Why the Delay?
There are many ways in which to describe the times we live in: 21st-century, postmodern, globalized, technological. But foundationally and fundamentally, we live in the “last days.” This phrase can sound very strange or exciting, depending on its familiarity. Indeed, there can be a great deal of confusion surrounding the idea of the “last days.”
The New Testament uses this phrase simply to describe the time between the first and second coming of Jesus. Jesus has come, and Jesus will come, and we live between those two great staging posts in salvation history. His first appearance brought His kingdom to earth and ushered in the “last days” as a present reality. His life, death, resurrection, and ascension all point to God’s Spirit at work—and if God’s Spirit is at work, Jesus teaches, “then the kingdom of God has come” (Matthew 12:28).
Jesus therefore speaks in the present tense when He invites a crowd to “receive the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17). He is talking about an entry not into some future realm but into a present reality—the current rule and reign of Jesus Himself.
So the kingdom is now. But the kingdom is also then: something that we look forward to in the future, fully inaugurated by the return of the Lord Jesus. At His second coming, Jesus will fully establish His kingdom. At that time, He will welcome believers to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34) and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). The kingdom that first arrived with its King in the past will fully come in all its perfection and glory in the future.
The Christian, therefore, lives in this in-between dimension referred to as the “last days.” Those who are in Christ belong to the new creation but have not yet received all of that new creation’s benefits and blessings. For the time being, believers live in the present age, in a fallen world marked by sin, longing for the age to come.
Why, then, does the time between Christ’s first and second comings seem so long? Why the delay? It is because God has deliberately delayed Jesus’ return so that more people have the opportunity to hear the words He has spoken, to repent, and to believe (2 Peter 3:9). The last days are the days of opportunity to enter the kingdom before the door is closed.
Since we know in which age we live and whose arrival will bring it to a conclusion, “what sort of people ought [we] to be?” (2 Peter 3:11). Scripture tells us: “Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation” (v 14-15, NIV). In other words, if “the last days” draw to a close today and the Lord Jesus returns in His glory, make sure that you will be found living in a way that pleases Him and seeking ways to speak words that proclaim Him.
The Coming of the Kingdom
20Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”8
22And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.9 25But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32Remember Lot's wife. 33Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”10 37And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse11 is, there the vultures12 will gather.”
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