Stop Staring Into The Empty Sky

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Series: Corporate Christ; The Day of the Lord

Sun am 22 September 2013 Kobus Swart 

(Matt. 25:1-9); (2 Pet. 3:4); 2 Pet. 1:1-4; Heb. 7:22; Matt. 12:39-40 & Luke 11:30;
2 Pet. 3:12; Acts 1:10 (The Message); Acts 3:21 (The Message);
2 Cor.3:12-18; Col. 1:27; Gal. 2: 20; 
(1 John 1); Rev. 1:12-20

The early apostles envisioned the return of the Lord in their own lifetime. What was the basis for their expectation? The answer is simple; the very words of Jesus and the repeated emphasis on the need for watchfulness. Jesus Himself emphasized the need for vigilance in the anticipation of His return. The early apostles were not wrong to anticipate the “day of the Lord”. The day of the Lord is always at hand; His return is always imminent – as it was for the apostles, so it is for us today.

One of the reasons why the early church went into a thousand years of dark ages is because they lost the apostolic vision of the imminent return of Jesus; they lost that hunger, that readiness, and that preparedness eventually disappeared. Then the reformation started with Martin Luther and slowly over the last five hundred years God restored truths that had been lost in the early church.

Soon, however, certain “prophets” began to predict dates for the second coming. What is needed at this time is for us to recapture the enthusiasm and the dynamism of the days of the early apostles. There will always be scoffers and mockers asking “Where is the promise of His return?” (2 Peter 3:4). We must ignore that attitude. God is bringing correction as to what it means to look for the return of the Lord Jesus. We must create a heart attitude of watchfulness –  creating an atmosphere for the manifestations of Christ in His Church.

How does the Lord work? He gives us His promises. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Pet 1:4). By believing the promises, no matter long it takes, we become partakers of the divine nature. The passive attitude in the church is not helping anybody. There has to come a return of the dynamism, a longing, a looking for the fulfillment of God’s promises. The promise connects you to the future, which arrived 2000 years ago with the coming of Jesus Christ. We cannot let go of the promises. All your experiences up to this minute cannot and should not influence this connection with the promises of God, because the promise will stand in total contradiction to everything you have experienced up to now. Unless you have absorbed, embraced, assimilated the promise, and the promise grips you on the inside, you are a target for deception. I am sold out to the promise of His return because Jesus Himself is the guarantee of the new covenant, therefore it cannot fail (Heb. 7:22).

The Pharisees wanted a sign, But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet (Matt. 12:39-40 & Luke 11:30). That is the only sign the world needs; the resurrection of Jesus is the sign of His plan and His future, and that there is a new beginning, a new race of which He was the first.

There is an attitude of heart that has to return to the household of God.  … Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat (2 Pet. 3:12). It has to do with speeding  up the coming of the day of God. We need a new longing, watchfulness, a hunger and yearning to see His presence manifested in the earth. What does this mean?

These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appearedin white robes! They said, You Galileans!why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainlyand mysteriouslyas he left (Act 1:10-11.The Message). For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be (Acts 3:21-The Message).

Jesus will remain invisible in heaven. Yes, He is everywhere, omnipresent, and at certain times He can make Himself visible. But as far as the final return, He must remain invisible until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of His holy prophets of old said it would be. It is not a matter of looking up! Stop staring into the empty sky. In people’s minds and expectations there needs to be adjustments. …But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:12-18). Where must we look? We must look into the word which is like a mirror, the veil is removed. The mystery is going to be unveiled. The glory of this mystery is Christ in you (Col. 1:27) I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal. 2:20). We must retire the old spiritual road maps, they are obsolete. Our compass from now on is Christ. We need a living encounter with Him.

There are different kinds of encounters. John describes his encounter with Jesus Christ (1 John 1). One dimension of such an encounter is the hearing encounter which is directly linked to hearing the word. When we hear a living word and it becomes an encounter, we will be transformed. Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man … (Rev. 1:12-20). What an amazing encounter! The full revelation of the Christ in His Church! We should not let anything smother that longing, that yearning, hunger and thirst for an encounter with Him. Stop staring into the empty sky. Unlock and unwrap your brother and sister until the Christ has come to full stature. Jesus needs us to become participators in the final chapter as history is coming to conclusion. God is waiting for us; Jesus is waiting until all his enemies have become a footstool under His feet.