Blog Archive

Friday, November 30, 2012

"A Warning Regarding the Second Coming"

by Pastor Ron Vandermey on 11/30/12
Matthew 24:45-51: Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you tht he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if tht evil servant says in his heart, My master is delaying his coming, and he begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eaat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Responsibility to live for God and witness for Christ while waiting and watching for His appearing is what is stressed in the closing verses of the chapter. It is a great responsibility to be put in trust with any measure of divine truth. What is given is not for our own information alone but to be passed on to others.
I Corinthians 4:2 states: It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." Those to whom the Lord has made known His purpose and counsels are therefore called upon to act as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, sharing with the household of faith the spiritual food for their encouragement and edification. The servant who fulfils his responsibilities along this line will be duly rewarded in the day of manifestation. But if you have trifled with the truth, and had an over-bearing spirit, then you will have to face the judge at an unexpected hour, and will be given their portion with the hypocrites. This is not a true child of God, but one who will be judged according to the profession he has made.
The evil servant is thus an unbeliever who refuses to take seriously the promise of Christ's return. We see in this parable that every person is accountable to Christ for the stewardship of his life. Everyone has been given natural abilities, wealth, and possessions, in trust from God and must give account of how these things are used. Thus, Christ ends The Olivet Discourse on a sobering, yet important, thought.

"The Day of Noah and The Day of the Lord"

by Pastor Ron Vandermey on 11/29/12
Matthew 24:36-44: But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The disciples had begun this chapter with questions for Jesus before He departed. Basically, they wanted to know the exact day He would return. Jesus knew that if people knew the exact day that they would wait until that day to start doing the work of the Lord. Recently a young college aged student came over for dinner, and in the conversation asked for some advice about a term paper in American Constitutional History. My first question was: When is it due? The response: Tomorrow morning. That is exactly what Jesus did not want from believers. Christ is looking for us to be faithful, watchful, expectant and prepared for the Lord to return.
The days of Noah were similar to the day when Christ will return. In the days preceding the flood men lived carelessly and self-indulgently. Corruption and violence filled the earth. God's message through Noah was spurned as an idle tale. While insensible to their danger the flood came and destroyed them all. So it will be at the Lord's coming. The warnings are all there, but still the people seek to find answers in their own wisdom. The suddenness is emphasized by Christ in these words.
People disagree as to what is meant by the phrases in verses 40-41: "one taken, one left." Some say that the one taken goes to heaven, and the one left will be judged. However, the same word is found in verse 39, and the ones taken in the flood were taken to judgment. Noah was left with his family. Thus, in the second coming those who will die when Christ returns are taken in judgment, and those who are believers will be left for the Kingdom.
The thrust of Jesus' instruction is that His return will be at an unknown moment. The world is set with a warning. No one can know beforehand just when the Son of Man will return. It will behoove all, therefore, who live in that day of trial to be ever watching lest He come as a thief in the night.

"Parable of knowing the Fig Tree: Knowing the Time of Christ Return"

by Pastor Ron Vandermey on 11/28/12
Matthew 24:32-35: Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forh leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near--at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
The fig tree that was in my father's backyard was very messy. Large leaves were to be found continuously on the ground. While there were figs in the late 1950's, the only thing the fig tree produced was leaves that soon would fall, making a continual mess. Around 2003, I sentenced the fig tree to removal, and suddenly figs not seen for 40 years, suddenly began growing. The tree was still removed, and that decision was never regretted. Fig trees in Israel were so common that Jesus uses them as illustrations repeatedly. All knew that when a fig tree started to make new leaves, summer was near, and the figs would soon appear.
The fig tree is a well known symbol of Israel nationally. For many centuries the scattered Israelites, once owned by God as His own covenant people, have had no national existence. The Jews are returning to Israel in large numbers, and the fig tree is putting forth its green leaves. At present they are going back in unbelief, as the Scriptures indicated they would. From verse 33 we can assume that the Return of Christ is near when Israel becomes a nation again. Yet, when Christ says that the generation that sees the fig tree with its leaves will not pass till all these things are fulfilled.
I remember in college when the college president in 1973 gave a message on this verse, and concluded that Israel regathered in 1948, and thus the return would be 1988 (with the rapture in 1981). Then, some said that the beginning was the taking of Jerusalem in 1967. Then a generation would mean that Christ's return would be 2007 (and the Rapture in 2000). These dates have passed, and embarrassed people proved wrong.
Our only conclusion can be that there must be some final "birth pang" that will occur in Israel that will indicate that Christ's return is at hand. We are not told what that event is in this passage. We can only be certain that it has not yet taken place. Israel is in the news every week--sometimes every day--and so it is not exactly a leap of faith to come to the realization that what happens in Israel affects the world today, tomorrow, and right on until our Lord returns from the glories of heaven.
Verse 35 speaks of the finality of the words of Christ. Christ's words, indeed all of the Bible, cannot return void. They will be fulfilled.

"After the Tribulation: The Second Coming"

by Pastor Ron Vandermey on 11/27/12
Matthew 24:28-31: Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew, writing this Gospel to a Jewish audience, is careful to point out the fulfillment of prophecy in the Second Coming of Christ. In the Old Testament, this was called "The Day of the Lord" and the prophecies are numerous. For instance, the darkening of the sun is alluded to in Joel 2:10, 31; Amos 8:9; Isaiah 13:9-10; and Ezekiel 32:7-8. All of this would catch the attention of a Jewish reader who knew the Scriptures. In the New Testament, we see that the opening of the Sixth Seal will mark the darkening of the sun (Revelation 6:12-13; 8:12).
There are many (called Preterists) who believe that the Great Tribulation was the persecution of the Jews at the hands of the Romans starting in 70 A.D. That is the view of the Bible Answer Man program of Hank Hannegraaf. Yet our Lord tells us definitely here that His Second Coming is to follow at once upon the close of that time of Tribulation; so that it is evident that this Tribulation is yet in the future. When it comes to its complete fulfillment there will be remarkable manifestations among the heavenly bodies and the Son of Man will be seen "coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Clouds are always associated with the appearance of God on the earth--remember the pillar of cloud that guided the Israelites.
The tribes of the earth (referrring to the 12 tribes in Israel) will then mourn as predicted in Zechariah 12;10-12 when they look upon Him whom they once rejected, and whom they pierced, as they realize at last that He is the King, the Anointed One for whose coming they have waited so long.
Then the great trumpet shall be blown as predicted in Isaiah 27:13, and the angels will gather together the elect from all quarters of the earth, those who in that time of testing will ahve received the kingdom message and so be prepared to welcome the King at His return. This is not the same as the Rapture of I Thessalonians 4, where the saints are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. That event has already taken place. This time the Lord comes down to earth with all the saints to greet the elect gathered from the four winds. Zechariah 14 says that His feet will touch the Mount of Olives, which will then split in two and allow the Jews about to be slaughtered to escape, and He then fights the final battle for them.
Christ will then take that throne of David in Jerusalem, and reign in righteousness for a thousand glorious years, as is noted in Revelation 20.
When you feel defeated, and that the world is about to swallow you up, remember what the Word says--WE WIN! Jesus does the fighting for us, and the battle is always the Lord's. Smile, you are on the winning side.

"Setting the Stage for the Second Coming"

by Pastor Ron Vandermey on 11/26/12
Matthew 24:26-28: Therefore if they say to you, Look, He is in the desert! do not go out; or Look, He is in the inner rooms! do not believe it.For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
I can remember even as a child when going for a taping of a TV show that some friend would be on that there was someone who would warm up the audience. He would tell jokes, have contests with prizes, have them practice clapping, etc. Occasionally, there would be someone who looked or acted like the actual person who hosted the show. The audience would gasp, and then there were told how they should react when the "real deal" came out.
These verses are warnings that even at the end of the world there will be people who will attempt to take the stage or draw the multitudes to some other person to draw them away from the Lord. There had been messiah's out in the desert, and they had gathered a crowd and then vanished (or the Romans executed them). In our day, we had many hundreds follow "Rev Jim Jones" to Guyana. He had even deceived President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter (not a real surprise there) who both spoke glowingly of Jim Jones'achievements. Jones led people to their death, not to life. That is what these instant messiahs will do in the endtimes.
The point of verses 27-28 is to say that the coming of Christ will be so marked by special events that no one will miss that event. Christ's coming will be in visible, manifested glory when He shines forth from heaven as lightning flaming all over the sky.
As the Great Tribulation moves on to its culmination apostate judaism, centering in Jerusalem, will be as a putrid carcase against which the eagles (or vultures) will be gathered together. This is a vivid picture of the gathering of the armies of "all nations against Jerusalem to battle" as foretold in Zechariah 14. We have not seen that day as yet, but when it comes, Christ assures the disciples that His return is imminent.
In a real sense, every day of our lives we should live as if the return of Christ were imminent. It is, in the time it has taken me to write this short devotional thousands of people all around the world have died. There is no waiting for Christ's coming or worry that it might be tomorrow. It has past, and sadly many of them were not ready. Oh, that each one reading this today would sense an urgency to get out the Word of God to a world that is dying in sin. It is exciting to see events lining up for Christ's return, it is more exciting to be a part of God's redemptive plan right now.