God’s Word for You
James 5:7-8 Chewing gum and End Times
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 27, 2020
7 So be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious harvest of the earth, patient for it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You too, be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
“The coming of the Lord” (Greek parousia) is an important teaching of the Scriptures. It is what we confess in the Creed: “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” This day of judgment is the Last Day. It is impossible to calculate or predict when this day will be. In fact, while he was on earth Jesus said that the angels don’t know, and even he did not know, “but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). According to the words of Jesus, we must anticipate that it is near, and we should expect it constantly. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
When Jesus comes again, there won’t be time for unbelievers to come to faith. Unbelievers and believers alike will be surprised by the sudden appearance of Christ, “and all the nations of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24:30). The difference between believers and unbelievers at that time will only be that we believers will be spiritually ready. Jesus said, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns” (Matthew 24:45-46).
The signs as the end approaches include:
1, The corruption of the church, with respect both to life (2 Timothy 3:1-5) and teaching (2 Thessalonians 2:11) when “men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).
2, The rising level of monstrosity throughout the world, in the way everyone thinks. “They will turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Timothy 4:4). Lives will be perverted and corrupted in unthinkable ways. “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7).
3, The Gospel will be preached everywhere. “The gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:10). “Their voice has gone out into all the earth; their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18).
On the Last Day itself there will also be specific signs:
1, There will be certain signs in nature. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars. On the earth there will be anxiety and despair among nations due to the roaring and the surging waves of the sea. People will faint from terror and from the foreboding of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. At that time they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28).
2, The Antichrist will be revealed. “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Most of these things are frightening, not least of all because they have already all taken place. But our attitude should be like that of a farmer, James says. Be patient. The seeds are planted in the people that you love. The rains will come, and their faith will grow. If you have a chance to go and water their faith, do it. I know a man in his fifties who just a few days ago was offered his very first piece of chewing gum, and he liked it. Maybe there is somebody you love who has never really heard about the sweetness of Jesus. Don’t be afraid to share the gospel with anybody in your life. Since their soul is at stake, why not do everything you can to tell them about Jesus? The love of Christ should get offered everywhere, and to everyone, like water to victims of a disaster. We are all victims of the fall of man; we all need the quenching drink of the gospel that Jesus offers. Don’t be stingy with it. There’s more than enough for everyone.
The day is surely drawing near
When God’s Son, the Anointed,
Shall with great majesty appear
As judge of all appointed,
All mirth and laughter then shall cease
When flames on flames will still increase,
As Scripture truly teaches.
Then woe to those who scorned the Lord
And sought but carnal pleasures,
Who here despised his precious Word
And loved their earthly treasures!
With shame and trembling they will stand
And at the judge’s stern command
To Satan be delivered.
My Savior paid the debt I owe
And for my sin was smitten;
Within the Book of Life I know
My name has now been written.
I will not doubt, for I am free,
And Satan cannot threaten me;
There is no condemnation! (Christian Worship 207:1,4-5)
Pastor Timothy Smith