The most important event in Christianity is undoubtedly the Second Coming. Without the promise of an afterlife, where we can blissfully exist in a realm without sin or evil if we live according to certain rules, and the fear of burning in hell for an eternity if we don’t, I do not believe that Christianity would have survived as long as it has. We all fear death. We all dread the idea of burning in hell for an eternity. The Second Coming offers a very attractive way around both these horrors. But how genuine is this promise of the Second Coming and the afterlife? Are we being misled by the church? Either I am missing something or something is horribly wrong somewhere.
I have been a Christian for most of my life and one of the verses that has been the focal point of many a church sermon that I have attended was the one that states that nobody but God knows the day and the hour of the Second Coming. We are told to be prepared at all times because the Lord will come unexpectedly, as a thief in the night.
Matthew 24:36:“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Also Mark 25:13)
I cannot, however, recall a single church sermon that I have attended where Matthew 24:34 (a mere two verses before the above) was mentioned, let alone addressed.
Mark 24:34: “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Also Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32)
Jesus explicitly says that it was going to happen within that specific generation. Read the two verses together in context and it is very clear that it means that God alone knows the day and the hour, but that specific day and hour was to occur within that generation. After repeatedly questioning the clerics about this, the most common answer was that it would depend on one’s definition of a generation. A generation to Jesus may not be what we understand a generation to be. In most cases, they would then quote some vague so-called prophecies to justify their explanation.
I would then remind them of Matthew 16:28 (Also Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27) where Jesus very clearly states that it will happen in the lifetime of some of those present where he made the statement.
Matthew 16:28: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
How can this possibly mean anything other than that the second coming was supposed to have happened within the lifetimes of some of those present at the time? You will be amazed at how many ‘prophecies’ were conjured up and Bible verses were twisted in some of the explanations I received.
In Matthew 10:23 we read that Jesus sends his disciples off to go and preach in the cities of Israel, but tells them to hurry because the Son of Man will come before they had time to visit all the cities.
Matthew 10:23: “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
From the above I believe that it is safe to assume that the Second Coming was supposed to have happened in the first century. Fact is it did not.
A very clear indication that things did not turn out as expected is in 2 Peter 3 where we read how Peter tries to give an explanation why Jesus did not come as expected. I almost feel sorry the man for his desperate back-pedalling attempt at trying to justify why the Second Coming never happened:
2 Peter 3:3-9
New International Version (NIV)
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. ……………………… (Peter at least admits that the second coming was expected to have happened within the lifetimes of some present in Matthew 16:28)
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 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.
A day with the lord is like a thousand years… Where does he get that from? The Lord never said such a thing. He is blatantly making it up in an attempt to keep the promise alive.
But did Jesus say anything about how he experiences a day anywhere in the Bible? Indeed he did:
John 11:9: Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
So much for Peter’s explanation.
Think for yourself. What carries more weight – a subjective interpretation of Old Testament texts and prophecies and vague, abstract explanations from the clergy or the actual verbatim word of Jesus? Why should I believe that Jesus did not really mean what he said in these verses, but that he actually meant something else as the Church would like us to believe?
So does this mean that the church is misleading its followers? Well, they are either misleading them or they are missing the meaning of the verses that I have quoted, which is highly unlikely.
Why would the Church want to keep a false promise alive? What do they stand to gain from it? The answer is simple. Everything! If the Church were to make an announcement today that the Second Coming has not happened as promised and is probably never going to happen, it might as well close its doors. Such an announcement would render the Church obsolete, because that would mean the end of faith. The Church, which is a multi billion rand industry, would collapse.
God is omnipotent, omniscient, etc. He can do anything, see anything and knows everything. Yet there seems to be a creation of His over which he does not seem to have much control - Satan. For many years I have wondered why God in His omnipotence cannot simply defeat this Boogey Man and get it over and done with. Would this not be the end of all evil? I believe it would. But religion is fear driven. Removing Satan will mean removing the fear factor. I believe that Christianity needs Satan as much as it needs God in order to exist. They simply cannot afford that God defeats Satan. An end to the struggle between Good and Evil will mean the end of the role of the Church. As a result 1) the promise of the Second Coming and 2) Satan must be kept very much alive at all cost.