Some people today have made a hobby out of studying Bible prophecy. While it's a good thing to study, Bible prophecy is not there to simply tantalize or entertain us.
When we study Bible prophecy, and we ought to, it should be for a reason. It should motivate us toward personal godliness and bold evangelism. It should cause us to want to live holy lives.
The Bible tells us that when the prophet Daniel was studying the book of Jeremiah, he realized God's impending judgment was coming upon the nation of Israel. How did that affect him? Daniel said, "Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (Daniel 9:3 NKJV).
As Daniel studied prophecy, he was moved personally.
It is worth noting that whenever the subject of the Lord's return comes up in Scripture, there is usually an exhortation or admonition to take action. In James, we find four important principles to follow as we await the Lord's return.
First, we are to be patient. James tells us, "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain" (James 5:7 NKJV). The word James uses for "patient" does not mean passive resignation, but being expectant, waiting on the Lord.
He cites the example of a farmer who looks for rain. Of course, the farmers of that day did not have the modern irrigation systems that we do. They were completely dependent on the rain to sustain their crops.
In Israel, the early rains would usually come in late October and early November. Anxiously anticipated by the farmer, they would soften the hard soil for plowing. The latter rains would come in late April and May. They were essential to the maturing of the crops.
Now if the farmer was impatient and tried to harvest the seed before it was ready, he could uproot the entire process. So he had to wait. And so do we.
We must understand that God has His own schedule and is not bound by ours. When the time is just right, Jesus Christ will return again to this earth.
Second, we are to establish ourselves. James says, "Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:8 NKJV). Another way to translate this verse is, "Strengthen and make firm your inner life." This word "establish" conveys the thought of strengthening and supporting something so it will stand firm and be immovable. In other words, resolutely establish yourself. Dig your feet in.
God wants believers to be rooted and grounded; yet many are not. They have not taken the time to develop habits of personal Bible study, the discipline of prayer, or even regular church attendance.
But we need to be rooted, because our faith will be challenged. We will face hardship. We are to dig in and resolve to do what God wants us to do.
Third, James tells us to not grumble as we await the Lord's return. "Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned" (James 5:9 NKJV). James is speaking of unjust criticism and nitpicking - biting at each other's heels, so to speak.
As Christians, our numbers are relatively small. Our task is immense. The time is short. We squander our time by grumbling and complaining about each other when we should be closing ranks and marching forward. Don't do that, James says.
Finally, we are to consider Job as an example. "You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord - that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful" (James 5:11). Job never lost his faith, regardless of his circumstances.
Maybe you are going through a Job-like time in your life. Know that God will not forget about you in your valley of despair. God has a work that He will complete in your life. He is the author and finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2). God completes what He begins.
So be patient. Establish yourself. Don't grumble. Learn from the example of Job.
The Lord is coming back, but the question is, are you ready? Are you prepared for His return? May we be able to say, like Job, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth" (Job 19:25 NKJV).
What does Esther have in common with Rahab? Or Ruth with Tamar? They seem like diametrically opposed personalities. Shannon Bream gives insightful answers to those questions in her new book. We will mail you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to Harvest Ministries today!