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You Have Been Warned

Please read Luke 17:20-37 in your Bible.

Image by James Best, (C) 2020,

https://www.behance.net/gallery/90621713/Sermon-Illustrations-2020

I was listening to the song, “Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?” by Chicago. For some reason, I actually heard the lyrics for the first time. Do you know this song is about TIME?

As I was walking down the street one day A man came up to me and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, yeah And I said

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don't) Does anybody really care (care about time) If so I can't imagine why (no, no) We've all got time enough to cry

And I was walking down the street one day A pretty lady looked at me and said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead And I said

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don't) Does anybody really care (care about time) If so I can't imagine why (no, no) We've all got time enough to cry

And I was walking down the street one day (people runnin' everywhere) Being pushed and shoved by people (don't know where to go) Trying to beat the clock, oh, no I just don't know (don't know where I am) I don't know, I don't know, oh (don't have time to think past the last mile) (Have no time to look around) And I said, yes I said (run around and think why)

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don't) Does anybody really care (care about time) If so I can't imagine why (no, no) We've all got time enough to die

Everybody's working (I don't care) I don't care (about time) About time (no, no) I don't care

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Robert William Lamm

Does Anybody Really Know What Time it is lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Spirit Music Group, BMG Rights Management

The song is about having a carefree attitude about time. The singer wonders why people waste so much time hurrying about in senseless activity. I had never known the name of the song or what was behind the happy, light-hearted music.

This song reminds me a lot of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:28-37. He warned that in the days prior to His Second Coming people were going to be going about their everyday lives as if they were going to go on forever. They would be surprised to find that Jesus’ warning and promises were all true and that it was tragically too late for them to join the team. The upbeat music of that song contrasts vividly against the tragic realization of missing out eternally.

V. 20 supplies the context; the Pharisees had been paying attention to what Jesus was teaching in order to find something in which they could entrap Him. They knew He’d taught about the coming Kingdom of God and His role in it. This was not the kind of kingdom they were expecting, however, so they wanted to check on it. They asked Jesus WHEN the Kingdom would come.

The Kingdom of God will come suddenly but not unexpectedly.

1. The Kingdom is here; it is within you. (20-21)

We don’t get to decide WHEN the Kingdom comes, nor even know when it is coming. It is enough for us to know THAT it is coming and to spend ourselves in preparation for that day. As Jesus said, “THE KINGDOM OF GOD DOES NOT COME WITH YOUR CAREFUL OBSERVATION.” We don’t predict its coming, we don’t ratify it’s appearance; the Kingdom of God is God’s rule, not ours.

In Genesis 1:27-30, God gave people dominion over the earth. The people promptly sinned and in a way, turned part of their dominion over to Satan. When the Kingdom comes in its fullness, God will have full dominion over the New Creation, making us “kings and priests” in that New Creation.

We get to observe it in one another. Jesus told us not to pay attention to people who claim to see the Kingdom in one place or another because it is WITHIN us. This is exactly the opposite of what the Pharisees anticipated. They expected signs in the heavens and a great deal of fanfare and drama as the Romans were overcome violently. Naturally, they wanted to be the first to see it, to lead the way in pointing it out to others. Contrary to their hope, Jesus predicted the Kingdom would come to people directly, quietly, individually, the ultimate “grassroots” event.

The Church is the Kingdom of God. The Church is the people of God redeemed from every nation, tribe, language, and people assembled by their shared faith in Christ (Revelation 5:9). The word WITHIN in v. 21 can also be translated as AMONG, so there is a sense in which Jesus answered the Pharisees by saying, “With all your careful observations you still won’t see the Kingdom because it’s right in front of you!” Jesus Himself was the inauguration of the Kingdom!

This is the paradox of the Kingdom of God. It came in part in the person of Jesus. It will come in its fullness when Jesus comes a second time.

Transition: The first part of our passage was spoken to the Pharisees. The second part was spoken to HIS DISCIPLES.

2. Don’t be surprised by the Kingdom’s coming (22-37).

It will come after Jesus suffers ultimate rejection. (22-25). He understood their desire to SEE ONE OF THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN, but warned they would NOT SEE IT. Historically, we know Jesus did not come again during the lifetime of those men.

Jesus warned His disciples there would be claims made, false sightings of the Son of Man. He warned them in advance not to believe them. They would know these sightings were false because they would not have seen Him with their own eyes. Jesus assured them His Second Coming would be perfectly obvious to such a degree as to remove all doubt: LIKE LIGHTNING WHICH FLASHES AND LIGHTS UP THE SKY FROM ONE END TO THE OTHER. BUT FIRST - before any of this talk about the Day of the Lord, Jesus would have to SUFFER MANY THINGS AND BE REJECTED BY THE current GENERATION.

Jesus followed with two historical examples of people caught unaware by sudden but expected destruction. (26-29) The first was Noah. Though Noah had warned them, the people of Noah’s time carried on with life as normal, until the very day Noah walked onto the completed ark and God shut the door behind him. As soon as the door was shut, the rains fell down, and the unrepentant people were destroyed

The second example was Abraham’s nephew Lot, who at one time resided in a city called Sodom. The people living in Sodom were engaged in business as normal, oblivious to danger. Then God got Lot out of danger as He’d done for Noah and immediately the FIRE AND SULFUR rained down to their destruction.

When the Kingdom of God comes, there will be no more opportunities to join it. (30-37) History will repeat itself on THE DAY THE SON OF MAN IS REVEALED. People will refuse to repent, busy themselves with their usual work and play, and be surprised to find it is too late to avoid destruction. It will be too late to retrieve their GOODS, which will do them no good anyway. (31) To turn back will result in their destruction, just like Lot’s wife. (32)

Verse 33 is one of the key verses of all Jesus’ teaching. The things of this world must be lost (sacrificed) as part of the faith-commitment that preserves our lives.

Verses 34-35 are a warning; another illustration of the sudden effects of Jesus’ second coming. One person is taken to Jesus, leaving behind their unbelieving partner. They will suffer surprise and sorrow. Some manuscripts offer a third example in verse 36.

5) The disciples are still thinking very literally; they want to know where the disappearing person ends up. Jesus’ reply is difficult to understand. It’s as if He is telling them where the person left behind ends up (DEAD) instead of where the disappeared person has gone (to be with the Lord). Upon Jesus’ Second Coming the righteous will be divided from the unrighteous on Judgment Day and each will receive their eternal due.

The Kingdom of God will come suddenly but not unexpectedly.

When you really stop and study this passage, it is a beat-down experience. It is a strongly-worded, in-your-face, graphic warning to get right or get left behind. Turn or burn.

Way back in ’95, Diane Franzen of Carson City, Nevada wrote about a personal experience with her son.

“As a harried young mother of a five-year-old and an infant, I kept busy with the mundane tasks of housekeeping and child care. One day, the work had piled up and I was frantically running around scrubbing and dusting, while my son pestered me to play with him. ’Not now. I’m busy,’ I said throughout the day.

“Finally, my son sauntered into the kitchen, head hung low, and asked me to play one last time in his most forlorn voice. I pulled my sudsy hands out of the dishwater and wrestled him to the kitchen floor, tickling and laughing. When we settled down to catch our breath, he looked up at me and calmly said, ‘Mom, you should play with me more, because when I’m ten, I’m not going to want to play with you.’”

It’s funny how the son saw the future clearly but his mom had to be told. Opportunity is a very finite resource. Though we are warned they are limited, we’re still surprised when opportunities run out.

This passage warns about the worst of all missed opportunities: the opportunity to be saved. The opportunity to follow Jesus, to be obedient to God’s will and to invite as many people as we can to join us in eternal life is a limited opportunity. Though we know He is coming again, we don’t know when. We can’t waste our days on trivialities alone, we must be intent on the opportunities to draw nearer to Jesus and help others find Him as their Savior too.

When the VULTURES appear, it’s too late; even too late even for regrets.

RESOURCES:

The NIV Study Bible, Luke, Darrell L. Bock

https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/232/missing-the-obvious

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