The Preacher Says....  
  Occupy till I Come  
     
 
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Once long ago, Jesus Christ stood with his apostles on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem awaiting his ascension into heaven after the resurrection. They asked him if he was now going to restore again the kingdom to Israel. Not yet. There was work to do. They would receive unusual power to help in witnessing to this singular event and the meaning it held for mankind. The apostles learned then that he would be back. (Acts 1. 6-11) Why? Whatís the point? To this end was he born is the point. To be king of the Jews was his destiny; to fulfill Godís purpose with the earth and restore the kingdom to Israel (natural and spiritual). (Jn 18.37) Thereís going to be a great day believers sing, the day when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. (Thess 4. 16) This day is known as ?the day of the Lordí, spoken of many times throughout scripture. And in Zechariah we read again of the Mount of Olives where Christ will begin his reign. God, by Christ, must impose order on this world for the kingdom to come into being; His divine intervention in the affairs of men, leading to the kingdom age.

We read in Daniel 12 that in the last times men are going to run to and fro and knowledge is going to be increased. We live in an age of experts. As my grandfather said to me once, ďweíre all ignorant, son, just about different things.Ē But now most of us seem to be ignorant about most things. We donít understand the exploration of space, at least I donít. Or black holes in the universe, what they are, how we discovered them, how we calculate the distance between here to there. But we all have solace because we say to ourselves, ďwe know the truthĒ. Iím reminded of something that happened to me in the very first class I took in law school. The professor was a white haired dignified old gentleman introducing these neophytes to the study of the law. We were in this big classroom, much like this room, and there were windows along the side and one could from oneís seat see people passing below on the walk. And the professor said to those in the class, ďyou see those people walking along out there? So far as you and I are concerned they all have baked beans in their cerebellums.Ē, by which he meant, I take it, that we were superior in the way we were going to learn to look at things.

These must be the very worst times. They certainly are, in my lifetime, the worst that Iíve seen. But you have to remember that in terms of your experience, your intellectual experience is only about 60 years. Thatís one per cent, if Iíve calculated correctly, of 6,000 years of recorded history. So weíre making these statements based upon 60 years of observation, not on 6,000 years , and everything else we read is in a history book. And who was it?, Henry Ford said that history is bunk, by which he meant itís not always reliable. Moreover, speaking from our personal perspective our view is limited by what we read and what we see in s short life span.

I think it may be true that these are the worst times, or more probably about to become the worst times the world has ever seen, and I say that because formerly Christian nations, of which this nation is chief, have lost their theological moorings. Science and secularism have turned Christianity into a myth in the eyes of scientists and secularists. Moral relativism has its roots, I think, in the French Revolution and Jeffersonian democracy. Jefferson, a student of Rousseau, believed what Rousseau taught: that is, if man could only be free, his innate goodness could be developed. Well weíve had over 200 years now of mansí freedom and we see how his innate goodness has developed, and of course, it manifested itself in a much more malevolent way in Europe with the bloody, civil revolution, a large part of which was fulminated by the anti-clerical movement in France, where the people there had had enough of being ruled by the church. And the church was overthrown. Europe and England are much more cynical and much less believing, if you will, of Christian theology than even Americans are today. Indeed, it seems to me that the pre-eminent religion in America is the religion of tolerance. What you must believe in this country is that youíre OK and Iím OK, no matter what we do, because everybody has the right in a relativistic society to make up his own rules, since there is no external standard by which to judge those rules. If your rules suit you theyíre OK by me. And we see a lot of legislation, a lot of activity in our government based upon the idea that a man is free to choose. So that if he chooses something that was formerly prohibited by ecclesiastical law, it is nonetheless OK now. Itís very much like the time when Israel was ruled by the judges. And in the last verse of Judges it is stated, ďthere was no king in the land, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.Ē As Solomon said, ďwhere there is no vision, the people perish.Ē Well, thatís a pretty pessimistic view of life, and how are we to act if we believe that prognosis, as I say, itís about to become the worst of times, in the face of these worse times that are about to happen?

The prophet Isaiah (26.20) says, "Come, my people, enter now into thy chambers and shut thy doors about thee. Hide thyself for a little moment until the indignation is past." Lay low. Is that the burden of this message? You recall a wise ruler gave talents to his servants and said, ďOccupy til I come", by which he meant, exchange those talents and put them to work. Are these conflicting messages to us in the time of the end? I think not. I think Isaiah has to be read in the context of the previous verse which says, (this is the famous verse in Isaiah that prophesies the resurrection), "Thy dead men shall live. Together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust for thy dew is like the dew of herbs and the earth shall cast out the dead." Therefore, one could say, "come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers." That is to say, when you die, you are dead, all this stuff is gonna happen while youíre dead and youíll be raised after the indignation is passed. It is not, it strikes me, a call to passivity at the time of the end, but rather the call we read in I Peter 3: at whatever risk to yourself, do good. Be ready to give every man an answer if he asks you about your hope. And if youíre punished for it, you might as well be punished for well doing as for evil doing. So I say that itís good for us to constantly shore up our faith with the idea of seizing the opportunity when asked. And sometimes you can fix it so you are asked the reason for the hope that is in you.. Not only is it good for your hearer, itís good for you when youíre besieged in this world you find yourself in. Youíre constantly fixing it when you have an answer when somebody asks. Plus your faith is always imperfect. Youíre imperfect, so by definition youíre not going to have perfect faith. The more you work on it the closer you can come to perfection. But more importantly, we need to do something. We need to occupy. We need to be ready and to seize the opportunity to preach the truth, because even though weíre pessimistic about the world, we donít know whatís going on in everybodyís mind. We assume nothing is going on. Thatís what struck me about what that professor said to me. I know in my own work clients call me up sometimes and are all mad because they havenít heard from me. And because they havenít heard from me they assume that I havenít been thinking about them. But I have been thinking about them. They just donít know it. There are people out there who are seeking the truth. We just donít know it.

Then how do we teach? One has to be humble and meek in teaching the truth, using the Socratic method where appropriate. The teacher has got to be willing to learn from the student. If you go into these discussions with people, you know everything and he knows nothing, you work under a false premise because you donít know everything and he knows more that nothing. And we have something to learn, believe it or not, and I think any good teacher will tell you she always learns from the student. Itís not always possible to do it this way, but if you can present the truth in this fashion:

The Bible is not a book of myths and fables. The Bible is a history book, unique, because it not only recites history up to date, but it writes history in advance. So it is a book of history and a book of prophecy. It is a book written over 1600 years and tells us about Godís purpose in the earth. And though written over 1600 years, the story is consistent. Now memorize a path to prove it. Tell your friend that the Bible is a history book about Godís purpose in the earth, starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth - Gen 1

As truly as I live all the earth shall be filled with my glory. - Num 1

He created it not in vain, but to be inhabited. - Isaiah 45.18

By whom? Abraham & his seed, forever - Gen 13. 14-17

In thee & thy seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed - Gen 22

He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but inwardly - Rom 2

Grace comes through promise, not the law - Gal 4

Hold fast til I come - Rev 2.25 - He that overcomes and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations. And I will give him the morning star.

So ends an example of a memory path. Make your own memory path on the purpose of God on the earth, or any other subject like that. Practice it, so that you wonít dread talking about the truth but rather cherish the opportunity. Occupy til he comes. Blessed is the man or woman whom the Lord shall find so doing at his coming.