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Sunday, September 3, 2017

posted Sep 3, 2017, 11:19 PM by Site Administrator

INTERPRET THIS PRESENT TIME

 

Luke 12:54-13:9

Key Verse 12:56

 

Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

 

       First, “Interpret this present time” (12:54-59). In the previous passage, we learned that Jesus came to bring fire on the earth. His life changing power is so great that whenever a person accepts his grace, everything around him is stirred up greatly – an old value system that is based on humans and this world and a new value system that is based on God and his kingdom clash. As a result, a great war occurs among his family members; mothers become sorrowful, and brothers become angry. They say to their brother or sister or son or daughter, “Why do you bring this disaster and pain to us? Don’t you see what is happening because of your new belief?” Through this fierce battle, good news is being brought to our beloved family members. It is like bringing fire into our family; at first, it is painful, but this fire eventually will bring them salvation and eternal life. Where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, the fire is kindled; old humanistic and worldly value systems and hopes are destroyed, and instead, heavenly and godly value systems and hopes grow. When people do not have this fire that burns, they are just lukewarm, and nothing happens. But when they have this fire, real conflicts and strife and even wars occur among their family members because of their faith in Jesus. Jesus says, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish if it were already kindled!” I pray that all of us may carry this fire in us so that wherever we go, all people around us may be stirred up greatly, and through us, God’s salvation may be given to them.

 

       Now in today’s passage, Jesus tells us to interpret this present time. Look at verses 54 through 56. 54He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” When we see a cloud rising above the Pacific Ocean, we expect that there will be rain, and when the Santa Ana wind blows, we expect that it will be hot. So watch out for wild fire! The cloud or Santa Ana wind is an evidence or a sign for us to understand what’s going to happen. In the same way, Jesus tells us to figure out this present time by seeing some visible evidences so that we may understand what’s going to happen and thereby, prepare ourselves properly. When you see a cloud rising in the west, you know that soon the rain will come, so you carry an umbrella; when you see the south wind blowing, you know that it will be hot, so you wear shorts. Long time ago, there was the sign of rain, but people failed to read it; as a result, instead of preparing themselves for the rain, they just focused on eating, drinking, buying and selling, marrying and being given in marriage until the rain came down and destroyed them all. But there was one person, named Noah who read the sign. So, knowing what’s going to happen, he prepared himself properly by building an ark, and was saved. Now, there is the sign of fire, showing that soon it will be so hot. Those who fail to read this sign or ignore this sign live exactly in the same way the people of Noah’s time lived - eating, drinking, selling and buying, planting and building, and marrying and being given in marriage; as a result, when it gets really hot, they will all get burned in fire. Only those who read the sign and prepare themselves properly will be saved.

 

       What kind of signs do you see? How do you interpret this present time? Genome project was completed in 2003, and scientists produce animal clones. People are approaching the area of God’s creation, which humans should not touch. This genetic engineering is like building another Tower of Babel - mankind struggling to prove what they can do without God, and they are almost reaching the area of God - creation; in my eyes, this is a sign of the end time. In this Post Modern Era, everything is confused - male and female, sons or daughters, marriage, family - the foundation of our human society is being destroyed, and people go crazy. Moral corruption has reached its limit that the society is becoming like literally Sodom and Gomorrah. On July 14, 2011, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 48 into law. SB 48 mandates that the unnatural and unhealthy lifestyles of both historical and contemporary persons who engaged or currently engage in homosexuality, bisexuality, or trans-sexuality be positively portrayed to impressionable children through “instruction in social science.” It’s the most in-your face sexual brainwashing, yet there is no opportunity for parents to opt-out their precious boys and girls. They legalized homo sexuality to transform California into Sodom and Gomorrah, and once anything happens in California, it soon happens in other states in the USA. What happened when Sodom and Gomorrah were so corrupt with homosexuality? God rained down sulfur from heaven and destroyed them. Sadly, this is the trend in our society that many more states are legalizing same sex marriage.  

 

       One important theme in movies is the last day, or the end of the world; people are afraid if any comet may hit the earth, or global warming will cause the end of mankind, or aliens will attack the earth with super powered weapons, or incurable virus will turn all peoples on earth into zombies, or nuclear wars may start; simply, even unbelievers say that it is now the last days - the end is near. We keep hearing about earthquakes, strange diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Mad cow disease, Mouth and Hoop disease, Bird flu, West Nile virus, famine, wars and rumors of wars. Jesus says in Luke 21:10,11, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” All these signs are appearing, and now Jesus can come any time, any moment. Jesus says, “Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.” (Mark 13:29) Surely, the end time is near. In view of this present time, how should we live our life? Surely, not in drunkenness, not in orgies, not in sexual immorality; instead, we all must wake up from our spiritual slumber; surely, it is not the time for us to think about how to make our life secure with a promising career, but about how to be dressed ready for service and keep our lamps burning for God’s kingdom work, so that, anytime, Jesus comes, we all may be found as faithful and wise servants, trustworthy and loyal to him. Interpret this present time. Right now, we see the south wind blowing, so soon, it will be really hot. So we must prepare ourselves. Look at verses 58 and 59. Let’s read these verses together:

 

58As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

 

In these verses, Jesus shares with us his interpretation of the present time. In his eyes, all peoples on earth are like the one who is going with his adversary to the magistrate for a court trial; once he reaches to the courthouse, the judge will hand him over to the officer, and the officer will throw him into prison. Jesus says, “I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Once people are judged and put in prison, how long will they stay there? Very long time, actually, forever. A serious consequence is waiting for them. Jesus’ point is clear: while you have a chance, before you are judged, do whatever is necessary to reconcile with God so that you will not be thrown into prison. This was how Jesus understood his time. Since then, 2,000 years have passed. Now, in 2017, how would Jesus say about the present time? Probably, as people waiting for trial in the court?! Surely, the end is near and soon all people will have to stand in front of the Judge who will judge everyone according to what each person has done. Be reconcile to your adversary while you have a chance; do it immediately before too late.

  

       Second, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (13:1-9). Look at verse 1. Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. About this, some people say that, while these Galileans were offering the sacrifices and as the blood of the animals was on the ground, Pilate’s army attacked them and killed them, and their blood was shed on the ground and was mixed with the blood of the animals. Some others say that Pilate killed them, took their blood and mixed it with the blood of animals, because he was really disgusted with these men. Anyway, the point of those who told Jesus about these Galileans’ tragic death was that these Galileans must have sinned so terribly that God punished them with such a tragic death - their idea was: What great sin they must have committed that God punished them with such a weird and tragic death! At the same time, they thought that they were at least better than those people because such a tragic thing had not happened to them.

 

At this, what was Jesus’ response? Look at verses 2 through 5. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them-- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

 

       Jesus said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” In Jerusalem, recently, another tragic event happened. The tower of Siloam fell on people and 18 of them died. Why should the tower of Siloam fall? No one expected such a thing. If it had to fall, why exactly at the time when these 18 people were there? Such a thing does not happen by accident. So people concluded that God punished them for their sins. People thought that this kind of tragic death was the evidence of their terrible sins. But Jesus said that these 18 people were not worse sinners than the others in Jerusalem. In Jesus’ eyes, all people in Jerusalem were as wicked as those 18 people who were killed, deserving death penalty. Unless they repented, they too would all perish. When many people were killed in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, some people said that it was the act of God’s judgment on those terrible people. It might be true, but people should not think of themselves better than those who suffered in that way only because such things have not happened to them. They are as bad as those people. Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” When the earthquake hit Haiti and killed about 230,000 people, some pastors said that it was God’s judgment upon them for their sins. When Japan suffered from the earthquake, tsunami, and then, nuclear plant accident, some people said that it was God’s judgment on these idol worshipers. All these people might be true, but it does not mean that they are any better than those who were killed by these unexpected and tragic events. Jesus says to all these self-righteous people, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Not because they are better than them, but because of God’s long patience with them, nothing so tragic has happened to them and that they are still alive; yet, what will happen if they ignore this warning sign and think of themselves too highly? Unless they repent, they too will all perish - it’s just the matter of time.

 

All people - both holy looking people like the Jews in Jerusalem and despicable looking people like the Galileans - deserves God’s immediate judgment. It means that, because of their sins, any kind of sudden or unexpected disaster can happen and kill them any time. Maybe, some terrible disease such as AIDS, cancer, or West Nile virus; maybe, a fatal car accident, maybe, an earthquake, maybe terrorists’ attack,... We never know what may happen to us tomorrow. Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” What is your interpretation of this present time? It is the time when any kind of sudden or unexpected disaster can happen to us and kill us because of our sins. So before it happens, we must repent; before too late, we must repent, or we too will all perish like the Galileans, or like the eighteen people on whom suddenly the tower of Siloam fell, or like the people in New Orleans, or like the people in Haiti, or like the people in Japan. When we think about this carefully, we see that we must never take this Christian life casually; we must never take anything for granted; instead, as Christians, as those who believe Jesus, we must repent today. Before we are brought to the magistrate for judgment, we must try hard to be reconciled to God by repenting and turning to God, weeping and crying. Such people are blessed.

 

         In verses 6 through 9, Jesus gives us the parable of a fig tree. A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard. The vineyard is for the vines, not fig trees; so it was a great privilege for the fig tree to be planted in the vineyard where it could be taken care of very well. It was fertilized, and watered well for a few years until it grew big and was ready to bear fruit. Then, in the first year when the fig tree was supposed to bear fruit, the man went out to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. It was not right. But thinking that maybe, it needed more fertilizer, he waited one more year, but when he went to find fruit in the next year, still it didn’t bear any fruit. It was not right, but again, thinking that perhaps, that year, the weather was not suitable for the fig tree, he waited one more year. But in the third year, he still could not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’“ The fig tree already deserved to be cut down since it had not produced fruit for three years. But still nothing happened to it not because everything was okay with it, but because the owner was giving it one more chance. If it does not bear fruit in this chance also, surely it will be cut down and thrown into fire.

                  

Before creating men, God shared his plan for them, saying, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” God created humans in his image. God wanted to see glorious characters and personalities, majestic and beautiful behaviors from them. But humans have not borne any good fruit. Instead, all kinds of bad fruit – deceitfulness, wickedness, evil, pride, malice, greed, immorality, murder. God wanted to see the faithful and wise stewards, managers who would take care of his creation very well, but people did not bear fruit in this matter at all – they even did not pay attention to God’s will for them. Instead, they have pursued their own desires to eat better, to purchase better clothes, to drive better cars, to live in a better house. Surely, God could have cut down all these people. God has been waiting for 6,000 years since the creation, but still people have not borne good fruit, but only bad fruit. In our own personal life, despite our evil deeds, sinfulness and wickedness, God has not destroyed us in hope to find good fruit from us. So far, nothing terrible has happened; no unexpected casualty has happened. It does not mean that what we do is okay in God’s eyes, but it means that, out of his great mercy and hope for us to bear good fruit, God is giving us one more chance. Despite our wayward life for the past 20 years, we have survived - nothing bad has happened, because God wants to give us one more chance. Now we must bear fruit that pleases God. “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’“ We have an absolute reason to make all possible efforts to produce good fruit for God. This is what we must do most urgently before too late.

 

Jesus asks us to interpret this present time. Now, what is your interpretation of this present time? We are in the last grace period. It is the time when God gives us just one more chance to see if we bear good fruit. Terrible disasters do not attack people yet not because what they are doing is okay, but because God is giving them one more chance to bear good fruit. We must make all possible efforts to produce good fruit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit Jesus wants us to bear is the fruit of life, saved souls, disciples. Try hard to be reconciled to God by repenting, and bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

 

 One Word:     Be Reconciled to God Before Too Late

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