What About the Kingdom? Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
The major difference between these two illustrations is the form of judgment. The fire and sulfur that destroyed Sodom came just as suddenly as the flood. No one expected that anything unusual would happen until it was too late. Because the kingdom’s fulfillment will be just as unexpected, people need to prepare for that time by entering the kingdom now, and believers need to encourage unbelievers to do so quickly. How are you encouraging unsaved people to enter God’s kingdom so they will be prepared for Christ’s return? (giving to missions, witnessing, singing)
Now, finally, Jesus talks about a time when the kingdom will be --
Completed at Last (Luke 17:30-37)
30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
32 Remember Lot’s wife.
33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
The phrase “the Son of man” occurs four times in verses 20-37. Each time the phrase refers to Jesus’ coming in judgment at a future time to fulfill the prophecies of God’s kingdom. Jesus will come on people not expecting Him and will catch them unprepared. To further illustrate the suddenness of His coming, Jesus next gives a practical warning related to possessions. The image we get is of people fleeing without stopping to collect their possessions. The phrase “on that day”, ties verses 31-37 to the preceding illustrations using Noah and Lot. When the coming of the kingdom is fulfilled, people must lay aside concern for material things. Trying to hang onto them would be an exercise in futility. Homes in Israel often had flat roofs. “On that day”, people must resist the temptation to come down from the housetop to retrieve valuables from inside the house. In addition, people working in the field should not “turn back” for material things. Both of these phrases, “on that day” and “turn back” picture the swiftness with which an enemy would approach. The point is that time to prepare will not exist at the future coming of God's kingdom. Material things have no part with spiritual things; therefore they should be left behind. When you hear the words “turn back” it’s natural to think of Lot’s wife. Although, instead of turning back Lot’s wife looked back, the point is she had temporary, material things on her mind. The warning encouraged people to seek to escape the future judgment by trusting and following Jesus.
After the warning, we are given a general principle. The principle relates to the matter of priorities and a person's sense of values. People can make the serious mistake of losing eternal life by placing priority value on the temporary and material things. By looking back, Lot’s wife demonstrated a longing for the life she had lived in the city. In seeking to hold on to one life she lost another. On the other hand, Lot’s willingness to turn loose of one life allowed him to gain another one. Since there will be no opportunity for people to be saved at Christ’s return, they should remember what happened to Lot’s wife, and not put off salvation. The main point here is that Jesus’ second coming will bring about separation and judgment, just like His first coming did. The kingdom’s climax will separate people, since one will be taken and one will be left.
The phrase “one will be taken”, means saved from judgment, since both Noah and Lot were taken and not left for judgment. And we are given another illustration with the picture of two women grinding grain in their household with one on each side of the grinding stone. Separation will be dramatic for those in close proximity. The disciples' question, “Where Lord?” shows they didn’t grasp the nature of the separation that would occur at the Second Coming. Neither did they understand that Jesus’ appearance would be as obvious as the circling of vultures above a dead carcass. The kingdoms coming will be self-evident and unquestionable. The world will know when and where the Son of Man returns. The kingdom’s fulfillment is certain and will come with unexpected swiftness. The truth demands, therefore, that people enter the kingdom now and thereby escape the coming judgment day.
Can you name some bad events that came unexpectedly? (Pearl Harbor, the events of 911, the tidal wave that hit Asia this week)