Day Late, Dollar Short

33“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 34 Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:33-36

We may spend our time looking up in expectation, but we should also have our noses in the Word of God. While the heavens and earth are ultimately transitory, his words are permanent fixtures and cannot be expunged. We must be careful to stay sober and aware of the spiritual turmoil underway at all times around us and in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12.

Even with Noah building a huge object lesson in his backyard, those breathing at the time were having nothing to do with his warnings, and were preoccupied with the cares of this world, living lives of dissipation. Matthew 24:37-39 We don’t want to be caught unaware (trapped, snared) when the gavel comes slamming down, in this case, the rolling door of the Ark. Jesus is telling us no one “on the face of all the earth” will escape God’s sudden judgment. There’ll be no time to react when you feel the first drop of rain, especially from a drunken state.

While not mentioned here, preliminary to this judgement will be the Rapture of believers as noted in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. They will not be “present.” The Bible teaches that we will meet the Lord in the air and ultimately accompany him when he triumphantly returns to earth. Our true faith in Christ is indeed our ticket to ride.

But those just toying with the idea of Christianity but still immersed in worldliness could get left behind. These unfortunate souls will be awakened “by the thief in the night” and will have to endure the Great Wrath to come. This will not be pleasant to put it mildly. We put our trust in Christ now to escape the terrors to come and the risk of potential eternal separation from God.

21 “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Matthew 24:21–22

It’s still possible to stand before him in the end, for those who are present, but only through the strength that prayer to the Almighty provides. There’ll be an unimaginable gauntlet to run. But if he tarries, we still need to account for our mortality. The chance of “dying unexpectedly” is high these days.

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When You See “Dismay” Trending

25“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Luke 21:25-27

We are consumed today with “climate change.” Things like volcano eruptions, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and deviations in temperatures—up or down—are supposedly trending. This is nothing compared to what the Lord describes here. What will be on display on earth and in the heavens cannot to be ignored and will cause great fear and trepidation. The word “perplexity” (aporia in the Greek) is used only here in the New Testament and it means “at a loss for a way.” Those present on earth will be at wit’s end to know what to do about what they are seeing, other than to expect Jesus’ imminent return.

As an aside, Satan knows the end of the story—it’s written down—so it’s quite convenient for him to use an environmental theme for ulterior motives. If only God can cause devastating acts of nature—if no human agent could predict and prevent the eruption of Mount St. Helens, for example—how do we think we can restrain his hand? Also, these extraordinarily terrifying acts of nature will not be localized, but will be witnessed by everyone on earth.

29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near.” Luke 21:29-30

Jesus uses the example of the fig tree to make his point. To make sure that his meanings were plain, unlike Matthew and Mark, Luke adds “and all trees.” When you see these signs, like you see new growth in the trees, the time of his coming is near. It’s that simple.

31“So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.” Luke 21:31-32

It is perhaps difficult to ascertain who “this generation” is, but it can’t be the one he was talking to. Outside of perhaps seeing the predicted fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they would not witness all that Christ is describing here. It’s more likely Jesus refers to the generation on the scene when these signs begin to appear. A lot of ink has be used and eschatological positions have been anchored to this statement, but given the facts, you must defer to the obvious.

28“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28

I am captivated by the statement in verse 28. If you’re perceptive and realize that indeed “these things” have begun to take place, and they have in certain respects, it’s cause enough to look up, even to be elated. This is our daily hope.

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Trial Run

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:20–24

As indicated here previously, the Romans flattened Jerusalem in 70 A.D. after laying siege to the city (Luke 19:43-44). It was methodical and brutal. Titus’ forces chose the time of Passover to entrap, starve, and butcher thousands. But as horrible as it was, it was but a practice run for what will occur at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation when the Lord touches ground again. One clue is the use of the plural “armies.” Here only the Romans were in view, but in the end, all the nations will rise up against the city (see Zechariah 14).

One needs to possess a long term view of God’s program when addressing this prophecy, and not lose sight of the words of prophets such as Daniel, Isaiah, and Zechariah. Since the Lord did not return following the desolation of Jerusalem at that time, there’s got to be more to come, for one, and the Gentiles are still firmly in control today. Look also at verse 22 for example, “Because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.” The vengeance wrought in 70 A.D. was for the Jews’ failure to recognize their “day of visitation.” The yet coming “vengeance” will be wielded to punctuate all of biblical prophecy.

Many Christians decline to focus on what is to come and permanently table big chunks of scripture (half of Daniel, after chapter 3 of Revelation, Ezekiel, etc.). Any student of the foreboding times in which we live should sense the enemy armies at the gate. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, let’s “straighten up and lift our heads” and look forward to our day of redemption. (Luke 21:28)

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Program Note

Just a program note. After I complete Luke Chapter 21, I will resume my passage-by-passage study of Luke’s gospel sometime in Winter 2023 to get my studies of the Lord’s arrest, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension closer to the days leading up to Easter. Just wanted to get into the “Spirit!” I will be delving into other miscellaneous passages and topics in the meantime. Thank you for visiting ATGP!

Posted in Luke | Leave a comment

Life on the Lam

12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, turning you over to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors on account of My name. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will provide you eloquence and wisdom which none of your adversaries will be able to oppose or refute. 16 But you will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, other relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all people because of My name. 18 And yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives. Luke 21:12-19 (NASB2020)

It’s hard to think of persecution, betrayal, hatred, and martyrdom as opportunities. Every fiber in our being wants to avoid this kind of pain. In the States, we’ve enjoyed relative peaceful coexistence with the enemy compared to what the Apostles and early believers endured, and in fact what Christians face daily elsewhere in the world.

As we are seeing more and more though, following Jesus is putting us squarely at odds with somebody, perhaps in the family, work place, ballpark, or neighborhood, and certainly against rapidly changing societal norms. The tide is turning where we may indeed rise to “public enemy number one status.” The screws are being tightened.

Jesus specifically and emphatically says here that before he returns his followers will be tracked down and arrested “on account of” his name. This whole discussion assumes that in some way, shape, or form we are putting our faith on display, and if obedient, vocalizing and entreating others to follow it.

Jesus therefore says to “make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves” if the worst happens, i.e., the gig is up. Whatever the Spirit says through us during our interrogation will be irrefutable and eloquent, as from the mouth of Jesus himself. The Greek word for wisdom here is sophia, a theoretical understanding of the workings of God sans the seminary training.

A perfect model for all this was the Apostle Paul. He’s the one who was smoking out Christians and dragging them into the synagogue. He’s the one who was certainly encouraging family members or friends to rat on undercover Christians. He was the one who presided over Stephen’s stoning. But then the tables turned, and he was the marked man. But fearless in his allegiance to Christ he endured persecution at every turn. He ended up testifying before governors and ultimately Caesar. And he was martyred. In the process, his testimony and sacrifice rose as a sweet fragrance to God. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

While we may be hated by “all people” because of his name (let that sink in), not a hair on our heads will be lost (let that sink in too), and we will gain our lives if we endure.

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

View Through the Periscope

10 Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. Luke 21:10–13 (NASB95)

Just before the Lord returns, there will be an increasing number of nations roused into states of antagonism against each other. This is always the case to a degree, but we can expect this phenomenon to intensify to levels not yet seen on earth. The scene must be one of intense unrest on all sides to create a yearning by all for one leader to bring about peace. This will be the perfect setting for the anti-Christ to arrive to fill the void.

There will also occur physical manifestations in nature that will be unusually intense, again by far more unusual than ever experienced before, in unusual places.

Famine and disease, likely severe, will pop up in places all over the earth, most certainly bringing about fear and trepidation in the minds of those not yet impacted. We now know all too well how this will work.

Lastly, there will be incredible and terrifying signs in the skies above to signal the Lord’s imminent return. The Greek word for terror here is phobetron, the root from which we get our word “phobia.”

All these things will occur in the “run up” to this event, the so called “seven year tribulation.” Everything else in the past will be pale in comparison. We know this because Jesus clarifies the timeframe by saying, “but before these things,” and then begins to foretell of the persecution the disciples would soon be facing at the hands of men, prior to the fall of Jerusalem, applying as well to all believers like you and me in the here and now.

Here are some takeaways from this look ahead. What we might be noticing now is just a shadow of things to come. It does not have to get a lot worse as many are fond of saying for the Rapture to occur, which is not discussed in this passage. Conditions will indeed need to massively deteriorate prior to the Lord’s return to earth. Secondly, we will all face in some form or fashion the persecution that Jesus is about to describe in the following verses. Thirdly, since Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D. just as Jesus foretold, should we not believe him now about the things to come?

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Wait for It

They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” Luke 21:7

A good journalistic question. When and what. Certainly the disciples wanted to know when something as stunning as the future leveling of the temple would occur. It’s important from the outset to be aware that Jesus’ words here apply to days near and far. The “no stone left upon another” would occur just around the corner timewise, but many of his references in Chapter 21 will be manifested in the latter days before Christ’s return. Trying to cram everything into the 70 A.D. timeframe requires the contortions of a gymnast.

As an aside, it’s also important to realize that Jesus was with them at the time. It was within the realm of possibility in their minds that he would pull off something dramatic during his visit to Jerusalem. He did just that, but it was not what they expected, but he had forewarned them of his fate on prior occasions (Luke 9:22).

Also, our natural inclination is to look for a sign, or an “attesting miracle.” Jesus does offer a few clues in this chapter, but they must be sorted out and weighed.

And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them.” Luke 21:8

Fully expect charlatans to come after Christ. They will try to mislead you. They’ll say they represent God. They’ll even claim to be the Messiah! Only one person in all of time is qualified to utter “I am!” Jesus. “They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.” Luke 17:23

“When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.” Luke 21:9

Count on a “doomsday” message with accompanying histrionics in the future. Discount the hysteria and don’t be alarmed or terrified upon hearing rumors of war or insurrections–this sounds mild these days! It’s absolutely essential to remember whose side we’re on. We are more than conquerors!

Jesus doesn’t deny that chaos will ensue once he’s gone or that the drumbeat of war will grow louder and closer with time. But don’t fall victim to paralyzing fear fueled by skewed and ginned up secular “news” so readily and instantly available today. It’s distinctly possible we can become as addicted to it as some are addicted to illicit material.

Far far better to have your nose in the Scriptures. Godly preachers should teach eschatology loud and clear, but staying true to the numerous prophecies in the Old and New Testaments. Remember, he says himself “these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.” Let us be astute in our approach to the “end times,” but at the same time redeeming the time we have been given.

We must patiently wait for fulfillment, but be discerning in the meantime.

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Admiring the Architecture

And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” Luke 21:5–6 (NASB95)

I’ve never lived in a more volatile time. There is so much going on on all fronts today that a spinning head is my natural state. It’s easy to see and contemplate the scenario of there being no “one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”

There was a time when it seemed all was going quite nicely, recently in fact. It was easy to admire one’s handiwork and plan one’s next adventure. There was a lot of day dreaming going on and a plethora of blue sky. How quickly things change.

We reach a passage in Luke which warns and describes the End Times (Luke 21:7-38). Perhaps in our present turbulence this topic will be of more pressing interest. For some Christians the return of Christ is a virtual reality and constant preoccupation. Others will be caught flat-footed, paying it never no mind.

It’s high time we quit admiring the architecture, in this case the lavish Herodian temple taking some 80 years to construct, and focus on preparing for the Lord’s imminent return and kingdom. This very temple would be leveled by the Romans in 70 A.D., in less than 40 years.

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baby Steps

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” Luke 21:1–4

Who has ever done this, dropped a whole paycheck into the offering plate? Not me.

On second thought, many have, in choices to give up professions to serve as a missionary or to enter seminary, or to have and raise children. Or to take a stand that will lead to the loss of everything. To “give” that which costs you nothing is like giving away old clothes to clear your closet for the new ones you just bought.

The question is are we giving until it hurts? In everything we might do that would equate to giving to the Lord—time, treasure, talent—there needs to be a twinge of pain. If there is no pain, there is no sacrifice.

In a relatively comfortable life, it’s hard to find oneself in a position that to give will cost us. Do we seek these out? Are we crazy? The finger points back at me.

Each one of us knows what kinds of things we’d rather not do because they will be uncomfortable, inconvenient, or redirect funds away from some craving we might have. If we’re constantly justifying our actions and attitudes before God then there are therefore opportunities where we can dig deep and give in the same manner the widow did. Perhaps try it in one little area. Take some baby steps.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

One More Point and I Close

“How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms,‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” Luke 20:41-43

This is from Psalm 110:1, which has always been confusing to me without substituting the words “the Lord” with “God” and “my Lord” with “Jesus.” But that’s just me.

Here’s this passage pretty much interpreted by Paul in Romans 1:3-4.

Concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Then Jesus had one last word for his detractors, mainly concerning the conniving scribes, saying directly to his disciples, but with his enemies listening in.

And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples,“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47

Christ’s enemies will face their respective days in court, and will ultimately suffer humiliation and eternal judgment, some more than others, if that can even be fathomed.

Clearly the lines were now drawn in the sand. The takeaways in all this are no one “gets away with murder” with God as the supreme judge, and Christ’s resurrection was foretold years in advance and is the crux of Christianity.

Posted in Devotionals, Luke | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment