“The Kingdom of God is among you.” These are the words of Jesus. He spoke them nearly two-thousand years ago (Luke 17:21). The Apostle Peter predicted that many would start to wonder about Jesus’s promise to return – “They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation (2 Peter 3:4).”” Today, some hold that Jesus’s death was personally tragic. Why? He had believed that HE was instrumental in bringing about a new creation, but his cry of dereliction “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” was an epiphany that his belief was not true – hence, personally tragic.
Liberal Christianity would say the entire NT corpus had ‘misjudged’ things (including Jesus); some now even deny Jesus’s second return. What are we to make of this? I think the text presents three types of delay, and we need ALL of them to truly understand:
1) Chronological (simple reading-not wrong per se just incomplete)
2) Maturational (things need to mature to completeness)
3) Theological (there are ‘reasons’ for His delay)
Interestingly, Peter did not just say, “Hang on…He’s coming soon!” He gave a theological explanation – THE DELAY is because of his mercy, forbearance, goodness, kindness and ‘his desire’ to SAVE! If we are going to let the text speak, then we must follow Peter’s path; we must see the deeper logic of his delay.
What will the delay look like? That depends a lot on one’s eschatology, e.g., postmillennialists will see things eventually improving, but most predict decline and apostasy (Jewish conversion too?). One thing for sure: All agree the church will undergo persecution. It has been designed for her to suffer. God’s reign will often look like defeat (just like the cross), and in this paradox, Christ rules and reigns!