Monday, November 30, 2009

Occupy Now ... Till I Come

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.Pastor Jim (seen at right)spoke from that delightful text in Isaiah 9:6 where the Prophet Isaiah spoke of the promised child, the “Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace”(NCV). Jim talked about the promised child, that “Wonderful Counselor.”

He described the child, the baby that was the promise of God--hope born and given, by God (cf John 3:16). I remembered that great title of Barack Obama's book, “The Audacity of Hope” and I remembered when long ago Israel wanted a king to be like other nations, and selected Saul, much to the consternation of the Prophet Samuel.

Later, the Prophets predicted one that would come in the lineage of David, who represented Israel at its political peak.Seven hundred years later Jesus did come,as announced, declaring with John the Baptist that the Kingdom of God has arrived. H.C. Heffren (THE SIGN OF HIS COMING) writes how “Multitudes hailed Jesus as the Messiah. Others sneered, mocked and scornfully resisted Him.” Jesus, suggests Heffren, became “the object of tumultuous adoration by His followers and of bitter opposition by violent angry mobs of influential enemies.”

This conflicting of opinions is reflected in the parable of the nobleman found in Luke 19:11-27. The Nobleman called his servants to him, gave them “ten pounds,” (investment funds) and told them, “Occupy till I come,” while he went to a far country. Premillennialists read this parable as proof of a future earthly kingdom, and the Scofield Reference Bible describes this tersely as “The postponed kingdom.”

However, “there are compelling reasons for rejecting this interpretation,” concludes Heffren. Although it was said of the Pharisees, to whom Jesus was speaking, that “they thought” the kingdom of God should “immediately appear,” there is a vast difference between what “they thought” would happen, and what Jesus said would happen. We need to be guided by what Jesus said.

The parable was given to correct their misapprehension of the kingdom. Jesus did not say the kingdom would immediately appear then, or that it would ever appear. The fact that the Jews rejected Jesus did not mean that Jesus could not introduce his true kingdom. In fact, He taught them that the “Kingdom of God comes NOT with observation, but is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). We note in particular that Jesus said “Occupy till I come” (v. 13).

“Occupy” comes from a Greek word meaning “to do business,” or “to gain by trading.” He was saying “Do business till I return.” Notice also that when the Nobleman (the Lord) returns, it is not to set up His kingdom--He went away and “received” that. When He returns He calls His servants and distributes rewards to those who faithfully “occupied” and served Him during His long absence, and He executes judgment on all those who would not have Him “REIGN” over them during this period. This harmonizes fully with His teachings in Matthew 13 and with those of Paul and Peter.

When Jesus ascended into heaven He “received” the kingdom--not by any plebiscite of man but as His Divine right from God the Father. During this Gospel Age in which we currently live, He reigns over the entire Israel of God, “the holy nation,” (not the political nation) namely “the redeemed of all the earth.”

THIS kingdom does not come by observation. It does not “immediately appear” like “they thought” it would. Heffren reminds us that no one ever “saw” a person get “born again.” But what we do see is the effect the New Birth has on those who are born again.

Jesus compared it to the passing wind; we hear the sound and see the effect. Thus, we know it is here: every born again person is in the kingdom of God (John 3:5). While Jesus exercises His sovereignty over His people He faces the opposition of that vast throng that says by actions or words (as the Jews announced to Pilate), “We will NOT have THIS man reign over us.”

Advent reminds us of the first coming of Jesus, when he came as Emmanuel--“God is with us. “ It is also an audacious hope, a reminder that Christ will settle with all of us, as did the Nobleman with his servants. In the meantime, we all face His charge to “Occupy till I come.”

This is Wayne at
Warner’s World

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