< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: November 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Be Alert! Mark 13:28-37

Mark 13:28-37 28 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. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

This passage tells us we need to be prepared and how to do that. We’re to read the signs. A fig tree loses its leaves in the winter; and in late spring when you see the new growth, you know that summer is coming. He says when you see the signs you will know the end is near. Jesus will be right at the door. There’s immediacy in His statement. In the book of Revelation Jesus says many times “I am coming quickly”. And it’s for sure. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not my words”.

Where He says “this generation will not pass until these things happen”, He doesn’t mean a 20 or 40 year time period. It’s more like “the church age” or this season of trials kind of thing.

He also makes it clear in this passage that we are not to figure out when it will happen. We’re not to focus on the timing; we are to focus on the task. And that’s to be ready to welcome the Lord Jesus into our life. To trust Him and with joy anticipate His arrival.

Luke 12:35-38 35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning;36 and be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him.

37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them.38 And if he shall come in the second watch, and if in the third, and find them so blessed are those servants.

We’ll be blessed if we are ready for Him!

Jesus then tells a story about a master who has servants and he’s going away on a trip. He leaves his servants in charge. Jesus is the master who has gone away. We are the servants and we’ve been left in charge while He’s gone. The verse says each one was left with their assigned task. The task is the same really for every Christian. That we be engaged in developing quality followers of Jesus Christ. Period! It’s called different things in scripture, “loving your neighbor”, “making fishers of men”, “spreading the Gospel”… and we have different ways of doing it based on our gifts; telling people about God and Jesus, teaching, writing, mentoring, encouraging, showing Christ’s love, giving God the Glory, etc. but it’s all to make disciples. That’s our job as Christians.

Of course, even His disciples were slow learners:

Acts 1:6-8 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus had already told them no one knows, but the Father. But here they ask again. So Jesus answers them again: don’t focus on the times or dates. Focus on the task – “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Mark 13:10 also said the Gospel must be preached to the ends of the earth.

So encourage people by your faithfulness. Be alert! Be ready! We’ve all been left in charge of this task!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Judgment Mark 13:24-27

Mark 13:24-27 24 But in those days, following that distress, “‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
Christ is not just coming back. He’s coming back for His elect! And we need to be ready!
The darkness in this passage is judgment. Christ will condemn the rebels after the tribulation. And He will come with the power to make everything right. The sun, moon and stars darken in the face of the true light of the world. In the final Heaven there will be no day or night; Christ will be the light, and this event nods to that.
Another time it was dark all over the earth was when Jesus died on the cross. At that time condemnation for sin was coming from God onto His Son! Jesus was paying the penalty for our sins, which we couldn’t pay. One day Christ will come back in judgment and the lights will go out again.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
This passage tells five things about the judgment that will come against those who rebel.

  1. God will repay with affliction those who afflicted us. (God doesn’t appreciate those who pick on His kids!) God doesn’t judge because he’s harsh, but because He cares. He cares about the indifference toward a suffering neighbor, about people who don’t hear the Gospel.
  2. God will come with His mighty angels. They will be mighty, strong and flaming with fire.
  3. God will deal out retribution to those who don’t know Him. God knows us! We should know Him! If we reject His offering, His love, His gift…we will face retribution.
  4. Retribution against those who do not know the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel is a command for us to repent and believe. The gift has expectations. Jesus has done everything necessary for us to be saved. We then need to turn from sins and trust in His provision alone! These warnings are a kindness to us. They are full of mercy and grace.
  5. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction. People sometimes don’t want to turn to Christ right now because there’s a price to pay: dying to self, turning from sin, but the price is infinitely higher if we don’t turn to Him and all of a sudden it’s too late. A lot of people don’t believe in condemnation because they don’t think they are guilty. But we are. We all are! Everyone is going to see His return! For some it will be for the condemnation, for others for the deliverance. He will send out His angels to gather His believers together.
Romans 8:18-23 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

There are five promises of comfort in this passage:

1.      Glory will eclipse suffering.

2.      We’re all living in futile times. That’s why bad stuff keeps happening. Expect suffering – don’t be surprised. Because we live in a fallen world!

3.      Freedom is coming! Today is hard and difficult, but persevere! It’s not far away.

4.      Creation is suffering now too. That will also change. And our bodies will be redeemed and we will be adopted as sons and daughters.

5.      We have our hope and that hope allows us to persevere.

The first time Christ came, it was private. He was born in a stable. In His ministry He was misunderstood. The next time He comes everyone will see it happen and everything will be very clear! We need to be prepared!

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Rapture & Tribulation Mark 13:14-23

Mark 13:14-23 14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

This talks about the 7 year tribulation. We believers will be spared from this awful time because God will rapture His church right before this takes place.

1 Thessalonians 4: 13- 18 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians because they were worried. Early Christians thought Jesus would be right back! And of course he hadn’t come back yet. So they worried about their loved ones who were believers, but had died since Jesus went back to heaven. Paul tells them that the ones who “sleep in death” will rise when Christ calls His church and join Jesus and the living believers in the air. This is what’s known as the rapture of the church. It is NOT Jesus’ second coming because He doesn’t set foot on the earth this time. His second coming is after the tribulation, which he cuts short because no one would have survived it.

Paul also talks about the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15: 51-54 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
And in Revelation 3:10 Jesus says 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
Again telling us we won’t be here for the tribulation. And in John 14:1-3 He tells us where He’s taking us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
The tribulation is first talked about in Daniel 9: 24-27 24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

So 4 things are prophesized in a time line:

1. There would be a decree to rebuild Jerusalem.

2. Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt.

3. Then an anointed one (messiah) would be "cut off" (an idiom for "rejected" or "killed").

4. Then Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed again.

All of these events later happened, in the same order in which they are described in Daniel 9:24-26:

1. After the Medo-Persians had conquered the Babylonian empire about 2540 years ago, they ruled a vast empire that included the land of Israel. About 2446 years ago (about 445 BC), Persian king Artaxerxes gave permission to the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem, which was still in ruins after having been destroyed earlier by the Babylonians.

2. The Jews rebuilt the Temple and the city of Jerusalem.

3. Then, in about 33 AD, Jesus entered Jerusalem as the Messiah who had been promised by Old Testament prophets. But, many people rejected Jesus as the Messiah and He was crucified by the Romans.

4. About 40 years after Jesus was crucified, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. (The Temple has not been rebuilt since then).

And it will be rebuilt during the tribulation. And there will be some kind of Abomination of Desolation at the temple half way through the 7 year period. Then God’s wrath will pour out onto the earth. This will be worse then Noah’s flood. Worse then Sodom and Gomorrah. Worse then anything the world has seen yet. A season of great suffering. A season of great deception.

But not for us! Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Studying end times can be confusing. But Jesus wants us to know. At the end of the Mark passage in verse 23 He said, So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

Jesus is the great Prophet and He wants us to know His plan. Knowing His plan will give us confidence that through faith in Him we will be protected.

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