Jeff

Luke 21:34-22:6: Guard your heart; It’s later than you think

JeffAs we enter into this related discussion to Yeshua’s “apocalyptic discourse” (Luke 21:34-22:6; Matthew 24:42-26:5; Mark 13:33-14:12), let’s ponder the ancient Chinese proverb “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” This is an Eastern idea that you live for today because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. J.R.R. Tolklein rephrased this and put it in the mouth of an antagonist in the Lord of the Rings series, “The hour is later than you think.”

Yeshua told a parable along these lines (Luke 12:16-28), to show us how to look at ourselves as people and how we fit into the timeline of the coming Kingdom of God.

This parable comes from a passage in Eccl. 9:1-10. The book is a bit depressing and seemingly nihilistic, but even so, it offers hope. It’s a bit gothic in its obsession with death, but it is to be a wakeup call as to what we are pursuing in life. We kill ourselves slowly with stress feverishly pursuing the things of the world. 

This is not a call to laziness, actually the opposite. We are to work hard and to do our best. There is no job that is beneath you. If you are placed in a menial position, do it to the best of your ability so that when you master the smaller tasks, you might be promoted to perform larger tasks. 

This discourse was spoken by Yeshua during Lamb Selection day, as the people were preparing for the Passover. The leaders, however, were preparing to seize Yeshua to kill Him. 

The one theme common to all three texts to be ready and on guard. During Passover preparations, you are on guard and looking to clear out all the leaven from your homes. Spiritually, we are to be purging out malice and bringing in sincerity and truth. They are looking to pick their lamb and buy their festival food items preparing for Passover. 

I highlight this because this what is on people’s minds as they are listening to Yeshua’s discourse here. There’s a lot of malice in the hearts of the Jewish leaders who were looking to kill Yeshua, forgetting what they were really supposed to be doing during this time. They are picking Him for death, out of malice towards Him.  

People like to obsess over the timing of the Second Coming but we need to be on alert and be looking for opportunities to help our fellow man because there will always be people in need around us. We shouldn’t focus on one and lapse on the other. 

What can be stolen from us? Our stuff? No, what Yeshua is warning us about is that our character can be stolen from us if we don’t develop it in God’s way. When we are too worried about whether the world’s hour is up, we ignore the fact that our hour may be up and end up unprepared to face our own judgement. 

When it says that we are to “keep awake at all times” and not be able to sleep, it’s a spiritual insomnia. But there’s also the opposite problem of being unable to stay awake and easily falling asleep and being unaware of what is going on. 

Let’s take a look at Rom 13:1–14:4. This was written during the Roman empire. History shows us how brutal this regime was, how corrupt most of the emperors were. It was not a great environment to live in. It was an unjust government. The Prophet Daniel served the Babylonian and Persian empires, which were also brutal empires. Yet God placed Daniel in Babylon and Paul in Rome for a reason. They were in a bleak and nasty place and time yet they both performed the role God placed them. We are to find out what “talent” God gave us and expand it, put it to use, even in a place and time that seems hopeless.

Let’s also look at 1st Thess. 5:4-10. There’s a lot of wordplay here with awake vs. asleep and light vs. dark. We’ll be looking closely at the word sober, which in Greek is nepho (Strong’s lexicon No. G3525) and means to be calm, collected in spirit, dispassionate and temperate

The prophets taught about the importance of sobriety in leadership.

“‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; and tomorrow will be like today, only more so.’” (Is. 56:12)

God often criticized people who take what He said was good and abuse them. The hour was very late for Israel when Isaiah was speaking, Babylon was literally pounding at the door. The people were in a miserable state. The leadership were asleep, they were not sober as to what was going on. They were going through the motions in the moedim but their hearts weren’t in them. “The letter kills and the spirit gives life” (2nd Cor. 3:6), because they were totally missing the point.

After all, God commanded Israel to bring alcohol as an offering (Num. 28:1-8). This offering actually calls for a “strong drink” offering — basically beer. It was a grain offering that had been processed and fermented. The priests were specifically warned not to drink on duty (Lev. 10:9). They were to bring the right offering at the right time, but if their hearts were somewhere else, that tainted the offering. How does this help us understand how to be sober-minded? There’s a word picture here.

See similar teachings on true sobriety in 2nd Tim. 4:3-5 and 1st Peter 1:13-16.

There’s a parallelism throughout Scripture. We are to be holy in our behavior. Sobriety is not just about alcohol, it’s more of an issue of self-control in all things. If jealousy is your alcohol or if gossiping is your alcohol, then soberness needs to come into your life in that case. God calls for a beer offering but He also calls for a sober sense of what is going on. He calls for sacrifices yet He says if we bring them without a sense of what our condition is, we pollute those sacrifices. We need to be sober about our fasting, too. Our “night” may come and if we have consistently ignored the needs of others then the time might come when will be unable to see our need or those in need around us even if we want to.

Let’s close out here in our exploration of “being sober” with a look at John 11:47-57. The context is right after Lazarus’ resurrection. This is also preceding Lamb Selection day, the 10th day of the first month of God’s calendar and on the fifth day from Passover. Note the item in John 11:55 that the people were coming to Jerusalem to purify themselves or set themselves apart as holy for the Passover. One of the main reasons they were out for Yeshua’s blood is that He had raised Lazarus from the dead. They had to kill Yeshua otherwise the Romans would kill them. God set Rome over Israel at that time. God also already had planned to take His Temple away. Yeshua had warned that this was coming and those who heeded that warning weren’t there in A.D. 70 when the Temple was destroyed. But at this time, the hour was late but not upon them quite yet. 

God’s appointed times are way-markers, and the lessons in each of the holy days from Abraham to now are reminders of how late the hour might be. Don’t ever forget how late your hour is even as you look to see how late the hour of the world is. The soberness that God has called us to is something we are asleep too. Paul says that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live be with God. It’s that whether we are alive when He comes or asleep in death when He comes, we will be with God at that time. 

“How then shall we live?” The Scriptures tell us that we live as people who are not afraid of death because we are “awake,” in a continual state of alertness. 

The Spirit of God is our burglar alarm, our crash-detection system. David asked God to show him everything about what was in his heart (Psa. 139:23–24). If we sin we have an Advocate, a Lawyer to speak to the Father on our behalf (1st John 2:1). We should be praying for the Spirit of God to show us where we are “asleep” or where we are in a state of “drunkenness,” in other words, weakness.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.


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