(Jesus said,) “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:32-37 (ESV)
There are a lot of ways to get someone’s attention. One is to pin a date to the return of Jesus Christ and announce it on billboards across the United States. I like to joke that, when we get to Heaven, how hilarious it would be if someone asked the Lord, “What about those billboards that announced when you were supposedly coming back?” and He replied, “You know, ironically enough, I was going to come back on that date, until…”
All joking aside, as we studied John 1:19-28 at our Men’s Bible Study earlier this week, I marveled at the expectancy for Messiah the Jews held. It had been around 400 years since God last spoke to His people through a prophet. One would think, after that many generations, all that silence would have dulled the zeal for a promise still not fulfilled. I find their expectancy astounding – especially when compared to our generation. Today, believers have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. And we can hardly wait for a stoplight to turn green or a line at a fast food drive-thru!
There are two points I want to make today. One is the lesson of the fig tree, reiterated in Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins:
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” – Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)
Verse 13 makes the lesson pretty clear: be prepared and watchful. Be expectant! The Lord is returning and, while there is no way of knowing the exact time or day of His return (not even via billboard), we can trust God in all things and know that His ways – and timing – are absolutely perfect.
While this covers eternal life, what about the here and now? Well… Scripture makes clear that we should expect God in our everyday lives as well! No matter what we face in this life, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is always with us. Just as God lived among His people the Israelites in the desert, so He remains and abides with His children today. This is why the author of Hebrews could boldly remind us of the promise of the Lord made in Deuteronomy: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, quoting Deuteronomy 31:6). So have no fear! Be bold!
So… let me ask you. What are are you expecting today? Whether we’re looking at our day-to-day lives or considering the eternal perspective, the answer should be the same: JESUS! Take heart and be watchful. Expect God to do His will and know that His ways are greater.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)