At any second, when you least expect it, expect it, because our Lord is coming.
And like the lightning that flashes across the sky, it will come with such rapidity as to leave us stunned and amazed. Among Christians there is disagreement when it comes to the end of the age. When will Jesus return?
What will it be like? But when the Bible speaks about the coming of the Kingdom, there is a clear message and one that each of us needs to heed. Hi, I'm Nathan W Bingham and thank you for joining us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind.
Each Sunday R.C. Sproul is taking us through the Gospel of Luke, messages delivered at St. Andrew's Chapel in central Florida. Today we find ourselves in chapter 17 when the Pharisees asked Jesus when the coming of the Kingdom would be. So when will the Kingdom come?
Here's Dr. Sproul. This morning we're going to continue with our study of the Gospel according to St. Luke. We're in the 17th chapter, and the text this morning is rather lengthy. I will be reading from verse 20 through verse 37, and I would ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, The Kingdom of God does not come with observation, nor will they say, See here or see there, for indeed the Kingdom of God is within you. And then He said to His disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, Look here or look there, do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.
But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, it was also in the days of Lot.
They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. But on the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
In that day He was on the housetop, and His goods are in the house. Let Him not come down to take them away. Likewise, the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
Remember Lot's wife. And whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed, one will be taken, the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together, the one will be taken, the other left.
Two men will be in the field, the one will be taken, and then the other left. And they answered and said to Him, "'Where, Lord?' And so He said to them, wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together." I think of all of the sayings of Jesus.
This is one of the most cryptic and difficult to understand. Nevertheless, it is His teaching that is weighed down, obviously, with a sense of urgency as it is given to the church in the first century and even to us today. This is the Word of God.
Please receive it as such and be seated. Let us pray. Again, our Father and our God, we are incapable in and of ourselves to do justice to these words that come to us from the lips of our Savior. And so we make our plea and appeal to you this hour for the presence of the Holy Spirit, that He may illumine these things for our understanding and cause them to lodge in our souls. For we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Amen. If you've ever gone to a school or seminar on public speaking or as I have attended homiletic classes in seminary, you will find that there is one cardinal rule that is taught to all would-be public speakers. That rule is this.
Never, never, ever apologize to your audience before you give a speech, because if you do that before you even begin the speech, you will lose all credibility with them. Well, so what? I'm going to break that rule this morning because I don't have a whole lot of credibility with you to lose anyway. But in any case, I have to apologize to you before I look at this text and candidly confess to you that I'm not sure at all what Jesus was talking about here. I'm not sure at all that I understand this text, and what you are about to experience, sadly, is the blind leading the blind.
Now you're going to hear in this text, maybe it's this, maybe it's that. I wish I could be more certain. I wish I wouldn't leave you in this kind of ambiguity that is not my normal mode of operation, but I must do it in order to be candid with you. So having given my apology in advance, if you want to take a nap, go ahead.
If you have my permission, I won't be offended. But let's look at what is written in verse 20. We read, Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered. Notice that the first question that is being asked here with respect to the kingdom of God is the question, when? Now we know throughout our study of the gospel according to Luke that the central motif of all of Jesus' preaching was the kingdom of God. Terrible after terrible comes from His lips saying the kingdom of God is like unto this or like unto that.
This was obviously His favorite subject. And those who were on the outside looking in, particularly in this case the Pharisees who were hostile to Him, ask Him the question, all right, you're talking about the kingdom of God. Every time we show up to listen to your sermons, you're talking about the kingdom of God. So tell us, Mr. Jesus, when is the kingdom of God?
When are we going to see it? And listen to Jesus' reply. The kingdom of God does not come with observation, nor will they say, see here or see there, over here, over there, there it is. No, there it is. For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.
Now the first part is easy enough to understand. The Pharisees, as most of the rest of the Jews of that day expected, the kingdom of God would come by means of a military Messiah who would drive the Romans out of Israel. They expected something like giant tanks rolling down the boulevard followed by phalanxes of soldiers with steel helmets.
Well, maybe it wasn't tanks. Maybe it was more chariots coming down the boulevard followed by legions of soldiers led by the Messiah who would drive the Romans out of their country, liberating them from the tyranny of Roman occupation. It was a political Messiah they were hoping for. It was a political Messiah they were looking for. And it was a political Messiah and it was a political Messiah whose presence would be plain to see whenever He came. Jesus said, no, it's not going to be like that. No columns of troops, no wards of chariots. You're not going to be able to say, look here, look there, and see the outward manifestation of the kingdom of God, for indeed the kingdom of God is within you.
Now, strike one. This is the first part of the text. I'm not sure I understand. As my translation that I've just read says, the kingdom of God is within you.
What in the world does that mean? Well, some commentators believe that this means that the kingdom of God is a spiritual reality. It's not of this world, as Jesus later said to Pilate. It's invisible. It's not external.
It's internal. It has to do with the internal motives, desires, and hearts of human beings who are indwelt by the Spirit of God. So wherever the Spirit of God indwells a human heart, there is the kingdom of God. Later on at the time of the Reformation, when the issue became in the sixteenth century, where is the true church? Is it in Rome, or is it in the Protestant movement? The Roman Catholic Church answered by saying, Where the bishop is, there is the church. The Protestant reply was, No, where the Spirit is, there is the church. And so Jesus is saying, Where the kingdom is, is in the hearts of people. Now I think this is the majority interpretation of the text.
I'm not at all comfortable with it. I could be absolutely wrong, but I don't think that's what Jesus meant. I don't think that Jesus was talking about a kingdom that was something that merely existed in the hearts of people. I remember when I was in college, we had a regular Bible study group, and we sang our hymns, and one of the gospel hymns that we sang all the time was called, He Lives. I serve a risen Savior who's in the world today, you know, and so on. You asked me how I know He lives. He lives where?
Some of you remember it. He lives within my heart. And I was moved by that until I began to think about it. And I thought, If the only place where Jesus lives is in my heart, then I'm going to sleep in tomorrow morning. The Jesus I read about in the New Testament does not just exist in my memory or in my feelings or in my heart.
It's not a subjective thing. His living is objective and real. It was a real resurrection. He really became alive and came out of that tomb.
He really ascended to heaven, and He is at the right hand of God the Father right now, not just in my heart or in my memory. Now the problem with this particular verse is with one little Greek word, which is the word humen, and it is capable of various translations. One of the common translations of this word humen is the word within. That's the interpretation that my version of Scripture has chosen. The kingdom of God is within you.
The other way in which that word is translated is by the word among. So what's the difference? Was Jesus saying the kingdom of God is within you, or was He saying the kingdom of God is among you? Again, I don't know.
I'm not sure. But it would seem to me that what Jesus is saying, you want to know where the kingdom is? It's right in the midst of you, because standing in the midst of them was the King of the kingdom. And where the King is, there is the kingdom. So I think what Jesus was saying is the kingdom of God is in your midst. It's been in your midst since I've been walking among you, and you've missed it because you've because you've missed Me. Take your pick.
I'm not sure which it is. Now He begins to speak not to the Pharisees but to the disciples. And He says to them, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And then they will say to you, Look here, look there. Don't go after them or follow them.
Let me comment there. I think Jesus is referring here to His imminent departure. After His death and His resurrection, He ascends into heaven, and He says to the disciples, Yet a little while, and I will leave you. And when that happens, of course, what are the disciples going to do? They're going to yearn for those days where they enjoyed His physical presence among them. They'll talk to each other by a campfire to remember when He healed the paralytic, to remember when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. Will we ever forget the night He walked on the sea?
Were you there when they crucified Him at Golgotha? And you, Jesus is saying, will miss Me. And people will come and say, Oh, but He's here.
Or, No, He's over there. Now we do know this, that after the departure of Jesus from this world in the decade of the thirties, between the thirties and the year 70 A.D. when Jerusalem fell and the temple was destroyed, there were multiple false messiahs who appeared on the landscape there in Palestine claiming to be the Messiah. As Jesus will teach elsewhere in the Olivet Discourse, He warns the people that such events will come to pass. And perhaps that's what He's referring to here. And Jesus said, if anybody claims to be the Messiah, or in our own day, if anybody claims to be an apostle, run for your life.
Don't go there. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. Let me ask you a trivia question. In the United States of America, where is the location that has the most lightning strikes in a year than any other place in America? You're living in it, Central Florida. So when Jesus talks about a flash of lightning that seems to go instantly from one side of the heaven to the other, that's a phenomenon you can understand because you've seen it again and again here in Central Florida. And it's frightening. But what Jesus is saying is that His coming in that day will be like a flash of lightning, a lightning bolt, not a gradual turbulence that works its way slowly across the earth. But like the lightning that flashes across the midnight sky, it'll be that quick, that instantaneous. And He's referring now to the Son of Man in His day. Now here's the biggest question of all. When Jesus is talking about His coming here, is He talking about His coming at the end of the age, His final return in triumph when He consummates His kingdom?
Maybe. Or is He talking about His judgment coming that will come in that same century, within that generation, before many of them will even see death, and before they go over all the cities of Palestine, referring of course to that crushing judgment that comes upon Israel in the year 70 A.D. when the temple is destroyed and Jerusalem is besieged and then utterly annihilated by the Roman invaders? The invasion began with the Spasian, and the conquest of the land came suddenly. Entire villages were annihilated.
In one battle, there was one survivor of an entire town, and he alone was left to write about it. The historian Josephus. But Vespasian's campaign was interrupted when messengers came from Rome because the emperor had died, and there was a senate that was locked in conflict as to who the successor would be.
And they pled with Vespasian to return to Rome, which he did and was made emperor, while he turned the task of the destruction of the Jews over to his son, Titus, who then marched his troops to Jerusalem to set siege to the holy city. And many of the troops camped on the Mount of Olives. And while they were in camp for weeks and weeks, they were cold, and so they cut down all of the olive trees.
These trees often were three and four hundred years old, but the Romans completely denuded the Mount of Olives for the sake of firewood. It reminds me of the story of the man who was five foot four inches tall, and he only weighed 90 pounds, he only weighed 90 pounds, and he applied at a camp of foresters in Washington, and he wanted to be a lumberjack. And the foreman looked at this little guy and laughed. He said, Lumberjack? You want to be a lumberjack? You can't be a lumberjack. You're too small.
What experience do you have? He said, I was a lumberjack in the Sahara Forest. And they said, the Sahara Forest, the Sahara's a desert.
And the little man said, now. I had to get some relief from this text, I forget. The whole land was denuded before the final attack on Jerusalem. And Josephus tells us that in that conflagration, 1.1 million Jews were killed. This was the first century Holocaust, and it also was the time in history that marked, finally, the distinction that would go on in perpetuity between Jews and Christians.
Up till this time, Christians were thought to be a sub-sect among the Jews until the Jewish nation virtually and temple were destroyed. Now, maybe that's what Jesus is talking about, or He's talking about His final coming at the end of the age, and I honestly don't know which of those two He's describing, but listen to what He says. But first He, that is, the Son of Man, must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
That obviously refers to the cross. And He goes on to say, as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all.
Again, Jesus is saying that this event, this colossal event, this catastrophic event will come suddenly when people least expect it. But life will be going on in normal categories, just as Noah had spent years warning the people of the impending disaster that was to come, and they mocked Him and ridiculed Him as He built the means of rescue from that flood. People just kept living business as usual. They were marrying, they were giving and marrying, they were eating, they were drinking, nothing wrong with any of those things until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed every one of them. Likewise, this wasn't the days of Lot. They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built.
Everything was normal, business as usual. But on the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven. If you don't like fire and brimstone preaching, you wouldn't exactly enjoy the preaching of Jesus. Here's where you get fire and brimstone, right here in the New Testament. Even so, it will be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Now it gets even more complicated. In that day, He was on the housetop, and His goods are in the house. Let Him not come down to take them away.
But likewise, the one who's in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot's wife, she turned back. Lot couldn't have been more of a hurry to get out of Sodom. Lot's wife left with him, but she hesitated, which gave rise to the proverb, He who hesitates is salt, or something like that.
Here's on the housetop, His goods are in the house. It's so urgent you don't have time to go down to the house and pack up your things to go on this journey. In 1993, the Amtrak train company had its worst wreck in its history, killing more people in that one accident than all of the rest of Amtrak accidents combined. It happened in Alabama, Mobile Bay, when this train, the Sunset Limited, headed for Florida, left the tracks and plunged into the water. The fuel that drove the train ignited, caused a column of flames seventy-five feet in the air. When that train crashed, I was in it, Vesta was in it.
She was caught by the netting that guarded her. Part of the bunk I was thrown into the wall. I knew this was a serious accident that I assumed that we'd simply hit a car at a crossing. Then I looked out the window and I saw that column of flames seventy-five feet high. The power was out, it was pitch dark, and I thought we must have hit an oil tanker.
But as it became clear, it was even far worse than that. And I said to Vesta, we have to get off this train now. She says, honey, I've got to find my shoes.
I said, you don't understand me. Forget your shoes. We have to get off this train now. Honey, I have to find my suitcase.
Forget the suitcase. Now we have to get off. When we got off the train, she looked around and she knew why we had to get off that train at that moment. I have to confess to you that later on I stuck back on the train and found her suitcase and brought it off.
So the next day there was a picture on CNN News of these people pulling body bags off the train, and then this one woman, perfectly dressed, stepped off the train carrying her suitcase, and there it was on the news, my wife. But what Jesus is saying here is when this happens, don't be like Vesta. Get off the roof and get out of there. Run for your life. Likewise, he is the one who's in the field. Let him not turn back.
Again, remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it. Whoever loses his life will preserve it. And that night there'll be two men in one bed. One will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding together. One will be taken, the other left.
Two men in the field. One will be taken, the other left. People obviously see this as a reference to the rapture, and one will be left behind of the two women, and one will be left behind of the two men, and this will give credence to this whole eschatology that's worth millions today. But rather the point is saying one will escape and one won. Now you know in the ancient world when the messenger came and announced that an invading army was coming into their territory, what did the people do? Where did they go to escape?
It didn't matter whether it was Palestine or Germany or England or anywhere else. In the ancient world when hostile invaders crossed the borders, the people fled to walled cities. Those walled cities were walled to be protection against invaders. Jesus told His disciples, when the enemy comes, flee to the hills, to the mountains.
And that's exactly what happened in the first century. The Jewish population of Israel rushed to Jerusalem because it was the safest place to be. The Christians didn't go to Jerusalem. They went to the mountains and were spared the holocaust.
At least most of them went there. Those that listened to Jesus and fled immediately and didn't wait around for confirmation, those that were left behind were slaughtered by the Romans, while the others found refuge in the mountains. So now the disciples ask Jesus another question. This whole passage had begun when the Pharisees said, When? Now the disciples say to Jesus, Where?
Now we have another problem. Jesus said, Where? Wherever the body is. There the eagles will be gathered together. Now you may have a different translation because the word that is translated in my version by eagles is translated in other versions by the English word vultures. Vultures gather to devour carrion. Eagles do not devour carrion. When there's roadkill on the highway, you may see a large number of vultures or buzzards gathering, but you won't see eagles there pecking away at the carcasses that have been killed. Now when Jesus says you want to know where this is going to be, one verse or one translator would say it's going to be where the vultures are circling over the carcass of human bodies. I used to hunt on the Mormon ranch with some friends. We'd go down there every fall for wild boar and deer and turkey hunting, of which some of you I know disapprove, but I don't do it anymore because I can't do it anymore.
But in any case, I used to sort of boast and laugh at my friends in the camp. I would say as soon as my car goes through the gate of this place, the vultures start to circle because they know they're going to have a feast. Well, maybe what Jesus is saying here is where this catastrophic event will take place, will take place, you will notice by looking up in the sky and see the vultures circling.
That'll be your signal. One of the worst things that can happen to a deer hunter is to shoot a deer and fail to take its life, but to leave it severely wounded. That's the ugly part of deer hunting.
But any deer hunter with a conscience will pursue all day if necessary the wounded animal, put it out of its misery. And again, one of the basic clues of how to find that animal is not only to look at the ground and track blood, but you look at the sky and watch for the buzzards to gather. And again, that's the common interpretation of this text is that where the buzzards or the vultures are circling, there you will find this judgment of doom taking place. My translation says, where the eagles are gathered. And there are many New Testament scholars who believe that the reference to the gathering of the eagles is to the assembly of the legions of Rome, whose standards bore the symbol of the army, the eagle. So if you want to know where the destruction is going to take place, watch for the eagles.
Watch for the Romans. I said at the beginning, I'm not sure. I'm at the end, and I'm still not sure.
But what I hope I've given you now is sort of a reconnaissance over the options that attend this. But in any case, one message comes through, whether it refers to the destruction of 70 AD or whether it is applicable to the final coming of Christ and the consummation of His kingdom. This message is playing. Be ready at any second. When you least expect it, expect it, because our Lord is coming. And like the lightning that flashes across the sky, it will come with such rapidity as to leave us stunned and amazed. And for many, that day will be the day of ultimate glory.
But for others, the worst day in history that they could ever imagine. Jesus says, remember Noah, remember Lot, and remember me. A sober reminder there from R.C. Sproul. Thank you for joining us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind.
I'm Nathan W. Bingham. That message you heard today, along with 112 other messages from Dr. Sproul, preached there at St. Andrew's Chapel in Central Florida, form the foundation for his expositional commentary of Luke's Gospel. And we're making that available to you today for your donation of any amount. When you give your gift at renewingyourmind.org, you'll have digital access to that commentary on Luke's Gospel. You can put it on your phone or your tablet. It's easily searchable. You can take it with you wherever you go. So give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org. Next week, we'll learn the importance of persistent prayer, as Dr. Sproul tells the story of a widow and an unjust judge. So I look forward to you joining us next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-26 02:23:03 / 2023-03-26 02:34:34 / 12