I always love this time in late October. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but the light takes on a peculiar golden quality that I find irresistible. There is something that makes that quintessential light clearer, more pristine and seems to draw me out more so than at any other time of the year. There also seems to be a tangible urgency in the air. A notable change that with this projected change in the lighting, the shortening days, all but screams at us( to steal a line from the Game of Thrones novels): Winter is Coming!
If I were a farmer or a long ago Pilgrim, I would be picking the pumpkins and bringing the crops into the storehouse before the conditions change. Just like the early morning nip I feel in the air tells me that the season is about to change to something completely different I can sense the signs and signals and as clearly as the headlines which let me know all too clearly, that Spiritually things are about to shift. Something feels different. Time is growing short.
Folks tell me all the time that they have heard all their lives that “the Lord is coming again soon!” I just spoke to a 90- year- old friend who seemed really put out about this very thing!
He, like so many of us, have heard this refrain for so long, and with such redundancy that they no longer quite believe it. Or, if they believe in it’s eventual occurrence, they have long since given up waiting on the curb for that particular parade to come on by. Yes, certainly, if quizzed they would probably answer affirmatively that they surely believed in Jesus. Yes, he is the Messiah. But they have grown weary of waiting. Like a Christmas Advent calendar where one can open one cute little colorful windows each day. Initially this activity is wonderful and builds mounting expectancy. However, this window opening, peek- a- boo count-down activity looses it’s luster when one is never allowed to arrive at THE long awaited day! When the much bally-hooed Pay Off never seems to come, we at long last are forced to heave a huge sigh of disappointed lost interest. We can almost see that Believer’s expectant faith, like so much cooling, soapy bathwater gurgling down the drain.
Let’s explore this. I feel that this may be a much larger problem than people really admit to. Like the kid that keeps crying wolf or something. OK- admittedly, that’s a bad analogy but you get my drift here. Let’s say, like in the Music Man Movie, you remember everyone is on the street waiting for that Wells Fargo Wagon — Even little Opie is there, singing that zippy song, excited at the imminent arrival of something magical with that hopeful expectation,” Oh what will it bring for ME?” Folks are looking down the road, they know the exact direction it will come, they are singing and waiting, waiting and singing and then it never comes swinging onto Main Street…and it doesn’t come and it doesn’t come. Folks eventually get tired of singing even the catchiest of tunes if it never ends. But, rather than give up on the riches that the Wells Fargo Wagon may be arriving with. Let’s check the Wells Fargo Schedule. There is no sense waiting curbside and singing your little heart out and having Opie waste all that lisping cuteness if it isn’t yet time for Wells Fargo to pull in!
We have all heard that wonderful parable that Jesus told in Matthew 25 about that bevy of virgins and their oil lamps. This seems to indicate, on the surface, that we are supposed to be always and ever be waiting for that Bridal Party to mosey on by. In some sense, I suppose that you could agree with that statement and that is certainly been the traditional take-away in Sunday School booklets since they started printing them. But is that really, really what Jesus was saying? (Please don’t write me and argue this point! I do believe in always being spiritually ready because one never knows when the Coyote might push the Acme Piano or Anvil off the cliff and on to my Road Runner head! We aren’t discussing death we are discussing the Lord’s Return!)
I have referenced Matthew 24 requently and verbosely in this blog. We will most certainly circle back to my point over in that chapter. Let us first re-wind a bit and check out that back story in Matthew 23: Jesus has just been at the Temple. Passover is approaching and time is a-wasting. Jesus has been at the Temple butting heads with the Priests and the Pharisees. They hate him. He makes them look bad. He makes them Crazy!
He is rocking their religious boat and tipping their Ivory towers. They think that they have ” it” all figured out and Jesus shows them up again and points out to them ( and everyone else in church that day)that they not only are getting their boat rocked but that in reality,they have totally missed the boat! In Matthew 23 he calls them big fatty fat hypocrites. He calls them self-righteous. He calls them totally blind. He calls them a generation of vipers. He accuses them, en masse ,of always missing the signs and signals and then killing any and all prophets and messengers that God in His loving-kindness sends to them to set them straight. (foreshadowing!) Jesus then proceeds to lament over all of Jerusalem. He says that he tried to bring them comfort and safety and they didn’t want any part of that. He proclaims their house desolate ( which is never a good thing!) On the way out the door, he tips his hat and says effectively, “Jerusalem, I won’t be back until I come in Power and Glory”. Obviously,I am paraphrasing to make my point. But it was a big, dramatic scene and deeply profound. Exit-Stage Left!
Now, here we are in Matthew 24. As Jesus and the disciples are leaving he points out on the way out that this big fancy, impressive temple is going to be torn down and not one stone will be left upon another. This is not only overheard by others but it seems totally incredible to everyone ( even though it has happened in the past) that this magnificent structure is slated for ultimate demolition!
The disciples have heard an earful so, they finally find a quiet place for all to sit in the shade and begin to ask Jesus questions. Jesus has repeatedly been telling them in different ways that his time is really winding down. Giving them pretty clear hints that He has got to go and it is not going to be pretty. Mostly they have been letting these “clues” fly on by. However, now, it seems that they are ready to get serious . WHEN is this all going to happen and WHAT will be the signs to let us know when you are returning and the signs and signals of the End of the Age?
These are Excellent scheduling questions so that they, and we, won’t be waiting for the proverbial “Wells Fargo Wagon” to show up in the wrong town, on the wrong day and at the wrong time! Not understanding the schedule creates an atmosphere and attitude of poor credibility but it also wastes everyone’s time and energy that we are commanded to be expending else-where!
In the next post we will examine that God- Given “Wells Fargo Schedule” and see what we can figure out! But I will leave you with this video to be stuck in your head until the next post!
P.S. If you would like to receive The Gospel Road- Bible Study Notes, in a weekly attachment, that I am currently teaching here locally in Lake City. Just send me an email to that effect. I will be most happy to pop that off to you so that you can follow along.