Ancient People

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23rd Sunday after Pentecost

Ancient People

        Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” [Luke 21:6]

        During my travels about the world I have seen many and sometimes strange things. Some of the most fascinating things I have seen are the ruins of cities from ancient civilizations. The many pyramids from the cities of the Mayan people throughout Mexico and Central America, the great temples from the Khmer Empire in Thailand, the Forbidden City in China and the Karnata Empire in India all stand empty as ghost towns.

        To walk through these cities of the past, one can feel the almost haunting sense of the long dead society. The mind begins to wonder what happened to a thriving populace or why they no longer inhabit these cities. Much of the time, the people themselves still exist, but they are scattered into small groups; sometimes forgetting their former heritage.

        Archeologists discover old temples and cities as they dig, excavate or cut through the jungles where time has reclaimed the landscape. Ancient writings, shards of clay pots and inscriptions or pictographs on the stones of the cities themselves lend to the reasons of why thriving populations of tens of thousands of people simply disappear.

        Some cities are legend and have fallen into the mythical status. Such cities like Camelot, El Dorado and Atlantis. We have cities from scripture that have yet to be found like the city of Ai and the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah. And, of course, cities are being rediscovered as well; such as Xanadu, Babylon and Nineveh.

        Entire metropolises have been erased by catastrophe like Pompeii or by war such as Nuremberg. Other cultures abandoned their towns because of food shortage or decline in birth rates. The fact is; we are not permanent on this earth. The monuments we build will not last forever and eventually will decay long after we have gone.

        Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” [Luke 21:6]

        The temple in Jerusalem was a beautiful and magnificent sight. Some of the stones used in its construction were as much as seventy feet long. The decorations were of gold and precious gems. Jesus took one look at it and told of its eventual destruction in 70 a.d. when the Roman general Titus would lay siege to the city and starve the people into surrender.

        The disciples were greatly distressed about this news and asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” [Luke 21:7] Jesus obliges them by foretelling of wars and earthquakes and famines. He speaks about persecution and betrayal by their own family and friends. He even tells that some will be put to death because of Christ.

        As upsetting as all this news is, it is not what is important to Jesus. The physical things of this world will pass away, but we are warned to watch for the deception of false prophets who will take away the true word and promise of our God. “Watch out that you are not deceived.” He says. “Do not follow them.” [Luke 21:8] Our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is what saves us from anything with which this world can attack us.

        We have all seen the rise of nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. We have witnessed great earthquakes, typhoons and famines. We have seen persecution on the account of the name of Jesus Christ, but it is not yet the end. When the Lord comes in all his glory, it will be much more frightening than an earthquake. The armies of this world will be nothing compared to the power and might of the heavenly host.

        Jesus says, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” [Luke 21:28] We are to stand firm because not a hair on our heads will perish. As the prophet Malachi states, the arrogant and all evildoers will be set ablaze, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. “But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings;” [Malachi 4:2]

        What are we to do? Are we to be in constant fear of this day of reckoning? Jesus speaks to this later in the chapter in verses 34-36:

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

        We are not to worry or be anxious, yet we are not to remain idle. All too often we do not seek out the lost. We do not love our neighbors. We do not speak of our Savior’s true salvation in his death and resurrection.

        We do the opposite of how Jesus instructed his disciples. We worry and are anxious about life and our hearts are weighed down. We continually seek comfort and consolation from this world instead of from our Lord and Savior. Oh sure, we read the Bible and go to church on Sundays but we do not take God with us during the week. We do not live our lives as Jesus has commanded us.

        How do you live your life? Do you do nothing and let others do all the work? Do you act like you’re a true Christian but instead you meddle in other people’s business and cause problems? Or, do you set an example in Christ only when someone you know is watching? Do you worry and are anxious about life only to seek comfort in the things of this world? In these times of trouble and the lack of faith in God, we may feel that God has forgotten us, but it is we, who have forgotten Him.

        Like Jerusalem, we Christians are under siege by armies of a false prophet. These armies are surrounding us and the circle is almost complete. Do not be fooled by the walls of this nation, thinking that we are a Christian nation and a stronghold in a world of evil and hate. Like with any great civilization, eventually, these walls will fall.

        Our sons and daughters, our friends and relatives, have already betrayed us. This has happened because people have forgotten who has dominion over the earth. It is not the leaders of this world or our governments, but Christ himself is king and ruler of all. We have decided to follow the wisdom of man instead of the wisdom of God.

        Now is the time for the wisdom of God. The time has come for us to fulfill Christ’s commands to love one another. Now is the time to stand before your friends, family and enemies with the Word of our Lord. Like us, they have the same amount of time before the Last Day.

It may seem like you are not getting through, but the Holy Spirit is with you always. Christ the King stands over us. As Jesus tells us, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” [Lk 21:15]

            Do not get discouraged in your efforts to reach out to those who do not know the Gospel. There are people out there who are slow to learn and like an infant need spiritual milk before solid food. In addition, be conscious of your words and actions at all times, because you are representatives of Christ and if by your actions or words you do not teach others in the truth, you may find that they will refuse to change.

        Therefore, do not fear. God has not forgotten us. God has not stopped loving us. Jesus Christ is proof of God’s love for us. Jesus Christ became human and lived in this corrupt and evil world. He did not live solely as a good man, but as a perfect man. He was the unblemished Lamb of God sacrificed on a tree so that our sins and the sins of the entire world would be forgiven.

        The true King of heaven and earth stands over all. It is because of His mercy and grace that we are saved to live forever in the kingdom of heaven. Even though we will be hated by all for Jesus’ name sake, not a hair of our head will perish. By our faith in Christ, we gain our lives. Therefore, do not grow weary in doing good.

        Do not grow weary in telling your relatives, your sons & daughters, your friends & neighbors about Jesus Christ and the salvation of God. Do not grow weary in the great commission to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

        There will come a day when all the earth will be deserted. Everything human kind has built will be abandoned. Where will the people have gone? They will have left the old kingdom of this world to be with their Lord and King in His kingdom. All the children of God will reside in the new heaven and new earth with Christ as King and ruler over all.