Patiently Waiting for Christ’s Return
James has been addressing non-believers, but return to address believers in verse 7
He referred to them as brothers. James will focus on the attitudes God’s people need to have while anticipating the coming judgment\return of Jesus.
Persecuted & oppressed believers must be patient waiting for Christ's return , his coming (7) When the righteous are vindicated & the wicked judged (day of slaughter in v. 6). Both the warnings to the wicked and the encouragement of the righteous are in light of Christ’s return.
The word translated “coming” is parousia in Greek. It meant arrival of a king in secular Greek. It is used in New Testament For Christ's return at the end of history to judge the wicked & deliver the saints. For example, Matt. 24:37 says “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man (Christ). ; 1 Corinthians 15:23 says “But each in his own order; Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
The line of thinking in James is similar to that of Psalm 37. The theme of that Psalm is not to fret over the success of evil doers because the Lord will come and judge evil doers. Verse 1-2 say “Fret not yourself because of evil doers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.”
As an example of patient waiting, James cites the farmer. (7) He plants seed, then waits a long time until harvest (7)He must be patient - he cannot change the time frame. Believers cannot change the time frame for the return of Jesus. He will return at the time appointed by the Father.
Notice in this example that God gave the rain, both the early rain after planting and the latter rain before harvest, Autumn & Spring. God promised this to the faithful in Deuteronomy 11:14. What you may not know is that all of the Old Testament references to early & latter rain are in reference to God's faithfulness. A Biblically literate, converted Jew would get the reference. So, James is saying as the farmer waits patiently in faith that God will provide rain at the right time, Christians should wait patiently knowing Jesus will return as he promised. He is faithful. He will judge the wicked. He will vindicate & deliver those who are his.
While we wait for the return of Jesus, we must “establish our hearts”. The word translated “establish” in the ESV literally means “strengthen”. We must strengthen our faith to endure hardship in light of his coming.
For example, we had a violent thunderstorm Saturday night. Our power went out. I wrote out the Bible Study for Sunday by candlelight! At the beginning of the storm, a very strong wind roared through. Some said it was up to 90 miles per hour. It uprooted live oak trees which have very shallow roots. But the trees with deep, strong roots survived. Strengthen your heart through Bible study and pray to survive all of the storms that will come before Jesus returns.
Another facet to our attitudes while we await the return of Jesus is patience with each other. We should not grumble & risk judgment (9) God will hold us accountable for our grumbling. We must endure suffering and waiting without grumbling against God or each other. This is patient endurance.
As an example of patient endurance, James refers us to the Old Testament prophets. (10) They suffered but endured and were patient in waiting. Jeremiah, for example, was put in a cistern where it was wet and muddy. Jezebel threatened Elijah with death.
In Acts 7:52, Stephen asked the Jewish leaders “which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?” In Luke 11:50, Jesus said the blood of all the prophets would fall on that generation of Jews. The prophets suffered but waited patiently for deliverance.
The prophets were steadfast. They were not moved by trials. They stood firm and strong. They were blessed by God for it. We, as they, are blessed when steadfast. (11)
We receive God's favor. He is pleased when we are steadfast. That is because he himself is steadfast. He is immovable. (1 Corinthians 15:58) We reflect his character and bring glory to him.