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  • Pastor Brett

Signposts on the Road to Victory (#1 of 3)

Please read Luke 21:5-38 in your Bible. I used the NLT to prepare these remarks.

https://www.behance.net/gallery/110813615/Sermon-Illustrations-2022

At the website “connexionfrance.com,” Hannah Thompson published this report on April 15, 2021.

“Fire engulfed the Notre Dame cathedral on April 15, 2019, causing severe damage inside and out. A definitive cause of the blaze has not yet been established, although it has been ruled as accidental, and possibly linked to restoration work taking place in the spire at the time.

“An inquiry into the blaze has found that six electronic bells - which were apparently intended to be temporary - had been installed in the spire, with cables running from them in the roof space. These may have short-circuited and started the blaze. Despite the risk of short-circuiting, and in breach of all the safety regulations laid out by the chief architects of historic monuments.

“Three medium-size electronic bells were first installed in the roof in 2007. The bells rang at 18:04 on April 15, and the fire was declared at 18:20 the same evening.

“The inquiry continued as French President Macron pledged that the cathedral would be rebuilt by the deadline of 2024 and said that officials aim to hold the first service in 2024.”

(connexionfrance.com)

Occurring as it did as the pandemic was at its most disruptive, this news kind of got lost in the shuffle. Thankfully, the fire did not destroy the Notre Dame cathedral. If it had, the emotional effect would’ve been emotionally equivalent to the declaration that the temple would be destroyed.

Imagine for a moment you are a lifelong resident of Paris, France. Imagine that you live near the cathedral and revere it as a sacred and historical place. On April 14, 2019, you hear someone lecturing near the cathedral say that it would soon be destroyed. The next night you see the cathedral wreathed in flames. How would you feel about all that? Let that give you some context for our passage, for I am certain that Jesus’ words in verse six evoked very similar feelings. This sets the stage for Jesus’ extensive teaching about the Last Days preceding His Second Coming and the consummation of all His promises about the end of this age.

Jesus’ Second Coming is a promise for the future that demands action today.

1. The context of Jesus’ “Last Days” teaching.

First, let’s note where it happened: in the temple courts. (21:5, 37-38) At the end of chapter nineteen, Jesus cleared out the corruption in the temple courts. In chapter twenty, the Jewish religious authorities made several confrontations with Jesus, demanding to know on whose authority He did that. Then, after observing a widow’s faithful support of the temple (21:1-4), Jesus delivered a shocking warning about the tragic end of the temple. That discussion would precipitate the discussion we will analyze closely these three weeks.

Why it happened: SOME OF HIS DISCIPLES spoke pridefully about the temple, possibly to explain why it deserved to be supported as the widow had done. (5-7) In verse six, Jesus warned it would be totally destroyed, a prophecy that came true in 70 AD when the Roman sacked Jerusalem. This naturally concerned the disciples and in verse seven they asked Jesus for a warning as to when that might happen. Jesus’ answer was much broader than their question. Rather than talk about the end of the temple, He taught them signs of the end of the AGE.

Jesus explained there would be two ways we could show we’re taking His warnings seriously: to look for the signs He gave and to keep vigilant. Verses 29-33 tell us how to look for the signs. He used trees as an ILLUSTRATION of how to look for the SIGNS of the end of the age. Leaves appearing on the trees is an obvious indication of the coming of SUMMER. Similarly, the appearance of the SIGNS He described would be obvious indicators that the KINGDOM OF GOD would be NEAR.

What did Jesus mean when He said that THIS GENERATION would not PASS FROM THE SCENE until the SIGNS revealed themselves? (v. 32) He was not promising that the fulfillment of these warnings would happen in the natural lifespan of His hearers. The Greek word for GENERATION can take on a much broader view than a single set of descendants: it referred to the current age and the people who would live between His pronouncement of these words and the end of the present creation. Those people could have full confidence in these SIGNS because Jesus’ words to them were eternally true, outlasting even the present HEAVEN and EARTH. The present creation will DISAPPEAR because they are temporary and due for replacement. Jesus’ WORDS will never be replaced; God can be trusted to keep all His promises.

The other thing the present “generation” of believers is to do is to keep vigilant. (34-38) Firstly, that meant to not LET YOUR HEARTS BE DULLED. DULLED refers to falling into either one of two extremes: One, being careless. For example, being given to CAROUSING AND DRUNKENNESS. These are two ways people could show they don’t care about the fact Jesus is coming again. Two, being consumed with care: THE WORRIES OF THIS LIFE. This is the opposite extreme, present in people who do nothing but fuss over the details of daily life as if that were the most important/only thing that counts.

Jesus warned His disciples, “DON’T LET THAT DAY CATCH YOU UNAWARE, LIKE A TRAP.” Don’t be careless or consumed by cares. Don’t be distracted by worldly things at all. Instead, KEEP ALERT. Look for the signs of the times. Strengthen yourself spiritually so you can stand. We are strengthened by the practice of prayer, for example as Jesus mentioned praying for strength to ESCAPE THESE COMING HORRORS AND STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN.

Jesus gave three reasons for vigilance. One, to avoid the DAY will coming on us LIKE A TRAP. It will be a complete surprise for those who have rejected Jesus and His warnings. It will be sudden to His faithful folk who are VIGILANT, but not a complete surprise. (34-35)

Two, the DAY will have universal consequence: it will COME UPON EVERYONE LIVING ON THE EARTH. (35) There will be no second chances, no one will be overlooked. God’s justice will be consummated and that will mean condemnation for those who refuse God.

Three, the DAY will be especially horrible to unbelievers, but it will also require believers to be strong and stand firm in faith when they finally encounter the breathtaking power and majesty of Jesus Christ, the SON OF MAN in all His glory. (36) We should take particular notice of the word HORRORS. It is a one-word summation of the judgments depicted in the book of Revelation in the “bowl” and “trumpet” judgments. While believers whose faith is STRONG ENOUGH will escape the effects of these judgments, they will still be horrific to behold.

2. Signpost #1: FALSE CHRISTS will appear. (8)

First, people will make false claims about being the Christ. Jesus advised His followers, “DON’T LET ANYONE MISLEAD YOU” about these false claims. Know the true Messiah and thereby recognize counterfeit Christs. Jesus warned MANY would come IN His NAME, claiming to be God (literally, the “I AM,” the name God gave for Himself)

Second, people will make false claims about the nearness of His coming. False teachers would claim the TIME for Jesus’ Second Coming has arrived. They’re claiming to have knowledge that Jesus Himself did not have; only God the Father knows the day and time of the Second Coming. (See Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32.)

How are we to respond to such claims? Jesus advised His followers simply, “DON’T BELIEVE THEM.” Know that Jesus has already told you the truth and anything that doesn’t match is a lie.

Jesus’ Second Coming is a promise for the future that demands action today.

RESOURCES:

Message #1296

https://www.connexionfrance.com/article/French-news/Notre-Dame-fire-New-cause-investigated-as-2024-service-date-confirmed-on-second-anniversary-of-fire retrieved on 15 September 22.

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