Lesson 10

Hope and "The Delay": Part 2

(Hebrews 4, 2 Peter 3, Mark 13)
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Introduction: An old saying of lawyers goes something like this: "My dog didn't bite you, my dog doesn't bite, I don't own a dog." Our lesson this week sounds a little like this old saying. "Jesus' Second Coming is delayed because we are not ready. Jesus' Second Coming is delayed to allow more to be saved. There is no delay in the Second Coming." Let's jump into the Bible and see if we can get our thoughts about "the delay" and Jesus' Second Coming straightened out.

  1. The Delay: Our Fault?

    1. Read Hebrews 3:7-11. This text recalls the Exodus of God's people from Egypt to Canaan (the Promised Land"). Why did God's people suffer both delay and a failure to enter the Promised Land? (They rebelled against God and He refused to allow them to enter.)

    2. Read Hebrews 4:1-2. What is the lesson we should learn from the Exodus experience? (Not to make the same mistake of rebelling against God. We need to combine the gospel message with faith.)

    3. Our lesson (Wednesday)draws a direct parallel between the failure of God's people to enter the Promised Land and our failure to enter heaven before this. Do you agree that Jesus' Second Coming has been delayed because of our unfaithfulness?

      1. How about the unfaithfulness of other people?

      2. How does this concept of our unfaithfulness delaying the Second Coming fit into the parable of the Ten Virgins that we studied last week?

        1. Was the Bridegroom delayed because the virgins slept?

        2. Was the Bridegroom delayed because of the amount of oil carried by the virgins?

      3. Read Hebrews 4:3. Is entering into heaven the "rest" that parallels entering into the Promised Land? (No. This is talking about the "rest" of salvation. Accepting the gospel message in faith results in the "rest" of salvation.)

    4. Read Hebrews 4:8-11. What is the "Sabbath-rest?" Is it different than the "rest" we have been discussing?

      1. What "Sabbath-rest" do we look forward to which parallels the "rest" given by Joshua? (Although I have commonly compared the Exodus from Egypt with the Christian's journey to heaven, the Biblical basis for arguing the delay in Jesus' Second Coming parallels the delay in entering the Promised Land is not very strong. It seems the argument is the strongest when based on the text we just read. The only "rest" Joshua gave them was to enter the Promised Land. Since we can presently be saved, the (v.9) remaining "Sabbath-rest" for God's people, would logically refer to heaven. If it did not refer to heaven, what "rest" would remain for the righteous? Having said that, the text still does not suggest that our entering into the "Sabbath rest" is somehow delayed by the sins of others.)

  2. The Delay: For Our Benefit?

    1. Read 2 Peter 3:3-4. Are these people complaining about the delay in Jesus' Second Coming? (No. They argue the delay means that the Second Coming is not coming.)

    2. Read 2 Peter 3:8-9. What reason(s) does Peter give for the delay? (Peter gives two reasons. First, he says God uses a different clock. Second, he says God is waiting for everyone to repent.)

      1. If you were waiting for everyone to repent, how long would you logically wait? (It would seem about 70 years would be the maximum wait - otherwise, everyone alive at that time would be dead.)

        1. Are you glad Jesus' Second Coming did not occur before you were born?

      2. Read 2 Peter 3:15. What do you think this means? How can patience = salvation?

        1. Is this saying the same thing as 2 Peter 3:9?

          1. If so, does this thinking also justify only a wait of 70 years?

    3. Let's leave to one side the idea of God using a different clock than we do. The other two ideas we discussed are whether our sins delay Jesus' Second Coming and whether Jesus delays His Second Coming so that more can be saved. Are these two ideas similar? Are they the same?

      1. If God is waiting to come because of our sins, doesn't that assume that the wait makes a difference?

      2. Did the wait in the Exodus make a difference to those who were disobedient? (No. None entered the Promised Land. They all died. Dying in the desert during the delay was simply a judgment on the wicked. It was not a delay intended to convert anyone. Therefore, if the Exodus is a valid parallel, I do not think these two explanations for the delay are the same.)

      3. Why do you think Jesus waited so long to come the first time? (It may have something to do with the circumstances of the world making easier the communication of new ideas.)


      1. Is the ease of modern communications related to the delay in Jesus' Second Coming? (Perhaps this illuminates the idea of delay helping to save more people. As world communication becomes easier and more efficient, a greater percentage of the world's population can hear the gospel. This fits with Matthew 24:14.)

  1. What Delay?

    1. Look at 2 Peter 3:8 again so we can take up this "God's clock" issue. What do you think this equation about time means: 1,000 years = 1 day; 1 day = 1,000 years in God's time?

      1. Does it literally mean that for God 1,000 years seems like a day?

      2. Does it also mean just the reverse, that for God one day seems like a 1,000 years?

      3. If it means both, then is God really late in his delay? (The only reasonable interpretation is that God is beyond time. Our lesson points to Einstein's theory that time is relative. He also had the theory that time is curved by mass. If time is curved like the letter "C", this opens up the concept of God moving between time. He can be anywhere at anytime. For someone like that, there is no time and no delay.)

    2. Read Matthew 24:3,36,42. Who knows the time of the Second Coming? (Only God the Father.)

    3. Read Mark 13:32-37. What is the solution to the fact that only the Father in Heaven knows the time of the Second Coming? (Be ready at all times.)

    4. If only God the Father knows the time of the Second Coming, would we know if there was a delay?

      1. Can there be a delay when no time for arrival has been published?

      2. If no time for arrival has been published, can anyone say with certainty that the arrival time has been delayed because of our sins or God's patience?

    5. After considering the Bible texts, how do you vote:

      1. Jesus' Second Coming has been delayed because we are not ready.

      2. Jesus' Second Coming has been delayed because He is waiting to save more people.

      3. Jesus' Second Coming is not delayed.

(These texts seem to clearly teach that there is no delay in Jesus' Second Coming. Even if there were a delay, we would never know it.)

    1. Read Revelation 14:6-7. Is this message consistent with the idea of not knowing the time of the Second Coming?

      1. How can we deliver a message about an "hour" when we have no clue about the time of the Second Coming?

      2. Notice verse 6 again. It says this warning about "the hour" is the "eternal" gospel. Is this a contradiction? (If you say something will happen "this hour" this gives urgency to the message. However, if the "this hour" message is eternally appropriate, this simply reduces the message to the earlier texts we read (for example Mark 13:33-36) about watching and being ready at all times.)

    2. Friend, if you want to go to heaven with Jesus at His Second Coming, the only solution to the uncertainty of the timing is to be ready at all times. Will you commit to that?

  1. Next Week: Too Rich to Hope?

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