Biblical Answers to Why Jesus Hasn’t Yet Returned – Part 1

Rudy Bork

The faithful have been waiting so long for their Lord to appear. But the Bible provides a very solid reason why the Lord hasn’t yet arrived. Part 1.

The Apostle Paul assures us, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God […] For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom 8:18-19, 24-25).

When will hope finally become reality? When the Lord Jesus appears! Why is it taking so long? What else needs to happen before our Lord appears in power and firmly intervenes? The righteous haven’t been waiting just since the Ascension; Abraham was already in line! “For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb 11:10).

Since the Fall, all Creation has been awaiting what is ultimate and eternal. Some of the crucial stages have already passed into history, and the next event is imminent. How much longer? To the best of my knowledge, the Bible provides only one clear answer: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Additionally, “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation…” (vv. 13-15). “Patient” is the keyword. The Lord is holding back with His patient, merciful, gracious consideration. Love is what is stopping our Lord, so that no one must be left behind.

In light of our Lord’s pending return, we should never speak of delay. Someone can only be late if a fixed appointment is made. This isn’t the case with the Rapture and the Second Coming, because a specific point in time was never revealed! The Lord will fulfill all His promises in time. Let’s return to 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

This clear statement contains three aspects:

1. God’s Patience: An Opportunity for All to Repent
The world must come to the Cross. 

Most of us have experienced something like this: You’re sitting in a plane awaiting takeoff. Your luggage is stowed, and you’re buckled in. But the plane isn’t moving. Some of the passengers haven’t arrived, and the crew decided to wait. It’s disagreeable for everyone on board, but a tremendous help for the ones who are running late. It’s a matter of perspective. Are you sitting inside, or are you still outside? Imagine that the Lord Jesus had already come several years ago. Where would you be today? Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

God doesn’t rush His tasks. If the Lord Jesus came today, how many would be left without salvation? Spouses, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, colleagues and more, because they haven’t yet come to the Cross. Let’s not forget that! “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezek 18:23). God desires for all people to voluntarily submit to the Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus isn’t stalling; He’s extending the time of grace! The Age of Grace must be fulfilled and completed before the Age of Power and Glory can begin. God’s love, grace, and mercy demand something from us: not just patience, but also commitment! Everyone who is redeemed and saved is invited and challenged, because our mandate between the Ascension and the Second Coming is clear: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matt 28:18-20).

This leads to the next aspect.

2. God’s Patience: An Opportunity for Believers to Repent
The Church needs to come to a decision.

It’s not a matter of repentance for salvation. I’m talking about repentance for sanctification and service, a return to basics: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness” (2 Pet 3:10-11).

Our eschatology influences our actions! Peter doesn’t stop at encouraging godly living: “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Pet 3:12). The Holy Spirit indicates through Peter that we can actually hasten the Lord’s return. The CSB says it this way: “as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming…”

Our eschatology doesn’t just affect our actions; our actions also influence our eschatology. The Lord Jesus has paused His return so that many more people can repent of their sins. Diligent evangelism and missions can hasten His return. Christ’s return is less a fixed date or time. Rather, it is an event; namely, when the last person to be saved is added to the Church. The Lord Jesus hasn’t yet come because there’s still a great deal to do before then. We shouldn’t sit by and wait for the time to pass, but use it well and sensibly! “Waiting for and hastening” means expectant action. We should be living lives of excellence. We should be standing out both individually and collectively, setting an example. The Church of God’s elect is meant to represent God’s wisdom, power, and greatness. We’re counting on and living with our Lord Jesus’ power. His power in us becomes a power to attract others. We can see what the Lord is already doing in people who haven’t yet been perfected. We’re permitted to be bearers of hope in a fearful and hopeless world. Our trust in God allows us to show that God’s promises are reliable and that Jesus is alive. Church is an anticipation—a foretaste—of the future. The children of God show what it’s like when the Lord Jesus reigns and is in charge. The Lord is creating His future governing body. There’s still time to make very good investments!

Are you living as God’s child, in your God-given purpose? If not, then it’s high time, and there’s still time to correct that. We’re able to be a rescue team. Yet, unfortunately, many Christians are relaxing in deck chairs of grace, having a great time. But the Church isn’t a cruise ship. The Christian community is a Coast Guard rescue vessel. We’re rescuers and paramedics, not tourists! It’s not quitting time yet! The bell (trumpet) to end our shift hasn’t yet rung. There’s still an opportunity to save souls and be fishers of men.

3. God’s Patience: An Opportunity for Israel to Repent
God’s chosen people must come to their senses.

Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” It’s shocking to see what God’s people are relying on these days—a framework of clever politics, a flourishing economy, a stable society, and religious history. God’s people are looking everywhere but at the Messiah. They don’t want to bow to Him. But it’s an absolute prerequisite:

“See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matt 23:38-39).

Midnight Call - 10/2023

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