Sermons

Summary: So how should we live in the End Times?

NR 28-11-04

How should we live in the End Times

Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come (Mt 24:42)

Story: In the late 19th Century in America, there was a wave of enthusiasm for prophecies predicting the actual date for Christ’s Second Coming.

One such prophet was an Adventist leader William Miller (1782-1849). And it is in his movement that both the JW’s and the Seventh Day Adventists find their roots.

Miller first predicted that Christ would return on 21st March 1842, but then revised the date to April 3, 1843.

Over 3,500 of his followers jammed the Boston Advent Temple, only to be disappointed.

You might have thought that the movement would have died. But it didn’t. Rather it continued to grow.

Miller decided to recalculate his date for the Second Coming and soon publicised a new date - April 18, 1844.

When the messiah did not show up on that date, there was again frustration and some followers left the Adventist ranks.

Undeterred by these failures, Miller came up with a third date - 22nd October 1844.

The date was publicized as the Millerite publication True Midnight Cry.

And this third date surprisingly rallied his followers.

They began to spread the news of the new date of the second coming with an enthusiasm that had not seen before.

Churches which did not accept this message were denounced as agents of “Babylon.” and the devil

And - despite opposition from established, mainline religious groups -, thousands of people – including many clergy – began to defect to the Millerite cult.

As doomsday approached, the Millerites began to prepare.

One account notes that “Fields were left unharvested, shops were closed, people quit their jobs, paid their debts, and freely gave away their possessions with no thought of repayment.”

Huge press runs of Advent publications like The Midnight Cry warned the public that “The Time Is Short”. “Prepare to Meet Thy God!” and “The Lord is Coming!”

William Miller himself began peddling white “ascension robes” to the faithful, many of whom waited for the miraculous event in freshly dug graves.

But as we all know, the Second Coming did not occur on 22nd October 1844.

In fact if they had read the words of Jesus from this morning’s Gospel reading, and believed them – they would not have been taken in by Miller’s false prophecy.

Story: Having the advantage of time, I am amazed how Hal Lindsey’s "The Late Great Planet Earth" ever made the best seller list in the late 70’s. His predictions, based on Biblical prophecy, can now be seen to be so off-beam.

But predictions about the end times, like horoscopes are exceedingly popular.

It is interesting that Jesus refused to be drawn into speculation about the end times.

So what are we to do about the End Times?

1. We are simply to be ready

For Jesus speaking about the Second Coming said this:

36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but (Mt 24:36)

and

42 Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come (Mt 24:42)

Introduction

When I looked at the Lectionary reading for today I wondered what on earth does a passage - that majors on the Second Coming of Christ - have to do with Advent!!!

For popularily, Advent is a time when we look forward to the Birth of Jesus two thousand years ago in a stable in Bethlehem.

Well, not according to the forward to ASB lectionary. It is the time we look forward to Christ’s Second Coming.

But as I reflected on the meaning of Advent, I found myself drawn to three ideas in the Gospel passage; ideas that I think are useful to reflect on during Advent.

1. He IS (really) coming again

As we prepare to remember Jesus’ coming to this earth two thousand years ago as a baby in Bethlehem, the first of these ideas is that we can look forward to his Second Coming in glory - one day.

And that is something special to look forward to.

Jesus , speaking about his Second Coming in a parallel passage in Mark’s Gospel said:

26"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And 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. (Mk 13:26-27)

The great Christian hope that HE WILL COME AGAIN. He will usher in a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no more tears, no more suffering and Jesus himself will be the light in our midst. (Rev 21 and 22)

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