Strokes just happen; they do not give any prior warning. I know; I just had one. One instant things were fine; the next it was over, leaving its mark. Fortunately, it was a small one. As I was explaining my mother’s history of strokes to my doctor, I said “She still lived to be 86 and I do not think I will live that long. He then said, “You won’t have to: the Lord will come by then. That took me by surprise. I have long felt that we, in this generation, were very possibly living in the last days; I mean the very last days, like the last generation, but I had not put it into years. This statement did. “Will, Jesus come in the next twenty years, I thought? Perhaps you are asking the same question, or then perhaps you are not. You have lots of things to get done, lots of plans yet to accomplish. The end of the age, the halt of the world cannot come yet, can it?
Jesus says after listing a number of things that have characterized the last two millennia, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Matthew 24:32-34. If you read the text plainly without any pre-conceived notions, Jesus meant “this generation to be the generation who could read the fig leaves, the generation who had seen “all these things happen. The last things do not need a lot of time to occur, unlike the “gospel of the kingdom being preached in the whole world; that has taken some time like the other things mentioned here with it. “The great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21) has clearly not yet happened; but it could happen in a generation, and Jesus says it will be cut short, else no one will survive. This is why Jesus says these last things will happen in “this generation. He is giving hope to those who see the “unequaled distress that this distress will be cut short for those who do indeed experience it. This can take place quickly when the time is ripe for it, which could be now or very soon, certainly in the next two decades considering the speed at which the present world is moving.
The point is that many believing Christians are being lulled into thinking that the Lord’s return cannot be that soon for any number of personal reasons and plans, not necessarily the signs Jesus speaks of in this Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and 25. Quite clearly, we cannot and do not know the day or the hour of His return, not even He knew it by His own admission. But it is precisely an event for which many will be totally unprepared. The thrust of Jesus’ words (now and in the following parables of Matthew 25) were not that we might find out the day or the time, or try to fix it precisely. The whole intent of His warnings is that we might be concerned about the nature of our actions and priorities today! What are we about, and what does our behavior and what we are doing with our daily lives say about who we are? Our actions, our works, signify who we are; it fixes our identity. In Jesus’ own words, are we “sheep or goat, and do we show it by how we are living and thinking today; for there is no time to make up for it or create it “out of whole cloth when the lightening begins to flash. That moment is a split second, and that time frame is the time frame of Christ’s return. It is sudden; in the twinkling of an eye.
Let the reader of Jesus’ warnings beware; “Now is the day of salvation we read in Hebrews. And it means that you need to begin in this moment, if you have not done so yet, to utilize the talents He has given you (see the parable of the talents in Matthew 25). They must be put to work, not hidden, or “saved. My stroke came without any prior or immediate warning. The “halt that Jesus’ coming brings to our moving world will come suddenly without any immediate warning. Use what little time is left to be about the work your Master has given you, so that He finds you doing it when he says, “Halt! to the world, and there really is no more time!
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