This Aramaic word literally means “The Lord is coming.”
The church where my dad was a pastor held massive conferences over Easter in the 40s and 50s They owned a conference venue where thousands of members camped out and attended services and shared Easter communion. On the grounds were three halls. One was called “sunshine corner,” and could take almost a thousand children. Then there was the young adults’ hall that was also used for prayer meetings. And then the “Tabernacle” that seated about 13 000 people on Good Friday with the side walls open like verandas.
The camp grounds were called Maranatha Park. There was a hype and expectation as people greeted one another with “Maranatha” rather than “Hallo.” The songs we sang were about the return of Jesus Christ, like:
We’ll be caught up to meet him in the air
We’ll be caught up his blessdness to share. Very soon he will come to take his people home. We’ll be caught up to meet him in the air.
There were many others in similar vein. That was in those days. The saying, Maranatha comes from 1 Corinthians 16:22 (AV). Paul used an Aramaic word to make a pronouncement that was probably meant to stir the expectations of the Corinthian believers. Other translations say “O Lord, come!” Many of the parables that Jesus told were about the return of the King or the Bridegroom. And the Bible concludes in Revelation 22:20 saying, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come quickly Lord.”
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage one another by the knowledge of how the Lord will return, descending from heaven with a shout and the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Sometimes I find myself looking at cumulus clouds with the sun behind lighting up the cloud, making a silver lining and casting brilliant rays from behind. And I catch myself looking for Someone on a horse (Revelation 19:11-14) as brilliant as the sun, and imagining the clouds around that specific One to be hosts of angels. I find myself yearning for that day.
But then I realise it’s too quiet. At Mount Sinai, God’s presence was enveloped in a cloud with thunder and lightning so fearsome that the Israelites fled and begged that Moses should speak to them rather than God. Therefore the return of Christ will not be a quiet affair. The whole world will know about it. Almighty God, with an energy that makes the splitting of the atom seem like a puff, will be entering the physical domain of human life.
Could our love grow cold?
Since the mid 1900’s however, there seems to have been a paradigm shift. We now concentrate on the spiritual blessings here and now and more importantly, on relationships with God and people. We are constantly admonished to love one another. I get the feeling that we have entered the era of which Jesus said the love of many will grow cold. Is the Holy Spirit stirring the minds of believers to strengthen relationships and concentrate on loving God and one another at present?
Is the Holy Spirit stirring the minds of believers to strengthen relationships?
It is not too difficult to see how the love of many has grown cold. We are living with the “me-first” factor. Self indulgence is the order of the day and there is such a lack of positive human relationships that special training courses are being given in how to live with one another. But the Holy Spirit is stirring the true leaders and theologians to teach us about the Triune God and that intimate relationship to be poured out in our hearts, so that the relationship between the children of God should be about unconditional love.
The question that comes to mind is whether this era of relationship development amongst believers is not perhaps the forerunner of the imminent return of Christ. The apostles constantly reminded the church to be ready for the return of Jesus. Yet 2 000 years later we are still waiting and some have lost interest saying, “where is the promise of His coming?” But then Peter continues in 2 Peter 3:8-10: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: 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. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
Because of this expectation of the return of Jesus we should keep ourselves pure and ready and our lamps filled and trimmed. We may live 70, 80 or 90 years waiting, but we should be waiting as one who is expecting the King of kings and Lord of lords at any moment. You may die before his return but then you will wake up meeting him in the air. Live as one enjoying the multiple blessings of peace, assurance of salvation, your sins all forgiven, and many other benefits of salvation and redemption.
But live as a child of God, mindful of one thing.