The Kingdom of God
Sunday, May 24, 2009 • Steve Hogan • End Times
We live in a world that has all kinds of problems - financial problems, political problems, diseases, racism, wars, crime, hate, injustice and greed. And different people, different
leaders, politicians, educators, civil authorities, and religious leaders are trying to do what they think will solve our problems and make this world a better place.
- But I think we all know that we can't put our hope in the men and women of this world to solve our problems. For this world won't be a truly better place until Christ comes back - only He has the authority, the power, the wisdom and understanding to really bring true and meaningful change to this world. Psalm 46:8-11, Isaiah 9:6-7
Luke 17:20-21. Back in the first century the Romans were ruling over Israel. Of course the Jews didn't like that; they didn't like being oppressed; they couldn't do whatever they wanted; and they didn't want to pay taxes to Caesar.
- Now the Jews remembered when they were the number one power in the world, and when King David and King Solomon ruled. They also knew about the OT prophecies
that promised that a Messiah, a King would come and take over and rule powerfully and victoriously on their behalf. 2 Samuel 7:12-13, Daniel 2:44, Luke 1:30-33
Well, here in Luke 17 we read that the Pharisees were asking Jesus the question: "When is the Kingdom of God coming?" Now the Pharisees had been with Jesus, and probably had heard Him preach that the "Kingdom of God is at hand." They might have also heard that this Jesus might be the King, and if that was the case, then why wasn't He immediately overthrowing the Romans and establishing His kingdom on earth; and so they ask Him, "When is the Kingdom of God coming?"
But these Pharisees didn't understand what kind of Kingdom Jesus was setting up. They didn't realize that they had to be "born again" to enter into this kingdom, which is what John 3 records that Jesus told Nicodemus, that other Pharisee.
- You see, the Pharisees wanted this physical kingdom on earth, but Jesus was at that time inaugurating a different kind of kingdom, a spiritual kingdom. Jesus was setting up a kingdom that would exist in the lives of people who would trust in Himself as their Savior, and where He would be ruling in their hearts as King.
- And if you've been born again, if you've turned from your sin and have trusted in Christ as your Savior, then you are a member of God's Kingdom. And if you are a member of God's Kingdom, then Christ the King is Lord of your life, and your life on this earth will demonstrate the character and purposes of Christ the King. Colossians 1:13-14
Now Jesus told these Pharisees that they couldn't observe this kingdom; it wasn't something they could outwardly see; it wasn't a matter of Jesus or anyone else for that matter taking the country over from the Romans in a physical, visible way. This spiritual kingdom would come quietly, invisibly and without the normal pomp and splendor associated with the arrival of a king.
- And Jesus told them that it wasn't a matter of saying "Look, here it is! Or "Look, there it is." You see, Jesus wanted them to know that the kingdom at that time wasn't geographical in nature; it wouldn't be confined to one particular location or place. This kingdom Jesus was talking about at that time was in people, not in a place.
Now this last phrase of verse 21 should be literally translated, "the kingdom of God is
w/in you." The kingdom Jesus was talking about was one that existed in the hearts and
lives of those people who had submitted to Christ the King and were following Him.
- And let me say, it is a wonderful thing to be a believer in Christ and to be a member of God's kingdom, and to have Jesus Christ the king, reign in your life, to let him lead your life, and rule your life for His glory and your good. Psalm 23:1-3
Luke 17:22. Jesus now turns from talking to the Pharisees, to just talking to His disciples. He has things He just wants to say to them about the kingdom of God.
- Now for us Christians living in the 21st century it's easy for us to now see that there are two comings, the 1st coming which took place over 2000 yrs ago, and which began the spiritual kingdom of God in the hearts of people, and the 2nd coming, which is yet to come, and which will begin Christ's physical kingdom on this earth.
- But the disciples didn't know all this; and Jesus in these vss & the ones that follow is explaining a few particular things about His 1st and 2nd comings.
First, Jesus tells them that they'll be longing to see one of the days of the Son of Man; and Jesus, by saying what He did, was letting them know He'd be leaving them; for why would they be longing for one of the days of the Son of Man if He were still there?
- But notice that Jesus says that they wouldn't see one of the days of the Son of Man. They'd be longing for it; they'd be looking for His physical return, and desiring His physical presence, but they weren't going to see it. Jesus said, "You will not see it."
I believe Jesus was saying to His disciples that after He left, and that during their days of serving Him on earth, that they wouldn't physically see Him again, that is, they wouldn't be alive on earth when He returned. But there would be people who would be alive at His return, and so Jesus then tells the disciples & us, that when He returns, how we are to know that indeed it is Him who is returning.
Luke 17:23. First Jesus wants us to know that there will be false reports that He is back on the earth. And this warning given in this verse was both for the disciples in the first century, and for us today. People will be saying, "Look here He is. Come over here and see Jesus Christ." Or they're going to say, "Hey J Christ is now back in Jerusalem," or "Christ is in Miami", or "Christ is in Siberia." Examples
- Jesus doesn't want anyone fooled by people saying things like this; and He wants us to know that there'll be false christs before He the real Christ returns, and these false christs are tools of the devil, designed to lead people away from the true Christ. Matthew 24:4-5, 23-26
Luke 17:24. Jesus now explains what we should be looking for. And Jesus explains that when He returns, it won't be by land, it will be by air. That is, Christ will be coming in the sky. That is, people won't hear re: Christ coming back and then go find Him in some physical locality and be gathered to Him there. But rather Christ will be coming in the clouds, in the sky, and He'll gather people to Himself up in the sky.
We read that Jesus will come back like the lightning. I like how the NIV translates it. "For the Son of Man in His day will be like the lightning which flashes and lights up the sky from one end of the sky to the other." All of us understand lightning here in Tampa, Florida, which is the lightning capital of North America.
1. Lightning is brilliant; it is bright; it is strikingly beautiful.
2. Lightning flashes across and illuminates a whole portion of the sky.
3. Lightning takes place quickly, suddenly - and without notice.
And Christ's return will be like lightning, but the appearance of His return will be bigger, brighter, more brilliant than any lightning strike you've ever seen. And the brilliance and the brightness of Christ's return, what some call Christ's "Shekinah glory" will illuminate the entire sky around the earth. This is the return of Christ, and His entrance back into this world will be unmistakable, clearly visible to all on the earth, lighting up the world, shining forth for all to see. Matthew 24:31, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 2 Timothy 4:1, 4:8
- Now we read that Christ will come in His day; and indeed, the Father has already
determined the precise day when Christ will return, when His glorious entrance back into the realm of this earth will take place. Matthew 24:37, 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, Philippian 1:6.
Luke 17:25. In these verses, Jesus is talking about both His 1st and 2nd comings. I believe He wanted His disciples to know some of the differences between each of His comings. And here Jesus reminds His disciples that at His 1st coming, before He leaves the earth,
He'll suffer and be rejected by the Jewish people. Luke 9:22, Matthew 16:21-23, 24-28.
- Jesus wanted His disciples to know that the cross came before the crown, that shame came before honor, that mocking came before praise, that suffering came before glory.
Christ came the first time as the Lamb of God, born in a manger. It was a humble, private, quiet and secret event. Christ will come the second time as a Lion. It will be a glorious, public, loud and world wide event. Matthew 24:30, 1 Thessalonians 4:16
- Christ came the first time to deliver us completely from the penalty of sins. He will come the 2nd time to deliver us completely from the power and presence of sin.
- Christ came the first time as a Savior, to save men's souls, and will come the 2nd time as a Savior, to save believers from His wrath on earth; and He'll come the 2nd time as a judge, to judge unbelievers for their sin. Hebrews 9:27, Psalm 98:9
- And so there's a dramatic difference between Christ's 1st & 2nd coming.
Luke 17:26-27. Now Jesus talks about what it's going to be like on earth immediately preceding the days of His return; and we need to take note of this, for a good number of us may be still alive here on earth when Christ returns. Well, anyway, Jesus was telling them that it would be like the days of Noah; and what was it like in the days of Noah?
- People were eating and drinking. They were focused on food and drink, and that probably included liquor. But they were also marrying. Singles were spending time together, and were getting married. And we read that they were being given in marriage, which means the parents were also involved.
- People at that time were doing what we would call the normal, everyday things of life. But doing anything apart from God, whether it is a normal, everyday thing or something else, is selfish and sinful.
But not only were people living selfish, sinful lives, they were living very sinful lives.
Genesis 6:5-8. During the days of Noah people were very unrighteous and wicked.
People were sinning greatly against God, like God didn't even care or like God didn't even exist. But they were so wrong, and so deceived.
And so what's the point here? The point is that the unbelievers living during the time of Noah were going along doing the normal things of life, like everything was fine. But they weren't living for God. They were ignoring God, rebelling against God. They were in sin. They were proud, selfish and indulgent. They were drunkards, immoral people; and therefore things were not fine. And so they were in grave danger.
Yes, they may have heard Noah preaching to them and warning them of the judgment to come, but they didn't believe what he said. They were scoffers and mockers, wicked unbelievers, and deserving of God's judgment and wrath upon themselves. Psalm 1
- And so when the rain started and the flood came, they were completely surprised and caught off guard, and were quickly and suddenly destroyed, and then sent on to hell.
The point is that this is how it's going to be with the unbelievers on earth right before the return of Christ, right before the 2nd coming, right before the rapture.
1. People will be doing everyday things - living life like everything is fine - eating, drinking, going to work, getting married, having kids, shopping, going out, having fun, getting drunk, partying, playing sports, watching sports, etc. Luke 21:34-35
2. People will be sinning greatly. They'll be ignoring God, not loving God, rebelling against God. And just as the people in Noah's day were in great sin, so to the people on earth right before the return of Christ will be in great sin. Matthew 24:12.
3. The unbelievers on this earth won't be suspecting Christ's coming and the judgment
that He's going to pour out upon them. They'll be surprised and totally caught off guard. The unbelievers will be sleeping; they will be in the darkness. 1 Thessalontans 5:1-7
4. The church will be raptured from this earth, and on that same day, the judgment of God, the wrath of God, will begin to be poured out the earth. Zephaniah 1-2
And so here we are in the end times, and it won't be long before Christ comes back. One of our main jobs is to tell unbelievers their sin and the judgment they deserve; and tell them about Jesus Christ who came and died and rose again for them so they wouldn't have to be punished for their sin.
- And if they don't repent before Christ returns, then they'll be doubly judged, here on earth, and then in hell forever and ever. Tell them to repent and believe in Christ before it's too late. Acts 26:18, Acts 3:17-21