There’s a scene from a popular movie from years ago where the entire family crashed past a road barrier in their car and were left stranded in the desert. It all happened while mom and dad were trying to fold the map. Apparently in their feeble attempts to correctly reassemble the map, they missed the signs that told them the road was out. Now this was only a comical movie clip, but the lesson is more valuable today than ever before. Signs are posted for a reason. They are for correction, direction, or warning. If the sign says “do not enter,” it doesn’t mean to give it a whirl and see what happens. Speed limits are posted on three feet by five feet metal signs attached high upon solid post for correction and guidance not suggestion.
But what are the signs that Jesus gives us? Are they for guidance, correction, and warning? When we listen into a conversation with his disciples, in Mathew chapter 24, we find not only signs, we also find the reason for the warning. His crew asked him about the end of the age, what it would look like, and what would be the signs to watch for. He began a discourse with them about what the end times would be like, the importance of remaining vigilant, and what to watch for that would indicate when this time would be close. Luke’s account records that Jesus compares the end of the age and his rapturing of the church as being like it was in the days of Noah and again as it was in the days of Lot. Signs would be that everything would be business as usual. People would be buying and selling, clocking in and out of work, preparing and eating dinner, and having weddings. He breaks the narrative into categories. First is “those days” or “the days.” Luke chapter 17 and verses 26-28 talk about general days. When we reminisce about past days or fun times, we will call them “those days.” Signs that Jesus gives us to watch for in “these days” are business as usual and a host of others recorded by Mathew in chapter 24. So Mathew’s account mentions signs to watch for as being wars, pestilence, famine, earthquakes, worldwide unrest between nations, false prophets leading people astray, great lawlessness, and a mass broadcasting of the gospel to all the world.
Time and word count will not permit me to break down the enormity of these signs, so let’s jump into category two - “those days” are signs that will warn of “the day.” Notice that we have great similarity today between our lives in 2020 and the lives of those in the days of Lot and the days of Noah. But he continues to tell how all of these normalities were happening all the way up until verse 27 when THE DAY came for Noah to enter the ark. That was a specific day in history, not just a random day of reflection. That was THE DAY the flood waters came heavily upon the earth. Likewise, in verse 29, he describes THE DAY that Lot went out of Sodom as being a specific day in history. That was THE DAY that the sinful cities that Lot once lived in were destroyed by fire. Then he goes on to compare those days of judgement long ago to these days of his return. In verse 30, he calls a specific day in the future as being not just a random or general day of reminiscing. He calls it a specific day. “So it will be on “THE DAY” when the son of man is revealed.
Now if we move a bit deeper, we have found category one to be “those days,” meaning signs; category two being “the day;” meaning the day the signs point to; and now we find ourselves at category three, which is “the day” to come. But notice the complexity and knowledge of Jesus to point forward to a phenomenon he created and knew full well about, but in ancient Middle East 2,000 years ago they knew nothing concerning “THE DAY” of the rapture of the church. We find it again in Luke’s account in verse 31 and then in verse 34. He tells again of “THE DAY” to come as being “on that day” two will be in the field, one will be taken and the other will be left. And then in verse 34 that “in that night” two will be in the bed and one will be taken and the other left behind. So if Jesus speaks of a specific day for the rapture, then why does he say it is in the day and in the night? It’s because his return will be a universal world-shaking event - a specific day in history that will affect the world simultaneously - and he knew long before they could fathom that the earth is at all times partially in darkness and partially in light. The only way a singular event can change the entire world at the same moment is for it to happen during both darkness and daylight.
The judgement that came upon the world in the days of Noah was of water. The judgement that came upon Sodom in the days of Lot was of fire. One to cleanse and the other to purify. One to wash and the other to refine. What water washes away gets dispersed to another location. What burns with fire is consumed and forgotten. Approximately every 2,000, God shakes the world with a universal event that changes everything it touches. First was creation, next was the flood, after that was the birth, life and death of Christ. And now we find ourselves poised 2,000 removed from the birth of Christ, waiting for his return. Jesus entered this world as a lamb. He will re-enter as a lion. On the second coming, he will judge as with the cleansing of water and the purification of fire. THE DAY is coming because he said it would. THESE DAYS are signs and warnings for our preparation for THAT RETURN. Don’t be caught out in left field alone on the day or abandoned by night. In 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, Paul tells of the church being caught up to meet Jesus on THAT DAY. The Greek word for the term is rapture. Let’s be a part of the catching up, by preparing up, for the rising up.
These are serious times my friends. I for one could be doing something else. Working an easier job. But God has placed us here to help point to the signs of his coming. Let’s get caught up with Jesus. I’ll see you at “The Point” this Sunday at 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m., on the square in Sparta. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.