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Life of Christ (2007-2009)

Waiting for the End

Luke 12:35-59

Lesson audio

The Second Coming is always a lively session for debate. Interestingly, our Lord put little emphasis on when this would happen, but rather how to prepare for it.

Watchfulness

Luk 12:35-48 NIV "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, (36) like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. (37) It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. (38) It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. (39) But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. (40) You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (41) Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" (42) The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? (43) It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. (44) I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. (45) But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. (46) The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. (47) "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. (48) But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Tense-ness

One scholar, commenting on the first sentence of this section of scripture, said that it was in the “periphrastic perfect passive imperative third plural of the verb.” This carries some truth to it, when you puzzle it out:

  • Periphrastic – means that this sentence could have been reduced to a single word. What word? “Watch!”
  • Perfect passive – it’s written in the passive voice. The content is sufficiently sharp that it shines through that.
  • Imperative – it’s a command, not a suggestion.
  • Third plural – it’s not addressed to one person, or a group of people individually, but to all of us as a group.
The Return

It sometimes surprises us that our Lord intends to reward those who have done well. It shouldn’t; we’re motivated that way, and who would know that better than our Creator?

But sometimes motivation fails, especially if we can’t see it coming soon. That’s a problem for most of us; instant reward is what we crave. When we do well, we want to be rewarded right then. And if we brag about it enough, we will be.

It gets a little more difficult when Christ talks about due punishment. He gives us three cases:

  • The steward who deliberately misuses his trust – for example, to line his own pockets with the offerings of the misled – will be cut to pieces and sent to hell.
  • The steward who neglects his trust – no abuse, just doesn’t bother doing it – will be severely punished.
  • The steward who is ignorant of what he should be doing will be lightly punished.

Note that these apply to the leaders of the church. As is right, they will be more harshly judged.

Preparation

So what are we supposed to do about it?

  • We’re to keep our “loins girded” (King James). It’s a powerful phrase for the people of Israel; this is also how they were to eat the Passover meal – ready to travel.
  • We must have our “lamps burning” – our witness before men always a glory to God.
  • Finally, we should be doing what we have been assigned to do.

St. Francis had a point on that. He was in his garden when someone approached and asked what Francis would do if he informed that Christ had returned. “Finish my gardening,” Francis replied.

Fire on Earth

Luk 12:49-53 NIV "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! (50) But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! (51) Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. (52) From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. (53) They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

Fire

Fire is often the symbol of the Holy Spirit. This passage is easily understood that way; for the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin and judgment to come. That is inherently divisive. If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior your response will be very different from those who reject Him.

One thing is certain: there will be no sitting on the fence. Not without a lot of splinters in your rear end. (Who do you say He is?)

Separation and Holiness

It is no great secret that Christians behave differently compared to others – or at least they should. This difference in behavior is called holiness – the setting aside by God of His children. This holiness produces two interesting reactions in the Christian:

  • First is the hatred of sin, for sin cost the life of our Savior. (Not hatred of the sinner).
  • Also, there is a reaction of fear and obedience. We are trying to please him, not ourselves.

What may not be clear is this: holiness forces a decision on others. You think not? If they know that your language is pure, listen to theirs when you walk into the room.

Peace without …

We desire peace – from a personal level up to a world level. But peace seldom arrives alone. We want it, but not unaccompanied. For example:

  • Peace without righteousness has another name: oppression. Every tyrant promises peace – but on what terms?
  • Peace without wisdom is disorder and evil practice. Oppression comes from above us, but disorder comes from within us. Such peace leaves everyone free to invent his own system – the author of chaos.

Signs of the Times

Luk 12:54-59 NIV He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. (55) And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. (56) Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time? (57) "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? (58) As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. (59) I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”[1]

We are not totally clueless about the second coming of our Lord; he gives us some things to look for. But before we do, let’s make sure we know his audience:

  • This is for active Christians, not the idle inquirer who uses Revelation to shield himself from the other parts of the Bible.
  • Such a study (of end times) is a proper part of a Christian’s life – a part.
  • The signs He gives are intended to unite, not divide the church.
Signs of the times

So just what are those signs? Here’s a list of the more important ones:

  • Apostasy.  The church will find itself riddled with all sorts of man-made doctrine, contrary to the clear meaning of the Scriptures.
  • The “man of sin” or the “man of lawlessness” will be revealed.  Many nominations have been made for the job.  The most common one is the Pope (either the papal system, or a particular pope to come.)
  • The great delusion will come too – those whose hearts do not place Christ first will have a new system of beliefs.
  • Most people will consider the faith something to be mocked.
  • There will be tribulation; the true followers of Christ will be hated by all nations.
  • Many will fall away from the faith and betray those who are still faithful.
  • The Gospel will be preached to all peoples before the end comes.
  • The abomination of desolation will be made – and there is a great deal of debate about that.
  • There will be signs in the heavens – taken literally or figuratively.
No man knows

No man knows the hour – but count on it, somebody has it pegged correctly in his Pearl Harbor file. Somebody being right by chance is one thing – but we shall not know. This does not, of course, prevent the boldly learned from trying.

We know there will be wars, rumors of wars, and all kinds of conflict before the end. We don’t know from this if we are in that season.

Indeed, the end times will be marked by nothing so much as seeming to be normal. Like now. Which is a good reason to Watch!


[1] Greek lepton, which is also the Widow’s Mite.

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