Why, one wonders, does God wait so long before sending His Son back to retrieve His Children? Even the first generation after Christ’s crucifixion and ascension believed He would return in their lifetimes – Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians in part to tell them not to quit their day jobs, because it wasn’t like He was necessarily returning tomorrow!
Well, we’re at a moment when He really COULD appear any day now – all the signs that are required in advance of the Rapture have already happened (too many to number here!) – so we find ourselves asking the question again: what are You WAITING for, Lord?
He gives the answer as succinctly as anywhere in the Bible in Ezekiel 18, verses 21-32, a portion of Scripture that I, for one, am less familiar with than its surrounding books. Ezekiel contains some of the most important eschatological material that God provided anywhere, particularly in chapters 36-39.
But here’s God’s answer to a similar question addressed to Him through His prophet Ezekiel in this passage. The only “translation” required to adapt this to our circumstances would be this: “turning away from sins” means “repenting of those sins”, not just “not committing them”; similarly, “turning from righteous behavior” implies “NOT repenting”. The other realization to make is that when God says we will “live and not die”, He means eternally: we will live in Heaven and not be cast into Hell. (And the opposite is true.)
“But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey My decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.
“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die?” says the Sovereign LORD. “Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.
“Yet you say, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ Listen to Me, O people of Israel. Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you? When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die. And yet the people of Israel keep saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ O people of Israel, it is you who are not doing what’s right, not I.
“Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign LORD. “Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!
“Why SHOULD you die? Turn back and LIVE!” What more could God tell you? Jesus said the same thing to us – ALL of us must repent from our sins in order to turn from our journey towards Hell and begin our journey in Christ’s company towards His Grace.
So, the answer to the original question? WHY hasn’t He come back? Because He wants ALL people to come to Heaven! And if it’s possible to bring one more soul to Heaven by delaying, you can be assured that God will delay! He will do whatever He can to bring as many to salvation as possible… SHORT of usurping our free will! God will not take us against our will! If you insist on going to Hell by insisting on a life that doesn’t follow Christ, then God will grant your wish.
My friends, Jesus is returning very soon. I may be completely wrong, but if I were a betting man, May 2018 would be my leading candidate for the Rapture. (The reasons are too long to list here, but add the timing of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s birth to the timing of Pentecost on top of the immediacy of the signs insisting that His Return must be near.) You don’t have long to consider your options. God has delayed as long as He can. The time has come. Have you turned from your sins to accept Christ as not only your Savior but your role model and your Master? It takes more than a casual acceptance of faith – it takes a life of living in service to Christ as Lord. That life can start right now – as God through Ezekiel points out, He will save anyone who turns to righteousness, no matter WHEN they do so!
The End is Near.