Have our fleshly failings really foiled God’s plans for mankind and delayed the fulfillment of His promises to us?
Those of us waiting and watching for the return of our Lord are faced with something of a dilemma as, on one hand we are leaning forward, anticipating His return and the end of our lives on Earth, and on the other, striving to be faithful stewards of the things He has entrusted to us as we continue to occupy. Realizing that responsible stewardship requires investments in mundane elements such as housing, clothing, and our teeth, we often project our plans for meeting those responsibilities adding the qualifier, “If the Lord Tarries”, or some equivalent phrase.
If the Lord tarries; just what does that mean? To most of us, it means that if the Rapture does not occur in the immediate future as we are hoping, we will take such and such an action. What does it mean though, literally?
The dictionary definitions of tarry are two. The first means to be covered with tar,…well, that aint it! The second is as follows: stay longer than intended; delay leaving a place. Has the Lord truly been compelled to put off His return? If so, why, and how? Think about it.
Now we reach the crux of what I have only recently come to appreciate. The phrase is used so commonly, most consider it a good-faith expression of a believer’s anticipation of the return of the Lord. But if His return has been delayed, that represents a monumental departure from the nature of our omnipotent, omniscient God!
Those with a grasp of Bible prophecy and the knowledge of how, over the millennia it has been fulfilled down to the most minute detail hundreds and hundreds of times, on the very day prophesied, are aware that God’s clock continues to tick along as He has ordained. A major portion of those prophesies; the big finish that culminates in the creation of a new heaven and new earth, have yet to be fulfilled. What’s holding God up? Is it possible that God’s planned return has been delayed by the unanticipated failure of fleshly followers to perform as He was hoping?
Wait a minute, this is getting big! That means that our failure to obey His laws and spread the Gospel as He ordered us to have thwarted the eternal plans and purposes of almighty God! OMG! We’re stuck here because of our sinfulness! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!
See what I mean? “If the Lord tarries…” The reason that gentle-sounding throw-away phrase is so malignant is that it denies the power of God to save us. It is a lie from those who teach ‘another gospel’, the gospel of salvation through works.
Is the Lord really tarrying? What’s He waiting for…Us and our good works? What do the scriptures say? Why can’t we pin down the date?
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you now restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It isn’t for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set within his own authority.” Acts 1:6-7 (emphasis added)
So…does that say, ‘times or seasons which the Father has estimated within his own authority’? No, it says set. The time is set.
How many of us, waiting impatiently for a visitor or cable guy to arrive begin to wonder if he is even coming? If you don’t, you’re not human. God knows the tendency of us with our little human monkey brains to become impatient as we wait for Him to return. The proverb that says ‘a watched pot never boils’ unfortunately seems to apply to us watching eagerly for the Rapture. That’s why more than one of the parables He spoke to the disciples about the coming events ushering us into the Kingdom cautioned about an element of perceived delay:
Matt 24:48 “But if that evil servant should say in his heart, ‘My lord is delaying his coming,”
Matt 25:5 “Now while the bridegroom delayed,”
Matt 25:19 “Now after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reconciled accounts with them.”
The fact that we perceive a delay doesn’t make it so. The time is set. Watching for His return with persistent faith is something that He values so highly that He has promised a crown to those who love His appearing.
“From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:8
It is important that you clear your mind of all the noise that the enemy has generated in recent years to drown out the word of God regarding the Lord’s return and the lies that place the burden of preparation for that return on believers. Hopping from blood moon to super blue blood moon and from feast to feast has produced nothing more than a lot of frustration, disappointment and heartsickness.
Prayerful study of 2 Peter, chapter 3 will put everything back into God’s perspective. Here is one of the best bits:
“But don’t forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Sadly, “all” are not coming to repentance, but aren’t you glad that God didn’t close the books before you came to His feet? That moment when the age of Grace ends and God turns His focus back to His chosen people Israel is known as the fullness of the Gentiles.
“For I don’t desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won’t be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” Romans 11:25
The Church is composed of all those who have accepted Christ from Pentecost to that instant when the fullness of the Gentiles arrives. At that point it is expeditious that God get the Church out of the way so that He can complete the work of redemption for Israel. The Church must also be taken away at that time because of the Lord’s promise to us in Revelation 3:10:
“Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
That you may now have come to appreciate that “If the Lord tarries” effectively constitutes some kind of declaration of unbelief in the word of God should not become an opportunity for you to attack every well-meaning, unsuspecting saint (like me) who uses it to qualify their commitment to stewardship in the face of our continued presence here on Earth.
At the same time, I believe it important to abandon such inaccurate language and speak the truth in love. Avoid the temptation to correct everyone you encounter and lead by example. This should not become an opportunity for Satan to divide believers.
Instead of saying “If the Lord tarries…” try saying “If the Lord has not taken us…”. His plans are perfect, His ways above our ways, His thoughts above our thoughts. He will be here when He plans to be; not a second late.
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- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com