30th July 2020

Coronavirus: Love Not Dates

“Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.’”
Acts 1:6-7 (NIV)

Millions of people around the world were dying. It was on the front page of every newspaper. Everyone had either been personally affected or knew someone who had. The virus was turning people’s lives upside down. Christians could be forgiven for thinking the events of the previous few years must surely indicate the return of Jesus Christ and the fulfilment of his kingdom were imminent. This could be today’s news, but it was in fact 1918, when the Spanish ’flu epidemic was killing far more people than the First World War that preceded it.

102 years later the world is again faced with a deadly virus and a global pandemic. For most of us there’s been nothing like it in living memory. Coupled with political changes in Europe and around the world, it can be all too easy to draw the conclusion that events we experience are fulfilments of Biblical prophecy and even that ‘the end of the world is nigh.’ Perhaps. But people throughout history have wrongly assumed that the major events of their time prefaced the final stages of this age on earth; from those in the early church who thought Christ would return in their own lifetime or lived through the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD; through outbreaks of the Black Death or Plague in the 14th to 19th Centuries; to wars and terrorist attacks in recent decades. Christians living around both 1000 and 2000 AD thought theirs would be the final generation. Those who witnessed the rise and fall of empires, or the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, or recent outbreaks of Ebola in Africa, have all seriously considered this might be the time. Yet, as we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

Jesus had a very clear answer to this: “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains…But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:6-8, 36). Even when we experience these events first hand we cannot presume to know when Christ will return.

Of course we hope that day will come quickly, and can pray fervently, “Thy kingdom come.” But in the time we have now where should our focus be? Jesus’ instruction immediately after the header scripture was to witness of Jesus to all the world, empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). In John 9:4 he said as long as it is day, we must do the works of God who sent him. Until Jesus comes again we are to bring the good news of his love, compassion and salvation to others, allowing him to meet their needs as he dwells in us.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help us not to be unduly concerned by current events or preoccupied with times and dates, but rather guide us through your Spirit to witness and serve others in the love of Jesus. In his name we pray.
Amen

Study by Simon Williams

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About the Author:
Simon Williams is active in the Cambridge Congregation of the Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Cambridgeshire
Farcet Village Hall
Main Street
Farcet
Peterborough
PE7 3AN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Except on the first Saturday of each month 2:00 pm at Comberton, Cambridge

Comberton Village Hall
Green End
Comberton
CAMBRIDGE
CB23 7DY

Local Congregational Contact:
Richard Dempsey

Email:  richard.dempsey@btinternet.com

Telephone: 01858 437099

Local church website: www.cambridgeshirechurch.org.uk

 

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Comments

One Response to “30th July 2020”

  1. John Rodgers on July 30th, 2020 1:26 pm

    Hello Simon
    Thank you for your day by day article. Your header scripture seems to be misunderstood. The disciples were not asking Jesus when he was going to return because during his ministry they expected him to defeat the Romans and restore the kingdom of Judah to the control of Judah. Now they were asking when it would happen.
    It was only when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost that they fully understood. They realised that the Kingdom was a future event. There task was to start the Church age which we are now in.
    The church age will not go on forever. The land of Judah was restored to them in 1948 when Israel was declared a nation. It is to this Kingdom that Jesus will return. We need to understand all the bible and every word of God to fully understand prophecy. I cannot explain it to you in this comment but if you want to know more my email is on here. You need to know much more about what is written in the bible and then you can make your mind up. I am not talking about prediction, but to understand the meaning of what is written. The book of Revelation is declared a blessing when we read it and it is all explained on the Old Testament. John

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