Saturday, February 11, 2023

Prophecy Update: Israel In A Parable

Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Jesus’ teachings are filled with parables. In and of themselves, they are a fulfillment of prophecy. In Psalm 78:2, we learn why Jesus taught in parables, for Israel had gone astray, rejecting not only God’s prophets, but the light of Word of God itself! The culture of Egyptian society exposed them to other gods and turned them from Him during their 400-year captivity there. The Israelites brought that with them coming out of Egypt. And like Eve in the Garden, Israel allowed the words of an earthly being to plant a seed of doubt in her heart.

After their later captivity in Babylon for 70 years, the 400 years of God’s silence came on the heels of The Prophet Malachi’s words from God. In returning from Babylon, it was not a mass exodus as in the days of Moses. Many chose to remain in Babylon, for life was good there in Babylon’s heydays, but for those that did chose to return to Israel, their homeland, Babylonia influence still came with them. Other gods, false gods, and idol worship had subtle influences on the Israelites. It is noteworthy that 400 years comes up again, until we realize that the number "4" is the number of Judgement in scriptures.

But it was before Babylon when Isaiah wrote his prophecy in chapter 6:6, 10, “…Go, and tell this people, ‘Hear ye indeed, but understand not; see ye indeed, but perceive not.’” Plain language was lost on them. God had shut their ears to God and blinded them from seeing things as God saw them. God was silent to them for those 400 years.

It is the same problem today. God’s Word has again been rejected, and even made illegal for public display in some countries. As our world falls apart all around us, it is because man has once again believed the lies originally told to Eve, that we “shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.”

The serpent’s words echo in our halls of justice. While the people know good and they know evil, they do not cling to the good and eschew the evil. Both are a means to the people’s end.

Having just finished Ephesians 6, let Paul’s words resound in our hearts, for “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against… spiritual wickedness in high places.”

“I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.” Psalm 78:2

Today's Audio Message:
Luke 21:5-38 - "Israel in a Parable"


This morning we are looking at what is really an introductory to the rest of this very important chapter in Luke 21. Starting in verse 5, we come to a section of Scripture that runs nearly to the end of the chapter, all the way to verse 36, in which our Lord speaks concerning His return, His Second Coming, His coming to judge and to reign upon the earth. This is our Lord's own sermon on His Second Coming.

This morning’s reading in Matthew 13:13-17 really captures the state of the Jews. Wherever Jesus went, great multitudes followed Him. They had heard of His claims, His miracles and like anything notable or unusual, they wanted to see Him. Were they looking for their Messiah? No, just there to see the show.

In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke to them in parables, letting them wonder about the meaning, and before interpreting the parable, one of His disciples asked Him why He spoke in parables. His answer is revealing. He answered, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” In other words, those who truly desire to know God’s truth will receive it in abundance, because they belong to Him. Being a Jew didn’t mean they naturally loved God, and followed Him, in fact, just the opposite. They held to a corrupt religious system, their hearts were far from God, they didn’t know His Word, and what they did know they rejected or distorted. Jesus said, “They are dull of hearing.” They don’t really want to know. They weren't waiting for the Messiah to come, He was present with them and they didn’t know Him.

The same is true of many who self-identify as Christians, but in reality they are Christians in name only. Christ has no bearing in their lives. They may attend church, show up at potlucks, but they are completely ignorant of God’s Word, the gospel of salvation, and the Savior who laid down His life to redeem them. Like the Pharisees, many are “religious” in outward appearance only, but their hearts are far from God. Just like the Jews, many see the gospel and hear the gospel, but it never reaches their hearts, nor has any place in their lives. Many simply are not looking for Him, because they have no desire to know God’s truth, His Son, and the plan He has for their lives.

They weren’t looking for Him at His first coming, and they are not looking for Him at His second coming.

Beginning In Luke 21:5, we find Jesus, the Messiah, at the temple in Jerusalem, and a discussion begins with his disciples. The people beheld the beauty and the marvel of this glorious temple. They were in love with the idea of the temple, yet Jesus foretells of a time when this building, so beautiful and so strong would be left in ruins.

Let’s set the scene a little bit to put this in context. Again, it’s Passion Week. This is the last week of our Lord's life before His crucifixion, followed by His resurrection, forty days of teaching and appearing to His own, and followed by His ascension.

Jesus is in the temple which He had cleansed just the day before, throwing out the buyers and the sellers, the corrupt money changers and those who were extorting money at exorbitant prices out of people by disqualifying the sacrifices they brought and making them buy sacrifices from them. There is no question that they had defiled the temple, and the whole system was corrupt.

The disciples, for the most part, affirmed Jesus as Messiah, they believed in Him, followed Him, were taught by Him. In fact, Jesus had exposed the corruption of the Jewish religious system, rebuked the Sadducees, Pharisees, the scribes and religious leaders. They knew exactly what Jesus thought of their religion and their works. Jesus had just finished rebuking the leaders of Israel in which He pronounced repeated judgment and damnation and curses upon their heads. The temple would be destroyed, the people judged, the nation would bear the judgement, and this would mean the destruction of the temple itself.

This begins what has come to be known as Christ’s Olivet discourse, prophesying of the things to come, beginning with the imminent destruction of the temple, then the worldwide dispersion of the Jews (vs.24), the course of the ensuing age, climaxed by the second coming of Christ (vs. 27). This discourse is also reported in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13:1-17 and of course Luke 21:5-36. In order to really see it in its entirety, we must carefully study all three accounts. Jesus’ teaching in this discourse is in reference to Israel and not the Church. Christ was speaking of God’s future program for Israel.

Like Matthew 24, Luke chapter 21 carries a sobering message about the signs of future events before Jesus second coming, otherwise known as the end times. The end times began at Pentecost, some 2,000 years ago, with the escalation of the signs of the end given in scripture, and all of the fulfilled biblical prophecies, we can be sure that we are living in the last days. 

His somber words speak of a time of trouble that is coming, the like of which has never been seen before in all human history. It will be a time of incredible distress and great peril to human life. A time of staggering atrocities, bloodshed and horror such as mankind has never seen before.

Luke 21: 11 lists some of the natural signs that will occur before the Lord’s second coming: there would be an increase in natural disasters, earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places and great distress. Iniquity will abound and the love of many will wax cold (Matthew 24). There would be persecution, rejection and many false leaders. The hatred of God, His Word and Christians will grow exponentially.

Jesus warned His disciples that the age between then and His second coming will be marked by great religious deception. Many will be deceived in the last days by false leaders, teachers, prophets and messiahs. Add to that the many false leaders on the world stage, social, political, and global. Those who disregard the Word of God will no doubt fall in with those who will lead them into death and destruction.

The signs which the unbelieving world either distorts or denies, are the same signs that the saints will heed. The signs which bring terror and fear to the unbeliever, will bring courage and hope to the saint, Thus, Jesus instructs believers to STAND UP and LOOK UP, because these signs precede the return of the Lord Jesus, and His return in great power and glory. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (vs 28).

Is Jesus coming back? No question about it! Will all that He said here be fulfilled? Certainly! Will these events happen in a short period of time? Absolutely! These things are surer than the continuation of heaven and earth which, by the way, Jesus says will not continue but will pass away. God's Word is eternal, and it will stand forever!

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