Hurry Up and Wait!
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Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com“Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his 300th mission, he was surprised to be given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home. They flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night, and when his buddies dropped him off at his driveway just after sun-up, there was a big banner across the garage—‘Welcome Home Dad!’“How did they know? No one had called, and the crew themselves hadn’t expected to leave so quickly. Robins relates, ‘When I walked into the house, the kids, about half dressed for school, screamed, “Daddy!” Susan came running down the hall—she looked terrific—hair fixed, make-up on, and a crisp yellow dress. “How did you know?” I asked.“‘I didn’t,’ she answered through tears of joy. ‘Once we knew the war was over, we knew you’d be home one of these days. We knew you’d try to surprise us, so we were ready every day.’”1

The great controversy has been won, are you ready? He’ll be here soon to take us home, are you ready? What are you doing to let Him know you’re ready? Are you even looking forward to His coming?2

How do you think your friends and neighbors would respond to those same questions? Well, according to a 2010 Christianity Today poll, in May of 1999, 44 percent of American expected Jesus to come back within the next 40 years.  By 2010 that percentage had dropped to 41 percent.  Interestingly, 20 percent of folks who weren’t affiliated with any religion believed that Jesus would come back in the next 40 years.3

Those numbers are really kind of startling, when you think about them, don’t you think? Only 41 percent of Americans expect Jesus to come back in the next 40 years? That’s pretty low considering that as of the 2001 census, an average of 75 to 80 percent of Americans identified with a religion rather than “no religion.” And what do we do with those 20 percent of unaffiliated folks?

This next survey is even more discouraging.

“A December, 2011 article in USA Today analyzed a surge in a group of Americans called the ‘spiritually apathetic.’ They aren’t atheists. Instead, according to the article, ‘They simply shrug off God, religion, heaven, or the ever-trendy search-for-meaning and/or purpose. Their attitude could be summed up as “So what?”’“The article pointed to the following statistics from recent surveys:“44 percent of respondents told a Baylor University study that they spend no time seeking ‘eternal wisdom,’ and 19 percent said, ‘It’s useless to search for meaning.’“46 percent of respondents told LifeWay Research that they never wonder if they will go to heaven.“28 percent told LifeWay that ‘it’s not a major priority in my life to find deeper purpose.’“18 percent denied that God has a purpose or plan for everyone.“One professor of religion concluded, ‘The real dirty secret of religiosity in America is that there are so many people for whom spiritual interest, thinking about ultimate questions, is minimal.’”4

Maybe it’s just that I can’t remember any time in my own life that I haven’t been expecting Jesus to come back very soon.  Sometimes I wasn’t anxious for it, but I expected it.

“‘As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ The inhabitants of the antediluvian world were utterly unconcerned, and at the appointed time the flood came and took them all away. …“We are looking for the second coming of Christ. Our hope of His soon appearing in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory fills our hearts with joy. When the Saviour comes, those who are prepared to meet Him will exclaim, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’ (Isaiah 25:9).”5

I think one of the problems here is that we’ve been hearing that Jesus is coming soon for a couple of centuries, right? So we tend to lose the urgency of the message. We all know the parable of the 10 virgins. All of them went to sleep, but it was the preparations they’d made ahead of time that made the difference between the wise and foolish virgins.

Are we making preparations by allowing the oil of the Holy Spirit to fill us?

I think most of us have fallen asleep, but it’s time to wake up! Jesus is coming again soon. Do we have the extra oil we’ll need to deal with the delay in Jesus’ coming? How do we get the extra oil? Do we have a responsibility to help those around us be prepared too?

And there it is! I think we offset the drift toward ennui by focusing on sharing the message with those who haven’t heard it yet. Isn’t that brilliant?  God knew all along that we needed a mission to keep us focused.

“We each have work to do—the work of proclaiming to the world the last message of warning. In clear, distinct tones we must give this message; but I greatly fear that though we have had such great light, we are not as earnest as we should be. Let us study the words [1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 quoted].

“Just such an experience as this is what we need today. We need the Holy Spirit and assurance. Living power must attend the message of Christ’s second coming in the clouds of heaven. We must not rest until we see many souls converted to the blessed hope of the Lord’s appearing. The message wrought a real work that turned souls from idols to serve the living God. The work to be done today is just as real, and the truth is just as much truth; only we are to give the message with as much more earnestness as the coming of the Lord is nearer. The message for this time is positive, simple, and of the deepest importance. We must act like men and women who believe. We are not half awake to the perils and the dangers that we must be prepared to meet. Waiting, watching, working, praying, warning the world—this is our work.”6

So, we’ve got to wait, but while we wait, let’s hurry up and spread the message.

  1. Lee Eclov, “Heaven,” PreachingToday.com
  2. Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com
  3. Ted Olsen, “Go Figure” Christianity Today  (August 2010), p. 12.
  4. Cathy Lynn Grossman, “For many, ‘Losing My Religion’ isn’t just a song; It’s life,” USA Today (12-25-11)
  5. E.G. White, Sermons And Talks Volume Two, page 179.
  6. E.G. White, Letter 150, 1902, pp. 2, 3. (To Prof. C. W. Irwin, from Los Angeles, Calif., September 22, 1902.)
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Hurry Up and Wait! — 27 Comments

  1. So inspiring. Only last week, I preached the same story. Before I preached, I asked the congregation why they were there. All gave different reasons and only one person said they hope to go to heaven. I then asked how many would be happy to meet Jesus should he come in the next few hours, none raised their hand. Some still wanted to see their grand children first, some to get married and get a house first, then Jesus must come!

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    • So sad! Are we sleeping on guard? When are we going to take the parable of the 'Ten virgins' serious? I honestly think the time is now.
      May God continue to bless you as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you.

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    • Thank you Liz for sharing your experience. It appears that when things are going well in our lives we want the second coming to be delayed, but when we are going through our valley experience, we yearn for the second coming of Christ. It seems like we have our priorities in the wrong place. This reminds me of the parable that Jesus told about the invitation to the great wedding feast. He invited his friends to come join him in celebrating this joyous occasion. But they had excuses of why they could not attend the wedding feast. The invitation to the wedding feast was extended to anyone who was willing to attend.
      I pray that we realize the seriousness of misplaced priorities. What good is it if we gain the whole world, but loose our souls?

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  2. We're in a catch-22 situation where we are waiting on Jesus to come, but He's waiting for us to spread the word! The truth is that our foreign missions program is dying from lack of funds and lack of interest and there are vast fields of God's vineyard that are nearly completely neglected and unworked. At the 2010 GC session pastor Bob Lemon, GC VP of Finance (or whatever his title is) said that the average North American gives just $21/year for foreign mission. And still it continues to drop. In the '30's if someone gave $10 in tithe, they would give an additional $6 for foreign missions. Today, just around $0.27. We as a church are abandoning foreign missions yet we say the job is nearly done. We talk about "finishing the work" when most of us aren't even starting it. No wonder God said he is about to spew us out of His mouth! Yet this very situation is prophesied to occur in Malachi 3 - the revival and reformation called for is in our giving to build up God's work! Giving and Going. Our remedy is the same remedy Jesus gave to the rich young ruler - "sell what you have, give it to the poor, and follow me." We talk about revival reformation but in what? I believe it is in foreign missions. there are less than 1,000 missionaries from North America, whereas the Mormon church has over 52,000! Our colleges are focused on getting our young people integrated into contemporary society, and training them to be missionaries couldn't be farther from their minds. And all along we seek God's blessing "as a nation that did righteousness" (Isaiah 58). Lord grant us repentance and a will to obey!

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    • It is tragic that we who are so rich give so little of our wealth to spread the Gospel around the world.
      My prayer is that we will open our hands and give so that Jesus can come back soon.

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  3. I find it surprising that our leaders do not emphasize the order in which the last events on earth will unfold, especially when our eschatology is unique and distinct from all other faiths. Have we become ashamed of our peculiar beliefs?

    Jesus will appear, but before He does, the plagues must fall. Before that, The Seal of God. Before that, the persecution of true believers. Before that, the Mark of the Beast. Before that the union of apostate protestantism with catholicism. Somewhere in the mix will be Satan impersonating Christ. Also, the appearing of demons in the guise of dead loved ones, which is happening even now. Just look at the way our society and the media embraces spiritualism. The dominoes will fall soon enough.

    In addition, the prophecy given through Nebuchadnezzar's dream reminds us that every type of human governance must fail prior to God's kingdom crushing all human governance. Historically, it was the use of the state to enforce religious decrees that preceeded the demise of each major form of governance and their associated kingdoms represented in the mineral man. Only the use of our laws to enforce religious decrees, Sunday Law, will fulfill the prophecy.

    Lastly, there must be a final effort by Satan and his minions to establish a one world government, harking back to Nimrod's efforts at the Tower of Babel. It is no coincidence that is was Nimrod and his wife Semiramis who began the cult of ancestor worship and doctrines of the immortal soul, which are taught by apostate protestantism and catholicism even today. The same demons impersonating dead ancestors that began and perpetuated the mysteries on the Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu, Mayan, Buddhist, and every pagan religion, will unite to delude the world into uniting under Satan's banner. With the return of a global lingua franca, English, the world is creating their own Tower of Confusion, raising their collective fist in defiance of God's law.

    It is high time for believers of all stripes to unite under the Banner of Truth and proclaim the peculiar truths which have been entrusted to us for such a time as this. May God pour out His blessings on His Remnant people, and fill us with His Spirit to finish the Noachian work of warning the world of God's impending judgment.

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    • @ Joseph Kim: Your comment was very well thought out and interesting. Just out of curiousity, how do you think the Sunday Law will be passed? End events are something that I want to learn more about.

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    • Joseph, there are two things I would like to comment on. The first is a request for a reference concerning the statement, “It is no coincidence that is was Nimrod and his wife Semiramis who began the cult of ancestor worship.” I ask this because I am having extreme difficulty finding this to be fact.

      The second thing is the business of setting up markers along the path to Christ’s return. I do not entirely discard such things as this but neither does it become the center of my thinking. The reason I am not particularly fired up about setting markers is that Satan knows about them all too well and if we think that he is going to cause everything to happen in a way that we can easily see then I would suggest that we may be a bit deceived. To me that is why Jesus said, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mat 24:44 NKJV). Personally, I would prefer to be doing the things I should be doing, to be Christ like in all my conduct, and to have a correct doctrinal understanding of my relationship to God and other intelligent beings. I also think that knowing where our problems are going to come from and why is also important.

      The one thing I do know is that when the universal probationary period closes even Satan will not be aware of the event (GC 618.2). Therefore, at that point of time Mat 24:44 becomes fulfilled prophesy. Furthermore these events may manifest themselves a bit differently depending on where we are in the world and in some areas may even leapfrog over some of the steps.

      I believe our focus needs to be on Jesus. We need to study the genuine in order to detect the counterfeit. And if we are truly good and faithful servants of our Lord then we won’t do what the evil servant did in His parable (Mat 24:45-51).

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    • @Joseph Kim: Excellent summary that puts what's to be expected into perspective based on historical fact. Thank you for the exposé!

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  4. Thank you, Joseph Kim , for your statement. I agree also; time for unity and unashamed proclamation of truth.

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  5. Thanks alot, this is my first time checking in and am sure to return. I am a new believer and I learn a lot from your explanations I now know there's a lot out there to do. May God bless us as we unite togather to finish the work so that He can come and recieve us unto Himself.

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  6. I love the story of the family being prepared for Dad's return, regardless when it was to happen. Powerful!

    In a sense, none of this timeline/non-timeline discussion matters. If I get run over by a train tonight, Jesus has already come--as far as my eternal destiny is concerned.

    Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to be doing more to warn our neighbors, co-workers, etc. None of us can warn the entire world so we must "bloom where we're planted".

    But first, we must get to know Jesus so well that people will see Him when they look at and converse with us. And we should know the voice of the Holy Spirit so well that we can follow His directions. Otherwise our efforts will be to no avail (and chances are we wouldn't really care, either, without the Spirit's guidance).

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  7. We of little faith.... " He Who begun a good work in you, will finish it until He comes!" Does it say, we will finish His work? Our day to day lives will testify how we are convicted, if we are truly living according to God's will and longing for His coming. Are we witnessing for Him? Do we project a joyful/loving/positive heart to people around us, to our close family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc., or do you wait until you get a" Big" call to go to a far-away land to do missionary works, or maybe reluctantly share reading materials about God's love and soon return. However God will impress us, He will impress us, and only through His grace, that we will do the right thing; He'll make sure that we do. I pray that you all get what I'm trying to say. Sometimes, we think we can do all these things by "Ourselves"; I'm sorry to disappoint you. We underestimate His Mighty Power. Again, only He, can finish the work, because He said so! Let's keep our relationship with Him, and with our fellowmen, intact and consistent, as He commands. And the rest, He will complete!
    Love all your remarks!!!

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  8. Joseph - I have seen your timeline approach used quite often and the problem is that it gives us the sense that this end-time scenario will go off like a machine without any initiative or responsibility on our part. Yet it is very clear that God is waiting for us to take the Gospel to the unreached in the world today. All these things that you say will happen will only happen in response to the message going to the whole world. Yet today's North American SDA gives, on average, only $21 to foreign missions per year! We are so uninvolved with foreign missions it's not even funny. How is the Gospel going to the world while we spend the majority of our time and talent just making a living?
    Cecee - you say we should have faith that God will do it - yet His plan is to use us! And it seems that we are waiting for Him to Call us to Go, we are waiting for a special impression or sign from Him that we are personally called. And in the meantime we go into our advent "default mode" which is to get a good education, a good job, a comfortable life and just confine our witness to those around us that fit into our little comfortable lives that we happen to bump into while we are pursuing our own interests. But God has already told us to go into ALL the world. That should be our default mode. Haven't received a direct call from God? Then we should AUTOMATICALLY assume that we are to go to the darkest part of the world and be a living witness there. That is our Standing Order. We should expect to pursue our comfortable lives ONly if we have received a Special Exemption to that order! I say this because now in our church today there are so very very few missionaries overseas and so little money flowing to support them that we have statistically abandoned the very thing we've been called to do - take this message of hope to the world! We're doing just enough to give us the sense that we are doing a lot. But what are we waiting for? God has already given us the command, and the Holy Spirit to accomplish everything that is on His heart. He is just waiting for us to be like Christ and surrender all we know or consider home or appeals to our self for the sake of those that have no access to the Gospel message, so that He can then work through us. How can He work through people that are disobedient to His basic command? Jesus left His comfort zone on His own initiative, and that is what He is waiting for in us. Then, and only then, will we see the great outpouring the the Holy Spirit. Mrs. White says this over and over again. Yet we don't want to hear it, see it, or do it. Our hearts are hard and our ears are deaf to His calling, almost to the point of making it impossible for God to work with us. We hang on to our careers, our stuff, our jobs, while the one we are seeking (Jesus) says "whosoever... forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Yeah, we need faith, but more than that, we just need to obey (which is the outworking of faith). The rest, including the end, will come. Won't you go? There are many opportunities, many people groups, waiting for you....

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    • Jon, while I agree with your assessment of the church’s apathy I feel that you are asking us to take a fanatical approach to evangelism. What good is it for us to go to the other side of the world to win souls when we make no effort to win the souls right next door or even within our own families? If we can’t or won’t do the job in our own neighborhoods will we do any better anywhere else? I would suggest applying the principal Jesus gave concerning the application of the law, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Mat 23:23 NKJV). We don’t need to put all of our eggs in one basket – what we should be doing is to wisely distribute them appropriately to all the baskets. We should be temperate in all things.

      Furthermore, your approach to Christ’s conditional return makes God subservient and dependent on sinful man in ending the controversy. God doesn’t need us in order to do anything but graciously He invites us to join Him as partners in His work. What we need to understand above all else is that evangelism is 99% God and something less than 1% us. I continually point to what Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Mat 7:22-23 NKJV). Those people were doing what they were commanded to do except they were doing it without the involvement of the Holy Spirit. So what they ended up doing was the commanded works polluted with sinful self which amounts to doing nothing. It is this kind of thing that the parable of the wedding garment and the ten virgins is all about.

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      • I agree with you Tyler. The world had become truly global and in a number of ways the so called first world also needs missionaries because apathy, materialism and self confidence has deadened the sense of purpose that charecterised the forefathers of Christianity in general and Adventism in particular. It is important to take the advice of Christ to 'Start first in Jerusalem". We can't all be missionaries, and indeed we can all put in something to support them, but we can all 'brighten the corner where we are'.

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  9. Nice contributions. Last time i saw American missioneries in Malawi, Blantyre, it was very toching, thousands of people were baptised and many of them are now used by God to share the massage of hope around Malawi. In that day one will stand next to you and tell Jesus that if not for this brother/sister I would not have been here. How that will be.. Revelation 22:7l.

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  10. I've enjoyed reading the other comments and wish to say, God expects for all of His children to get ready and stay ready to meet Him. The Later Rain will fall on the ones that are doing His Will and good pleasure. Please stay focused. Study to know what His will is. Before Jesus can come Satan will be revealed, and we are seeing his works each and every day, that's why people can kill, steal and destroy every minute of the day and it's getting worse by the second. Keep our hearts in tune and most of all Love one another. May God Bless!

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  11. Six years ago, my husband died very suddenly on New Year's Day. He hadn't been sick at all previous to those final 38 hours. For him, Jesus had come. Now my 80-plus-year-old father is in Hospice care for the final days of his stage-four pancreatic cancer that has metastisized to his bones. My dad has never had interest in faith of any kind.
    About seven weeks ago,the Spirit prompted me to send Dad an email invitation to give his heart to Jesus. Over the intervening weeks, the email was never mentioned. I figured he'd read it and thrown it away. But two weeks ago, Mom told me that he'd laid it on his night table (he doesn't sleep at night because of the pain). The following week Mom reported that Dad had wept on her shoulder, asking her, "Have I been so awful, so bad? Because if I have, God forgive me."
    This week the pain is so bad that he tells her, "I just wish I could die." I know that when he closes his eyes in sleep, the next thing for him will be Christ's coming. But I also know what 2 Pet 3:9 says: "He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Now that I know God, the ONLY function I have here on earth, other than to model Christianity for those around me, is to issue the invitation to "come" for those who as yet don't know Him. Jesus is coming, sooner for some than for others, but we may have no doubt that His coming is near at hand. Praise the Lord.
    Despite the pain Dad's endured, I know that if he gets to heaven, he'll join others in saying, "Heaven is cheap enough." I'll just be grateful to have him there. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

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    • Thank you for sharing those painful experiences. It is so heartbreaking to watch someone who has not surrendered to Christ sliding toward that sleep. My father, too, resisted giving his heart to Jesus for most of his life. In his last three years I was able to speak openly to him about Jesus' love for him, but he could not respond to me. I pray that in his silent last years that the Holy Spirit worked a change on his heart, because I want to see him again in Heaven. Thank you again for sharing.

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  12. While giving to missions is important, it is also important that we support our television/radio ministries like, Hope Channel, 3ABN, AWR, etc., because media can go to places where missionaries aren't able to go. The Bible tells us what will happen we don't spread the message: "...if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40 NIV).

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