Summary: A serious look at Jesus words about his coming from a biblical rather than dispensational perspective.
“AN UNEXPECTED HOUR”
A Sermon Based Upon Matthew 24: 36-44
By Rev. Dr. Charles J. Tomlin, DMin
Flat Rock-Zion Baptist Partnership
Advent 1-A, December 1, 2013
"Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour (Mat 24:44 NRS).
“I didn’t see it coming!”
Back in September, as the NFL football season just got started, Trent Richardson, former Running Back for the Cleveland Browns, was surprised when he got traded from the Browns to the Colts. “I turned on the radio and all of a sudden I heard,” Richardson told News 19 in Cleveland. “I can’t believe it, I didn’t see it coming from anywhere… I wanted to be a Brown, I didn’t see it coming…. I bought my house here in Cleveland, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff in the community. I’m really shocked, especially for my family who have got to pick up and move. And also for my fans, I know I have a lot of fans behind me….I just didn’t see it coming.” (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/09/19/trent-richardson-i-cant-believe-it-i-didnt-see-it-coming/).
A Morgan Stanley banker and boss, Ruth Porat, who thought she understood the risks to the financial system, didn’t see the great financial collapse coming in September of 2008. At the time, she was advising the U.S. Treasury about how to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but then she got the call that her own bank almost vanished. To stay afloat, they had to sell 20% of their holdings, and then the government had to bail them out with a single-day loan of $107 billion dollars. Will another collapse come? If it does, you can bet your bottom dollar, it will happen the same way. No one will see it coming. http://hereisthecity.com/2013/09/10/five-years-on-from-collapse-banks-still-at-risk/.
Do you remember when that meteorite screamed across the Russian sky and rained down fire and debris as it broke apart over the Ural Mountains, injuring nearly 1,000 people. So why didn’t Scientist see this coming? They had an explanation: “Size matters,” said Andrew Cheng, a Johns Hopkins Physicist. “It doesn’t take a very large object. A 10 meter size (feet wide) object already packs the same energy as a nuclear bomb.” The one that crashed in Russia was 15 meters, or 49 feet; entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above the ground. It released the energy of several kilotons when it broke apart, but it was relatively small so that it was nearly impossible to track. “While Scientist scan the heavens frequently and keep track of millions of objects,” Cheng said, “they don’t keep watch continually.” http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/02/15/russian-meteorite-why-didnt-scientists-see-it-coming/.
We haven’t experienced the crash of meteors in the Yadkin Valley---but most all of us have been there, or will be there when something happens that we didn’t see coming. A Rock Band known as Belle and Sabastian even has a song about it: “I didn’t see it coming….” Over and over the truth keeps coming, and in our text today Jesus reminds us too: “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour….” It’s the same truth. You had better be ready, for when it happens no one will see it coming.
THE ‘COMING’ THAT DOESN’T COME
But of course, people don’t want to believe this. There are all kinds of prophecy preachers, soothsayers, astrologers and all kinds of so called Bible experts who will claim otherwise, saying that they know how to read the signs or that they have it figured out. They like to scare us into thinking that some of us will be ‘left behind’, or that they have decoded the final scenario of how everything will take place. They claim to know how to see it coming and can ‘map out’ how it will all end. This kind of ‘reading’ into Scripture is similar to the Psychic lady who was reading palms and telling fortunes for a fee. Someone demanded their money back, and she would not comply. They reported her deceptive practice to the police. While it is legal to tell the future for a fee, it becomes illegal when you don’t give a money back guarantee. When things did not happen like she predicted, someone wanted their money back. She didn’t give it back, so they reported her to the police. The police came and took her off to jail. She claimed to be a psychic and to know the future for everyone else, but when it came to reading her own future, “She didn’t see it coming!” (http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/crestline-38717-didn-psychic.html).
In today’s Bible, what Jesus says should settle the matter once and for all: “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” No one knows, says Jesus. Even he doesn’t know. But there are those people who will tell you that it is “coming soon” or that it they know it is ‘near’ or they claim to have the ‘right’ interpretation from the Bible about the end times. But people keep claiming to know. In the 1833 it was a Baptist named William Miller who claimed to know. By reading the book of Daniel, Miller used a year-day method of interpreting bible prophecy and he became convinced that the second coming of Jesus would take place in or before 1843. When it didn’t happen in ’43, he changed the date to April, 1844. Then, they changed it again to July, 1844. Again, not giving up, they found what they believed to be miscalculations and they changed it to August, 1844. When it still didn’t take place, Samuel Snow, a friend of Miller, concluded that based on a 2300 day prophecy in Daniel 8.14, Christ would return on “the 10th day of th 7th month of the present year, 1844. Since that calculation didn’t work out either, they used the Calendar of an obscure Jewish sect, to set the final date at October 22nd, 1844. When that didn’t happen, they started to preach that Jesus was setting on a ‘white cloud’ and needed to be ‘prayed down’. All kinds of people in New England were misled to sell their possessions and homes and then get on the rooftop to watch and wait for the second coming. When it didn’t come, many of the disappointed followers became Seventh-Day Adventist. And they are still waiting. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millerism).