Jeremiah 33: 14-18, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36
This Friday just gone, Australian Cricket has done another world first. A day/night test match with a pink ball. And this Friday just gone was also a year to the day that Australian cricketer Philip Hughes was lost to this world from a cricket ball to the back of his head.
Friday three days ago was an emotional day for those test cricketers on Adelaide oval. The dawn of a new era, and the memory of one past in the shape of a man that had seemingly touched them all. A man, a test cricketer who the current caption at the time Ricky Ponting remarks to fondly of when he was batting alongside this young Phillip Hughes in only his second test and having seen the “new guy” getting a truly hostile welcome from the mighty South African fast bowlers-and being the caption and in trying to support him through this testing time and asking him how’s he going, was proud to be told by this young man short in stature but who played tall while under fire with smile beaming “that this is test cricket, this is what’s it all about, this is what I’ve been waiting for and I love it.”
Rarefied air like that of 747 aeroplane pilot fighting in a crippled plane with hundreds of souls on board. Rarefied air like soldiers in war and those fighting our dry and dusty lands bushfires who do “their job” for other’s lives by putting their own at risk, and rarefied air like that of a lady who recently on her death bed whispered the last words that her Pastor would hear from her: “see you on the other side.”
The rarefied air of today’s scripture pointing to a time like no other: “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again.
A time that will see “..On earth distress of nations in perplexity and bewilderment…people fainting fearfully at what is happening….the powers of heaven shaken” and the powers of darkness stalking the earth to wreak havoc on the horrors of our inhumanity, our wars, crimes against our brothers and sisters and the never ending desire to rebuild our towers of Babylon and exalt ourselves as God.
A time Matthew 24 tells us that “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ! or, There he is! do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.”
A time of when the powers of darkness will play their last card as spoken by the prophet Daniel who warns that “when you shall see the abomination of desolation, standing where it ought not, (let him that reads understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains.
A time where Christians find themselves standing on the brink of desolation when everything goes wrong and all their foundations crumble. When every light goes out and all their cute clichés of piety have exploded and they find themselves sitting in the dark. A time I fear that I separate from my family and not run to the mountains, but have the courage to stay and attest to the true one and only saviour Jesus Christ.
Pray such testing times like that of Abraham with his Son Isaac on the alter, or that of Christians huddling before a lion set to devour them, not be the times that wait us.
The time when the world will ask with scorn of “Where is your God now and who is this Son of man of that you talk?” A question both then and now of things seemingly out of control that would deceive even the elect if had we not have been guided by Christ to the truth of his life. The truth that our human minds cannot fully grasp but know in faith.
The truth that He is the Son of God. That Jesus Christ, no less than the Son of God who took on our flesh and bones and blood and nerves. The Son of God who He himself has been through His tribulation and suffered in the dark in the Garden of Gethsemane with his own bloody sweat on his forehead as the rancid vapor of the guilt of the entire world burned upon His Holy soul.
The Son of God who journey to Jerusalem to be delivered to the hands of men who on the cross with His mission near completion cries to His Father “why have you forsaken me” when the sins of the world, the sins of those past, the sins of us and those of the future which like a searing sword tore through the flesh and heart of the one man who was without sin. The one man without sin, yet the one man forsaken for that moment by God the Father to accomplish our redemption, atoned for all our guilt, purchased our forgiveness, crushed the juggernaut of death and brought life and immortality to light.
Jesus Christ the Son of Man who walked through His tribulation so great that only the Son of God could have achieved it. And Jesus Christ the Son of Man with a love so great that only He, the Son of God could suffer it again through the lives of the very ones He came.
Our Tribulation in which He walks in front, alongside and behind that we fall not to the snares of the evil one, but be guided from fear to faith for when the time will be, and in fact already is: when everyone will speak against the faith and when all the evidence will screams at us, “So where is your God now?”
Christ with us for the time that will, and in fact is already is: when fear will grip those of the earth by their throats to choke off all these “myths” about a God who steers the course of history to its goal.
The time that will be, and in fact already is where the elect will not fall to such traps. The time now where those of the faith-you and I when asked by our own fears and when asked by the world of “where is your God know” can respond not with what may appear but which what is.
To know in faith and in the rock solid truth of scripture that the Son of man has never lost control and never will. That God is today right where He was when Jesus took his cross, right where He was when his apostles went to death for him and right where he was when the martyrs joined their voices in a hymn of praise before the Emperor and the bloodthirsty jeering crowds as the lions roared. And right where He is now, right by your side here today, just as where He will be when you are welcomed to your heavenly home.
A professional Golfer after practicing hour upon hour was asked if all that training can improve his already near perfect game. A question to which he replied: “I don’t train to get better, but train that when I approach the ball lying in the woods that I know without question that I will make the shot.”
The end times started when Christ won our battle on the cross and the end times will finish when all will see Him coming again in the clouds and like that golfer we need not consume ourselves with distractions other than what is at hand, for we have been brought to the faith in the truth. We the elect have not been deceived by the turbulence of a world in rough times but remain in His green pastures. His green pastures that see us not in fear or a world desolate to us in the faith. But His green pastures known to us that see this as a time like no other. A time to not doubt but to lift our eyes and see Christ. A time not to give in and let the world go its merry way to self-destruction while we idle away time. A time not to be give up and cry I’m beaten and surrender to the world with all its passions and distractions.
No, this is our time. A time that gives us reason to not give up, but to give out. To give out with all we are and all we have of what the grace of God has made of us and given us-to speak the joy we know in Him who is the Lord of all, to call those the Lord places before us that they not fear of what may will be, or is already hear, but be called to the faith of Jesus Christ that trusted His life to that of The Father, that they may have faith in Him.
When each of us came to faith we are told the angels and heavens erupted in joyous song. A moment that for each of us did our Savior on the cross know,” that’s what’s it’s all about” and while we may not have to face devouring lions, bushfires, the gun of an enemy or the ferocity of a 150 kilometer an hour leather missile in the guise of a cricket ball-in Christ we do know what it’s all about and with Christ by our side we see those people and situations He places before us, and in knowing what awaits us in our heavenly home, know that the person or the moment we are given before us, that we after a life of being pruned, brought to faith and given the knowledge of salvation and peace-know that it could be the moment that may been waiting for us all our lives that will see the heavens again erupt for that one person’s eyes being opened and given faith in our, and their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
You have been blessed, and these are blessed times for blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord. Pray it be so for all. Amen.