Getting back to my reactions
My first reaction to reading a verse like 1 John 2:18 is to get all fussy about how it was not the last hour. I get right up on my Revelation-high-horse and say, “Well, John, A.D. 100 was just a bit shy of 2,000 years ago, and Jesus has not yet returned in his glory. So, your hopes fell short, and my hopes should not be too grand for his return in my life either.” Of course inside all of this is an expectation that he will return, but one infused with a “probably not soon.”
Some of you will have the same view I do. Others will be a bit taken aback at the cynical sound of it all. No matter. We each are at different places in our spiritual walks. I have grown up in a church era that followed on the 1947 resurrection of the nation of Israel; one that fed me a constant diet of “Jesus is coming soon because of, etc., etc., etc.” So many predictions fell apart that I now look dimly on any such grand statements.
So what do we make of what Jesus and John said? Jesus indicated that after him there will be no more Messiah’s to arrive, but that many would come giving such a claim. The best way to interpret last hour is to consider the church age as that final pre-eternity age. In the era of Jesus Christ, others did come claiming to be the savior of the Jewish nation. Their misadventures were swatted down by the Roman military; nothing came of it. Even in 1947, it took the work of the United Nations to give land to the Jews, not some robust military figure.
John is saying, “I remember what Jesus said about the end of things, and when I see those who have come doing just what Jesus told me would happen, I know we are in this last time.” John did not doubt Jesus, but some of his readers would. Here is how he ties a set of these things together as an encouragement.
A personal experience
The Department of Ophthalmology at Augusta University has seen the chairman do great things. In the time he has had with our group we have come to know his way of approaching things. They are ethical, benevolent, and forward-looking. One time he made a great pronouncement that stirred the pot. The faculty had meetings. Other staff had meetings. Questions were posed and solutions proposed. Then the chair did not want to meet with the faculty to hear their perspective. What!? Declarations were made of how he had changed, etc. Through the information mill, it became “he will not meet with us.”
Do you know what happened? He met with us. He said [yeah, this is a paraphrase], “You know, I saw some writing on the wall that is going to be a big problem for the department. It is going to throw a lot of inconvenience into your lives, our lives. That is why I have proceeded the way that I have.”
You know what happened then? Relief. Satisfaction. Confidence. See he never changed. His position may have shifted and his ability to be among us day in and day out is different. He benevolence, his interest, his outlook is still in place and in play, however.
While letting my eyes gaze across these waters I found my thoughts tying it right back into how God works with us. He says a lot of things, and they always pan out. He may look like he has gone off in some strange direction and his hand and his heart may go fuzzy and dim. He has not changed, though. Isn’t it so much the better to wait and see? How about believe? Trust? Have faith? That is how we stay away from being “so dull.”