Sunday, March 28, 2010

Occupy Now ... Till I Come

Nearing Jerusalem, Jesus disciples supposed “that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11 NASV). So Jesus told them a story of a nobleman departing to a far country “to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.”

Before leaving, he called in his servants, gave them funds with which to do business and told them “Occupy until I return” (v 13). The citizens sent delegates to reject his representatives (v. 14). After “receiving his kingdom” (v. 15) the Nobleman called in his servants to learn of their investments and reward each accordingly.

All but one invested wisely and was appropriately rewarded. The one hid his money in fear rather than investing it. The Nobleman took back his investment and gave it to another one who had reaped ten fold on his investment. When challenged, the Nobleman concluded:

“I tell you that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence” (vs. 26-27).

The popular Scofield Reference Bible identifies this parable as a proof of a future earthly kingdom--“The postponed kingdom.” They believe Christ (the Nobleman) merely postponed his kingdom until his second coming--to set it up then. There are compelling reasons for rejecting this interpretation.

It was said truly of the Pharisees, to whom Jesus was speaking, that “they thought” the kingdom of God should “immediately appear.” Yet, there is a difference between what “they thought” would happen and what Jesus said would happen. Let the words of Jesus be our guide rather than what the Pharisees thought.

The parable actually corrects misapprehensions (then and now)about the kingdom. Jesus did not say it would immediately appear, or that it would ever appear; he had already told them it comes NOT with observation, but within you” (Luke 17:20-21). We especially note that Jesus instructed them “Occupy till I come” (v. 13).

This word “occupy” comes from the Greek word “pragmateuomai” meaning “to do business,” or “to gain by trading.” It means “Do business till I come.” It is only used once in the Bible. It is a special command to the followers of Christ. Notice in the parable that each servant received the same capital of one pound, equal in modern value to approximately $19.25. But it was capable of greatly increasing itself if judiciously used. Obviously it represents the gift of God’s grace which the Savior bestows on every regenerate heart. His grace is the means of unlimited development and thus one servant increased his gift tenfold, another five fold, while a third made no progress during the Lord’s absence.]

Notice further that when 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. How beautifully this harmonizes with His teaching in Matthew 13 and with that of Paul and Peter.

When Jesus was received into heaven He “received” the kingdom not by any plebiscite of man but as His Divine right from God the Father. During this age He reigns over the entire Israel of God, the holy nation, the redeemed of all the earth. THIS kingdom does not come by observation. It does not “immediately appear” like “they thought” it would. No one ever “saw” a person get “born again.”

What we see is the effect the new birth has on one who is born again. Like the passing wind to which Jesus compared it, we hear the sound and see the effect. But every born again person is in the kingdom of God (John 3:5). While Jesus is exercising His sovereignty over His people He is faced with the opposition of a vast throng who say by actions or words, “We will NOT have THIS man reign over us.” That is the underlying decision of all who reject Christ. They have their choice, but when Christ returns they must suffer the eternal consequences of their lamentable choice.

As we approach Easter, the word of Jesus remains the same: “Occupy now" ... till I return for you (adapted_Ch. 19/H. C. Heffren/The Sign of His Coming).

Wayne at Warner’s World

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