Summary: Many have mistakenly claimed to know the date and time for Judgment Day and Christ's Second Coming. This message looks at some things Jesus said about this issue.
“THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM”
(adapted from messages by Darrel Land, Bob Russell, and Mark Driscoll)
The world was supposed to end the day before I came back to Martinsville from vacation. At the time I thought I had scheduled my vacation at the perfect time – a week off and then spend eternity with Jesus. Good thing I didn’t put my hope in the prediction.
According to 89-year-old Harold Camping, Judgment Day was supposed to occur on May 21, 2011. He was wrong. He now claims that in actuality Judgment Day came in a spiritual way and that the whole world is now under Judgment Day. He says it will continue up until October 21, 2011. He admits: “How to know whether to look at it with a spiritual understanding or a factual understanding is hard to know.” Camping had previously made similar Judgment Day predictions for May 21, 1988, and September 7, 1994.
Harold Camping isn’t the only person in history to mistakenly claim to know the date and time for Judgment Day and Christ’s Second Coming. It’s happened fairly frequently since Christ ascended and the promise was made concerning His return.
I want us to look this morning at some things Jesus said about the coming of Kingdom of God. Our passage is from Luke 17 and we’ll start with verse 20. In a side note, Luke had more to say about the Kingdom of God than any other gospel writer.
Lk. 17:20-37 – Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
In this passage, we see a frequently recurring event in the Gospels. The Pharisees have asked Jesus a question. Usually they did it to try to trip Him up. But this question is a legitimate question.
The Jews had long believed that God would send a special Someone who would come as King of a special kingdom. Based on scriptural prophecy and promise, they understood a lot of correct things about this coming King. They were waiting with expectation and anticipation for the coming of a king, someone who would make it all better, someone who would set aside sin and put down suffering and bring blessing and life where there’s been sadness and sorrow.
However, they also got a lot of things wrong concerning this coming King. For quite some time, the Pharisees had been the professional Bible students among the Jewish people. They basically taught that this coming King (otherwise known as the Messiah) would establish a physical kingdom; a political kingdom. In immediate context to Jesus’ day, they saw the Messiah as someone who would overthrow the Roman occupation and re-establish the glory of the kingdom of Israel as it was in the days of David and Solomon.
So when the Pharisees ask Jesus, “When is this kingdom coming?” Jesus urges them to think about a spiritual kingdom and not a physical kingdom. Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” When Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate asked Him whether or not He claimed to be a king. Jesus replies in Jn. 18:36 – “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Jesus is basically saying, “the Kingdom of God has already begun.”