's a flag anywhere in sight, I'm about to take it. Just any minute, I'm about to take it".
So I come and see that gift on the front porch. Got no idea what it is. I take the card out and it says, "Dear Mom and Dad, you have eight months to get ready for praise dancing with baby Curtis. Love, Curtis and Amanda". And it was time, and now he's nearly 14. It all goes so fast, doesn't it? Doesn't it? That highly esteemed sage of our age, Dr. Seuss, said it this way and it's one of my very favorite ways: "How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon"?
How did it get so late so soon? Time has flewn. Time, technically, is the very first thing that God ever created. "In the beginning," because it was the eternal realm so there had to be time created so that there could be a beginning because things that were earthward that were going to be part of the mortal, terrestrial ground of this man that they had planned before the foundation of the world, this humanity created to praise him and serve him and love him and know him and join in the fellowship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. There had to be time because time relates to all things earth.
You can even see that in Revelation when there'll be references to time. It's always in reference to things going on in the temporal realm and then there's a new heavens and a new earth that will have no end. And, of course, time is linear in the Bible, not cyclical like a number of other world religions. We know this from Hebrews 9:27 that says that "it is appointed for man to die once and then comes the judgment". But here's a beautiful thing and something I want you to set your mind on at this time of year when our mind is on time. Is it in the Bible's way of reckoning, time doesn't go, time comes. We think of time like, man, it goes so fast. No, no, it's coming, not going. You can hear it in a segment of Galatians. In chapter 4, verse 4, it says: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law". "When the fullness of time had come".
We think of time as fleeting and the Bible sees it not as fleeting, but as building. We feel like we're running out of time, but the Bible sees it as running toward a time. And this would change everything for us and our perspective of life if we would let it. A couple of other examples, Luke 2:6 where what you think about and meditate on so much this time of year and so do I: "And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth," speaking of Mary giving birth to the Christ child. Christ saying to his brothers in John 7:8: "You go up to the feast. I'm not going up to this feast for my time has not yet fully come".
Daniel 7:22, speaking of the future: "And the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom". "The time came". So here's what I want you to understand here. You know it, but this time of year is for reminders. And all of time is moving toward a moment in time and I want you to understand something. That moment in time was not the birth. That birth was imperative for the moment in time but it itself was not the apex. It had to happen to get to the apex. The time toward which all time is moving, the reason why the Bible ever says, "In the beginning," is because the clock started ticking toward one moment in time and we pray for that moment in time every time we pray the Lord's Prayer.
"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven". All of time is coming toward the moment when every eye will see Christ and it will not just be the manifestation but the interpretation of the Son of God come to rule in righteousness and right every single wrong and in justice he will reign. Can I get an amen in the house tonight? All of time ticking toward one huge scene and that is him breaking through that sky for every eye to see.
I told you a little bit about Jackson about to turn 14. About that same time in the very same month, my granddaughter Annabeth will turn 11. She is what is called, wonderfully, I think, a tween. She is no longer a little girl and she is not a teen. Annabeth, along with those her age and right around it, she is a tween. And so that's what else I came to tell you, that that's us. That alongside every generation following the Ascension of Christ and waiting for his visible arrival, we are the tweens living between two advents. And man, it gets crazy in here. The book of Acts says in Acts 14:22, the apostle Paul says: "For it is through much tribulation that we inherit the kingdom". Doesn't mean through tribulation we are saved. We're only saved by the blood of Christ, by putting our faith in him and what he did for us.
But he's saying, "Let me tell you something. There ain't no getting to that kingdom without a whole lot of tribulation. It's gonna be a trial. It's gonna be a trial. But it's gonna be good". So I want you to look at these passages in 1 Peter 3 through 9 and I want you to notice something with me. There are three distinct time periods that are talked about in this portion of Scripture that are so important. I'm gonna pick up in verse 6: "This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away, and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed".
So, three distinct time periods in this little section of Scripture. There is the now. The now. The here and now that we are living in. And then there is the short time. And then there is the when Jesus is revealed. So it's now and then there's a little while, and then when Jesus is revealed. And I point this out to you because we are really just a little while from when Jesus is revealed. Whether he is revealed to us when we see him at the end of our lives, or he is revealed to all of us and we're in the generation when he comes, one way or the other, it's just gonna be a little while. And what it's saying here, and I want you to understand this with me, I know you know it, but I pray this will just be an encouragement to somebody, is that he is allowing the things that we're going through to prove us genuine.
Now, he already knows if we're genuine but, you know what? You don't even know if you are. I don't even know if I am, half the time. Anybody know what I'm talking about? He knows what we have got in us and he is setting us up at times to show it, because you see, this is the testimony that speaks to people around us that may not pick up a Bible until somebody gives them a reason to look into what life would be like in Christ and, when over time, over time, something is just proved to them that now they've watched you for weeks, months, years, and they know you're legit, when you may not have even known it. They know it. He is giving us something he can reward us for, a God who is a giver by his very nature, constantly setting us up, so that there can be the greatest joy when he is revealed.
I want you to know something in this season of our lives, our faithfulness will matter. It will matter. I'm gonna say that again. Whatever you're going through, your faithfulness in your present situation matters greatly. Do not think for a moment it doesn't, he says that what he is doing in you is more precious than gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away. That it's bringing to the surface impurities that he can skim off the top so that what's in there is genuine, so that no matter how deep a thorn goes in us, it's gonna still bleed Jesus. It's gonna still bleed faith. It's gonna still bleed faithfulness.
I want you to look, very, very near it, you're near Hebrews 9, verse 28: "So also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation". He's talking about the finality of it, that we have tasted and known that he's gonna bring that full salvation, we're already saved and our eternity set with God in glory and in his presence if we've received Christ. But there's this ever-working salvation that he still has underway that he's gonna display to us that will be beyond our imagination, beyond any description, and it says that he will come back for those who eagerly await him. Eagerly await him.
I love 2 Timothy 4:6 through 8. Paul is talking to Timothy and it's the last letter he ever writes. And he says to him, "The time for my departure is near. I've competed well, I've finished the race. I have kept the faith. Finally, there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing". It's talking about, it could be, because of the wording that he has, it could be the first appearing or the second appearing, but we know from the context he's talking about the second appearing. I love it. It says: "Set your affections," in the NET, but many of your translations will say: "who loved his appearing".
Who loved his appearing, to live as those who anticipate that moment above all. I found it fascinating that the common denominator between the three primary writers that talk so blatantly and affectionately and powerfully about the second advent, so primarily that's gonna be John and it's gonna be Peter and it's gonna be Paul and so what was it about 'cause all of 'em just like, "Come, come, come, Lord Jesus, come, come, come, come, come, Lord Jesus, come". And you hear some of that from James, the half-brother of Christ. What is it? What is the common denominator because they had encountered him. They know what they were looking for.
See, we are going by faith. John's first letter, 1 John chapter 1, he goes, "Listen, we saw him with our eyes. We touched him with our hands. We know him". Our faith is based on fact. They knew him and they could not wait to see him again. The apostle Paul in Philippians said, "Listen, I'm gonna tell you something. I'm in a strait betwixt two. It just doesn't get better than the King James Version in that. I'm in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is much better, but also needing to stay here and serve all of you". What a statement, because they'd seen him, they'd encountered him. They knew him.
Want you to know something: the second advent will be the antithesis of subtle. The antithesis. It won't be the babe in the manger, as precious as that is to us, hidden away from everybody's sight. It will be every eye will see him and after Isaiah had said about him in his first advent, in 53:2-3: "He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not".
And then Matthew 24:30 reads: "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and they all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory". I just love this, Jesus talking himself in John chapter 5: 28-29 where he says: "A time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out". I mean, that's some kind of voice when, like, people start popping out of their grave.
C.S. Lewis, and we'll start drawing to a close with this, wrote the following words in his classic book, "Mere Christianity," and I want you to soak 'em in. Just try to be undistracted. "Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven," he says, "and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither".
Not only with the Coming of Christ will there be full redemption, I mean full redemption, everything, an entire Creation fully redeemed, not only will there be revelation and rejoicing, but 2 Thessalonians says there will be the most wonderful thing in the very first chapter: "This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering, since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels".
Jesus is coming for you. He came the first time so he could come the second time. Oh, it was a glorious appearing the first time. The Word made flesh and dwelling among us and we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only full of grace and truth. Glorious appearing, epiphany, but it will be nothing in comparison to the time when he comes and he finds this world in the dark and he says, "Don't you be afraid. I'm coming for you".