History is not an endless succession of meaningless circles, but a directed movement toward a great event. God has a timeline. And, because of Bethlehem, we know where we stand on it.
The next great event is the Second Coming. There will be a sudden, personal, visible, bodily return of Christ. Jesus said: “I will come again” (Jn. 14:3). The author of Hebrews declared: “Christ will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting on him” (Heb. 9:28).
As Christ came, he will come. But he won’t come as he came.
He came quietly in Bethlehem. He will return in glory with a shout. “All who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out” (Jn. 5:28).
In Bethlehem, the just-born Jesus slept. Upon his return, “The Lord will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thess. 4:16).
At the first coming, few people noticed. At his second, “All the nations of the world will be gathered before him” (Mt. 25:32).
In Bethlehem, Joseph placed Jesus in a manger. At his return, Jesus will be seated on a throne: “The Son of Man will come in great glory, with all his angels. He will be king and sit on his great throne” (Mt. 25:31).
This Christmas, enjoy the fruit of the first coming, but anticipate the glory of the second. We live between the advents. Let the first one whet your appetite for the final one.
“What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns” (2 Pet. 3:13).
copyright Max Lucado, December 2014