MORNING MESSAGE: Rev. John Cline and Alice An (Korean)
2 Peter 3
Anyoung haseyo (Hello). Gamsahamnida (Thank you).
Being ready is so important in life. Parents, are you ready for a new school year? Workers, are you ready for your next week of work? When going on a trip, the preparations are always necessary. Getting ready.
Are you ready for the “Day of the Lord”? For Jesus’ return? As Christians, we need to understand the importance of being ready. The early Christians were continually reminded by Jesus, by Paul, and by Peter to be ready. Today, we will read through some of those warnings. First, hear the words of Jesus in which he explains that the day of his second coming, the “Day of the Lord”, is not one that will be announced ahead of time. Reading from Matthew 24.
36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;
39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.
44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Do you understand? People think that they will have time to get ready. That if they “read the signs” or “understand the times”, that they will be able to pinpoint the exact time of Christ’s Second Coming. But there won’t be time. Last second conversions cannot be counted on. That’s a calculated risk that is not worth making.
Following those words of his that we just heard in Matthew 24, Jesus then continued on with the same theme by telling a parable about ten “virgins” who were waiting for the “bridegroom” – that was Jesus – to come to usher in his wedding banquet. The word “virgins” was a word which, in Jesus’ culture, simply meant an “unmarried, young woman”. Those ten unmarried young women had heard about the impending day of the bridegroom’s arrival but not all of them were ready for it. Five of those unmarried young women were ready for the bridegroom to come, but five of them were not. Reading from Matthew 25:
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you; I don’t know you.’ 13 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
About that coming Day of the Lord, the day of Jesus’ return, the apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome, reading from Romans 13:
11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Are you ready? Are you awake? In his second letter to the Christians who, at that time, were living in what would today be known as Turkey, Christians who were experiencing terrible persecution and who regularly fled to caves and tunnels in which to live, the apostle Peter tried to encourage his readers to not give up hope. They had heard about the Second Coming of Jesus but were losing hope as they underwent terrible persecution and troubles. Peter wrote in chapter 3:
1Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing, and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:1-18)
When I was a young Christian, I used to try to figure out the timing of Jesus’ return. I studied graphs, and maps, and charts. I read newspapers and books. I watched tv shows and movies in which the timeline for Jesus’ return was revealed. But then, Jesus didn’t return in 1988 as was widely predicted. And so, I took another look at Scripture and saw that Jesus, and Paul, and Peter all said that the key to Christian living was not to try to figure out the timing of Jesus’ return but to be ready for that return. Jesus said, “Be ready” and “Keep watch”. Paul wrote, “Live lives that put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Peter stated, “Since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.”
Don’t get weary of waiting. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah were told by God that they would be having a son through whom His people would be established. That event took 25 years to happen when Isaac was finally born! God then promised one of Isaac’s descendants, Joseph, that he would rule over his brothers and that would bring life and protection to his family and to all of God’s people. It was 15-20 years before that promise was fulfilled. But, then God’s people, the Israelites, were enslaved in Egypt after Joseph died, and they lived in slavery for 400 years before God delivered them through Moses. Wouldn’t 300 years of slavery have been enough? And then, after Moses had led God’s people back to the Promised Land, they needed a king through whom the eternal Messiah would come for all people. A shepherd boy named David was anointed to be that king and, yet he spent the next 7 years of his life running from cave to cave trying to keep Saul, the present king, from killing him. And it was 14 years before David became king over all Israel. But it was from David’s family line that the Messiah would eventually come, an event that happened almost 1,000 years later when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the so-called “City of David”. And, then with Jesus, it would be at the time of his Second Coming, on the Day of the Lord, that a “new heaven and a new earth” are created and eternal peace is ushered into existence, a reality that is delayed only because of God’s love for people in which He had decided to delay Jesus’ return only to give more people the opportunity to respond to the Gospel message and to be saved. So, don’t be discouraged by delay. God knows what he is doing. Our waiting period is a time of preparation. Be ready!
In closing, I want to show you two photos. Billy Graham held crusades in 85 countries on six continents. But the largest crusade he ever held was in Seoul, South Korea on June 3rd, 1973. 1.1 million people were in attendance. Here are two photos…
Some of our Myung Sung friends or family members may have been in attendance at that crusade. And certainly, the message of Billy Graham was always the same, “Get right with the Lord. Come to Jesus. Be ready for his return.” Amen.