Luke 12:49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
Matthew 16:1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’3 And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away. 5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”7 They said to one another, “It is because we have brought no bread.” 8 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? 9 Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” 12 Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. [NRSV]
Matthew 24 1 As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” 3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8 all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. 9 “Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), 16 then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17 the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; 18 the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 19 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. 21 For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, “Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or “There he is!’—do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, “Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, “Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed,’ 49and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51 He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [NRSV]
1000 years is figure of speech that draws on Old Testament imagery of a really long time. It is not a literal 1000 years. If it were literal then we would have to interpret that 1000 years through God’s understanding of time as a day is 1000 years then Christ’s return would have been in a day or 6000 years later as Bishop Hippolytus of Rome explained in the first century.
The theology of millennialism draws on eight verses from one chapter of one book is not a balanced nor full use of scripture.
Look at Jesus own words in Luke and Matthew:
Signs are good, important and essential to watch for in our understanding of God’s work in the world.
Luke 12.54 “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Signs can have multiple meanings. It is through time that we signs bear out the truth but the evidence that follows. You see storm clouds and then it rains.. the dark clouds as a sign of the thunder and flood to follow.
What are the signs of the present time? We are in the midst of war. Nations are threatening to escalate to global war. The Muslim faith is rapidly out numbering the Christian faith around the world.
Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, drought, disease, cancers, poverty, political hysteria, melting glaciers, desire to be served rather than to work, jealousy, prejudice, fears, and somebody stop me..
When you see these things ask yourself this: “Is this what heaven is like? Are these signs of God’s kingdom and reign? Is this what God wants for us?” I say, NO!
These are the signs of the present age. These are the signs of the world we living in. We are called to seek God’s kingdom where we see glimpses of God’s grace at work.
There was a pasty, proud preacher who claim to have prayed a hurricane past his church and university without compassion on the neighbors who experienced the full brunt of the storm. Not signs of God’s work.
Why is this 1000 year reign of Christ thing important to so many folks?
A: At times, we have a desire to know what God has said is not for us to know. We want to know what is in our Christmas presents before we open them… Every child snoops, shakes or peeks to find out what is in the wrapped package. Our quest to know about the end of time, God’s divine plans, and Chirst’s return
(In all honesty, trying to pinpoint at time and moment that Christ has said he did not even know boarders on blasphemy and is easily as waste of time)
But that does not stop us from trying to make sense out of senseless events in the world.
For example, we need only look to the tragedy in CT at the elementary school. Are the twisted and vengeful actions of a son against his mother and her class signs of God at work in the world? NO!!
It is a wake up for those who know God’s power and love to take on a hurting and twisted world. Who is going to tell people like this shooter about the love, power and grace of Jesus Christ. (We could say, he doesn’t live in Jackson so it’s not our responsibility, but somebody didn’t teach him another way to deal with his rage and anger.) If you and I don’t reach out to a hurting world, who will?
We have gathered together for worship on the last Sunday before the end of the Mayan Calendar ending on the 21st. What are we doing to prepare for the coming of the end?
It is rather easy to dismiss the warning of a pre-determined time, based on Matthew 24:36, “About the time and hour, no one knows..”
And yet we have to look to Jesus’ warning to pay attention to the signs, if we see wars, famine, lying leaders and natural disasters do we say, “business as usual” mind the gap and continue on as you were?
What is the wise magi in the East had not been looking in the heavens and studying the charts and signs in the heaven? Would they have known other wise to go to Bethlehem with great treasures to celebrate the birth of our spiritual king?
If they had not paid attention to signs in the night sky, we might never have the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas. Oh my, what a shame.
If the shepherd had not listened to the super-natural experience of heavenly voices they may not have gone to see the baby lying in the manger.
The Christmas story is filled with signs. If we ignore the signs we learn nothing. If the doctor says watch your blood pressure, it is a sign of what is going on in our heart and vascular system. If we are watching the check engine light burn day after day and never have it checked out, then we wonder why our car stopped on the side of the road with out warning.
Watch for the signs, see what they prove in them selves. If it floods where you live, MOVE!
If your life seems short, make the most of it. If you days are long and all ahead of you, plan for a long future of LIVING.
As for the 1000 years.. don’t worry if Christ is coming on the 21st of this month or not until the 22nd century… worry about Christ coming into your heart right this minute.
Be focused on telling, teaching and planting the love, power and grace of Jesus Christ in the lives and hearts of those around you. You see the signs: so make a difference through Christ, today.
Christmas is God’s promise to be present with us… now and 1000 years and for eternity. Don’t get hung-up in ‘the’ day, live this one as if it were.
If Christ were coming this week and a 1000 years would follow of peace would you want to make certain you were right with God and if doing that mean you were in right relationship with your family, community and world… would you ignore signs? I hope not.