James 5:8

Thursday, 5 September 2019

You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:8

James repeats his words of the previous verse. They are set in parallel –

7) Therefore be patient, brethren

8) You also be patient

The meaning of “You also be patient” is based on what he said about the farmer in verse 7, that he waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and that his waiting is based on the coming of the former and latter rains. Each thing is interconnected, and there is nothing the farmer can do about what lies ahead once the seed is sown. Likewise, James says, “Establish your hearts.”

The word translated as “establish” gives the sense of strengthening, being steadfast, or being fixed and firm. Here, James says that the hearts of the believers are to be so established. They are not to waiver. In the Bible, the heart is not speaking of the physical heart which pumps blood, but of the mind which is the seat of moral reasoning.

One can see that he is basing this exhortation on the treatment from the rich which was mentioned in the first six verses of the chapter. There is fraud and there is deceit in the world, but it does not mean that the Lord will never show up to correct it. The time of the coming forth of “the precious fruit of the earth” of the previous verse is a part of a fixed cycle which will come about in its due time. Thus, the admonition to establish the heart is set in parallel to those words concerning the ripening of the fruit –

7) See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth

8) Establish your hearts

Paul made a similar encouraging exhortation to the saints at Thessalonica –

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13

James then explains why his reader is to establish his heart. It is because “the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Again, this is set in parallel to the words of verse 7 –

7) Waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.

8) For the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James is equating the coming of the early and latter rain directly to the coming of the Lord, meaning His second coming. Why would he do this when Israel was receiving these rains when he wrote this epistle? It is because it was prophesied by the prophet Hosea. Hosea prophesied 700+ years before James of a time when Israel would return to the Lord. The obvious meaning is that they must first turn from the Lord. The prophecy of Hosea shows this, but it also shows more –

“Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3

Hosea said that “After two days He will revive us,” and “On the third day, He will raise us up.” This is actually a prophecy of the ending of Israel’s second, extended exile. As the Bible records in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, a day to the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day, this is a prophecy that Israel would be exiled for 2000 years and then revived, and in the third day (the third millennium) Israel would be raised up.

Hosea then equates the coming of the Lord to be “like the rain,” and “Like the latter and former rain to the earth.” As noted in the commentary in the previous verse, these rains were interrupted in Israel after their exile. The land became barren and unproductive. Only with the return of Israel, their draining of the swamps and planting of millions of trees, and etc, have these cyclical rains returned. It is a sign – a prophetic sign to the world, and believers in particular – that “the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

Life application: Never mind that this was written 2000 years ago. The verse needs to be taken in its proper context. James was talking to the recipients of his letter about being patient, just as the farmer is patient. The body of believers is to wait on the Lord for His return through any time-frame, be it 100 years or 25000 years.

Considering that the church is made up of individuals, the Lord’s coming for each of us really isn’t that far away regardless of when He actually returns to earth. We will each be called home after a short walk on this earth. We need, therefore, to stand firm and be patient each day we live. None of us knows the hour of our death, nor do we know the time of the Lord’s second coming. So we simply need to be about His business at all times.

Don’t be misguided by preachers or Bible teachers who deny the rapture of the church. Christ is coming for His church at the rapture. This will be followed by a 7-year period known as the tribulation, during which Israel will be the center of attention.

After this, there will be a literal 1000-year reign of Christ on earth known as the millennium. These verses are to be taken literally, but they are often dismissed as allegory because they otherwise differentiate between the church and Israel. If you believe the church replaced Israel, then you will inevitably come to the wrong conclusion about future events. But if you believe, as the Bible teaches, that Israel has a specific role which is yet to be fulfilled, then you will be able to understand the other future events in their proper context.

Lord, open our eyes to understand where our doctrine is wrong. And then, help us to not be stubborn, but to correct it according to the truth of Your word. May our thoughts on what is revealed concerning Jesus, salvation, and those things which are to come align properly with what You have given us. And Lord, help us to defend the integrity of Your word concerning all of these glorious things! Amen.

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