Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
As Christians, one of the primary things we are to be concerned about is the return of Jesus. In fact, one of the main things we hold on to is that Jesus is coming and will come and fix everything. I know that I am counting the days until we’re all called heavenward. The question is then, how to we prepare for this and what do we do while we wait? Luckily, the Holy Spirit showed me that Jesus tells us all about it in the Gospels. Let’s take a look today and see what we should do while we’re waiting for the Son of God to come back.
To find out what we are to do first, let’s turn to Luke 12:35-36 and find out what Jesus has to say about being prepared. We read,
Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him (Luke 12:35-36).
We are first told to be dressed ready for service. What does that mean? This means that we need to know our status with the Lord. Revelation 3:18 says,
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see.
We need to be covered from our past sins and transgressions. The only way to do that is through the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross. By understanding that Jesus saved you from your sins and believing on him, you are given a totally clean slate. Not only that, but your new “clothes” stay white, even when you make mistakes, for you are saved once and for all. Next, we’re told to keep the lamps burning. What does that mean? To find out we need to turn way back to the Law. While explaining varied parts of the Tent of Meeting, the Lord explains that,
Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord must be tended continually (Leviticus 24:3-4).
The Lord is very strong on this point that the lampstands are to be tended to and not allowed to go out. He mentions it several other times in the Law and notes that it is to be a lasting ordinance for all generations. What this means is that we’re to never let the fire go out on our faith. Usually, when somebody first becomes a Christian, they’re totally on fire for God, however, that fire can start to go out if not properly managed. How do we keep the fire burning then? Well, the Scriptures say to tend to it continually. That means that we should read the Bible and pray every day. And Hebrews 10:25 recommends, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Therefore, it is a good idea to go to church or at the very least you should do your best to fellowship with other believers, that way you can build up each other’s faith, even when times are difficult. Do whatever it takes for you to stay active in the faith, don’t turn back into your old self, being saved is a completely new experience! For Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Jesus tells the people in the Church at Ephesus that they need to try to get their flame burning again. The Bible records,
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place (Revelation 2:4-5).
The people in Ephesus had gotten off track and forgotten the awesome feeling of salvation and their love for God. Therefore, Jesus advised them to do the sort of things they did early on in their faith in order to get it back. Once we’re saved we need to keep at it, after all, you want to be ready for the Lord, right?
Now the next verse that Jesus says here I’ve never memorized, but I wish I had, check out what the Lord says,
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them (Luke 12:37).
For those who have been saved, we are able to look forward to the rewards of heaven. I’ve often had trouble understanding what exactly is entailed in heaven, but if this verse is right (and it is as the Bible is always right), then heaven is going to be pretty awesome. Can you imagine God serving you? Not only that, but even if your life on earth has been really difficult, when the Lord comes, all of that heartache and pain will melt away, for we read,
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more dead or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:3-4).
When the Lord shows up, suffering ends. Think about when you first accepted Jesus into your heart (if you have accepted him), joy filled your heart. When the Lord returns, it’ll be like that again- except forever. One of the effects from the curse on this earth is that our lives are filled with trouble and sadness, however, none of that stuff exists for us in heaven, for everything is perfect there. Therefore, as Christians, we’re even more motivated to prepare the way for the Lord as best we can, because we’re looking for something better than here. Of the patriarchs it is written in Hebrews 11:16, “Instead, they were longing for a better country- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” We too are looking for this heavenly country. We have all the sin, flesh, drugs, alcohol, and everything else destructive here on earth. If that’s what you want- it’s in abundance here. But the children of God know that there’s more to life than that and so we look forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring us where he is and the wonders ahead of us.
“Oh wow, that sounds so wonde- WAIT. You’re quoting a book written 2000 years ago.” Ok, ok, so we’re waiting on a promise that was made two millennia ago, but Jesus had already predicted that the end of all things might come later than expected. He continues in Luke 12:38, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.” Jesus knew that it might be a long time before he returned. Even Peter guessed this when he wrote,
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Time for the Lord is nothing, he can act in an instant or he can take his time, for he is not bound by our time constraints. God knows what he’s doing though, so there’s no need to worry about him being late (as we understand lateness). However, we must understand that currently, God is trying to make sure that as many souls are saved as absolutely possible. As he waits, and we wait, the Lord has extended to us the ability to help him in this work. Before he went to heaven, Jesus told us,
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).
God has put it on us to help in his work of saving as many as possible. Therefore, we are called to go out and tell everyone about Jesus and his saving grace. Nobody deserves to be saved (you weren’t worthy either), but Christ died so that all may have the option of living in his grace. So whenever you can, talk about Jesus and what he’s done for you. Actually, Moses told the people that of the Law they should talk about it all the time. Scripture records,
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
Now if that is what people were supposed to do with the Law and all of its condemning features don’t think for a second that you shouldn’t talk about Jesus. The verses even say to wear it on your hands and foreheads, which means that you shouldn’t hide you affiliation with Jesus, but embrace it, even around strangers. But don’t worry friends; we won’t be waiting indefinitely for the Lord to come, for Jesus tells us in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Be confident, he’s coming soon!
Well hold on, if Jesus says he is coming soon, and that was 2000 years ago…what are we supposed to think? Is he coming soon or is there more waiting ahead of us? According to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…we don’t know, nor will we ever until it happens. Check out what he says as he finishes talking about being prepared for his coming,
But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Luke 12:39-40).
God knows humans perfectly. He knows that if he told us what day Jesus would be coming, we’d act however we wanted to until the day before he showed up- then suddenly everyone would convert and spend the next twenty-four hours talking about how awesome Jesus was. But God wants everyone to be saved (if at all possible), so to that end he doesn’t let us know when the end of the world will come. I know there are many people out there trying to crack Biblical codes or preaching about certain dates when the Lord will return, but don’t listen to them. Because not only do they not know, but even Jesus doesn’t know when he’s returning. “What!? Jesus doesn’t know either?!” That’s right. He said it himself in Mark 13:32-33, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” So as we prepare for the coming of our Lord, we need to understand that he is coming soon (by his standards), whether that means we’re in for a long wait or not though is not for us to know. Just know that it’ll come as a complete surprise.
Jesus is coming back, and this time he’ll come be coming as a conqueror for all of those who are not with him. The Bible records,
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God (Revelation 19:11-13).
Considering this imagery, it is no wonder that the Lord says that the first step of preparation is salvation. We are to come to Jesus to get our clean clothes and clean slate, just like what happened to the High Priest Joshua in Zechariah 3:3-4,
Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.”
After finding salvation, never give up the fight, keep your fire burning bright for the Lord. Those who stay true to the Lord after finding salvation will find themselves blessed by him, for Jesus walks among those who burn for him. We talked about the church of Ephesus earlier, but Jesus has more to say to them in Revelation 2:1-3,
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Jesus is always with those who keep the fire burning bright. I have only talked about how to keep your fire burning for the Lord in brief because everybody is different and what works for me may not work for you. I recommend that you pray about what you can do to continue in the faith, and then let the Holy Spirit tell you. Now we don’t know when Jesus is coming back, but he makes it clear that we should be ready. Whether he comes back today, or in another thousand years, we should be waiting for him every day. For when Christ comes, he’ll bring us to our home with him. Be patient, brothers and sister, for he’ll be here soon.