The More Important Things – 5

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Scripture Text – Luke 17

Jesus was preparing His disciples for the time when He would no longer be with them and they would be ministering to others in His place. It was a critical period in their lives and there are important lessons for us to learn from the Lord’s teaching.

In this chapter, Luke recorded lessons that Jesus gave His disciples about some of the more important essentials of the Christian life: forgiveness, faithfulness, thankfulness, and preparedness.

Preparedness – Continued

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.” – Luke 17:20-21.

Please read Luke 17:22-37 for background for this section.

Both Noah and Lot lived in days of religious compromise and moral decline, not unlike our own present time. During “the days of Noah,” population growth was significant (Genesis 6:1), lawlessness was on the increase (Genesis 6:5), and the earth was given over to violence (Genesis 6:11, 13). In Lot’s day, the unnatural lusts of Sodom and Gomorrah were so abhorrent to God that He completely destroyed the cities. Only Lot, two of his daughters, and his wife (who later was destroyed) were saved from the terrible judgment.

Verses 30–36 describes what will occur when Jesus Christ returns in judgment to defeat His enemies and establish His kingdom on earth (Revelation 19:11–20:6). Believers in every age of the church can take warning from these verses, but they apply in a special way to Israel at the end of the age (see Matthew 24:29–44). When Jesus comes for His church and takes it to heaven, it will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” – 1 Corinthians 15:52. Nobody taking part in the rapture of the church need worry about being on a housetop or in a field and wanting to get something out of the house! However, when the Lord returns to the earth, His coming will first be preceded by a “sign” in heaven (Matthew 24:30–31), and some people might try to hurry home to rescue something. Thus the warning, “Remember Lot’s wife!”

The verb “taken” in verses 34–36 does not mean “taken to heaven” as some presuppose, but rather, “taken away in judgment” (Matthew 24:36–41). The person “left” is a Tribulation believer who enters into the kingdom. Noah and his family were “left” to enjoy a new beginning, while the whole population of the earth was “taken” in the Flood. Lot and his daughters were “left” while the people in Sodom and Gomorrah were “taken” when the fire and brimstone destroyed the cities.

The fact that it is night in verse 34 but day in verses 35–36 indicates that the whole world will be involved in the return of Jesus Christ in glory. One side of earth is nighttime and the other side is daytime. When He returns, the whole world will know. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him.” – Revelation 1:7.

et trumpet sound

Three times the disciples had heard Jesus talk about people being “taken and left,” so they asked Him a most logical question: “Where, Lord?” Our Lord’s reply has the sound of a familiar proverb: “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” – Matthew 24:28. Judgement will not be a pretty sight. The description of the last battle in Revelation 19:17–21 certainly parallels the image of carrion-eating birds gorging themselves on flesh.

What the Lord Jesus was saying is that when He returns to judge His enemies, there will be a separation of the saved and the lost. Whether it be day or night where they are, whether people are working or sleeping, the separation and judgment will come. Those who are saved and alive during the Tribulation will be left to enter the glorious kingdom, while those who are lost will be taken away in judgment.

Even though the primary interpretation of these verses is for Israel in the end times, they do emphasize for the church the importance of being ready when Jesus returns. We must not be like Lot’s wife whose heart was so in Sodom that she looked back in spite of the angels’ warning (Genesis 19:17, 26). There are many professed Christians today whose plans would be interrupted if Jesus returned! Their hearts are still tied to the things of this earth (see 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11). Our Lord’s warning in verse 33 finds parallels in Matthew 10:39; Luke 9:24; and John 12:25, and is a fundamental principle of the Christian life. The only way to save your life is to lose it for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.

Jesus pictured civilization as a “rotting corpse” that would one day be ripe for judgment. The discerning believer sees evidence of this on every hand and realizes that the “days of Noah” and the “days of Lot” are soon on us. Our Lord can return for His church at any time, so we are not looking for signs because His coming is not dependent on signs; but we do know that “coming events cast their shadows before.” As we see many of these things begin to come to pass, we know that His return is nearing.

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” – Luke 21:28.

Are we looking for His return, and do we really want to see Him come?

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Adaptation of excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Volume 1.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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