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You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:8)
Regardless of what takes place in a world ruled by imperfect humans that are alienated from God and under the control of Satan, Christians should never lose their trust in Christ. On the contrary, we need to ‘be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in us.’ (1 Pet. 3:15) Not only are we sure that relief from sin, suffering, old age, and death will come, but that there will be an accounting for all. (Rom. 9:28; Matt. 16:27) Even if they have passed on to death, God will remember their lifetime of patient endurance. James was writing to some who needed to get back on track spiritually, as they were not acting as ones who have implicit trust in Jesus Christ. For example, some had allowed wrong desires to creep into their hearts. They needed to be patient and prayerful.
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You also, be patient. As was true of the farmer that we just spoke of in the previous verse. The time will come, as he knows the rain will return, so Christians may await the possibility of deliverance from their trials now. If not now, when Christ returns.
Establish your hearts. Let your heart intentions and your faith be strong and steadfast. Do not become tired and anxious, but be steadfast with faithfulness all that is rested upon you until your deliverance comes or Jesus returns. Heart: (לֵב leb; καρδία kardia) In biblical Hebrew, the word for heart (leb) has twenty-four different meanings. Generally, it is a reference to the center of feelings. As in many cases, in Hebrew, the heart refers to the mind, the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions. The sense is the place of the person’s thoughts (mind), volition, emotions, and knowledge of right from wrong (conscience), translated by some as mind. However, it can refer to the whole person: the mind (knowledge), emotions (feelings), and awareness (knowledge or perception of a situation or fact).
For the coming of the Lord is at hand. The angel tells the apostle John, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. (Rev 22:10) Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. (22:12) He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (22:20) Jesus contextually could be coming in that he allowed the Romans just a few short years later to destroy Jerusalem, removing one of the Christian’s major oppressors. It is 62 C.E. In four years; General Cestus Gallus would bring the Roman army to squash the Jewish uprisings in Jerusalem. The city is surrounded, about to be breached, when reasons unknown Gallus pulls away all of a sudden. The army would return four years later under General Titus. However, the Christians heeded Jesus’ words and left before that time. Jerusalem would be destroyed, over a million Jews slaughtered, over 100 thousand taken to Rome as slaves.
Matthew 24:15-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the man who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the man who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no flesh would have been saved: but for the chosen ones sake those days will be cut short.
The coming of the Lord could have been the destruction of Jerusalem, ending the Jewish oppression, or his second coming to judge the world of mankind. The ‘coming of the Lord’ was an unknown at to the exact time, but all were expected to be on the watch, which is why the Christians escaped the desolation of Jerusalem. The coming of the Lord was to be linked with their deliverance from their oppression and suffering. Because they did not know the day or the hour, it was not inappropriate to refer to the coming of the Lord as though it was near. We cannot know whether James understood the imminent destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 24), which there were already indications of, as applicable to his words. Just because an author is inspired to write words that the Holy Spirit moved him to write, this does not mean he fully understands its application. Both James and Paul understood Jerusalem would be destroyed before it took place, similar to how one can stay up on current affairs and be relatively confident of a world even that is coming. Regardless, after 70 C.E., John would write Revelation about 96 C.E., which means the second coming of Christ was in the future, and Matthew 24 had greater significance than Jerusalem.