Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Stop, Look, and Listen"

Revelation 3 talks to the church in Sardis, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead… Wake up!”… “But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come.” 
The church of Sardis is a lot like the church in our nation.  All over the world they think of America as a Christian nation, that’s our reputation.  But America is asleep.  We’ve been lulled to sleep by a false sense of security, by prosperity, and by our “me” culture.  We are completely oblivious to the stuff that’s going down in the rest of the world.
In the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25) both the foolish and the wise virgins fell asleep.  At midnight the cry rang out, “The Bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him!” But only the wise virgins had oil left in their lamps, and the foolish ones, left to buy oil and came back later to the door of the wedding feast saying, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!”  But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.” Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
You can have a Christian reputation and not really be one. You can dress and act like one, like the foolish virgin who thought she was all set to go into the wedding banquet, but she didn’t have enough oil to stick it out until He arrived.  There is a Great Tribulation coming and we are going to need our anointing. We are going to need the Holy Spirit, not just half way full in our jar, but spilling over. 

Jesus warned the Pharisees “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. “ (Matthew 16:3) Then he calls them a wicked and adulterous generation.  Is our generation any different?  Are we really not supposed to be discerning the signs of our own times?       
Almost every time I tell someone that I have been studying eschatology for three years now, they say, “does it really matter how and when it’s going to happen so long as you have a good relationship with God?”  My answer is this, Knowing what I know now has made me live with a sense of urgency.  I don’t have the “time” I once thought I did.  Yes a genuine relationship with the Almighty is all that matters for your personal salvation, but what about others? The harvest is plenty but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).   Proverbs 10:5 even says that “he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”  Now is harvest time. Most Christians in America don’t actively share their faith. Do you?

Luke 21:28 says, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!”  How are you gonna know when to lift up your head if you don’t know what “these things” are? The disciples asked the same question in Matthew 24. They asked, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answers them in the following verses, and the account is told again in Mark 13 and Luke 21.  Not only there but Daniel, Ezekiel, Joel, Isaiah, Revelation, and a little in the other prophets as well, also tell of things that will happen in the End Times.      Wars, rumors of wars… There will be an increase in natural disasters. Signs in the heavens. Peoples’ hearts will grow cold and they will only care about themselves and money. There will be a surge of information and technology. If I had a timeline map in front of me, there would be a little bubble like on a mall map that says “you are here!” 
He also says that there would be an abundance of false prophets in the last days.  He told his disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees; meaning the false teaching of the Pharisees.  What’s the best way to guard against false teaching?  To know the bible. Read it for yourself.  Study it for yourself.
(Don’t forget words like “but” and “therefore”.  “Therefore” is an important word in (hermeneutics) bible study, never take it out of the sentence, it’ll confuse the context.  It’s just like the “but” in Revelation 3. “But, if you do not wake up, I’ll come like a thief.”  And in the parable of the Ten Virgins it says, “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or hour”. It’s very different to say, to both the awake and the asleep I will come unexpectedly than it is to say, if you are asleep I’ll come unexpectedly, BUT if you are awake, you will see me coming.  Read all around the verse, not just the verse.  When you are studying read other books that have similar wording or OT tie-ins and parallels etc.)
"Stop" sleeping. God says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing, do you perceive it?” He is always at work; it’s our own fault if we do not see it.  “Look” around you for the signs (signs in the Middle Eastern nations and in the heavens). “Listen” for the trumpet… the mighty blast that proclaims “The Bride groom is coming!”  Then get ready… put the Holy Spirit oil in your jar, don’t think you can take some of your neighbor’s or your parent’s, get your own, and stand firm waiting on your redeemer. 
Rev 1:3, says “blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”  The word “blessed” is translated “happy” in many instances throughout the bible.  Happy are those that study prophecy.  Why is that do you think?      Have you ever had a test where the teacher told you which questions would be on it in advance?  How happy were you?  God doesn’t leave us in the dark about what’s on the “test”, he tells us straight up.  
I have been intentionally reading verses about the thousand year reign of Christ and about the New Earth that follows that, to give myself a clear goal that I can grasp. If I had the common world view that Heaven is up in the clouds and we have harps and have to sing all day, I wouldn’t be quite so ready to persevere for that.  But what God has in store for us is beyond our hopes for perfection.          
One of the many scriptures with a glimpse of what’s to come is Isaiah 11. (I’ll start at verse 6)  “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” 

We can also find encouragement in the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3. The beginning of each letter brings conviction, and the end gives hope. One letter says “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”  And another, “I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” One more; “I will give authority over the nations”.  I don’t know about you, but I want every blessing that is available to me.  That’s why I’m so jazzed to live right now. 
God promises that those who live through the end times have a special blessing of reigning for a thousand years with him on this earth, before the new heavens and new earth are put in place, before much of the redeemed even get a chance at their resurrected lives.  That’s found in Revelation 20:4-6. Hallelujah! I’m going to be there! How about you?  Wake up and you’ll be ready.  Don’t let this culture lull you to sleep.  “Stop sleeping, Look for signs, Listen for the trumpet call”.


jimdaniel said...

You can easily find all the parables of the bible at