72 Luke 21.5-38
From Despair to Hope…
From Hope to Confidence!
v Opening Illustration
Ø Civilizations think they will last forever
§ They look at the great things that they have done and marvel at themselves
· Egyptians looked at the pyramids
¨ Said, “We will last forever”
· The Dynasties of China with Great Wall
¨ “We are impervious”
· Assyria with Nineveh
¨ City enclosed by an 8 mile, 40’ thick wall!
Ø “We will be here forever”
· Babylon with hanging gardens
¨ “Look at what our hands have done”
· Greeks with Acropolis
¨ Parthenon – One of the most architecturally perfect building ever constructed
Ø “Who could ever be grander”
· Romans with their Armies
¨ “We cannot be defeated”
· British with their Empire
¨ Sun never set on it!
Ø “We will be an empire forever”
v So we find Jesus’ disciples looking at the great temple and thinking the same thing!
Ø So they say in verse 5…
READ v. 5
Ø Josephus writes about the temple
The exterior of the building wanted nothing that could astound either mind or eye. For, being covered on all sides with massive plates of gold, the sun was no sooner up than it radiated so fiery a flash that persons straining to look at it were compelled to avert their eyes, as from the solar rays. To approaching strangers it appeared from a distance like a snow-clad mountain; for all that was not overlaid with gold was of purest white. From its summit protruded sharp golden spikes to prevent birds from settling upon and polluting the roof.
v You can see why they thought it was going to be here forever
Ø How could anything happen to such a great structure?
§ It will last forever!
· It was the symbol of their culture, the people, their greatness
¨ Much like the Twin Tower were of ours!
Ø And just as we could not have possibly thought what happened could occur
§ So what Jesus says about the fate of the temple astonishes them!
READ v. 6-37
v A couple of things need to be said before we launch into this text…
v Future-telling Prophetic speech many times intertwines multiple upcoming events
Ø We see this in the OT when the prophets speak about the coming exile and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC
§ Many of those prophesies apply to both Jerusalem and the end-times yet to come
v Secondly, Jesus never tries to give us an end-times countdown schedule
Ø Darrell Bock commentary
§ Jesus does not give a calendar of end-time events as much as a portrait of the moment
· While this text does give us descriptions of what the end-times are going to be like
¨ It never gives us an order of events
Ø Notice that Jesus never told his disciples when the temple was going to be raised…
§ Just indicators that it will
v Third, the approach to text like this one is humility
Ø Kent Hughes
§ Study of the Olivet discourse requires a proper humility and a willingness to admit that we do not have all the answers
· We need to realize that we will never have all the answer regarding the end-times
¨ We have to be humble enough to be satisfied that God holds the keys
v Lastly, while we cannot know the end-game in totality
Ø There are many things that we can learn and Jesus wants us to know!
§ GK Chesterton
· It is only the fool who tries to get the heavens inside his head, and not unnaturally his head bursts. The wise man is content to get his head inside the heavens
Ø And that is what we are about to do…
§ Get our head inside heaven
· And learn what Jesus wants us to know about the end-times!
v This section is set up in two parts
§ Describe the events leading up to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD
§ Describe the times before the 2nd coming
v Much like OT prophets…
Ø Jesus sees one as informing the other
§ The first event is going to be much like the second
· We see this in the OT prophets where they describe the fall of Jerusalem
¨ Yet those same verses can be applied to the end-times as well
Ø They are complimentary
v Thus what Jesus wants us to know about the end-times through the description of the destruction of Jerusalem is…
Ø It is…
A Cause for Despair
v There will be…
§ V. 9-10 ~ You will hear of wars and revolutions…Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.
§ Wars cause great despair
· America during WW1 and 2
¨ Great despair especially when it wasn’t going well
· Cold war
¨ Cuban missile crisis
¨ Nuclear winter / fallout
Ø Also described as a time of great…
· V. 11 ~ There will be great earthquakes, famines, pestilences in various places
¨ Natural catastrophes always bring great despair
§ 1900 – Drought in India
· 250,000 to 3MM killed
§ 1931 - Yellow River flood, China
· 800,000 to 4MM killed
¨ 1998 Yang see river flood
¨ 14MM homeless
§ 1918 Flu pandemic
· 50MM killed
§ Dec 26 2004 – Tidal wave
· 250,000 killed
§ Hurricane Katrina
§ All of these brought great despair!
Ø Jesus also notes that there will be…
§ Cosmic signs
· V. 11 – great signs from heaven
¨ Man has always been sensitive to the heavens
Ø Illustration: Heavens gate Cult
§ In 1997 there was an amazing alignment of cosmic events
§ The week of March 26th saw the convergence of Holy Week, the vernal equinox, a partial lunar eclipse and the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet
· A man by the name of Marshall Applewhite used these cosmic events to convince 38 people of the Heaven’s Gate cult to commit suicide
· Cosmic events always lead to craziness and despair
¨ Look at the great despair that has surrounded the “Planet killer” asteroids
Ø Movies like “Armageddon” and ___________
v But despair for the Christian can come from other places as well
Ø There will be great persecution
§ V. 12
Ø These times will be full of great betrayal for the believer
§ V. 16-17
· Betrayal and Martyrdom
v All of these reasons for great despair will be present when Christ’s second coming draws near as well
Ø Look at verse 25-27
§ And these signs will cause Christians to be tempted to despair
· READ V. 34
¨ These things might tempt you to despair
Ø But don’t
¨ These things might tempt your heart to be weighed down
Ø But don’t allow it to happen
Ø Jesus cautions us…
§ If we only look at the world around us at that time
§ And keep our eyes on the events instead of the outcome
· Despair and Hopelessness can close up on us as a trap!
v So Jesus gives us…
A Cause for Hope
v READ V. 28-31
Ø Don’t keep your eyes on the events…
§ But what they are indicators of!
· These things mean that Christ’s coming is near!
¨ And what greater hope is given to the believer!
v The tree parable here gives us the perspective we should have regarding these events
Ø The wars, catastrophes, and cosmic events…
Ø The earthquakes, famines and pestilences
§ All these are new leaves and budding flowers from the Christian perspective
· They are Harbingers of better things to come
§ Just as we find hope when we see these things in nature…
· That the barren winter is beginning to give way to the warmth of spring
· So we should find hope even in the terrible events described here
¨ For they signal the end of suffering and pain!
Missionary Greg Fisher was teaching in a West African Bible College and was teaching from 1 Thes 4 when one of the students raised his hand and asked, “4:16 says that Christ will descend from the heavens with a loud command. I would like to know what that command will be?”
I wanted to leave the question unanswered, to tell him that we must not go past what Scripture has revealed, but my mind wandered to an encounter I had earlier in the day with a refugee from the Liberian civil war.
The man, a high school principal, told me how he was apprehended by a two-man death squad. After several hours of terror, as the men described how they would torture and kill him, he narrowly escaped. He hid in the bush for two days, and then was able to find his family and escape to a neighboring country. The escape cost him dearly: two of his children lost their lives. The stark cruelty unleashed on an unsuspecting, undeserving population had touched me deeply.
I also saw flashbacks of the beggars that I pass each morning on my way to the office. Every day I see how poverty destroys dignity, robs men of the best of what it means to be human, and sometimes substitutes the worst of what it means to be an animal. I am haunted by the vacant eyes of people who have lost all hope.
"Reverend,” the student said, “You have not given me an answer. What will he say?"
" 'Enough,' " I said "He will shout, Enough! when he returns."
A look of surprise spread on the face of the student. "What do you mean, 'enough'?"
I drew a long breath and said, “Enough suffering. Enough starvation. Enough terror. Enough death. Enough indignity. Enough sickness and disease. Enough lives trapped in hopelessness. ENOUGH!”
v You see…
Ø When these things happen
§ We are to see not an end, but a new and better beginning!
v Matt 24:8 describes it in this way….
Ø All these are the beginning of birth pains.
§ Birth paints a perfect picture of what our perspective should be
· Illustration: Birth of baby
¨ Not pleasant
¨ At times women think it will never end
Ø But when the pain and tears and agony are over
§ The outcome is the best!
· A new baby
· A precious child
· A little new, beautiful, wonderful life
Ø And that is exactly where our confidence as Christians lies
§ In a beautiful, wonderful, new life
A Cause for Confidence
v While all these things are happening
Ø Realize that they can harm the body, but not the soul!
§ Our soul is safe with our savior!
· I believe that is what he means when he says in verse 18-19
¨ But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life
Ø Spiritually speaking
§ When all these things are happening in the world
· Wars, famines, pestilences, catastrophes, cosmic events
§ When persecution is pointed at the believer
· Betrayal, arrest, martyrdom
¨ When all these things are happening
§ They can attack the body, but not the soul!
· My Soul is Safe with the Savior
· That mindset is what got Jeremiah through the stocks and pits
· That mindset is what got Joseph through years of imprisonment
· That mindset is what got Daniel through the lion’s den
· That mindset is what got Stephen through the stoning
· That mindset is what got Paul through
¨ The 40 lashes minus 1
¨ The beating, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger, persecution
Ø I’m sure he said over and over again
§ They can attack the body…
· But my Soul is Safe with the Savior
Ø That is what Paul meant when he wrote:
§ Rom 8:18
· I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us
v And that is the mindset Christ asks us to have
Ø The confidence that our Soul is Safe with our Savior
A climber in the Alps had come to a perilous gap in the ice where the only way to get across was to place his foot in the outstretched hand of the guide. Told to do this by the guide, the climber hesitated a moment as he looked into the gloomy depths below.
Seeing the hesitation, the guide said, "Have no fear that hand never yet lost a man."
And when any soul truly commits itself into the hands of Jesus Christ, that one is committed to the strong, sure keeping of hands that never yet lost a man.
v That is what we have to realize!
Ø We have put our trust in Jesus
§ And while things around us might tempt us to despair
¨ Have no fear; his hand has never lost a man yet!
¨ Rev 6:12-17
Ø 6th seal opened
Ø Illustration: Carrie burying Crocuses in our yard
§ To give us hope that something better is nearly here
§ Will Durant
¨ War is one of the constants in history, and has not diminished with civilization and democracy. In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war
v And that same mindset is what got…
Ø Jesus through the cross
§ Heb 12:2
· Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
¨ Jesus endured the cross by focusing on the joy set before him
Ø Looking beyond the here to the hereafter
Ø And belief and trust in Jesus’ completed work on the cross is what gives us our assurance of eternal life
Assurance is having confidence of eternal life that is resting upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ, but presumption is presuming ourselves to have eternal life when in fact our confidence is based on nothing more than the flimsy foundation of our own self-righteousness.