Nov. 27: Living in Christlike order, expecting His imminent return

by IAN GREIG writing in THE LIVING WORD

Dartmoor, Devon, UK — view to the coast from Hay Tor (image: Ian Greig)

This is The Living Word Bible study for groups and individuals, using the set Bible readings for November 27 taken from the interdenominational Revised Common Lectionary which is widely used by a variety of churches and chapels.

Isaiah 2:1–5 — A time is coming when the world will seek its Lord

Matthew 24:36–44 — Make Jesus your Lord and be ready for His coming

Romans 13:11–14 — A wake up call for us to live the way Jesus wants

Psalm 122

1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

2 Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together.

4 That is where the tribes go up — the tribes of the LORD — to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel.

5 There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.

7–8 “May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”

9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.

///////

Isaiah 2:1–5 — A time is coming when the world will seek its Lord

  • A picture of the Last Days with nations seeking to know God’s way of peace

1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

“What Isaiah… saw” — a repetition of the title of Isaiah 1:1, suggesting that chapter 1 is the introduction to the whole book.

2 In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’S temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

“In the last days…” — verses 2, 3 and 4 are almost identical to Isaiah’s younger contemporary Micah 4:1-3; they both foresaw a future time of divine messianic rule with the people of the earth learning the ways of God.

3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

“Teach us His ways… walk in His paths” — our “walk” is the way the Bible describes a dynamic and developing relationship with the Lord. The nations coming in would be ready to do God’s will, in contrast with Judah which had known the word, but not obeyed in that walk or relationship.

4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.

“Swords into ploughshares “ — or hoes. A picture of a world of genuine peace with the Holy Spirit enabling everyone to live reflecting God’s character.

5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

“Come… let us walk in the light” — Isaiah calls people to come back to the covenant and live in the “light” or revelation of God’s law that illuminates the path leading to the peace promised in the future vision.

SUMMARY The pilgrims singing psalms of ascent like Psalm 122 were thinking about the coming of the Messiah for the first time, but Isaiah’s vision of the Last Days takes a longer future perspective. Like Micah’s similar prophetic word, the central thought is about many people coming, finding God and living His way.

APPLICATION It is a prophecy associated with the Christian liturgical season of Advent, originally a preparation time for teaching new disciples about the ‘walk’ of faith, leading to their baptism as believers early in the New Year. The idea of preparation for Christmas grew out of Victorian custom when (in the UK) most families would attend church at Christmas.

QUESTION How do we view Advent as a season? What spiritual preparation is most relevant when church attendance is declining?

Matthew 24:36–44 — Make Jesus your Lord and be ready for His coming

  • He promises to return unexpectedly and gather His own to Himself

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

“About that day or hour” — after teaching the seven woes, or warnings, against the hypocrisy of making converts to a religious tradition, Jesus left for the Mount of Olives where He answered the disciples’ questions about the end of the age and His return — at a time not even known to Him. Jesus, who is fully God, in becoming incarnate surrendered many divine attributes to become at the same time fully man, fully filled with the Holy Spirit.

• For further study: Jesus lays aside His glory, John 17:4–5, Phil. 2:5–8. Jesus’ superior insight and revelation, John 2:25, 16.30, 21:17.

37 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

“As… In the days of Noah” — a hint that Christ’s return will suddenly break in to a time of unbelief and indifference.

38–39 “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; 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.

“They knew nothing… until the flood came” — a picture of indifference and unpreparedness. By contrast, Jesus’ disciples are enabled to live as those prepared and ready for the unexpected.

40–41 “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“One… taken… the other left” — a stark picture of separation at Christ’s return; some will be gathered by Him and others judged, in a separation of those who belong to Him, from those who have not made that choice.

• For further study, see John 3:14–18, John 6:47, Romans 10:9–10, 2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 2:6–7.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

“Therefore…” — summary and application of verses 36–41. Believers have been tasked with the work of the Great Commission, Matt. 28:19–20, as an active watch, being always ready for Christ’s return, 1 Thess. 5:1–11; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:2–18.

• For further study, see this Bible study on accepting Christ which includes a prayer as a help for your own.

43–44 “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. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

“You… must be ready” — further emphasis on being prepared for the unexpected, like a householder wise not to leave the home unprotected against a burglar’s swift appearance. This is the first of four parable illustrations about readiness. See also the good and wicked servants, the 10 virgins and the talents, Matt. 24:45–25:30.

SUMMARY This is the first of four parables about being ready for the sudden and unexpected second coming of the Lord. Just as a householder needs to make sure their own house is secure, we need to ensure that we are spiritually secure through believing in Jesus and receiving the good news of the kingdom of God for ourselves. The suddenness of the coming is emphasised; it will divide family members and work partners because making a choice for Jesus is a personal decision — no one (and no ritual or institutional belonging) can make that choice for us.

APPLICATION Being ready, as a disciple of Jesus, implies what has been taught earlier in all the gospel accounts, about believing who Jesus is and putting trust in Him as Saviour. Anyone who is not ‘ready’ to take that step of faith stands as having been judged already, John 3:18 and see note to v.41.

QUESTION As Jesus’ disciples, we are required to be in a good state of readiness. How ready are we?

Matthew 24:36–44 — Make Jesus your Lord and be ready for His coming

  • He promises to return unexpectedly and gather His own to Himself

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

“About that day or hour” — after teaching the seven woes, or warnings, against the hypocrisy of making converts to a religious tradition, Jesus left for the Mount of Olives where He answered the disciples’ questions about the end of the age and His return — at a time not even known to Him. Jesus, who is fully God, in becoming incarnate surrendered many divine attributes to become at the same time fully man, fully filled with the Holy Spirit.

• For further study: Jesus lays aside His glory, John 17:4-5, Phil. 2:5-8. Jesus’ superior insight and revelation, John 2:25, 16.30, 21:17.

37 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

“As… In the days of Noah” — a hint that Christ’s return will suddenly break in to a time of unbelief and indifference.

38–39 “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; 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.

“They knew nothing… until the flood came” — a picture of indifference and unpreparedness. By contrast, Jesus’ disciples are enabled to live as those prepared and ready for the unexpected.

40-41 “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“One… taken… the other left” — a stark picture of separation at Christ’s return; some will be gathered by Him and others judged, in a separation of those who belong to Him, from those who have not made that choice.

• For further study, see John 3:14-18, John 6:47, Romans 10:9-10, 2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 2:6-7.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

“Therefore…” — summary and application of verses 36-41. Believers have been tasked with the work of the Great Commission, Matt. 28:19-20, as an active watch, being always ready for Christ’s return, 1 Thess. 5:1-11; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:2-18.

• For further study, see this Bible study on accepting Christ which includes a prayer as a help for your own.

43-44 “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. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

“You… must be ready” — further emphasis on being prepared for the unexpected, like a householder wise not to leave the home unprotected against a burglar’s swift appearance. This is the first of four parable illustrations about readiness. See also the good and wicked servants, the 10 virgins and the talents, Matt. 24:45–25:30.

SUMMARY This is the first of four parables about being ready for the sudden and unexpected second coming of the Lord. Just as a householder needs to make sure their own house is secure, we need to ensure that we are spiritually secure through believing in Jesus and receiving the good news of the kingdom of God for ourselves. The suddenness of the coming is emphasised; it will divide family members and work partners because making a choice for Jesus is a personal decision — no one (and no ritual or institutional belonging) can make that choice for us.

APPLICATION Being ready, as a disciple of Jesus, implies what has been taught earlier in all the gospel accounts, about believing who Jesus is and putting trust in Him as Saviour. Anyone who is not ‘ready’ to take that step of faith stands as having been judged already, John 3:18 and see note to v.41.

QUESTION As Jesus’ disciples, we are required to be in a good state of readiness. How ready are we?

Romans 13:11-14 — A wake up call for us to live the way Jesus wants

  • It’s time to put on His values and show ourselves to be those who are His

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.

“Do this” — everything Paul instructs in Romans 12:1-13:10 about practising love: firstly, in showing Christlike grace and harmony to one another as a diverse, gifted and mutual body of believers; secondly, by loving others outside the fellowship without condition, and by respecting God’s order in the various authorities that exist.

“Our salvation” — there’s the salvation we gain in new life when we receive Jesus as Lord and trust Him with our lives; this will be followed by the final salvation at the end time. Then, the Lord Jesus will usher those that are His to a kind of ‘green channel’; others will have unredeemed sins to declare in the judgment of what we might imagine as the ‘red channel’.

12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.

“The day is almost here” — a good example of NT about living in anticipation of Christ’s imminent return. The early Christians were not mistaken about expecting Christ’s return, but saw His death and resurrection as history’s turning point that began the last days. However long the night may seem it is the connection to the next great event, Christ’s second coming, and therefore “nearly over”.

13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

“Behave decently, as in the daytime” — a more literal translation (NKJ) is: “Let us walk properly, as in the day [of salvation], not in… lust… strife and envy.” In other words, live as those anticipating that climactic day when Jesus Christ will again appear in majesty.

14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” — in other words, accept His lordship, putting on His values and willingly living by His guidance, rather than allowing the selfish drives of the flesh nature.

SUMMARY At Christ’s second coming, all will be revealed by the light of His presence — and we are taught to live in the light, and hurry to clothe ourselves with Christlike gracious attitudes, as if the full light could come on any minute.

APPLICATION Choosing to receive Jesus into your heart as Lord is a choice to live the Way of Jesus (v.14) and to reject old ways (v.13). The human spirit, now aligned with the Holy Spirit, is learning to live in new life and new identity. But the pull of the flesh and its old ways may seek to revert. We have to assert the non-negotiable choice we have made and follow the Spirit’s leading and not the flesh and its temptation.

QUESTION What does the flesh say about the apparent delay in Jesus’ return? And how does the Spirit respond?

PRAYER Father God, as we come to You in Jesus we hear again the urgency of His words telling us that we must be ready for the unexpected.
We confess that the flesh is weak, and also lax, and we ask You to fill us afresh with Your Spirit and to give us a spirit of urgency. So many have not heard the good news of the kingdom of God and others we know, will not hear of it.
As Your church of the last days, awaken and alert us to the urgency of the mission of our time. May we reach out to others with Your irresistible love as well as the truth of Your word. For Jesus our Saviour and Lord. Amen

Originally published at https://thelivingword.uk on November 26, 2022.

--

--

Husband+Father | Missional Christian | Author+ Speaker+Creator — offering ‘Faith without the Faff’ to encourage those not attracted to a formal club-like church

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ian Greig

Husband+Father | Missional Christian | Author+ Speaker+Creator — offering ‘Faith without the Faff’ to encourage those not attracted to a formal club-like church