The Book of Luke, The Second Coming of Christ - Lesson 223
In our previous lessons on chapter 21 we have seen that Christís instructions for the most part have to do with the near foretelling of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.
However our verses for today concern the second coming of Christ.
They tell of the signs which precede it, they tell of the response of unbelievers to those signs and what should be the response of those who are saved.
Luke 21:25-36, And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26Menís hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
29And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
34And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
As I have said before, chapter 21 does not fall into a neat chronological listing of events.
There is a back and forth oration by our Lord in this prophesy.
We saw in our last study that some events like the destruction of Jerusalem and persecution for following Christ, will be experienced by the disciples within their life times, and we see some of this fulfilled as we read the book of Acts.
Our passage for today deals with events which are all future to the disciples but which are separated by considerable time periods.
Some events will happen more than once such as the destruction of Jerusalem.
It was to be "trampled by the Gentiles in 70 A.D., within the lifetimes of the disciples but we know from the book of Revelation that it will again be trampled by Gentiles at the end times:
As we read in Revelation 11:2, But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
In all of this, Jesus does not chose to speak of the blessings that await believers but chooses instead to speak of divine judgment.
The end times are viewed from the perspective of divine retribution.
According to our Lordís words in verse 22, these are "days of vengeance."
22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
For in everything there is a season and vengeance too has a season and God will not repent of this season!
And this season of the outpouring of Godís wrath begins with the destruction of the temple followed in time by great signs which show the season preceding the second coming of our Lord.
The end times will be signaled, not by one sign, but by many signs.
We are so used to order in Godís universe, however that order will be interrupted before our Lord comes.
His coming will be preceded by chaos in his universe.
The sun, the moon and the stars will announce His coming.
The earth will shake its seas and they will toss and roar.
We look at sun spots and wonder about global warming, the melting of the ice caps and know that the heavens greatly affect our planet.
Even tiny changes in temperature can bring great calamity.
Christís words regarding Godís vengeance are amplified in the prophecies of the book of Revelation which speaks of cosmic and earthly chaos:
Revelation 6:12-17, And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Revelation 8:8-9, 12, And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyedÖÖ.12And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Many people today fear the natural evolution of things on this earth such as global warming and try to figure out what can be done to stop such changes.
But God knows exactly how to control his universe for he placed every thing in it.
He sustains everything and everything does his bidding.
Every day we take for granted the constancy of his creation and think nothing of gravity and the rising and the setting of the sun.
We take for granted the limits that God places on the heat of the sun that is allowed to touch this planet.
All of our actions are based upon the constancy of his creation, but God will even take that away from man, for man is quick to trust in Godís creation rather than simply and solely trusting in God.
But God is a loving God and knows that eternity can only be gained by trusting in Him and therefore he brings to ruin anything other than Him that competes for your trust.
As I said last week Godís economy includes the decay and ruin of everything you see.
There will be nothing spared in which you put your trust, except God.
The message is "Trust God" for there will be nothing else in which to trust.
Oswald Chambers (1874Ė1917) The only way to wait for the Second Coming is to watch that you do what you should do, so that when he comes is a matter of indifference. It is the attitude of a child, certain that God knows what he is about. When the Lord does come, it will be as natural as breathing. God never does anything hysterical, and he never produces hysterics.
The heavens and the earth are going to pass away, and there will no longer be any sea.
The heavenly disorders are but a sign of the destruction which lies ahead.
Men today ignore the signs of decay for the most part.
But in that day these signs cannot be ignored for men will be terrified by them.
As we read in verse 26: Menís hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Most men, most women, however will not repent of their sins, so as to be saved.
Life will go on as usual, with men living in terror, but also in continued rebellion against God.
Their hearts will continue to be haughty as we learn in:
Revelation 6:15, And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
We are reminded that even in the face of destruction men will not repent
Proverbs 18:12, Before destruction the heart of man is haughty,Ö.
Even when destruction is eminent to the haughty the heart will continue in its haughtiness.
Proverbs 16:18, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Pride will continue in the face of destruction and a haughty spirit will not become humble even when a fall is eminent.
Have you ever seen a turning to God when disaster strikes?
I have never seen it.
John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Turning to God requires the work of the Spirit of God.
Men may be frightened to death by a dangerous situation, but they will persist in living just as they did before.
But these signs are not only for the unbelieving but are also for the believing.
The unbelieving will mock and rebel against these signs but the same signs will bring courage and hope to the saint.
Now many of the cosmic events will take place after the rapture of the church but I believe that many will also take place before the rapture of the church for Jesus tells his disciples to look for these events and when they happen:
look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28).
The reason to look up is that these events precede the return of the Lord Jesus, and His return in great power and glory.
Luke 21:27, And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
When He comes, He will deal with His enemies and our enemies.
He will remove the wicked, as He will reward the righteous.
His coming will bring terror to His enemies, but will bring joy to His friends.
Luke 21:29, And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Jesus Christ now relates to his disciples a simple parable for he wishes them to know somewhat of the timing of His coming.
This is not a day and the hour of his coming but it is about the season of his coming.
We must take this lesson from our Lord for our Lord was not one to encourage the setting of dates and he did not indicate a single sign which will accompany His coming.
He is wanting his disciples to have a knowledge as to the season of His coming.
Seasons are revealed by a combination of events.
The weather reveals the coming of a season, the trees and plants and grasses do likewise.
The activities of Godís creatures are an indicator of seasons as well as the position of the sun and the moon.
My wife and I saw a humming bird the other day which portends spring.
Jesus did not want his disciples to be ignorant of the approach of His return, as would be the case with unbelievers.
Believers have ears to hear and God intends to fill those ears with his word.
So he gives this agricultural analogy which is the discerning of the season by observing the signs of its arrival.
When not only the fig tree, but all the other trees as well, begin to put out leaves, we know that spring has come, and that summer cannot be too far off.
Seasons do not look at calendars so as to determine when they should come.
Men over the centuries have had to adjust calendars to conform to the signs of the seasons.
Leap days have been added to our year every four years so as to adjust to the seasons.
We even skip leap years in century years that are not divisible by four.
That is why we had a leap day in 2000 but not in 1900.
The farmer recognizes the season by noting those evidences of its arrival.
He does not plant according to the calendar but plants according to the signs he sees in the field, the air he feels, the birds he sees.
Jesus has likewise just informed His disciples and us also, of the evidences of the "season" of His second coming.
Those who would like to know the exact time of His arrival will not be satisfied with our Lordís answer.
The nearness of His return will be sensed by those who are alert to and aware of the evidences of its arrival.
We can discern the season by the branch of the fig tree when it becomes soft and tender because of the sap that is swelling within it.
Because of this, leaves will soon form and still more leaves will come.
It is easy to discern that spring is here and summer is near.
Similarly when the signs in the sun, the moon and the stars take place and in the earth distress of nations, with seas and waves roaring, believers, then living, will recognize that the kingdom of God which is to be on earth, is at the very door.
Christ is at the door and the door is ready to open with Christ taking control of this world as its king.
Christ is describing catastrophic events.
Martin Luther (1483Ė1546) I hope that the day is near at hand when the advent of the great God will appear, for all things everywhere are boiling, burning, moving, falling, sinking, groaning.
A commentator named Godet says it this way: "Like a ship creaking at every timber at the moment of its going to pieces, the globe which we inhabit, and our whole solar system, shall undergo unusual commotions."
The coming of our Lord will rescue that ship from the rocks and save this planet from utter destruction.
He told the disciples to look for the signs which precede the fall of Jerusalem and he provides all Christians with latter day signs which indicate His imminent return.
When these become visible, Christians should look up for their redemption will be drawing near.
If you are a believer you already have been redeemed from the guilt and penalty of sin but we still look for deliverance from the presence of sin.
For when Christ calls his church, our bodies shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye and the last vestige of sin will be banished from the Christian.
Jesus Christ gives us a time of great anticipation with the revelation of these signs for we are to lift up our heads because the final phase of our redemption is about to be accomplished.