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Lessons From Unexpected Disaster, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
September 11, 2023 12:00 am

Lessons From Unexpected Disaster, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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September 11, 2023 12:00 am

When tragedy strikes -- like the recent earthquake in Turkey -- we find ourselves shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of life. During the ministry of Jesus, an accident occurred and people rushed to hear His answer. To some, it was uncaring, but to those willing to listen, it reminded them -- and us -- of the brevity of life. The full-length version of this message is available here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/teachings/luke-lesson-71.

 

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William Barclay called this parable the gospel of the second chance until the final chance.

And no one knows when that final chance will occur. We're given the hint here that this tree has got one more year. Was it spared? Did it bear fruit? Was it cut down?

And you find yourself sort of rooting for it. Come on, man, you can do it. You can produce some figs here. The question Jesus wants to ask us is not what happened to that tree. The question is what will happen to you and me? Welcome back to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. We didn't have time to complete our previous message, so today we're going to do a bit of review and then bring you the conclusion to that message called Lessons from Unexpected Disaster. Jesus approached the gospel with a sense of urgency. We're supposed to approach it the same way. The problem is that far too many people don't. They have a different approach to the gospel.

They think of it as something they'll deal with later in life, and that's a dangerous way to think. Stay with us for this important message from Luke 13 verses one through nine. You'll never be able to answer all the ifs and whats and whys behind unexpected evil. In fact, you'll notice Jesus doesn't even begin to explain it, does he? He just wants them to answer the question, what if it happened to me? Now with that, Jesus, without any provocation, pulls another event from the headlines, and this occurs in verse four.

We'll call this an unexpected accident. He says here, beginning in verse four, or what about those 18 on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them? Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?

No. I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Now the idea here is the warning of perishing, which is not, you know, don't walk near a tower.

That's not his point. The idea is of future judgment. In fact, he uses that word when he declares in John chapter three in a familiar verse, verse 16, God loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not what? Perish. That is, face the judgment of God. Well, what happened here in this tower? I wish we had the Jerusalem Journal or the Galilean Gazette, you know, to read so we could turn the pages and get all the details, but we do know some things from history. Pilate wanted to address the water shortage there in Jerusalem, and so he decided at one point to build an aqueduct to the pool of Siloam. The Jewish people love that idea, by the way, until they discovered that what he was going to do was finance it by stealing the money from the Jewish temple treasury, which he did.

Sent his soldiers over there and said, well, there's plenty of money there to, you know, finance this government project and besides you benefit from it, so I'll take your money. Well, the Jews gathered to protest and Pilate sent his soldiers to mingle among them with clubs and ended up clubbing many of them to death. Dispersed the crowd. The building project moved forward but then somewhere along the line, a tower on the wall collapsed.

It seems to have been connected with the city wall near the pool of Siloam and for some odd reason, we're not sure what, maybe it was older and they were replacing it or it was part of a new tower, it collapsed and killed, crushing to death, 18 people. Now, the implication is clear from what Jesus says, these 18 lived in Jerusalem as they're contrasted in people's minds to the other people who live in Jerusalem. So, think of what they've done. These implied Jewish men had accepted this job from the Roman governor whom they despised. These 18 had stooped so low as to become part of the payroll of Rome, even though they knew that the money they would be paid for building this had been stolen from their own people. I mean, how could he be that wicked? They're thinking the popular opinion would have been concluded. We know why that tower fell.

We know why those 18 got it. Bad things happen to bad people. Jesus, back in verse four again, says, do you really think they were worse offenders than all the other people living in Jerusalem? The word for offender, by the way, is a financial term for being in debt. It's the idea in the New Testament of being indebted to God because of sin. So, Jesus is essentially asking them, what are you going to do about your debt?

Even if you've come to the conclusion that theirs is heavier than yours, what are you going to do with yours? When you stand before the Lord, he says, you only have one way to be freed from that coming judgment, verse five, and that is that you repent while you still have time. Confess your sin to God. Admit you're a sinner and ask for his mercy and pardon.

And maybe there's somebody in this audience who would say, that's wonderful, but I know my debt and it is too great. I've sinned too much. I'm too far gone.

I'm too old to turn back now. I can't do that. God isn't going to accept me. I don't stand a chance. Wait, check your pulse. Are you alive?

As far as I can tell, everybody is at this point. Good. You still have an opportunity to repent. Now with that, the Lord ties it all up by delivering a parable, which is connected to these news events.

And we'll call this parable and unexpected mercy. Verse six, and he told this parable, a man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vine dresser, look, for three years now, I've come seeking fruit on this fig tree.

And once again, I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground, take space here in my vineyard, we're going to plant another tree.

That's what he's implying. And the vine dresser answered, sir, let it alone this year also until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good.

But if not, well then you can, you can cut it down. The fact that Jesus refers to a fig tree is not a coincidence in this parable. The Jewish people and certainly the religious leaders would have immediately gotten the connection to Israel. The prophet Micah back in his prophecy in chapter seven referred to Israel as a fig tree to whom God was coming to seek the fruit of righteousness and he couldn't find any. Throughout the Old Testament, the fig tree is given as an analogy.

There is a positive analogy. It's related to the blessing of the promised land and Deuteronomy 8, everybody's going to sit under their own fig tree, prosperity. It also portrayed an image of judgment on Israel, Joel chapter one and Amos chapter four. In fact, go all the way back to the Garden of Eden and it's the only tree that we know was, were specifically or implicitly told is in the garden and that was a fig tree. We know that because instead of repenting, Adam and Eve took the leaves from what?

A fig tree. And instead of repenting, they decided to go into the garment designing business and they sewed fig leaves together. So it became an analogy of self-work, self-righteousness. It's the first religious act in human history. We're going to take care of our sin.

We're going to cover it up ourselves instead of repent. That's exactly how Jesus is using it here in this parable. He's tying this unfruitful fig tree to an unrepentant nation. There might even be an implication of the fact that this man has come three years in a row, can't find any fruit and Jesus has been preaching for three years, no fruit. The nation will reject him.

And of course, more broadly, this will relate to unrepentant individuals in his audience to this day, both Jew and Gentile. Well, the vine dresser says here in verse eight, you know, let me just work on it some more. I'll make sure the roots are getting plenty of sunshine and water and I'll give it a little extra manure and attention and let's give it another year. And without the parable ends. By the way, would you notice that we're not told what happened the next year.

The parable is open-ended. It just stops. You have to imagine what might have happened. It's like getting to the end of the book of Jonah. He's pouting out there and suddenly it's over. You'd like another chapter, at least for the benefit of Jonah's reputation, but it just ends.

So you're left with a question. Did this tree bear fruit? It was given a little more time. In the analogy, it was given mercy. It didn't necessarily deserve it, but it was granted unexpected mercy, long suffering from God. William Berkeley called this parable the gospel of the second chance until the final chance.

And no one knows when that final chance will occur. We're given the hint here that this tree has got one more year. Was it spared? Did it bear fruit? Was it cut down? And you find yourself sort of rooting for it. Come on, man, you can do it.

You can produce some figs here. But again, the question Jesus wants to ask us is not what happened to that tree. The question is what will happen to you and me?

The Lord wants to move them past the news headlines, which is where so many people today are stuck. I don't know how many times people would ask me about all those people over there or those people that happened, and I'll have to keep saying, what about you? You'll never stand before God for those 25,000 individuals who suddenly died.

You'll never give an account for someone who had an accident or some unexpected disaster or whatever. You will never answer for them. You will stand before God and answer for you. That's where Jesus is bringing this crowd past the curiosity, past whatever's viral, past whatever the shallow opinions are, even of the church.

He wants to take us deeper. God's in control. God is the creator of life.

He determines your birth date and the date on your death certificate. Are you ready? Have you repented and turned to Christ? Let me wrap this up by spelling out a couple of lessons that we can learn from what we could call unexpected events in life. First of all, unexpected events remind us of the brevity of life, the tenuous nature of life. That could have been you and me in that earthquake. You passed by an accident.

That could have been you. If you've ever had an accident occur just seconds away from you, you're struck with that, that that could have been you. The closer it gets to us, the hurricane that goes through our neighborhood, the sirens that you hear at night coming to a house in your neighborhood, you think, that could be me. Jesus wants these events to send us a signal that this could be our last day on earth as we know it, but we have been given by him one more day.

Are we ready for that day? Secondly, unexpected events deepen the believer's trust no matter what happens in life. Jesus wants his audience to trust the sovereignty of God and scripture that we've addressed in light of this topic or theme leads us to understand he is the sovereign controller of all things. He allows things.

He directly does things, but all of it is within his sovereign purposes. Every snowflake, every raindrop, every windstorm, every surprise, every circumstance, and that's true comfort is in his hand. Finally, let me offer this, unexpected events warn the unbeliever to repent while they still have life, to watch the news and think that disaster could have been happening to me. I need to stop putting off the questions of my sin and my eternal destiny.

I need to address that. These unexpected events bring that home. This might be your second chance, your third chance. It might be your final chance. Why wait? That's been the theme, hasn't it? In Christ's preaching here in chapter 12 and 13, don't wait.

Don't wait. I want to share with you some encouragement from a man in our congregation who just turned 41. I met him a few, several weeks ago, maybe within the last two months. I won't name him, but I did ask him if I could share a little bit of his story with you. He's from mixed parents, a Jewish parent and a Gentile parent, raised to understand Judaism and its requirements, but he never really bought into it, but he had recently begun wondering about God and Christ.

Without knowing anybody, he visited the shepherd's church. He sat through a couple of services and then asked to meet with me. We met several weeks ago now and he had a lot of questions, a lot of really good questions, a lot of pastor-stumping questions. I wished I had done a little studying, you know, boning up on things before he showed up. He wanted to read the Bible and he had a copy and he wanted to learn about Christianity, so I assigned him to read C.S.

Lewis's Mare Christianity. I figured, you know, he'd either take off or he'd read it, contact me again in a couple of weeks. He contacted my office in a couple of days and said he finished it and he wanted to meet again, so we did. I answered more questions. I'd studied up at that time. I assigned him several books.

I thought that would keep him at bay for a couple of months, teasing, of course. I was very anxious praying for him, but a couple of weeks later he called me and said, I've finished them all. Can we meet?

We met again, more questions, answers. Then he asked for more books. I don't think I've ever done this before, but I sensed the Lord declining and I said, no.

No more books. You know enough of the gospel. You've been reading the Bible. You've read these books.

The issue is not more knowledge. The issue is humility and repentance. It's time. He didn't agree kindly and left my office promising to continue reading his Bible and I asked him to promise to call me should anything occur. I left it in the hands of the Lord. This past week, just a few days ago, he contacted me and told me what had happened after last Sunday and I asked for permission to share a little bit of it.

In fact, he wrote some of it down for me, so I'll sort of edit his email. He said after Sunday in that sermon where the Lord was urging his audience not to wait, he wrote, I left. I was going to go to Costco to do some shopping and he said as I was driving away, I felt this compulsion to settle with God. So I said to myself, well, I'll pray when I get to the parking lot of Costco. I like Costco, he wrote.

Big parking lot, a good place to do this. But then I felt this compulsion not to wait then until then. I had a pamphlet with me that I'd been carrying around. It had a little sinner's prayer on it and I decided that it was time. I would read that prayer as I sat at the next intersection. So I got to the intersection, but the light turned green and I had to go. The same thing happened at the next light. I thought, well, maybe I should stay there and let people honk and pray this prayer. But I eventually got to an intersection where the light stayed red long enough and I prayed and received Christ.

He said, well, he came to see me a few days ago and he walked into my office and with joy on his face, he quoted a verse that he had learned and he said to me, I have confessed with my mouth the Lord Jesus and I believed in my heart that God raised him from the dead. It's done. Amen to that, huh?

Settled. This is the message of Jesus, not just to them, but to you and me. That disaster, that accident, that unexpected event, consider it.

It could be you next time. Why take a chance on your eternal destiny? And the message remains the same.

Don't wait. Settle it with God today. Father, thank you for giving us some of the sermon notes of your son, our Lord. Because, Lord, you were both man and God, God the Son and the flesh, you knew, you knew the state of every person there.

You knew their future. Frankly, we can't imagine the urgency in your voice and the invitation to that multitude. The joy you felt because of those whom you knew would believe, the sorrow you felt knowing that many would turn away. And so today we as a believing church know as we gather that those who don't know you join us. We're filled with joy for those who come to believe and place their faith in Christ, you alone, Lord. We grieve those who may be here today who will leave and perhaps never come back.

This chance will be their last chance. So Spirit of God, we pray that you would move in the hearts of these whose eyes are still blinded by the God of this world, distracted by the news and the world around them to open their eyes to the glorious truth of the Gospel of our Savior. By the way, if you're here today without the Lord and you want to start that conversation, let's get started. Father, thank you for the privilege of rehearsing the truths of your character, your attributes, your control, your sovereignty, in that we find comfort where you are in control of every moment of every day.

Until that day when we see you and you have already mapped out eternity for us, you've planned that as well. Thank you. In Jesus' name, amen. That was Stephen Davey and a message called Lessons from Unexpected Disaster. Stephen is the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. I'll tell you more about that in a moment, but first I want to invite you to learn more about the salvation God offers you at wisdomonline.org forward slash gospel. That site will help you personally or serve as a tool for you to talk about the Gospel with others.

That's wisdomonline.org forward slash gospel. Now, I mentioned that Stephen is the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. That school is equipping men and women for service to God. Graduates are serving God in their churches and communities all over the world. Many men have earned their degrees from the school and have gone out to plant churches. If you or someone you know is interested in graduate-level theological training, I encourage you to consider STS. We have many people who just take a class or two. They just want to have a better understanding of the Bible and theology. Even if God has not called you to serve Him full-time in Christian ministry, the classes STS offers will help you.

You don't have to leave your current job or relocate. All of the classes that are offered have an online option as well, so you can join in with a class of students from wherever you are. If this interests you, or if you know someone thinking about seminary training, here's how you can learn more. Visit wisdomonline.org forward slash STS. That's wisdomonline.org forward slash STS. We have a resource to help you be intentional each day as you spend some focused time with God. It's a magazine we call Heart to Heart. It's a resource we developed to thank our partners, and we'd like to send you the next three issues as our gift to you. The Daily Devotional Guide will help you spend some quiet, peaceful time with God each day. We've heard from dozens of readers who've told us how much they appreciate these devotions.

They're written by Stephen's son, Seth. Beginning in February, we've expanded the magazine to give more room to the Daily Devotionals. They will help you remain grounded in God's Word every day. Learn more at wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. You can also call us at 866-48-bible or 866-482-4253. We're in the office on weekdays, and we'd be very glad to speak with you. I hope we hear from you today. Join us back here next time to discover more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 03:54:19 / 2023-10-29 04:03:09 / 9

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