2017-08-20 – Luke 21.25-36 – Looking Up

2017-08-20 – Luke 21.25-36 Looking Up

The Coming of the Son of Man

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Exhortation to Watch

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

2017-08-20 – Luke 21.25-36 Looking Up

Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today. Thank you and God bless you.

This morning we are continuing in the sermon series on The Parables of Jesus. Last week we read the parable of the Fig Tree, where Jesus presented two tragedies that depicted all too well our fragile mortality. Jesus tried to refocus our attention from what is temporary circumstance, to think instead on eternal perspectives and repent. Unlike the barren fig tree, God desires us to bare true fruit through our character and actions. And just like the gardener in the parable, Jesus isn’t giving up on you. He is digging around you, He is putting a little Miracle Grow on you, and giving you some Son-shine and Holy Spirit living water to bring you around. Now Today’s message is entitled Looking up. And it deals with a parable of another Fig Tree.

Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 21.25, in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.      But first let us Pray… 

This first section in our verses today is entitled The Coming of the Son of Man

Jesus is almost at the end of His ministry and before His crucifixion. But to set the stage I feel it is pertinent to go back to this verse 7 in this chapter, as it deals with a question, posed by the disciples about the end of times.

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”

He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” 10 Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.[c] 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you.

They will even kill some of you.17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.

20 “And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. 21 Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. 22 For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.23 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. 24 They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.   [Pause]

So that sets the stage for our verses today. Jesus is answering the question “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?” His answer probably wasn’t warmly welcomed then, and it surely isn’t warmly welcomed today. But this is God’s truth spoken by Jesus Christ, and we should pay great attention. Then in verse 25, Jesus said:

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves.

This reminds me of what we experienced this last Monday. Did any of you get out to see the eclipse? Wasn’t that cool. As I understand, it has been 99 years since the last total eclipse was visible in the good ole U.S.A. I remember the last partial eclipse back in 1979. I was 17 years old and it was a big deal then too. This time I got some pretty good pictures and even a movie with my digital camera and a 500 millimeter lenses using the eclipse eye glass filter. My whole neighborhood came out and put their chairs in the middle of the street, and as my daughter Estelle says, they just “enjoyed the moment”.

Well now if you think that eclipse was something to see, wait until this scripture verse here is fully realized. I would bet it will be pretty scary and confusing for most everyone. People will not have any clue of what is going on. We all know that the moon has an effect on our tides and waves and the weather. And even like we saw in Texas a couple days ago, things like hurricanes and tsunamis will happen, and I am sure people will be terrified and perplexed. Scripture continues:

26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

The celestial bodies will be moving and storms will be hitting our world with a fury that we can only just imagine. I am betting that social media and the news will be going crazy.

During the eclipse last week, my uncle Eddie and our family was video chatting about the strange dynamics. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains near Dollywood and on the direct path of the moons shadow. As the sky grew dark, he noticed that even the animals and birds were all unusually quieted. I think all of creation will be effected by this event we have spelled out here in these verses.

27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.

Our NSRV version uses the word THEN, however other versions say “At that time” Christ will come back. Most believe that the rapture will take place before the Tribulation. The church, which means God’s children, will be raptured, or taken up into the clouds, we will meet Jesus in the air and our bodies will be changed in a twinkling of an eye. All the people left behind will be very confused. The Bible tells us that they will make up some great reason for why everyone disappeared all of a sudden. I wonder what they will say? Aliens maybe?  I don’t know. But listen to what Jesus instructs us to do when this event starts to occur:

28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

See here, Jesus is saying “When we see these things begin”, then we will be raptured. Not when they are in the middle of the 7 year Tribulation, but when they begin, we should stand up and Look up, because the rapture is going to happen. Some Christians hold different views, some believe we will go through the Tribulation; some believe we will be taken away in the middle, and some think there will not be a rapture or tribulation at all. The different views are frequently referred to as, Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib or AweMelinimals. Baptists generally believe as I do in Pre-Tribulation Rapture, partly because of these few verses we just read. Again, I believe that Jesus will take us up into the sky (Rapture) us, and usher us into heaven before the Tribulation period. With all that understanding, now we will move into the parable called The Lesson of the Fig Tree. Verse 29 says:

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Have you ever slowed down to witness the springtime tree leafs sprout? It almost seems that this happens overnight. You might know that our house is on top of a ravine in Coal Valley that has hundreds of trees all around it. Our basement is a walk out, and at about 12 feet out the back door it goes down another 30 feet. Each year, after a long winter, it seems that the trees go from barren to full bloom in only a couple weeks. You can almost hear the leaves growing and sprouting on the trees. I love springtime and I love God’s wonderful creation.

What Jesus is trying to convey is that things will happen quickly. We will witness signs in the heavens, the seas will be crazy, the weather will be crazy, and when that happens we should be Looking-Up, which is the title of this message today. Looking Up, because your Savior is coming and it is going to happen quickly.

32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

This might be a little confusing when we first read this passage. Some might think, wait a minute, that generation Jesus was speaking to passed away a long time ago. But Jesus isn’t speaking about those who heard His message that day. He is referring instead, in this verse, to the generation of people that will witness the starting of the Tribulation period and the signs that preceded it. They won’t pass away until all these signs Jesus spoke about have taken place.

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.

This word dissipation is an interesting word. It means a constant desire for the seeking of pleasure. Hedonism is a synonym of dissipation. Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure as the chief end of man. Another synonym might be the word SIN. People that are caught up into sin. Jesus is saying that SIN will weigh you down. It will make you not want to go to church. It will make you not wanting to be in the fellowship of believers. The Bible says sin is pleasurable for a season. Sure it might be considered a blast for a short time, but at some point you hit the ground and it is painful. Then you will find yourself in a grueling life, I have seen it so many times, trying to dig out maybe for the rest of your life. Don’t go there people, Sin can affect your immediate circumstance, but it might also impact on your eternal circumstance as well. Then our scripture ends today with verse 35:

36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Are you ready to be saved from the torment of the Tribulation? Are you ready meet Jesus in the air, to be raptured and be ushered into Heaven? I pray you are. Now Jesus also tells us that we will have no clue really when this will happen. However, based upon these words of Jesus here today, we will see the signs, and I don’t know about you, but I am seeing the signs. And if the rapture is supposed to happen before the Tribulation, that means it could occur at any moment.

I am not a trying to scare anyone, I am just speaking truth out of love. As much as I want to urge you to get yourself prepared, I need to also warn you of a couple new popular theories that are floating around the internet and the news. The first is called the September 23rd Rapture, or the Revelation 12 event.

Many websites and videos are promoting what is being hyped as the biggest prophetic event in 2,000 years, the fulfillment of signs listed in Revelation 12.

Revelation 12 – The Woman and the Dragon

1 Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.. She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod.

According to some astronomers, on September 23, 2017, from our viewpoint, the skies will be just like it is stated here in Revelation 12. The sun will be in the constellation Virgo (“a woman clothed with the sun,” v. 1). The moon will be at the feet of Virgo (“with the moon under her feet,” v. 1). The nine stars of the zodiac constellation Leo, plus the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars, will be at the head of Virgo (“and on her head a garland of twelve stars,” v. 1). The planet Jupiter will be in the center of Virgo, and as the weeks pass after September 23, Jupiter will appear to exit Virgo to the east, past her feet (“being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth,” v. 2). Jupiter is the “king” of planets (“she bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron,” v. 5).

Many so-called prophecy experts have concluded that this celestial super-sign fits the requirements of Revelation 12, indicating, they say, that the rapture of the church will occur on or near September 23, 2017. Please don’t buy into the hype!

Then there is also the Year of Jubilee theory being proposed,

The Year of the Jubilee involves a traditional release from debt and bondage for the Hebrew people. Leviticus 25:9 says a year of Jubilee was to be observed after seven cycles of seven years (49 years total). The idea that Jesus will return during a year of Jubilee, comes from some calculations made by a Rabbi in AD 1217. According to him, there would be a certain number of Jubilees until the Messianic kingdom would begin. The year 2017 is said to be the end of that predicted period; thus, some people look for Jesus’ return during the Feast of Tabernacles (October 4—11). When the Messiah will return to give His people rest and cause great jubilation among His redeemed. Again, don’t buy into the hype!

Certainly, the rapture of the church could occur in 2017, or in a few days, or in a few centuries. The fact is we don’t know when it will occur. The important thing is we are to always be ready for when He comes. Make sure you are in Christ, and as it says in Matthew 25:13 “keep watching, because you do not know the day or the hour”.

If you are a Christian, you have nothing to worry about. God wants to spare all His children from this tragic Tribulation event.

However, true to form, He doesn’t force anyone to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. He didn’t force Adam and Eve in the beginning of time to follow His laws, and He doesn’t force anyone today to accept salvation through His Son Jesus. God loves us so much, and He always will.

Life is so fragile, and aside from being raptured, death escapes nobody. Just this last week Amy’s dear Uncle Zane Gray passed away and was buried in West Virginia. I tell you this not because he had a famous name, but because he was such a good example of how we all should strive to live our lives.

He dedicated his entire life to God and Country. He entered the military during WWII after graduation from high school, and came out as a 1st Lieutenant after the war ended. He became a minister along with starting a business and raising a family. Not many ministers these days can say they brought God’s message to a Congregation in the “same church for 50 years,” and he only retired from preaching when dementia finally set it. He was 93 years old. Today, he is sharing a place in Heaven with our Lord and Savoir with other believers in heaven.

When I first became a minister, uncle Zane gave me a stack of his sermons that dated back to 1967. In his honor, last week I went through many of those sermons to gleam some wisdom and also to sense the aroma of his messages. And I found this small poem, that I think is befitting this wonderful gathering of friends here today in this park. It is called simply A PRAYER

IT is my joy in life to find, At every turning of the road,

The strong arm of a comrade kind, To help me onward with my load.

And since I have no gold to give, And love alone must make amends,

My only prayer is while I live, God make me worthy of my friends!

I am so thankful that I have you my church family friends. Time is getting short, we all need each other and we need to spur each other on to continue “Looking Up”.

And with that, please stand for our last song and the Alter Call. This closing song we have today, my family last sang with our late Uncle Zane at tiny church in Eddyville, Iowa. It is also very relevant to our message here today. When the Role is Called up Yonder. And as we sing this song, if you would like to come forward, please consider that now.

[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..