By Dr. Roger Barrier, Crosswalk.com
Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet? I see so much sorrow and suffering in our world. I see so many people rejecting Him. And when I compare that with all the Scriptures where Jesus promises to return, I just don’t understand why He is waiting so long. Can you help me?
From the very beginning, Jesus knew that He would fulfill the calling God had given Him to die in our place, paying the price for our sins. He also knew that He would return; His “Second Coming,” to reign over a new heaven and a new earth.
The apostle John wrote about that moment in Revelation 20:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. … His name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. … on His robe and on His thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
However, Jesus never told us exactly when He would come.
Jesus knew what would happen, but even He didn’t know when. In Matthew 24:36, He proclaimed, “About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the father.”
But over and over again, He reassured us that He would come; “You will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
We can count on His promise… however, we won’t know the exact time either. He commands us to “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).
So, we can be certain that Jesus will return. But what’s taking him so long?
Let me give you some reasons why Jesus has not come back yet.
1. He is waiting to give as many people as possible a chance to repent and turn to him.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)
There is a precedent for this kind of delay. God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell. He is a God of love. In fact, God gave Noah 120 years to build the ark, hoping against hope that many might repent and clean up their lives.
It is sad to say, but during these times of postponement very few change their minds and repent.
For example, the apostle John revealed what will happen in the future in Revelation 9:20-21:
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murderers or of their sorceries or their immoralities or their thefts.
2. He is waiting until there are not enough Christians left to hold back the evil in the world.
Speaking to his followers, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, it is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)
Jesus is using an analogy here. Unfortunately, good salt would become diluted and lose its usefulness as it mixed with dirt in the unsanitary conditions of the first-century world. There would come a time when so much dirt mixed with the salt that the mixture would no longer be good for anything.
When the number of well-salted Christians declines to the point where the world is no longer impacted by their presence, Jesus says, “Throw it out!” Jesus will then return.
3. He is waiting until whoever or whatever is holding back the “man of lawlessness” releases him.
“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [the second coming] will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
“And now you know what is holding him back, so that the man of lawlessness may be revealed at the proper time.” (2 Thessalonians 2:6)
In 2 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul is teaching about the Antichrist, using the term “man of lawlessness.” Note that his writings match John’s vision of the Antichrist in Revelation.
The “man of lawlessness” will come, he will be a portent of the end, he will precede Jesus’ Second Coming … but we do not know who or what is holding back the unveiling of the man of lawlessness.
Whatever it is, Jesus will not come back until the man of lawlessness is unmasked.
Many surmise that what holds the man of lawlessness back is the Holy Spirit. If that is the case, as soon as the Holy Spirit allows the Antichrist to act, Jesus will return.
4. He must first fulfill all of his prophesied responsibilities.
The Second Coming will occur at the end of the seven-year Great Tribulation. The seals have been opened, the trumpets have been blown, and the bowls of wrath have been poured out.
Now, occurs the battle of Armageddon.
The apostle John, watching from his God-given vantage point, declared, “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ And the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:15-16).
At the Second Coming, hostile nations will gather at Armageddon to war against each other (Zechariah 14:2). Christ then returns and stands on the Mount of Olives. These enemy nations will recognize King Jesus as their real adversary. They join forces … and they don’t have a chance.
Jesus is now free to commence his post-Second Coming responsibilities, from the judgment of Satan and his armies to the day when the old earth passes away and the new heaven and earth come to be (read Revelation chapters 20 and 21).
By the way, the prophet Zechariah prophesied that at the Second Coming, Jesus will return with nail prints in his hands, feet, and side. The Jews will weep as they look upon the one whom they pierced and realize that they had crucified their Messiah.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child.” (Zechariah 12:10)
You asked the question, “Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet?”
Now, we know why.
By the way, the rapture is not the second coming.
It’s all right to pray for the rapture to occur, when Jesus will come in the air and “we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Those who have chosen to follow Christ at that time—dead or alive—will be taken up into heaven. But Jesus will NOT come back to earth at that time.
In conclusion, we would do well to emulate the words of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer while we wait: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Let’s join Jesus to pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth!
I hope this helps.
Photo Credit: ©Getty/WestEnd61
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his 35-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Editor's Note: This Ask Roger article features insights from Roger's daughter, Brie Barrier Wetherbee, a sought-after Bible teacher and conference speaker, author, analyst, and Christian theologian.
Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].