This Could Be the Final Hour

Before heading to bed last night, I opened up my copy of Jonathan Edwards’ 70 Resolutions. Each and every time I read from this list my heart is recalibrated. I am reminded to live not “according to the flesh… but by the Spirit” (Rom 8:13).

This man was concerned with the preeminence of Christ. He wanted every single hour of his short-lived life to count. Check out resolutions seven and nineteen:

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

Jonathan_Edwards smallAgain, Edwards preoccupation with godly living was exemplary. He resolved to live for the glory of God. In these two resolutions he sought to use the imminent return of Christ as a defense against his temptation to sin. The concept is to live one’s life as if it would be the final hour before meeting Christ. Dr. Steven Lawson notes in his most excellent book The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards:

With this resolution, Edwards purposed that he would never do anything that would bring him regret if Christ should return at any moment. Knowing that Christ could burst onto the scene unexpectedly restrained him from certain attitudes and activities… He desired that when the last trumpet should sound, he would not be found in sin but in godly living. (100-101)

I should note: it is true that Edwards’ eschatology (the study of last things) was undeveloped as of the writing of these two resolutions. His end times view would later take the form of a conservative postmillennialism—believing that the positive changes taking place in the New World (during the colonization of the Americas) were in some way going to lead to the ushering in of the Millennium. Stephen J. Stein writes in the introduction to the fifth volume on The Works of Jonathan Edwards

The book of Revelation fascinated Jonathan Edwards… For him the Apocalypse came alive with each new reading… Edwards spent long hours studying the Revelation, the only book of the Bible he favored with a separate commentary; that preoccupation began in early manhood as he searched for the best interpretation of the Apocalypse, and it spanned the full range of his years. Not content with mere curiosities or speculations, he probed for the pastoral and theological implications of the prophecies. (1)

While I do not agree with Edwards’ interpretation of Revelation (historicism), his inclination was spot on. We are to lean on the promise of seeing Christ “just as He really is” (1 John 3:2), believing it might occur within the next hour. We are to turn from our own sinful desires, knowing that this could be the final hour before “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thess 4:16).

Come Lord Jesus.

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