When I woke up one morning recently, the following section of scripture from Luke captured my thoughts.
Luke 19:11–13 “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.”
It was the phrase “Occupy till I come” that was the focus of my thoughts. The Greek explains that to “occupy” is to busy oneself with the task at hand—in context, fulfilling the will of the master.
I am among those followers of Jesus Christ that are looking for His soon return. As His follower, I believe that return to be in reference to the rapture—the time when He comes to take us home to the Father as promised in John 14.
John 14:1–3 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Scripture is clear to differentiate between the Lord’s return to take believer’s home to the Father and His return to establish His kingdom on earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem.
1 Thessalonians 4:16–18 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Revelation 19:11–16 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Revelation 20:4 “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
According to the prophecies of Daniel and the Apostle John, there will be a seven-year period preceding the return of Jesus to earth as King of kings during which Israel will finally recognize Him as their Messiah and during which those who choose to reject Him as Lord and Savior will suffer the great wrath of His judgment.
Those who choose to place their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior have His promise that they will not suffer the judgment of that wrath.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ….”
The words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew describe the time before Jesus returns to take His followers home to heaven to escape the coming judgment of His wrath against all who have rejected Him. It describes a time when life is going on as usual.
Matthew 24:37–42 “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
That just won’t be the case during that final seven years before Jesus returns to establish His kingdom. The events described by the Apostle John in Revelation that will characterize that period will be full of chaos and evil causing great fear and suffering that will result in the deaths of millions; life will be anything but normal. We know that the times of Noah were filled with great wickedness…
Genesis 6:5 “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
…but the people continued as usual in their wicked lifestyles until the flood suddenly became a reality. They chose to ignore the preaching of Noah.
2 Peter 2:4–5 “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly….”
Once again, the prevalent lifestyle on planet earth is full of wickedness and appears to mirror the times of Noah. This time, however, it will be the rapture that becomes a reality; and many people, true followers of Jesus, will disappear without warning when Jesus comes to take them home to the Father. Just as in the days of Noah, multitudes of unbelievers are ignoring the message of the saints of God that preach of the need to repent and accept God’s gift of salvation in Jesus and escape the coming judgment.
I believe that we are living in the times just preceding the events detailed in the above scripture. The directive in Luke 19 applies to us just as surely as it did to the believers in Jesus’ day. We are to “occupy” until He comes to take us home; we are to be busy serving Him according to His will as revealed in scripture. In light of current world events and conditions that mirror prophetic revelations in God’s word that flash as neon signs warning us that His return is near, I think those of us who follow Jesus as Lord should be diligently focused on doing His will and laying up treasure in heaven. It is when our lives testify to our faith in, love for and dependence upon Jesus that the gospel we share is most fruitful—and time is short.
(to be continued)