Adversity to Opportunity
Intro: A man is talking to God. "God, how long is a million years?"
God answers, "To me, it's about a minute."
"God, how much is a million dollars?"
"To me, it's a penny."
"God, may I have a penny?"
"Wait a minute."
apocalyptic literature in Matthew 25, Mark 13, & Luke 21.
“the events of the end and those of Jerusalem's fall are presented side by side in the entire discourse, as is typical in prophetic presentation, even though we can now look back and know that the events are separated by a large period of time.”
5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Jesus spoke these words in 33 AD about the
destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD THEN…
about events that are still in the future, but…
EVERYTHING IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS.
For the Lord sees not as man sees:
man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7b
Example: The ‘widow’s mite’ right before this.
What does this tell me about God?
1. is not misled by the superficial
** Here Jesus moves to the final judgement.
7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” 8 And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake.
Is war necessary?
All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
2. allows freedom of choice.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
What a nation sows, a nation reaps. “The wages of sin is death.”
13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
tribulation as opportunity.
How to reconcile this? “…put to death” and “not perish”
deliverance through 1. words of wisdom or 2. martyrdom
Earthly “death” is just a bump in a long line of life for the Christian.
3. turns adversity to opportunity.
Application: Our response to persecution is the most powerful witness.
** back to the near future.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
God keeps all his promises (his word comes true)
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:8-9
"I Walk Slowly, But I Never Walk Backward.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
4. waits for repentance
God is not bound by time.
Don’t misinterpret God’s silence for weakness, indifference, or approval.
Example: Fruit takes time to grow. (Both kinds)
Application: When you are attacked for doing right, don’t look at the circumstances. In time, God’s promise ALWAYS COMES TRUE.
The enemies will be dealt with.
Trust that he will vindicate those he loves.
23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Judgement on Jerusalem - God disciplines those he loves.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
5. faithfully disciplines his people
Example: Parallel between the Jewish people and a rebellious individual.
Same for Jerusalem.
They tried to cast God out.
** Now Jesus leaps forward to the future again.
This is where it becomes apocalyptic… (complete destruction of the world)
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
It’s darkest just before dawn.
these light and momentary troubles.
6. always delivers his people.
When will the world end? What will that look like? Are these the last days?
Application: These are our last days.
“What decisions have you been making lately, and how are they a reflection of the way you sense the future?”
~ Henri Nouwen
…or the way you see God?