THE TEMPLE, THE TRIBULATION, AND THE TREE. LOOK UP! (Part 2)


This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series The Gospel of Luke

Last week we looked at the signs of the times. This week we saw the worst week for law enforcement since 9/11. Remember: Look up because your redemption is drawing near!

It’s a bit like reading through a newspaper to see what Jesus described in Luke 21: Wars, rumors of wars, political upheaval, Natural disasters apparently on a larger and larger scale. He also described some things that we’re not seeing much of yet: Celestial signs, significant enough to drive men to fear (Luke 21:26).

It is tempting to want to look through scriptures like Luke 17:22ff and here at Luke 21:5-35 merely for insight into the future. What we are meant to see here are the clear instructions our Lord gives us for dealing with the “here and now” of life’s struggles as well as the “there and then” at the end of this world.

So what is a Christian to do in a world of upheaval?

Do not be Misled

Luke 21:8 nails it down for us: “see to it that you are not misled…” There will be false messiah’s. There will be rumors that the real Jesus has come back. In fact in the companion passage in Matthew 24 we read about a great many opportunities to be misled. False teachers, false Christs, and false prophets, will arise and mislead many (Matthew 24:11,24) In fact they will perform miracles, real – powerful displays of miraculous authority and these will be so good they will threaten to mislead the elect- the true Christian! Lawlessness will increase to such an extent that most people’s love will grow cold (Mat 24:12). The trials to approach us will come with such a ferocity and intensity that it will be necessary for God to cut the time short – or NOBODY at all will survive it (Matthew 24:22).

There is coming a great deception. Do not be misled. What are you to do? You better make sure now that you know Him. Draw near to God now before horror breaks loose. Have the mindset of discernment that seeks the scripture like the Bereans in the book of Acts in order to confirm that what you’re hearing is accurate.

Do not Be Afraid

In verse 9 Jesus says, “when you hear of wars and [political] disturbances, do not be terrified.” The Signs of the times can lead you to fear, but fear and worry are not acts of faith, they are a response born out of our mistaken belief that we are somehow in charge or at least in an almost idolatrous desire to be the one in charge.

The response of the Christian to escalating world events is not to be one of fear but rather of faith (as we shall see).

Be Ready To Suffer for Jesus

Looking at verse 12 we see that the disciples were warned that “Before all these things” they would experience persecution. What follows is a list of ways this might occur.

  1. Physical violence “They will lay their hands on you” (v12). This is not a prayer of course, but rather a threat of physical violence.
  2. Persecution (V12). Overall persecution is something of a blanket term over all of these things. Persecution here probably points to a systematic, organized program of harassment.
  3. Religious persecution (V12) “deliver you to the synagogues”.
  4. Civil Persecution (v12) “bringing you before kings and governors…” But note that Jesus indicates that this will not be because you broke good laws like “don’t murder” or “don’t steal”. But rather will be “For my name’s sake”. In other words, following Jesus is GOING to get some people in trouble with the law. It has happened for thousands of years, and it is happening all over the world, even in some cases in the United States. Remember Kim Davis being jailed because as a Christian in government she did not want her name on the so called marriage licenses of gay couples. If you’re watching culture at all you can readily see a rise in this type of thing in the very near future. A pro-life nurse recently lost her job because she would not participate in abortions. This type of anti-Christian opposition will likely only increase.
  5. Betrayal. V 16. As the time grows closer for Christ’s return – following Jesus can cost you parents, children, siblings, and extended family. These will be the ones who hate, abuse, and persecute many. For example, it is sadly not unheard of for a muslim father to kick out or murder his child who comes to Christ. It is called an honor killing.
  6. Hatred from everyone and everywhere (V17). How dare you claim that you know God personally. How dare you point out that God has clearly said that certain things are sinful, and certain things are good. In this age in which people call evil good, and good = evil the trend is towards intolerance of anyone who claims to follow Christ.
  7. Death. (V16). Some Christians will die for their faith. Right now, this is typically happening overseas. But given the global trend, it will not be decreasing, and the US will not forever be a relatively safe haven.

Trust

In light of all these things what are we to do? In the face of increasing signs Jesus says don’t be misled and don’t be afraid. And in the face of increasing punishment for obedience to Christ, we are called to Trust in God’s deliverance. V14 warns us not to start writing our sermon out to face our accusers, but to trust his Spirit to give us what we need in that critical moment. And then we are given the beautiful promise of verse 18: Not a hair on your head will perish.

Since Jesus has just mentioned these seven signs of persecution including death – we have to interpret this promise in light of the rest of the passage. To perish must mean to enter hell in the second death. The promise is that the faithful in Christ will not in any way, nor in any manner, face even the first portion of hells flames.

Anticipate

Looking at verse 28, our Lord says that when you see all of these things happening, “lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Quite honestly while we hate to see the decay of society, we must remember – even as we use our God given rights to speak righteousness into this society that ultimately the great decay means that our redemption (the final moment of our full and complete transformation into the likeness of Christ Jesus) is drawing nearer and nearer.

You are meant to eagerly anticipate your redemption. The return of Jesus is the Christian’s blessed hope.

Guard yourself

Look over at verse 34 where we find a key application for us as Christians as we contemplate the coming day of Christ’s return: Stop Sinning! Guard yourself he says. Guard against dissipation (overindulgence as in drinking binges) he also warns against drunkenness in general. Then he warns against the worries of life. It seems to me that these stands as examples of types of sin to avoid – but certainly particular sins which might dull your edge and keep you from being watchful.

Whatever you do, guard yourself against the loss of control that leads to further sin; as well as against excessive concern for the things of this world that takes your eyes off of Christ.

My friends – these besetting sins affect the church still today, and they must not. Guard yourselves; especially as you see the day approaching.

Verses 34 and 35 continue the warning that the day of Christ will indeed come upon everyone – nobody is exempt. Therefore be ready.

Stay Alert: Pray

Finally he says that you ought to stay alert always. Keep on praying – and pray specifically for this: That you will have the strength to escape (not through avoidance altogether, but by fleeing them) all of these things that are about to take place and to stand before the son of Man.

What is the content of this prayer that Christ urges upon us? It is this

  1. Give me strength to escape the persecutions, the testings, the global disasters, and even the hatred of family. Give me the strength to endure and escape all that is coming my way. It is often said (foolishly) that God will never give you more than you can bear. This is not found in scripture. God will not permit you to endure more temptation than you can resist (1 Corinthians 10:13). But God will in fact graciously give you whatever he must so that you will trust in Him.
  2. Give me strength to stand before Jesus when he comes.

When the Lord returns, he will return as a mighty king and a righteous judge. Those who are found in Him will be saved, but those who are not found in Him will pay their own price for their own sin.

Therefore, Pray.

For any who are not believers, fear is a rational reaction to the thought of the end of the world. But for the Christian: do not be afraid, do not be misled, prepare to endure all things for Christ, Trust in Him, look forward to your redemption, and keep yourself from sin. Stay alert – the king is coming.

Series Navigation<< The Temple, The Tribulation, and The Tree. Look Up (Part 1)Luke 25:50-53 Easter and the Ascension of Christ >>