Why has Christ not yet returned? What is God waiting for?

Purpose

About 2000 years ago, Christ redeemed humanity at the Cross. We must assume that God will not allow evil to exist for a second longer than required. So, why has God allowed sin and suffering to continue for another 2000 years? Why does God delay Christ’s return? What else does God need, in addition to Christ’s death, to make a final end of evil?

To an extent, this article is the end result of the series of articles on the seven seals (4:1-8:1).


Summary

The Answer

The vision of the sealed book (cf. Rev 5:1) provides the answer. In this vision, God is delaying Christ’s return until Jesus has broken all seven seals. But, what does that mean?

What is the Sealed Book?

The sealed book has been interpreted as the book of life, which contains God’s judgments as to who will receive eternal life (cf. Rev 3:5).

Satan is the accuser of God’s elect (Rev 12:10). The seven seals with which the book is sealed up are interpreted as Satan’s accusations against the people identified in the book of life.

Breaking the seals would then mean providing the evidence required to refute Satan’s accusations of unfair judgment.

In Revelation 5:1-4, no one “was able to open the book” (Rev 5:3), meaning that nobody was able to refute Satan’s accusations fully and show that God’s judgments are perfect. This, therefore, is a crisis IN HEAVEN: The heavenly beings do not understand!

When are the seals broken?

But the next verse announces that Jesus has overcome so as to open the book (Rev 5:5-6). Then the beings in heaven declared Him “worthy” to break the seals because He was “slain” (Rev 5:9).

Since He receives the book while appearing as a slain lamb (Rev 5:5-7), another article concluded that He received the book at His ascension.

Since the sixth and seventh seals describe the final events of the earth’s history (cf. Rev 6:12-14), the seals are broken over the ENTIRE church age.

Why Jesus had to Die

The CrossSo, why was the Son not “worthy” to break the seals before He died? And how did His death make Him “worthy?” The article – In the book of Revelation, why Jesus had to die – explains:

Before Christ was born, Satan also accused the Son of God, saying that the Son, given the right circumstances, would also sin.

In response, the Son of God, by becoming a human being, submitted himself to a test. Satan tempted Him to the fullest extent possible, but Jesus overcame by remaining obedient to God to the end. In this way, He demonstrated Himself to be “worthy” to break the seals.

As a result, Christ received the book with the authority to open it (Rev 5:7, 9). 

But Christ’s victory over sin did not resolve the crisis. The book remained sealed, meaning that Christ’s death did NOT provide the evidence required to refute Satan’s objections to God’s judgments.

How will Satan be refuted?

The question then is, WHAT evidence is required to finally refute Satan’s charges and HOW will that evidence be obtained? We learn the answers to these questions by noting what happens when Jesus breaks the seals:

1) Through Events on Earth

Each time that Jesus breaks a seal, a catastrophic event occurs on earth (Rev 6). By implication, that Jesus breaks the seals symbolizes that He directs events on earth to obtain the required evidence to refute Satan’s objections THROUGH events on earth.

2) Through God’s People

When the seals are broken, the focus is on God’s people. For example:

The first five seals describe THE CHURCH AGE. In summary, God’s people will preach the gospel but they will be “slain because of the word of God” (Rev 6:9).

Revelation 7:1-8 describes THE PREPARATION FOR THE END-TIME. At that time, God’s people will be sealed with the seal of God (Rev 7:1-3) to empower them to remain faithful during the seven last plagues.

This emphasis on God’s people implies that Jesus obtains the evidence through God’s people.

3) Through their Faithfulness

Specifically, when the seals are broken, the point is not merely to say that God’s people will suffer but, much more important, that THEY WILL REMAIN FAITHFUL to God (Rev 6:9, 11; 7:3, 14). The evidence required to refute Satan, therefore, is that God’s people will testify for Him in the face of danger, “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:11; cf. 2:10).

Job may serve as an illustration of how God’s people will validate God’s judgments. God gave Satan permission to test Job (Job 2:6). Satan killed Job’s children, destroyed his property, and afflicted Job with horrible sores. “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:22).

4) Through the Seven Last Plagues

God’s people are sealed with God’s seal for when “the four winds” will be released (Rev 7:1-3). These “winds” have been interpreted as the seven last plagues. Another article concluded that God’s people will receive God’s seal (Rev 7:3) to protect them DURING THOSE PLAGUES. Therefore, the seven last plagues will be the final and ultimate test of God’s people.

The seal of God, which only end-time believers will receive, but which ALL end-time believers must receive (Rev 7:3), will equip them with every spiritual power available to humans (cf. Eph 6:10-11). But God will also allow Satan the full use of his satanic powers (Rev 16:14) to persecute and deceive. Amid the plagues, God’s people are called to keep their clothes and “not walk about naked” (Rev 16:15), meaning to remain faithful to God (cf. Rev 3:18; 6:11; 7:14). The seven last plagues, therefore, will be intense spiritual warfare.

The obedience of God’s people will be tested by the most severe temptations and circumstances. By choosing death rather than going against God’s laws, God’s end-time people, as a representative sample of God’s elect of all time, must show that the people identified in the book of life will not surrender God’s principles. In this way, they must refute Satan’s accusations against God’s elect and validate God’s decision to grant eternal life to these sinners.

Satan’s followers will also be tested and revealed by the seven last plagues. The frequent mention in the plagues that the worshipers of the beast do not repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21), implies that the purpose of the plagues is ALSO to show that the people with the mark of the beast will not repent under any circumstances; that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

In this way, the deeds of people during the seven last plagues will reveal to the heavenly beings that which the Almighty is already able to see in the hearts of people, and on which He based His judgments. This will be the final evidence required to assure the heavenly beings that God’s judgments are perfect. Then Christ will return (Rev 19:11) and implement God’s judgments (Rev 19:21; 20:4).

Redemption

These tests of God’s judgments must not be confused with how God redeems people. These seal-events will serve as tests of the perfection of God’s judgments of ALL people that lived EVER since Adam. God’s end-time people, therefore, will not suffer and die for themselves but for God’s people in all generations. How individuals are saved is something very different.

Why does God Delay?

But we must also ask: Why does it take such a long time?

Another article argues that the sealing of God’s end-time people (Rev 7:1-3) is another description of the ‘completion’ of God’s people as described in the fifth seal. Both describe the preparation of God’s people for the seven last plagues. Both show that God has not yet brought the seven last plagues on the world because His people are not ready. He is waiting for a people who will remain faithful to Him throughout the tremendous suffering and temptations of that time (Rev 7:1-3; 6:11).

Sealed through Persecution

But will God EVER have a people who will be able to stand? As another article concludes, God’s people will be sealed THROUGH the end-time persecution (Rev 13:15-17). In other words, eventually, to have a people who will be able to remain faithful throughout the seven last plagues, God will have to allow the beast to be resurrected (Rev 13:3), followed by that severe end-time persecution of His people. THROUGH that persecution, they will be refined, as “gold refined by fire” (Rev 3:18). THROUGH that persecution, God will give to them the seal of the living God (Rev 7:2). Once they are all sealed, the seven last plagues will be poured out.

– End of Summary – 


The Answer

Preachers seldomly explain why Christ has not returned yet but it probably is the main message of the vision of the sealed book (cf. Rev 5:1). In this vision, God is delaying Christ’s return until Jesus has broken all seven seals.

To understand what this means, we must note what happens when Jesus breaks the seals:

What is the Sealed Book?

The sealed book has been interpreted as the book of life, which contains God’s judgments as to who will receive eternal life (cf. Rev 3:5). As it excludes all other people, we may refer to it as the book of God’s judgments.

Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). In other words, he specifically accuses God’s elect. He claims that they do NOT deserve eternal life. The seven seals with which the book is sealed up, therefore, are interpreted as Satan’s informed and well-articulated accusations against the people identified in the book of life.

By rejecting God’s assessment or judgment of His elect, Satan actually accuses God of unfair judgment. To defend himself against God’s condemnation, Satan wants to show that God’s judgments are flawed.

Breaking the seals means providing the evidence required to refute Satan’s accusations of unfair judgment; particularly his objections to God’s selective mercy for only some sinners.

In Revelation 5:1-4, no one “was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3), meaning that nobody was able to refute Satan’s accusations fully and show that God’s judgments are perfect. This, therefore, is a crisis IN HEAVEN: The heavenly beings do not understand!

When are the seals broken?

But the next verse announces that Jesus has overcome to open the book (Rev 5:5-6). And the beings in heaven declared Him “worthy” to break the seals because He was “slain” (Rev 5:9).

Since He receives the book while appearing as a slain lamb (Rev 5:5-7), another article concluded that He received the book as a consequence of AND SOON after His death, namely, at His ascension.

Since the sixth and seventh seals describe the final events of the earth’s history (cf. Rev 6:12-14), the seals are broken over the ENTIRE church age.

Why Jesus had to Die

So, why was the Son not “worthy” to break the seals before He died? And how did His death make Him “worthy?” The article – Why Jesus had to die – explains:

Before He became a human being, the Son of God defended God’s people and God’s judgments. However, Satan also accused the Son of God personally, saying that the Son, given the right circumstances, would also sin (disobey God). Consequently, Satan argued that the Son is not “worthy” to defend the sinners God elected to eternal life.

In response, the unique Son of God, by becoming a human being, submitted himself to a test. Satan tortured Him to death and tempted Him to the fullest extent possible, but Jesus overcame by remaining obedient to God to the end. He never used His powers to save Himself from pain or to glorify Himself contrary to God’s will. In this way, He demonstrated Himself to be “worthy” to break the seals, meaning, to provide evidence to refute Satan’s accusations.

As a result, the sorrow in heaven turned to joy (Rev 5:4-5) and Christ received the book with the authority to open it (Rev 5:7, 9).

However, Christ’s victory over sin was not the final solution of the crisis, for the book remained sealed, meaning that Christ’s death did NOT provide the evidence required to refute Satan’s objections to God’s judgments.

How will Satan be refuted?

 The questions then are:

      • WHAT evidence is required to finally refute Satan’s charges and to convince the heavenly beings that God’s judgments are perfect?
      • HOW will that evidence be obtained?

We gain answers to these questions when we note what happens when Jesus breaks the seals:

1) Through Events on Earth

Each time that Jesus breaks a seal, a catastrophic event occurs on earth (Rev 6). By implication, that Jesus breaks the seals symbolizes that He directs events on earth to obtain the required evidence to refute Satan’s objections THROUGH events on earth.

2) Over the Church Age

Since He began to break the seals after His ascension and since the sixth and seventh seals describe the final events of the earth’s history (cf. Rev 6:12-14), the evidence will be obtained over the ENTIRE church age.

Christ’s return and the implementation of God’s judgments (Rev 19:21; 20:4) are delayed until ALL seven seals have been broken, meaning that the intelligent beings have FULL assurance of the perfection of God’s judgments – why eternal life is granted to the people identified in the book of life and why all other people are “thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

In other words, Jesus did not return yet because there is some evidence outstanding to fully validate God’s judgments!

3) Through God’s People

The seals divide the history after Christ into three phases and, in each of them, the focus is on God’s people:

During THE CHURCH AGE, as described by the first five seals, God’s people will preach the gospel but they will be “slain because of the word of God” (Rev 6:9).

During THE PREPARATION FOR THE END-TIME, God’s people will be sealed with the seal of God (Rev 7:1-3) to empower them to remain faithful during the end-time destructions of the seven last plagues. This sealing is also described by the second part of the fifth seal.

THE FINAL EVENTS, as described by the last two seals, divide the people of the world between the people with the mark of the beast, hiding in the mountains (Rev 6:15-17), and God’s people, standing before His throne (Rev 7:9-17).

In conclusion, when the seals are broken, we essentially see God’s people, struggling to overcome under much oppression. This implies that Jesus obtains the evidence to bring an end to the crisis THROUGH GOD’S PEOPLE.

4) Through their Faithfulness

Specifically, when the seals are broken, the point is not merely to say that God’s people will suffer but, much more important, that THEY WILL REMAIN FAITHFUL to God, just like Jesus did. This is indicated, for example:

    • In the first four seals, by the slaying of God’s people “because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (Rev 6:9),
    • In the fifth seal, by the ‘completion’ of God’s people (Rev 6:11), 
    • In the preparation for the seven last plagues, by the seal which ALL God’s people must receive (Rev 7:3), and
    • At the return of Christ, by the comment of the elder, that these people “come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14).

As Jesus said:

Be faithful until death,
and I will give you
the crown of life
” (Rev 2:10).

The evidence required to refute Satan, therefore, is that God’s people will TESTIFY for Him in the face of danger, “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:11; cf. 2:10). To believe in your heart is good, but what is required is that God’s people will testify for Him (Rev 6:9).

Job may serve as an illustration of how God’s people will validate God’s judgments. God gave Satan permission to test Job (Job 2:6). Satan killed Job’s children, destroyed his property, and afflicted Job with horrible sores. “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:22).

Revelation 12 confirms

The vision of the war in heaven (Rev 12:7) in Revelation 12 supports this conclusion. As discussed, that vision describes the same crisis and the same solution as the vision of the sealed book. And, as another article shows, that war was brought to an end by Christ’s death. However, AFTER His death, the war continued on earth (Rev 12:12). Eventually, according to Revelation 12:11, the dragon (Satan – Rev 12:9) was finally defeated through two methods:

“And they overcame him (the dragon)
(1) because of the blood of the Lamb
(2) and because of the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their life
even when faced with death
.” (Rev 12:11)

Since the second is the willingness of God’s people to die for their testimony, this supports the conclusion that God will finally refute Satan’s accusations against God’s people through their faithful testimony.

Rick Joyner confirms

Rick Joyner gave a similar reason for why Christ’s return is being delayed. He quotes Jesus as saying:

“I could have judged the world after My resurrection, but the course of the world was allowed to continue so that My righteous ones could be proven and the power of what I did on the cross would be seen in mankind.” (The Call, chapter 5)

This quote confirms that:

      • God is delaying His judgments
      • So that His righteous ones could be proven.
      • God will implement His judgments immediately AFTER they have been proven.

The Example of Job

Job may serve as an illustration of how God’s people will validate God’s judgments:

Job had no idea why he suffered.

In the courts of heaven, God described Job as “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8). But Satan challenged God, saying, “touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1:11). Then God permitted Satan to test Job. God said: “He is in your power, only spare his life” (Job 2:6).

Satan killed Job’s children, destroyed his property, and afflicted Job with horrible sores. “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:22).

When Satan tested Job, he actually tested God’s ability to judge. However, Job’s faithfulness proved God right. The suffering of God’s people has the same purpose. For a further discussion, see the article on Job.

5) Through the Seven Last Plagues

God’s people are sealed with God’s seal for when “the four winds” will be released (Rev 7:1-3). These “winds” have been interpreted as the seven last plagues. Another article concluded that God’s people will receive God’s seal (Rev 7:3) to protect them DURING THOSE PLAGUES. Therefore, the seven last plagues will be the final and ultimate test of God’s people.

Every Spiritual Power

The seal of God, which only end-time believers will receive, but which ALL end-time believers must receive, will equip them with every spiritual power available to humans (cf. Eph 6:10-11). As Rick Joyner stated:

“The last-day church will not be greater than Paul’s generation, even if she does greater works … All that is done is done by My grace. However, I will make more of My grace and power available to the last-day church, because she must accomplish more than the church in any age has yet accomplished.” (The Quest)

They will reach a level of spiritual maturity that was previously perhaps visible in individuals such as Job but never before in all of God’s people. Also elsewhere in Revelation, we see evidence that God’s end-time people will be spiritually mature. For example, in the end-time context:

      • His bride has made herself ready” (Rev 19:7-8).
      • While “the vine of the earth,” symbolizing the lost, will be trodden in the winepress (Rev 14:18-20), “the harvest of the earth,” symbolizing God’s people, will be harvested when it “is ripe” (Rev 14:15).

Full Satanic Powers

Generally, God limits Satan with respect to what he is allowed to do to God’s people (e.g., Job 1:12). But, during the plagues, “spirits of demons, performing signs” will “go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev 13:14). This is understood as meaning that, in this final crisis before Christ returns, God will allow Satan THE FULL USE of his demonic powers to persecute and deceive.

The Plagues will test God’s People.

The sixth plague, in verses 14 to 16, describes the gathering of the people of the world at Armageddon (Rev 16:14-16). Verse 14 says HOW they will be gathered and verse 16 says WHERE they will be gathered. It is critically important to take note of the call in the verse between these two verses:

Blessed is the one who stays awake
and keeps his clothes,
so that he will not walk about naked
and men will not see his shame” (Rev 16:15; cf. 3:18).

This indicates what God’s people must do when the demon spirits gather the people of the world at Armageddon. To keep your clothes and “not walk about naked” (Rev 16:15) means to remain faithful to God (cf. Rev 3:18; 6:11; 7:14). The seven last plagues, therefore, will be intense spiritual warfare.

During the darkest hour of this world’s history, the experience of Job and particularly Christ will be the experience of the entire church. During the seven last plagues, the obedience of God’s people will be tested with the most severe temptations and circumstances, just like Jesus’ faithfulness was tested to the fullest possible extent. Through their faithfulness, “even when faced with death,” God’s end-time people, as a representative sample of all of God’s people of all time, must win the final victory over Satan. Their faithfulness must refute Satan’s accusations against God’s elect and demonstrate that the people listed in the book of life will not surrender God’s principles under any circumstances, thereby justifying God’s decision to grant these sinners eternal life.

They will be scared and fully aware of their sins. They really want to believe in the God of the Bible. But they also will be tempted by the temptation of the time, which is to accept the mark of the beast (cf. Rev 13:16-17). It must be shown that they are willing to suffer all possible loss – even their lives – rather than disobey God; just like Jesus did. That which the Creator alone is able to see in their hearts (cf. Rev 2:23), and on which He based His judgments, must become visible through the faithful testimony of His people.

Rick Joyner describes this end-time war as follows:

“By choosing death rather than to go against God’s laws they will REVEAL the glory of God in such a way that it would be a witness to every power and authority, created or yet to be created, for all of eternity. During this battle the glory of the cross would be REVEALED, and the wisdom of God would BE KNOWN in a special way.” (The Call)

One important point from this quote is that the temptation of the time (the mark of the beast) will be to “go against God’s laws.” The mark of the beast, therefore, is some sin. To know what it is, we must first understand what the beast is. Then we must ask what its major identifying mark is. When the time comes, God’s messengers will let the whole earth know exactly what the mark of the beast is (Rev 14:6).

Another important point is from this quote is that this final battle will be A DEMONSTRATION; firstly of God’s people but, through them, of the glory and wisdom of God.

The Plagues will also test Satan’s People.

Satan’s followers will also be tested and revealed by the seven last plagues.

Another article concludes that the seven last plagues begin at a point in history during the end-time persecution (Rev 13:15-17) when EVERY person on earth will have either the mark of the beast or the seal of God. See the discussion of Revelation 15.

The frequent mention of God’s righteousness (Rev 15:3, 4; 16:5, 7; 19:2) implies that the plagues will reveal the perfectness of God’s judgments.

In particular, the frequent mention in the plagues that the worshipers of the beast DO NOT REPENT (Rev 16:9, 11, 21), even when confronted with clear evidence that they are wrong (Rev 16:10) (See – Fifth Plague), implies that the purpose of the plagues is ALSO to show that the people with the mark of the beast will not repent under any circumstances; that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

They will see that the plagues do not fall on that hated minority (Rev 16:2, 10) who tormented them so much (Rev 11:10) by their testimony to the truth (cf. Rev 14:6). They will see that the plagues only fall on the followers of the beast. They must realize that this minority is God’s real people. But they will not repent. On the contrary; they prepare to war against God (Rev 16:14-16).

Their refusal to repent will validate God’s judgment of them. It will show that God has no other option but to give “them over” (Rom 1:24, 26, 28). (For a further discussion, see – Fifth Plague),

Conclusion

In other words, the deeds of people during the seven last plagues will reveal BOTH God’s people and the people with the mark of the beast THROUGH THEIR DEEDS. That which the Almighty is already able to see in the hearts of people, and on which He based His judgments, will become visible to created beings. In this way, the seven last plagues will provide the final evidence required to assure the heavenly beings that God’s judgments are perfect. Then Christ will return and implement God’s judgments.

Redemption

These tests of God’s judgments must not be confused with how God redeems people. These chapters of Revelation do not explain how man is saved. They explain how Satan is defeated.

Jesus did not die for Himself. By remaining faithful to God under the most severe circumstances, He won the right to open the book of life. Consequently, He died for God’s people.

IN THE SAME WAY, God’s end-time people will not die for themselves. These seal-events will serve as tests of the perfection of God’s judgments of ALL people that lived EVER since Adam. They must show, as a witness to all intelligent beings in the universe, for all eternity, that God’s grace to His people IN ALL AGES is perfectly justified. God’s end-time people, therefore, will suffer and die for God’s people in all generations.

This is very different from how God redeems individuals.

Why does God Delay?

But we must also ask: Why does it take such a long time?

Another article argues that the sealing of God’s end-time people (Rev 7:1-3) is another description of the ‘completion’ of God’s people as described in the fifth seal. Both describe the preparation of God’s people for the seven last plagues. Both give the reason for the delay as that God’s people are not ready:

In the fifth seal, the souls under the altar are told to wait “UNTIL … their fellow … brethren … would be completed also” (Rev 6:11). This was interpreted as completion” in CHARACTER; not in literal number.

We see the same principle in the sealing. The angel who brings the seal cries out with a loud voice to the four angels who are holding back the four winds not to harm the earth “UNTIL we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads” (Rev 7:1-3).

God, therefore, has not yet brought the seven last plagues on the world because His people are not ready. God is delaying the seven last plagues until He has a people who will remain faithful to Him throughout the tremendous suffering and temptations of that time (Rev 7:1-3; 6:11).

Sealed through Persecution

But will God EVER have a people who will be able to stand?

As another article concludes, God’s people will be sealed THROUGH the end-time persecution (Rev 13:15-17). In other words, eventually, to have a people who will be able to remain faithful throughout the seven last plagues, God will have to allow the beast to be resurrected (Rev 13:3), followed by that severe end-time persecution of His people. THROUGH that persecution, they will be refined, as “gold refined by fire” (Rev 3:18). THROUGH PERSECUTION, God will give to them the seal of the living God (Rev 7:2). Once they are all sealed, the seven last plagues will be poured out.


Other Articles

Your comment is important.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other