The Return of the King
Lawnchair Larry - Larry Walters - Not prepared for what would happen to him. Thought he was prepared - but obviously not fully.
Something few of us have prepared and planned for this week: the Return of Jesus! Yet, we believe that His return is imminent - a core doctrine of the faith - yet we talk little about it, and we hardly think about preparing for His return.
One of the most difficult passages of Scripture in the New Testament. My conviction - most of the passage deals with an event that would happen in the not-so-distant future (1st century) - end of passage deals with distant future - the visible return of Jesus. Makes it confusing - but think most of passage as a microcosmic view of a specific time and place of a cosmic reality that is being played out even now as we await the return of Jesus.
Diving deep this morning - but want you to see two challenges that matter right now for you.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus came into temple where He would spend the last week of His life ministering. He exposed the corruption - overturned tables, went head-to-head with religious leaders. Held up a widow who had been oppressed by the religious system as an example of faithfulness.
Disciples should have walked away saying, “This place is terrible…” Instead… “This place is awesome!” (Unnamed - dumbest thing he could say…)
And, in a sense it was designed to be an awesome place of worship symbolizing God on earth with His people - but a place of corruption. Jesus - the temple is not the end game in God’s Kingdom - , “Something greater than the temple is here.”
BUT - for Jews - temple all they knew - central to worship - annual pilgrimages - you thought God, you thought temple.
Storied history - destroyed by Babylonians at exile, but rebuilt - not as grand as first temple until King Herod. Herod obsessed with leaving his mark
Temple complex covered 35 acres (12 Football fields) - massive stones - Josephus - 60 ft. in length - foundational stones present measuring 42 ft in length, 11 ft high, 14 ft width - weighing over 1 million lbs!
As Jew - in awe of what Herod constructed and proud - this was the temple of your God! The most sacred place in the world! Disciples, “This is awesome!” Jesus: “Not one stone left standing on another...” Jaws dropped in disbelief...
After leaving temple one of disciples: “Look Jesus!” Jesus, knowing the corruption of the temple and knowing something greater than temple present: “Not one stone left standing on another...” SHOCK of disciples...
Disciples, “This is awesome!” Jesus: “Not one stone left standing on another...” Jaws dropped in disbelief...
From Mt. of Olives - stunning view of temple - Peter, James, John, and Andrew: “When?” Minds racing - how was it even possible?
From Mt. of Olives - Looking at temple Mt. - Peter, James, John, and Andrew: “When?” Minds still racing with thoughts - how was it even possible?
Jesus lays out a timeline of events that would begin to transpire in their lifetimes and would culminate with the absolute destruction of temple in AD 70.
False prophets - Theudas (mid 40s - led many astray - Acts 5:36)
Wars - numerous international skirmishes in 1st century - Caligula attempted to erect statue of himself in temple - rumors of war - Only matter of time until Jews would revolt against Rome...
Earthquakes - Phyrgia 61, Pompey 63, (Acts 16)
Famines - - famine in whole known world - days of Claudius.
And - persecution! Acts - it started happening! BUT didn’t stop the spread of the Gospel. - began to be fulfilled as Gospel moved out from Jersualem to the entire known world (Paul’s missionary journeys)
But then it would happen - Abomination of Desolation (vs. 14) cryptic - from - a tragic event that will cause the temple to be desolate - Antiochus IV - Syrian general who erected Altar of Zeus in temple and sacrificed pigs in 168 BC - led to Maccabean Revolt - Jesus: when you see Roman army coming - flee - it’s going to be bad - and it was.
66 AD - Led by Jewish Zealots - Jews revolted against Rome. Rome had a massive army - but could not defeat the Jews.
After several years of fighting - Titus, Roman general, ordered a wall of earth built around Jerusalem - cutting Jerusalem off from outside world and trapping them in the city. Cutting them off from food and water supplies from the outside world. Anyone not a Roman caught in the dry moat between the walls of Jerusalem and the Roman wall built around was crucified. As many as 500 Jews crucified a day - for about a year!
Finally, 70 AD the temple torched. Infants thrown into the fires, priests massacred, women raped. Titus ransacked temple ransacked and its possessions take to Rome to celebrate the Roman defeat of Jerusalem. Historian Tacitus - 600,000 Jews died in the siege. Josephus - over a million people total. Nothing as horrific in Jewish history until the Holocaust.
And, just as Jesus said - not one stone on top of another. Historic Judaism, temple worship, the whole system that was in place in the time of Jesus, died on Sept 8, 70 AD. Seemed like on that day the Kingdom of God fell.
BUT the Kingdom of God did not fall that day because something greater than the temple was here. The real temple - Jesus Christ - in Christ the fullness of the power of God resided - the living temple went to a cross, died in the place of sinful man, and rose from the dead defeating our real enemy - not the Roman regime that burned Jersualem to the ground - but sin and death - so we could escape not the fires of a Roman army but the fires of eternal hell.
Through death and resurrection of Jesus God establishes His Kingdom not on Temple Mt, but in the hearts of people who surrender to Him. To disciples: “It’s going to fall - is this what you are going to look to? Or, are you going to look to something greater? (Box Car Betty vs. Chik-Fil-A - Will I embrace what’s better or what I’ve always known? Ultimately, everything will fall except Jesus.)
Now the King who rose again, ascended to the Father, and sent His Spirit to dwell in us. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
Live as the temple!
Live as the temple!
God does not dwell in a sacred space but in sacred people - people who have given their lives to Jesus - the true temple.
Even today, we get caught up in sacred spaces. “I feel God’s presence most when I’m at the beach, or at the church...” But, it’s not places that are sacred. It’s people.
Nothing holy about 2200 Greenridge Road - Just a collection of buildings in North Charleston - what’s holy are the people that gather each week who are indwelt by the Spirit. It’s not spaces that show glory, holiness, and grace - it’s people!
If Christ in us, wherever we go - we live as His temple - as people in whom He dwells. How?
Show the world His glory! (Temple pointed to glory - so do you! You are showing the world His glory every time you tell your salvation story. The glory of God is imprinted all over your life - when you encourage other believers with how God is at work in your life - you show His glory. Have people seen the glory of God in you this past week?
Show the world His holiness! Temple = different from everything else - reminder that God is different. You show the holiness of God when you imitate God. (; ) Some of us are polluted temples - full of things that dishonor the Lord. Bad attitudes, sinful lifestyles, etc.
Show the world His grace! Temple - not just for Jews but anyone who believed - (House of Prayer) Cross ultimate picture of grace! Are you showing His grace? When you forgive someone who’s wronged you - when you love someone who doesn’t deserve it - when you are kind and encourage - Are you gracious?
Live for His return!
Live for His return!
Language abruptly shifts in vs. 24 - after tribulation Son of Man returns - gathers His elect. ()
vs. 32 - no one knows when it will happen (Don’t believe all the nuts who try to predict). But it will happen. Be on guard. Stay awake (3xs).
Pulls back the curtain to let us see bigger picture. What happened in Jerusalem in AD 70 is a picture in miniature of what will ultimately happen - as history progresses forward - wars will continue, natural disasters, religious deceivers - all will continue. AND persecution continues- Reminder of a coming day… (Hudson going to preschool - reminder of a day coming - wars, disasters, etc. reminder of a day coming when it all ends.)
A war much greater than the war between Israel and Rome will take place - between the forces of good and evil - An abomination of desolation - a man of lawlessness () It will seem as if God’s enemies are victorious - BUT do not worry - victory is coming! The King will return for His children.
In His time, God will be faithful to once and for all destroy every bit of evil that pervades this world. And, once and for all, we will be with Him - for all eternity - in a life free from evil influence, wars, disease, famine, etc. In the meantime, stay awake! Live as if He is returning: (Stay awake?)
Live as temporary citizens (Enjoy the world - but know you don’t belong here. Everything here is fleeting - don’t live as if it’s going to last forever. (Col. 3:1))
Live with passionate love for the King (Greatest command) - Because He is the eternal God who loves you. He is coming for you!
Live in unity - Think how much we need each other in this broken world. As we see this world spiral out of control, how much more do we need the encouragement of each other? Life is too short for our petty disagreements!
Live on mission - The end is coming - and when it comes, it will be too late - 2.5 billion have no access to the Gospel! If Christ returns today - no hope! Friends and family - no hope!
This morning - are you prepared for His return? If the trumpet sounded today, would He call you in the air to meet with Him? Turn from your sins, give Him your life.
Believers - Are you living as if you are prepared for His return? Are you living as His temple? As if He is returning?