The Book of Luke, The Kingdom of God, Part II - Lesson 194
Luke 17:20-37, And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. 22And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
The Pharisees, in demanding of Jesus Christ when the kingdom of God should come, were revealing their hearts as hearts which operated by appearance.
Their whole manner of living operated this way and they looked for a kingdom which could be seen and touched, a kingdom in which they would occupy prominent positions of power.
But the Lord Jesus Christ immediately dashed their hopes by telling them that his kingdom would not come with observation.
We have learned the simple fact of God’s kingdom is that it comes with a king and subjects that are in the king and the king is in his subjects.
It comes without observation for its filling is a matter of one soul after another soul, bowing his or her knee to the sovereign of the kingdom.
So the populating of this kingdom is a quiet affair, one in which God’s Spirit and one subject of the kingdom after another take part.
No Pharisee need be involved, no third party action is required.
No blessings or approval is required by the authorities or the religions of men in order to enter the kingdom.
No man has the authority to include or exclude kingdom dwellers.
No religion or potentate can declare membership into this kingdom.
Only those who have placed themselves as subjects of the king will know the king.
A surrender to the king is required and a new birth of a kingdom dweller results.
This quiet and unheralded building of the kingdom will take place until the time that Christ comes openly and publicly with his saints and angels to occupy this earth with his visible kingdom.
Until that time there is no visible manifestation of God’s kingdom.
So Jesus Christ establishes in the hearts of the disciples this fashion of the kingdom in order that they not look for a kingdom in the fashion of the Pharisees.
He turns to his disciples and says this:
……..The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
We see here that Christ wants his disciples to view the kingdom of God as a whole and that means seeing it in greater scope than that only of Christ’s first coming.
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees focused on his first coming but here he stresses the second coming to his disciples.
The Pharisees were concentrating on the blessings that the kingdom would bring, which is certainly a reality, but in the teaching of Jesus to His disciples the emphasis is on the judgment of God which will come upon sinners at His return.
He is also emphasizing to his disciples that there are dangers in looking for the kingdom too longingly and these longings can be such as to lead them astray.
In other words excessive zeal can get disciples of Christ into great trouble for it can lead men into the following of false Messiahs.
The disciples of Christ were disciples because they had come to love him and were deeply committed to him.
But this warning of Christ to his disciples is given because of their great desire to be with him and to continually see Him.
The Pharisees view of the coming kingdom was distorted but the disciples’ understanding of the coming kingdom and how it will be established was also distorted.
They, at this time, did not want to hear of His coming rejection and death.
They did not want to hear of a time where he would not be physically present with them.
They did not want a suffering king but a conquering king, a visible king.
Jesus therefore reminds them of His coming rejection and death.
Verse 25, But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
So for a time he will not be present in body with them after he ascends to the father but at the appointed time he will be present when he returns in glory to establish a physical presence of his kingdom on earth.
This takes place at His second coming.
But during his absence there will be hard times for the followers of Jesus, who will be rejected and persecuted even as He was to be.
In such times of adversity, a great hunger for Christ’s kingdom and His presence on the earth will be experienced by those who love Him.
But this zeal for his presence will also bring problems and those problems involve a distraction from the disciples devotion and duty to the cause.
For there will be desire to follow those who claim to be the Messiah.
Here is where Christ makes it very plain that the true Messiah will not be on the earth until He comes as the lightening comes out of the one part of the heaven to shine in the other part of heaven.
His disciples are informed that there will be those who claim to be the Messiah but the instruction to his disciples is to pay no attention to them for when He comes the whole world will know it and no one can counterfeit his true coming.
The command of Christ is to Occupy (to busy oneself in the work of God) till he comes and to not be diverted by claims of Messiah-ship that will surely come during his physical absence.
Jesus teaches his disciples that chasing after messiah’s, as though they might miss His coming is foolish and unnecessary.
He assures us that when He returns, his return will be known to all throughout the world.
No one on earth regardless of their isolation, will sleep through his coming.
John tells us this in Rev. 1:7, Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.
The teaching is clear – regardless of all signs and wonders that false messiah’s perform we are to keep occupying till Jesus Christ comes and when he comes we will know it.
Those who are saved will know it by the deliverance that occurs at the rapture and those who are lost will know it as they know the lightening that courses from sky to sky.
There is no need on the part of the disciples to worry about missing out on this kingdom and no need to concern themselves about everyone who claims to be the king.
We, along with his disciples of old, are to faithfully endure till the end, we are to be trusting, worshipping and serving Him knowing that his coming will not be missed by anyone.
We are not to be over-eager or so zealous that we may be deceived by false messiahs for that will bring many dangers.
Occupy till he comes means to use our energies in serving him and advancing His cause, not in wasting time in the seeking of a messiah who will turn out to be false.
We who are in this dispensation are to be content that the building of the kingdom is a one soul after another process and will not be interrupted until it is interrupted by the king, the
Lord Jesus Christ coming in power and glory.
Jesus then continues his teaching to the disciples by telling them what the conditions of the earth will be when the Son of Man comes again.
Luke 17:26-37, And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32Remember Lot’s wife. 33Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 34I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
In verses 20 & 21, Jesus had told the Pharisees that neither they, nor the people, would recognize the kingdom of God, even though they were looking for it.
And according to verses 26-37 this lack of recognition continues on through to the time of his coming.
We are to remember that populating the kingdom of God during the time before Christ’s second coming is a quiet transaction between God, and men and women.
This is not a transaction of power but a transaction by the Spirit of God and does not interfere with mankind’s normal way of life which continues unhindered by thoughts or reminders of judgment.
Jesus Christ brings up two scenes for our learning.
He brings up two men who are examples of those kept from judgment, Noah and Lot.
Both men, as we know from the book of Genesis, lived among wicked men.
Both men and at least a part of their families, were kept from God’s judgment, which was poured out upon those who remained.
In the cases of both men, the judgment of God was poured out on a wicked generation and multitudes died.
And in both cases, no one seemed aware that the judgment of God was coming until it was too late for in both cases there was no spectacular warning of impending judgment.
There were no “signs and wonders.”
There was the testimony of the ark, which was being built over a period of 120 years and there was also the testimony of Noah whom Peter tells us was a preacher of righteousness.
But God did not provide the spectacular to either group in order to get them to repent.
He simply provided the preaching of God’s word.
The spectacular is not God’s method for building His kingdom.
It is not by might, nor by power but by His Spirit, saith the Lord.
There is a proverb that describes what destruction and a fall brings.
It does not bring repentance to the proud and to the haughty.
Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
This does not mean that when pride is exhibited there will be destruction or when haughtiness is shown this will result in a fall.
It means that in spite of destruction, in the face of destruction, the prideful will continue to be proud and in spite of an imminent fall, in the face of an imminent fall, the haughty will continue to be haughty.
So God does not use destruction or falls or the threat of destruction or falls to reach the hearts of men.
He uses his word and if that does not do the work there is no other remedy.
The rich man when he arrived in hell pleaded with Abraham to send Lazarus back to talk to his brothers but the answer back to the rich man was “‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead’” (Luke 16:31).
It is not more signs and wonders that are most needed, but a simple proclamation of the gospel by God’s people who live a life of obedience to God’s word.
If men would be saved, they will be saved by heeding the Word of God.
So Jesus Christ describes by the use of Noah and Lot what will take place before the coming of the Son of Man.
And what he describes is business as usual.
Everybody was going about their daily activities of living.
People were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, planting and building.
It was “life as usual” for these people when the end came.
Ask those who were in the World Trade Center on that fateful day 5 years ago.
It was business as usual.
The had no clue of what was to befall them.
And the people who live when Jesus comes will be in the same boat.
They will never realize that judgment is coming upon them.
Jesus does not emphasize the sinful practices of these people.
He did not say that when the end came, the people were busily engaged in their sinful practices.
There is nothing in itself evil about eating and drinking, about marriage, or about one’s daily life.
So the message is clear that those who are so wrapped up in this life and the things of this life do not look for the kingdom of God.
They are involved only in that which they can see and give no value to that which they cannot see.
In both Noah and in Lot’s day, people were preoccupied with “living.”
So we see that worldly pre-occupations, lessen men’s desire for the kingdom.
They dim any view of its reality, and dull any desire for it to come.
Only when we know that true life is found in Christ, and we give up those things in which the world finds “life” then we will be eagerly looking for His appearing
This is why Jesus has had so much to say about possessions.
Possessions will possess us if we find our “life” to be wrapped up with them.
But when we use our possessions to further the kingdom, then we lay up treasure in heaven, and our hearts are toward heaven.
But life to those without the truth of God consists of the earthly, temporal things which bring men pleasure, meaning, and joy.
Men say about many things, “This is the life” but that which is the life is soon gone and without any eternal meaning.
They totally find meaning and significance in vanity.
When people’s “lives” are caught up in the pursuits of living, they become insensitive to spiritual matters, and in particular to those warnings of the Scriptures and the saints concerning God’s coming and His judgment.
Christians can be caught up in the same spiritual dullness which unbelievers face because of their worldliness.
So who looks for the appearing of Christ?
Only those who know Christ and find value in His coming.
Those who are already in the kingdom look for Christ.
Those who have no interest in the kingdom but have all their interest in this world will not be looking for his appearing.
Look at Lot and his family.
Lot’s sons-in-law refused to leave Sodom, and thought Lot was out of his mind.
Lot himself was most hesitant to leave.
While Lot’s wife left Sodom, her heart was still there, and thus she turned back to see all that she loved, going up in smoke.
Jesus Christ expects his children to be single minded toward his kingdom.
Luke 9:62, And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Lot’s wife’s treasure was not found in God but in Sodom.
All her friends were there, all her things she hated to lose were there and she had to have one last look.