“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36
September 23, 2017 has come and gone. I am in the process of writing this devotional on that day. I waited until 3pm passed in Israel just in case. No need to write a devotional if the world is ending, right? I took a long morning walk instead. Cynicism aside, what if this is the day?
If you do not know what I am talking about, another self-appointed prophet calculated that Jesus would return and the world would end on September 23, 2017. The news circulated on the internet a few weeks ago. As the date approached the prophet became a little squeamish and hedged his bet. Maybe the world wouldn’t end, but the end times would commence on that date. I guess the beginning of the end starts somewhere, but who will know? Certainly recent hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, and floods should cause us to pause.
Why 3pm? It is God’s time. It was the time of the evening sacrifice in the biblical narrative. God showed up on Mt Carmel at 3pm. Jesus cried out “It is finished” at 3pm. It is only logical that 3pm will be God’s time. But then Jesus did remind us that even he did not know the exact hour of the Father’s choosing. So, again, who can predict?
But “what if”? What if today was the last day before the return of Jesus? What if today was the last day before the day when God will call you home? And what if, each of us somehow received a vision and knew that tomorrow would be our last day. What would you do today?
That is a profound question to consider. We know two things. We know that everyone will die and so there will be a day which is the last day before our final day on earth. Secondly, none of us know with any certainty which day that will be.
How then shall we live?
Yesterday a radio entertainer posed that question to his colleagues and audience. One replied that she would binge watch the Sopranos. Another replied that he would steal the fastest and sleekest sports car in California and joy-ride. Another imagined a day of sex and alcohol. There was lots of laughter.
Then a believer called the show. He described a day like every day. He described a day of showing love to his family, loving and helping his neighbors, and quiet moments of prayer with hymns and songs of worship. He described a day of his human attempts to be like Jesus and his human shortfalls redeemed only by the grace of God.
What should today be for each believer if tomorrow was the last?
Today should be like yesterday. Yesterday should be like every yesterday that came before it. It should be a day of living like Jesus. It should be a day of loving God and loving our neighbors. It should be a day of work and worship that glorifies God. It should be a day of obedient living that models a life lived for God. It should be a day of humility, as we recognize our shortcomings and need for God’s mercy and grace.
The premise of the original question is false. It suggests that our last day on earth should somehow be different than every other day. For some, thoughts go to a final altar call of confession. For others, thoughts turn to a day of debauchery to soak in as many of the world’s pleasures as possible.
For believers the thought of the last day before our final day should be nothing different. Today is like yesterday and tomorrow. If we live each day for Jesus, why would the last day be any different? why would plans for tomorrow be different than today? If we don’t, then the change should come now and not later anyway.
In our western world, eternal life is usually equated with the afterlife. Eternal life comes after death, when we are welcomed into God’s eternal presence.
To the easterner, eternal life is much more than that. Eternal life begins when the people of God bring his kingdom to the broken world right now. It comes when believers are the agents of God who bring order to the chaos which resulted from sin.
Jesus said that the kingdom is near. It is present. It is just waiting to be revealed. It is revealed when believers are the hands and feet of Jesus. “Your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
On earth! Right here! Right now! Live it! Be it! Do it! When we do, each day will be lived as God intends. Each day will be like the last day before the final day.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services