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Posts Tagged ‘judgment’

1820-Country-Wedding-John-Lewis-Krimmel

The Coming of the Kingdom (Luke 17:22-37)

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.  25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.  27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.  31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”  37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

Jesus refers to two historical events in this passage on the coming of the kingdom of God and the accompanying judgment to follow.  Both would be familiar histories to the Jewish people at that time.  He speaks of the “days of Noah” and the “days of Lot,” two periods marked by great evil and inescapable judgment.

Of the days of Noah, we are told, “The LORD saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6, italics mine).  Of the days of Lot, we read, “the outcry against both Sodom [Lot’s hometown] and [the nearby] Gomorrah was great and their sin was very grave” (Genesis 18:20).  There were not even ten righteous souls to be found to save Sodom from destruction (vv. 22-33).    The men of Sodom were “wicked, great sinners against the LORD” (Genesis 13:13) and “did an abomination before Him” (Ezekiel 16:50).  Sodom’s guilt extended to pride, overfed and prosperous ease and a disregard for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49).  2 Peter 2:7 speaks of the “sensual conduct of the wicked,” and Genesis 19:4-11 records the sin of their lusting homosexuality, even to the extent that when struck with blindness, they “wore themselves out groping” for their intended victims.

Jesus might have used any of these vile examples to warn his listeners of mankind’s sure and coming judgment.  Instead, though, Jesus surprises us by commenting not on the excesses and gross wickedness of those in Noah’s day or Lot’s day, but on their apathy and disregard of anything other than their material world, even up to the point of their doom.  Judgment came upon them before they realized their error in neglecting their need for salvation.

It seems mankind’s tendency is to play down his sins, to disregard the assault our sins are to the character and nature of our maker, whose image we bear in the world.  If we acknowledge our shortcomings or sins at all we often subconsciously rank them in relation to the scope of other worldly sins.  Such phrases as “at least I don’t ____ like so and so,” or, if we’re very nearsighted, we may even try to recommend ourselves with such thoughts as, “I’m, basically a pretty good person; I do _____ for so and so and _____ for thus and such.”

But, again, what is the great warning Jesus gives in Luke 17?  It is a warning to those who go through life nonchalantly, ignoring the reality of God around them and believing they have all the time in the world to address their spiritual selves.  Of all the sins in which the people in Noah’s or Lot’s days participated, the sin Jesus highlights appears to be just good, simple living—eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, buying and selling, planting and building (vv. 27-28); nothing we would consider “evil.” Nevertheless, their days ended abruptly in sure judgment.  They were caught unaware, and there was no time left to address their need for deliverance.

So it will be for all mankind, either at the point of physical death or in the day of the Son of Man— “There will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left” (vv. 34-35)

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

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Thank you to Pastor Dave Monreal for the above insight (09-15-13).

[Painting by John Lewis Krimmel, Country Wedding, 1820]

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Joe Rigney, Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary, distributed the following letter of analysis, charge, and encouragement in the wake of our recent national election.  I am so grateful for his thoughts and clarity.

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“Last week Americans went to the polls to participate in our biennial electoral ritual. Evangelicals were rightly disappointed in the election of President Barack Obama. During the campaign the president vocally, clearly, and persistently advocated for same-sex marriage and abortion on demand, and a majority of the American people rewarded him for it. For many of us, it was a stark reminder that there are millions of our fellow citizens who embrace the culture of death (or who at least are not sufficiently provoked by it to vote against politicians who endorse it).

“As I watched the election returns come in and it became clear that the American people had embraced a larger, more intrusive federal government that tramples on religious liberty, that celebrates what God hates, and that refuses to protect the weakest among us, I wrote down a number of thoughts and questions that I’d like to share with you. These reflect my own views only and not necessarily those of BCS as a whole.

  • We seem to be witnessing the triumph of envy, resentment, and blame-shifting in American culture. The President ran ads saying that Romney is “not one of us.” He stirred up crowds with “voting is the best revenge.” For his entire first term, he blamed America’s woes on George W. Bush, House Republicans, the Japanese Tsunami, and so on. And 51% of the American people rewarded him for it. Class warfare worked. Demonizing success worked. And perhaps it worked because many of us are full of envy and resentment ourselves, and because we hate to take responsibility for our actions. If the culture is eight months pregnant with a particular sin, then the church is five months pregnant and starting to show.
  • This looks to me like a “father hunger” election. A fatherless generation is looking for a Father in Washington. The President won single women by 38%. The President, as a man abandoned by his own father, is in a unique position to appeal to the needs, desires, and fears of the fatherless (there’s a deep connection between father hunger, sexual “freedom,” and envy). He put out a famous ad about the life of Julia, a single woman who has most of her needs provided for her by the federal government, from high school through old age. In the liberal vision, the State replaces the father as the direct provider for the family. I predict that the State will make a lousy dad.
  • This election is a further flowering of the 1960’s sexual revolution (and associated movements). The media, government schools, universities, and culture-makers are overwhelmingly progressive and hostile to the gospel and the Scriptures. As someone said, you can’t fight a culture war if you don’t have a culture. It seems to me that figuring out what a godly culture is and cultivating it within our churches and communities is one of the chief challenges for Christians.
  • Some day President Obama and all those who support the murder of unborn children will stand before the God who gives life. That’s a terrifying consolation.
  • A hermeneutical question for Bible-believing Christians: Does God still judge nations today for specific sins, and do we have the ability to recognize his intentions in historical events? Natural disasters, willful blindness of leaders, societal disintegration: are these God’s judgment for specific sins and how can we know? It seems to me that recovering our prophetic voice means learning to stand in God’s council and then to interpret the present time in light of God’s authoritative word.
  • A practical question for Bible-believing Christians: Will we continue to hold the line on the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and gender in the face of increasing hostility, opposition, and marginalization? Will we continue to be the 7,000 who don’t bow the knee to Baal?

“Here’s what I’m preaching and praying for myself in light of the downward trajectory of this country:

  • Love your wife. May she never desire to look to the State for provision and protection.
  • Love your [children]. May they never pray in their hearts, “Our Father which art in Washington.”
  • Teach your students. May they think and feel and live like Christians all the way down.
  • Pray for the mercy and justice of God. May His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Remember that there are only two ways to live and two ways to die. And in God’s world, faithful death always leads to resurrection.
  • Cultivate a genuine counter-culture where God has planted you. Generational love and faithfulness; honor to godly authorities; wise husbands and fathers who provide for their households; strong wives and mothers who don’t fear what is frightening; care for widows, orphans, and the unborn and their mothers; and a readiness to give gospel love when the Lie comes undone.
  • Hope in God and laugh at the time to come.

Gladly trusting in the Lord of history.”

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I am heart-broken today…

 

I am heart-broken for the unborn who silently plead for rescue from their mothers;

 

I am heart-broken for the financial weight my children and grandchildren will bear in taxes (direct and indirect) and the resulting decrease in funds they will have to meet their needs and pursue their happiness;

 

I am heart-broken for America as she trades her character of overcoming and horizons for a character of jealousy, covetousness and victim-hood;

 

I am heart-broken for our grandchildren and the messed-up concepts of family and marriage that we’ve dealt them;

 

I am heart-broken for myself and our aging parents as our healthcare will NEVER compare to what past generations have expected and appreciated (where will my Canadian friend and his family go now?);

 

I am heart-broken for the loss of freedom in our country as conscience and conviction of principles are denied expression and legal protections;

 

I am especially heart-broken because I fear America is under judgment (and why in the world not?) as God removes his protections from us, giving us over to our reprobate minds.  Yet much of the American church is busy about building their “mega” empires and is opting for a palatable, feel-good, ego-centric gospel instead of sackcloth and ashes.

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