The Lord Is at Hand

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:4-5).

This passage begins with Paul’s familiar exhortation to rejoice. Paul is writing this letter from a Roman prison, and yet he says rejoice. How is that possible? The answer, at least in part, is found at the end of verse 5: “The Lord is at hand.” Paul, and the early church at large, lived with the expectation that the return of Jesus was imminent, that Jesus was coming soon. That outlook, that way of thinking, had an impact on their living, on how they lived out their faith.

The skeptic raises the objection that it has been 2000 years, and Jesus has not yet returned. The answer to that objection is found in the writing of Peter:

“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

The fact that Jesus has not yet returned doesn’t alter the fact that He is coming – He is at hand. A careful examination of current events could reasonably lead to the conclusion that His coming is near. We don’t know the time; in fact, Peter goes on to describe the event of His coming like the coming of a thief (2 Peter 3:10).

In these verses, Paul continues to call the Philippians to a life characterized by a reasonable, gentle spirit. Like his call to rejoice, this exhortation is made in light of the fact that the Lord is at hand. The Lord is coming and that should impact the way we live, the way we view our current circumstances.

For the believer, the Lord is at hand not only in His second coming, but also in the midst of our current circumstances. The writer of Hebrews says that He is waiting to provide mercy and help in the time of need:

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The Lord IS at hand, and that should change the way we live.

By Jesse Smith

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