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What Is Expected

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Many events and things were often expected in Biblical times. For example, the Psalmist prayed to the Lord expecting his prayers to be answered:

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my sighing.

Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray. (Ps. 5:1-2)1

His expectation came from being truly devoted to God. Moreover, it was being asked of the Lord so much that he ends his psalm on a positive note:

For truly, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Ps. 5:13)

As Van Gemeren points out “The grand conclusion deals graciously with the righteous”.2

Similarly, in the New Testament Paul expresses his hopes and plans for visiting the Philippians, first having thanked them for the increasingly and hopefully effective prayers for him. Despite being in prison, he goes on to say:

For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:19-21).

Nevertheless, Paul remained confidently and gratefully thankful to the Lord and expressed his assurance that he was fully trusting in Him. As O’Brien remarks, “He hopes with full courage to bear faithful witness to his Lord so that he will be honored whether Paul lives or dies.”3

Interestingly enough, at times Paul employs his expectations in a contrasting fashion. Thus, in his communication with the Corinthians, he first issued positive praise for some of the members because they exceeded his expectations of their help: “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (II Cor. 8:5). He later points out that he expected to have to deal boldly with some of the Corinthians: “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of the world” (II Cor. 10:2; cf. vv. 3-6). Accordingly, Hodge suggests that “Paul had determined, if forced to it, to set his opponents at defiance and to act with utter disregard of all they could say or do.”4 Murray J. Harris suggests that although Paul wished to avoid personal boldness, yet “he indicates his total readiness to exercise his apostolic authority, whatever the outcome, if the Corinthians do not repudiate his calumniators and mend their ways.”5

On a more promising note, Paul reminds the Roman Christians that the Lord himself provides an assurance that despite whatever struggles and difficulties believers may face in this life, “The sufferings endured in this life are light indeed, compared with the splendor of the life to come – a life undisturbed by anything hostile or hurtful.”6 Yes, all creation waits expectantly for Christ’s return. If creation itself does so, how much more should believers! Nevertheless, believers should not expect that they themselves have the final answer as to when Christ is coming, for the decision is God the Father’s (Luke 12:40). Indeed, although Christians may be watching eagerly for the Lord’s return, it may well come when least expected (cf. v. 46). In so doing, they may well emulate what some crowds eagerly expected – to see Christ and worship in his presence (cf. Luke 8:40).7

The important thing is that as believers we do expect Christ’s certain return and therefore look forward to an everlasting life with Him in Heaven’s glory. Truly Heaven is a real place as the Scriptures say, for God himself dwells there. It is of personal interest to note that when my son-in-law was at death’s door, he said to me, “I have been to heaven – it’s a beautiful place!”

As Charles H. Gabriel writes:

When by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face
Will through the ages be glory for me.8

1 All scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms”, The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 5:118).

3 Peter T. O’Brien, “Commentary of Philippians”, New International Greek Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 112.

4 Charles Hodge, “An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians”, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, n.d.), 231.

5 Murray J. Harris, “II Corinthians,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds., Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 11:513.

6 Everett F. Harrison and Donald A. Hagner, “Romans,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2008) 11:137.

7 For a full discussion concerning this and Jesus’ parables, see I. Howard Marshall, “Commentary on Luke”, New International Greek Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 522-545.  For an interesting discussion of parables see John MacArthur, Parables, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2015).

8 Charles H. Gabriel, ‘O That Will Be Glory”.  For further discussion of Heaven see Randy Alcorn, Heaven, (Carol Stream, Il., Tyndale House, n.d.)

Related Topics: Christian Life, Devotionals

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