[Luke 21:25-36] “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.27 And 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, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the 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 say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
When You See These Things Taking Place
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding (fearful expectation) of what is coming on the world.”
The nations become perplexed in fear because of the tragedy and trauma that befalls the earth. The nations are in distress. The nations are perplexed. But the people of God in the Church of God need not be consumed by such fear. We know who it is that is drawing near.
When you see these things taking place, you know what’s happening - the sin-fallen world is flickering out – the devil is thrashing around in his death throws, gnashing his desperate teeth – and Jesus, the Savior, who has conquered in the fight, is about come, bringing the new heavens and the new earth.
When you see evils and tribulations taking place, take heart – rejoice that your salvation from those troubles has taken place and is coming nearer and nearer.
What should we not do? As we see troubles befall the world, we do not get caught up in complex theories and detailed interpretations about the end-times. Christ said that He Himself doesn’t know when that day will be, but only the Father [Matthew 24:36].
Also, there are not multiple returns of Christ. There is not a rapture – Christians won’t disappear up into heaven before the end. We don’t live in fear of an end-times political kingdom. And there is not an earthly or political kingdom of Christ or the Church on earth in the end either.
We walk by faith in the straightforward and simple message of Scripture – One return, once and for all. Jesus returns and all the dead are raised – one final moment – “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” [1 Corinthians 15:52] - with a shout , seen at once by all, just as the light shines from the east to the west [Matthew 24:27] One judgment, one Last Day. Then, everlasting Day.
We don’t seek confusion. We interpret the hard-to-understand portions of Scripture – especially books of prophecy or revelation – in light of the clear and straightforward passages. Scripture interprets Scripture. There are straightforward passages about the end (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The clear, straightforward passages of Scripture are the measuring sticks that help us understand the less clear passages, not the other way around.
What do we do when we see the troubles of the end and the signs of Christ’s advent, His return, taking place? We rejoice. Scriptures straightforward message, again, is that our salvation – and our Savior – is drawing near.
Every tragedy is a reminder of what Jesus has overcome for us. Every trouble or trauma is reason to hasten His return by our prayer. And He does come! We rejoice that He will be here soon.
Every time sin rears its ugly head, against us or in us, it’s a reminder of what Jesus has forgiven and of what will no longer be in us when He returns. In His coming Advent, sin will flicker out even in us. Sinners no more.
When you see these things taking place, “raise your heads because your redemption is drawing”. Redemption, which is the forgiveness of sins [Colossians 1:14].
“Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” That’s a good thing. Rejoice. Evils are a passing reminder of the Good that is to come, Good which surpasses all the evils suffered.
Rejoice. Jesus is arriving on that Day to complete in you the salvation He won for you on the day of His cross. By His death He has conquered death and has atoned for all sins. Even your sins. All of them. By His resurrection He raises the new man in you.
He has done that work of salvation for you in full on that Day of the cross. He completes it in you on the day of His return [Philippians 1:6]. Rejoice that you see that Day drawing near.
Lastly, as we see these things taking place, we should be watchful and awake – not frightened, but aware of the significance of our Lord’s Advent – so that the Good that is to come will be good for us.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation (life like a party and its hangover) and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The cares of this life. So that day doesn’t come upon us like a trap, we must learn to treat the cares of this life only as passing cares. Otherwise, this world becomes our hope – and then, when this world flickers, we lose hope. Or, when this world does well, we forget the Lord, who is our true hope.
Let the cares of this passing world be only passing cares. Be more concerned about everlasting cares. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” [2 Peter 3:10-11]
Be one who is hastening the Lord’s coming by your prayers. The cares of this world do pass. That’s a promise. The one thing that doesn’t pass is something you already possess and can rejoice in – Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
As you see these things taking place, rejoice that you have the words of the Lord. His word of Law for your guide. His word of Gospel-promise for your salvation. These will never flicker. You have the sure, certain and un-passing thing – His Word which will never pass away.
“When you see these things taking place” don’t live perplexed in fear like the nations. Instead, know “that the kingdom of God is near” and rejoice in this fact in the midst of troubles. Amen.