Taking the Long View

November 17th, 2019 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: The Purpose of Prophesy

Psalm 98:5-9, Malachi 3:19-20, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, Luke 21:5-19

It was a gorgeous Jerusalem day in our gospel, Luke 21:5-19. The Apostles were relaxing and commenting on the beauty of the Temple. Jesus seized it as a teaching moment and became a total buzzkill when He told them of its coming destruction. Shocked and anxious, they pepper Him with questions about this event.  He doesn’t give them a direct answer. But in His reply, Jesus gives two fundamental reasons for prophesy. The first is: don’t be led astray. Things are going to happen, like false Messiahs, wars, earthquakes, and signs in the sky. The scripture will give you an understanding to navigate them. Out of that comes the second reason: don’t be afraid. God is in control. Persecutions are coming as an opportunity to spread the gospel. Be faithful to the end. “I am with you, always” (Matthew 28:20).  

God wants you to be aware of things to come. What He doesn’t want are the foolish date picking prophets. You know, the ones throughout history that convince people to quit their jobs and wait on a hill with the faithful for Jesus to come. That was the problem Paul faced in today’s reading in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12. Word was out the Jesus was coming soon. It was enough to cause some believers to become idle and sponge off the church, while they got into people’s faces with their point of view on Christ’s return. The Apostle quickly put the kibosh on that. He cited himself as a hard-working example of how, even in the light of the second coming, a person should work, pay his way in life, and not be a burden. He also reminded them of the “no work, no food” rule. When it comes to the end of the world, God doesn’t want you to check out. It’s an urgent call that the clock is ticking, and you’ve got important work to do.

Our Lord wants us to be taking the long view. Considering the End Times, I’m still going to fund my 401k (I may decide to buy cheaper furniture). No matter what Last Day events may be happening, it’s always the end of the world for us when we die. The time is short to declare the gospel and for the unsaved to hear it. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The die is cast once we step out of this life. There is no coming back, no do overs, and eternity is a long, long time. Malachi 3:19-20, our Old Testament reading today, portrays the consuming fire of judgement on the wicked. The bliss of the righteous is also laid out plainly and straight forward. Our reading in Psalm 98:5-9 reminds us that the Creation will also rejoice when Jesus comes to claim His throne and remove the curse of sin once and for all. It will be a glorious time! So, it doesn’t matter if we die or if God comes down and hits the “game over” button, the important thing is to make sure that you are in the right group. Come to the cross of Christ and by faith take His sacrifice as an atonement for your sin. Confess and repent from your old ways and begin a new life in Jesus. Make today the day of your salvation. The end could be here sooner than you think!

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