In 2004, I was in a warehouse in south Phoenix. It was used to store old hospital furniture, and outdated equipment and decor removed from St. Joseph's Hospital which began as a Parish school in 1892, founded by the Sisters of Mercy. After they successfully raised the $$$ to build a small 24-room hospital in the mid-1940s, the Sisters purchased 10 acres of land at Third Avenue and Thomas Road which was then part of an old dairy farm. They were criticized for choosing land so far north of the city, literally out in the country. Those 10 acres cost $25,000. They paid for the land and then raised the money through large donors and grants to build the original St. Joseph's which still stands. In 1955, just behind that original building facing Thomas Road the Sisters built the small Marian Chapel with a dark wood kneeler in front of a large Crucifix Cross. Marian Chapel and that kneeler served the thousands of families, staff, employees and patients of St Joe's until the chapel was first expanded and remodeled in 2003. On that day in 2005, I was given the opportunity to walk around the warehouse to see if there was anything I wanted so that it could be used in the new Reunion location on 25th Drive. In the far corner of that warehouse was a dismantled, scarred and old dark wood kneeler. I asked the gentlemen, "what’s that - It looks like an old kneeler"? He replied, "that is exactly what it is - I was supposed to throw it in the dumpster six months ago. But because I knew it came out of the old chapel at St. Joe's I just couldn't bring myself to do it - I'm trying to be a good Catholic (he laughed)." I said, "well, since I'm not your Priest I don't know anything about you being a good Catholic! But if you give it to me, I'll tell God that you are a good man and I promise people will use that kneeler to pray from again." He laughed again and said, "it’s yours - saved from the dumpster, I guess they call that redemption"! I remember saying to him... "yep, just like me."
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Jesus spoke these words directly to his disciples. What did He mean at the time He said them, and, what do they mean to us today? At the time Jesus was entering the Temple in Jerusalem and had found a spot within the Court of the Gentiles (an inclusive place where everyone could find and worship God) to have public conversation and of course to use those conversations as teachable moments. Big crowds gathered including the religious critics and enemies of Jesus. The whole conversation that day began with the disciples remarking about amazing the Temple was. Jesus opens this door for revealing God's plan for redemption by talking about destruction. "Yes, this is an amazing place, but you should know there's a day coming when not one stone of this place will be standing on another." What? It's this prophetic comment and others like it that opens the door for Jesus to teach and prepare for the end of all things only so He can teach them how all things can truly begin - that is redemption.
He goes on to describe the final stages of God’s plan beginning with the Son of Man’s return. That conversation is as captivating and polarizing today as it was when He had it there in the Temple that day. People have always spouted and speculated whether their own time in history might be the end-times. Here are a few reasons for that kind thinking and speculation.
First, Jesus taught that his return was close; close like it could come at any moment. Since He didn't give a specific date and time, when it didn't happen immediately it is human nature wonder if it ever would or how soon that it would happen.
Second, for true believers the return of Jesus is desirable and wanted because it represents the redemption and hope for all who believe. Seriously, what real Christian would not look hopefully for the day when justice and righteousness are established and God’s people are vindicated? Clearly Jesus was calling His disciples that day in the Temple to have an attitude anticipation toward events of the end—not just a passive and casual attitude that “it will all sort itself out in the end.”
Third, it’s only natural to try and fill in the gaps of prophetic revelation and piece together the eschatological puzzle and end-times mystery until they make sense to us - everyone has done it since Jesus promised it. People enjoy trying to solve mysteries - that is why someone came up with "escape rooms" HA! Unfortunately, people get goofy and self-focused. Things like speculating and setting dates (like on a calendar) or dogmatic attitudes and pride about timelines and event sequences. Any kind of approach and pursuit like that has to be reeled in by a huge dose of humility and an understanding of the realistic gaps and limitations of our scriptural knowledge. More importantly we need to learn to trust God and have faith in His promise. So, we need to carefully clarify Scripture from what is only implied - not what we assume.
Finally, that day Jesus told his disciples to be awake and on watch. It’s been 2000 years since that conversation took place - shouldn't we be a little more engaged and alert ourselves? Contrary to cultural disgust for the presence and promise of Jesus if we are going to follow Him then we should consider anticipate our redemption and the instruction He gave that day. Jesus called on disciples to be “advent minded” without pulling back from living life, loving people, and sharing the hope of redemption. The coming of Jesus is here today - He literally comes to us every day. Are you receiving and ready for Him?
The teachable moment that day was not Jesus syncing i-calendars of end-time events with His team. The conversation was to share a portrait of the moments of Redemption and hope - just like us they were going to need it. Old Testament imagery abounds in his words, since the event will mark the culmination of God’s promise to his people. From that portrait, we can know the general character of events surrounding His Advent even if we cannot know the exact timing. That is a process of belief - faith - hope.
So what will the Advent look like? Luke 21:25–28 tell us. Its cosmic and apocalyptic imagery indicates that God is about to work in a major and supernatural way. Heavenly signs will manifest as the cosmos releases its power. Sun, moon and stars will signal the time. In particular, the sea is mentioned, since human beings have often feared its power. Such cosmic signs will indicate a shaking up of the natural order. All of this shifting and shake-up was prophesied even before Jesus said it that day by the ancient prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Nahum, even Haggai. The imagery presented by Jesus also foreshadows portions of the book of Revelation. Here is a portrait of our own... give just a moment to imagine the fear that an unleashed, out-of-control creation might generate, think of being caught in a major hurricane, flood or tornado. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. There will be a sense of being trapped and tormented. Fainting from terror, pictures of someone hyperventilating and collapsing because of anxiety. Some argue that Jesus’ words about heavenly chaos are figurative for severe destruction - don't count on it. Even creation itself will be in convulsions. Then disciples and followers of Jesus will know that God is about to act. Jesus told, "Hey it will definitely be crazy, and it will be real, but not one hair on your head will be harmed."
He went on to describe the return of the Son of Man in language that recalled the prophet Daniel (chapter 7:13–14). There he described:
“one like a son of man.” This one rides the clouds like a god but is a human figure
Most important, he shares authority with “the Ancient of Days,” a clear reference to God. That authority especially entails the right to judge and make vindication for those who believe and follow. Jesus says the Son of Man will return in a cloud with power and great glory. According to the book of Revelation, when Jesus does return, it will be to take rulership over all the earth and exercise judgment on behalf of his people. Jesus said it that day in the Temple - lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. At that moment hope will become confidence. God’s promises to his own are being consummated. As the world shrinks back in fear, the believers and followers of Jesus will look up in expectation. These things, the immediate signs of his return, will show that God is in control of all time, space, and events—that our trust in Him has led to vindication and to our Redemption.
So there is redemption - we are living it. In fact, you and I were made for that very purpose - redemption. As God’s word says, we are truly His masterpiece and His priority. His love for us goes beyond logic and human understanding and yet He has revealed His deepest secrets and desires for us through our relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. His love surely did come find us and we will never again be the same. He intentionally chose us to be His own. Whatever part of our hearts, minds, and bodies that have been destroyed, devastated, devoured, discarded and dumped will be gathered up and made into something beautiful, alive and relevant. That is redemption, you and I being made whole - made new in Him. This Advent and maybe for the first time we should look at our destiny and hope through the lens of the great Redeemer Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of hope that Paul the apostle wrote to Timothy and the Thessalonian church in Greece. They are words written to comfort the people about their family and friends who had died before the Advent (second coming) of Jesus. More importantly they are the words that signal Gods final plan for redemption of those who believe and trust in Him. Hope is the greatest form of redemption. The Advent of Jesus is our greatest HOPE.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-11
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
pastor steve Isaac
Located in Peoria, AZ, we are a non-denominational Christian church. We love God and teach His Truth. We invite you, your family and friends to join us on the faith journey, growing closer to one another, the Christian community of believers at Reunion, and most importantly with God. Read more about the timeless Truth we build our lives and faith in Christ on HERE.
We are conveniently located just off the 101 on 83rd Ave and Cactus Rd. Join us on Sunday mornings, Weds. evenings, and throughout the week at our small groups, meeting in homes around the Valley, including Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Goodyear, Litchfield, and more. Connect with us on Facebook and YouTube