Thursday, December 30, 2010

Come, Lord Jesus (Maranatha!)

We know that a Christian's prayer life is extremely important.  It is our way to communicate with God.  Jesus exemplified prayer to us many times (Mark 1:35; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 13:1-3). If Jesus, being perfect, needed to pray to remain in the Father’s will and to keep that important line of communication open, how much more do we need to pray?  Indeed, Philippians 4:6-7 commands us to pray, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer is also directly related to end-times Bible prophecy.  I am writing this article because as we embark on a New Year, I would like to exhort everyone to pray, and specifically to pray for the Lord's return.  Though often missed as being related to prophecy, the Parable of the Persistent Widow is specifically talking about praying for justice and the Lord's return.  We find that interesting parable in Luke 18:1-8, which is immediately after Jesus discusses the days of Noah in Luke 17:26-37—wherein He is very clearly describing end-times events.  The Parable of the Persistent Widow is as follows:

Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said, “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’  “For some time he refused.  But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?  Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

As we study this portion of Scripture, we can infer contextually that the parable is referring to the end times, because, as I noted, it occurs immediately after Jesus talks about end-times events.  Also notice the first sentence that introduces the parable.  It says, “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  Obviously that transition is indicating the parable is related to what had just been discussed.  Moreover, we see that this parable is most certainly about the end times, for the last sentence of that parable says, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

As we examine the verses that precede The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 17:26-37), I believe they describe people disappearing because of the Rapture.  (Note: Some scholars believe that it is the Second Coming, rather than the Rapture, that is being described; but I think careful examination reveals those verses best describe the Rapture.  I examined that topic in a previous article entitled "As It Was in the Days of Noah: Rapture or Second Coming?" which I'll link to at the bottom of this article if you wish to explore that further.)  As we consider the Rapture, Jesus explained to us that it will be just as in the days of Noah, when people were going about their everyday life (eating, drinking, marrying, working, and building), which is just as we are today.  In light of that, I believe that as much as ever Christians should be praying for the Lord's return and the Rapture of the Church!

Another place we find mention of prayer is 1 Thessalonians 5:17-20 where Paul, after having explained the Rapture and other end-times events in chapter 4 and 5 concludes his letter with, "pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt."

We can also turn to one of my favorite verses in the Bible as we further examine that concept, which is Luke 21:36, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”  Once again, as we carefully study the text, we note something of particular interest, and that is Jesus says “Pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen”, not just certain parts, and certainly not only the end, which lends more credibility to the Pre-Trib Rapture Theory and that Christians are to be praying about that idea.

The final place in scripture I'd like to reference is the last two verses of the Bible,  Revelation 22:20-21:

He who testifies to these things (Jesus) says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” 
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

We shorten those verses to one succinct and endearing word to capture its essence, "Maranatha!"

Are You Ready?

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1 comment:

  1. I once read that the early church used to greet one another with the word, "Maranatha". Thanks for the refreshing reminder.