In their book entitled “How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth”, the authors make a statement in there, and it shocked me when I first read it. I think it’s true that 95% of the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled in the Incarnation. Only 5% of Old Testament prophecies are future. What appalls me is why do we focus so much on the Second Coming, when the big event was the 1st Coming; you were saved, redeemed, you walk in victory because of the 1st Coming. The 2nd Coming is just cleaning up the mess, so to speak. The 2nd Coming is just a chance for the fallen world to hear and respond. The Big Event event has occurred, and the Big Event is Jesus’ Incarnation; teaching; miracles; death on the cross; and resurrection from the dead. It’s already a done deal, and it’s the 1st Coming. The interregnum between the 1st Coming and the 2nd Coming (when Redemption will have been finally consummated), is an ambiguous time lapse we call the Last Days; the End Times; the Last Hour. That’s where we live, in this time frame, and the Bible admonishes us to “be ready” and “be active”. The “when” & “how” of Christ’s return are purposefully ambiguous. However, one thing is for sure; His promised 2nd Coming will come to pass. God’s promises are based on His trustworthiness (cf. 2 Sam. 7:28), and not on man’s faithfulness. Nothing can thwart the realization of God’s promises, they will surely come to pass. Delays in their fulfillment are His way to mature the believers’ faith and trust in Him and to clearly reveal Himself to later generations.
In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the apostle Paul specifically addresses a specific issue related to the 2nd Coming of Jesus and the day of the Lord. Somebody in the Thessalonian church community had been spreading wrong information in Paul’s name, saying that God’s final act of justice on human evil, the day of the Lord was upon them, and has actually returned. These people had likely been predicting dates about the end of all things, and they were frightening and confusing other Christians, and you can see why. Due to the intense persecution, they were vulnerable to somebody claiming that Jesus had already returned like a thief in the night, they’ve been left behind (cf. 2 Thess. 5:2)! Maybe He abandoned the Thesslonians to their suffering. This kind of talk really ticks Paul off. It’s misrepresenting his teaching. THE RETURN OF JESUS SHOULD NEVER INSPIRE FEAR AND CONFUSION, BUT RATHER HOPE AND CONFIDENCE. Paul reminds them of everything he taught them about Jesus’ return back when he was in Thessalonica. And he gives a short summary here, it’s actually too short. This chapter has lots of puzzles and problems of interpretation, but what’s clear is that he cites the well known theme from the prophets Isaiah and Daniel (cf. Isaiah 13-14; Daniel 7-12) that the kingdoms of this world will continue to produce rulers who rebel against God like Nebuchadnezzar or the King of the North did in the past. These leaders had exalted themselves to divine authority, and for Paul, these ancient kings and prophecies; they give us images, they set out a pattern that he saw fulfilled in his own day in the Roman emperors, Caligula and Nero. And he expected that it would be repeated again, that history would culminate with such a rebellious rule, empowered by evil itself someone who will wreak havoc and violence in God’s world, but not forever.
When Jesus returns, He will confront the rebel and all who perpetrate evil, and He will deliver His people. So Paul’s point here is not to give later readers fuel for apocalyptic prediction and speculation. Rather, he’s comforting the Thessalonians. He’s recalling the teaching of Jesus from Mark 13 who said that the events leading up to His return would be very public and obvious. so they don’t need to be scared, worried, and unsettled that they’ve been left behind, rather they need to stay faithful until Jesus returns to deliver them.
The Bible is an ancient Near Eastern book that presents truths in eastern and not western genres, and as such presents major doctrinal truths in tension-filled paradoxical (dialectical) pairs. People who are not acquainted with eastern genres practically hate dialectical tensions. We want it black or white. We want truths in “either or” categories. What cause us the greatest problem are two tensions related to the 2nd Coming. There are passages that say that Jesus can come in any moment, any moment of any day the Lord can return. But you read these passages that say there are some things that must happen first; like that the gospel be preached to all nations, a great apostasy and falling away, the revelation of the man of sin. All of these things must happen first, and yet the same time, Jesus can come any moment. Another tension that we have is the kingdom of God itself. The synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke seem to say the Kingdom is out there; it’s coming but it’s out there. John says the Kingdom of God is here; it’s near you. We’re always wondering, is it here or there? Yes it is. It’s both here but not fully consummated. All of these tensions have led to the great confusion on this whole concept of the 2nd Coming
The parable of the faithful and wise servant (cf. Matt. 24:42-51, Mark 13:34-37, and Luke 12:35-48) attempts to illumine this tension of the 2nd Coming. However, i would like to serve notice that parables, while they have been the greatest source of illumining truth, they have also been the greatest source of heresy the church has ever known. The reason for it is because, parables are extremely ambiguous exactly on what they’re trying to say. Parables are meant to open up truths to those who believe, but will confuse, close, and darken truths to unbelievers. Therefore, dogmatism is inappropriate in this area. Never build major New Testament doctrines on parables. The parable of the faithful servant tries to communicate one central truth. It’s central truth in my opinion is for a servant to be faithful to his assigned task, even though there is a long delay in the Master’s return. I must admit to you I am surprised Jesus has waited more than 2,000 years now, aren’t you? I think Paul expected Him in his lifetime. I think John expected Jesus’ return in his lifetime. I think everybody’s surprised that Jesus has tarried 2,000 years, and just like in the book of Peter, people say, “where is His coming?, “He has delayed so long, where is His coming? And the warning of this parable is, though He’s been a long time delaying His return, do not grow weary in well-doing (cf. Gal. 6:9; Matt. 10:22). HE’S COMING AGAIN. WILL HE FIND FAITH ON THE EARTH? Be faithful to your assigned task. The terrible temptation of man is to use the resources that God provides for ministry for selfish gains, as the wicked servant who beats his fellow slaves and keeps on eating and drinking with those who get drunk thinking that his Master will be gone for a long time. Little does he know his Master will come on the very day he is not expecting. Hear that? When everybody’s saying, “the Lord is coming soon”, (you can just mark it down) He’s not coming. It is going to be a real shocker. Even to those who think He might come soon are going to be surprised when He comes. I guess faithfulness is the key to this whole thing of His 2nd Coming.