|Vol. 13 No. 4 April 2011||
Robert D. Rawson
The return of the Lord was announced as He ascended (Acts 1:9-11). It was not a strange timing, for the disciples standing there would have neglected to take the message the Lord left them. Thus, the angel shocked them into reality, “He will come again.” Mary had acknowledged to Jesus (John 11:24) there is coming a resurrection at the last day. Of course, Jesus was there to call Lazarus back to life on that day. He said, “I am the resurrection.” Notice the use of the words “when” and “then” (Matthew 25:31-41, 46) setting out the time of His return and judgment for setting some on the left hand and others on the right hand for eternal punishment or eternal life. Jesus taught that till that day, we are to follow his Word (John 12:48) because His Word will be the standard of judgment at that day.
Are there any signs for the return of Jesus? His disciples asked about such signs (Matthew 24:3). Jesus gave them no distinct sign and said the Father only knows (verse 35-36). Look at the expression of the Lord about who does not know: “no man and neither do the angels in Heaven.” In Mark 13:30-37, Jesus said, “neither the Son,” but the Father only knows. When the disciples asked about signs (Matthew 24:3), Jesus named a number of unsettling things – wars, rumors of wars, natural distresses – which are not the signs of his return. Rather these were signs of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple thereof. They were told to pay attention to the signs that would precede that event (Matthew 24:3-36).
Notice the change from the “days” you can know and then the “day” that no man nor the angels know, but the Father only. Yet, there are religious teachers who major in using such troubles to announce the Lord’s return. It is not given for us to know, but we are taught to watch and be ready. Watch for what? Signs? or the actual return of the Lord?
God will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31) by the Lord Jesus Christ. The return of the Lord is assured in the New Testament. Our faith should rest in the word of the Lord, not in the ever changing events of weather, nations and troubles. The day will come when our mortal bodies will be made alive (quickened) again (Romans 8:11) just as surely as the Lord Himself was raised from the dead.
The examples in the Book of Acts of the apostles assure us of various people in the New Testament who wanted to obey the Lord and enjoy His salvation (Acts 2, 8, 9, 10, 16, 18, 19 and 22). Let’s follow these examples and enjoy salvation also and wait for the hour when the Lord will return (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Let’s encourage and comfort one another with words about His return. Let us not be caught unprepared as many were in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:36-46). They were described as living life with the common and basic thoughts in mind – marriage, giving in marriage, eating and drinking. They were not paying attention to the words of righteous Noah, but they were overtaken in the day of the flood. Jesus used this tragic example to urge His disciples never to be caught up in the day to day troubles, temptations of sin and enjoyments of the flesh, thereby, knowing not until taken away. Remember the words told to many little children before sleep “…I pray the Lord, my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake…” Let’s not forget to prepare for Jesus’ return or our going to meet Him.
This is a very sad but true story of a family of my personal acquaintance that was non-religious and that was afflicted with the curse of alcoholism.
We lived in a very large old house on the ridge just out of town. Someone was building a new brick house on the road back of us. My younger brother and I, along with other friends were curious. We found a nice sand pile that tempted us to play in and to enjoy. One day the big man who was laying the bricks told us that someone was scattering his sand that he used in making the mortar and he asked us to watch out for the persons and warn them not to do it again. How wise he was. We never played in his sand again. This was my first acquaintance with Mr. Harold. He and his family soon moved near us and they became good friends with my family. He had a very attractive wife, two handsome sons and a very pretty daughter. The oldest son became a friend with my older brother. I liked the daughter, but she was older than me. I wished her and my brother would like one another. The youngest son and I became friends. We were in the same grades in elementary and Jr. High School. Mr. Harold’s wife died while I was a boy.
I don’t remember this family attending any religious organization. I learned also that Mr. Harold had a very bad habit of getting drunk on occasions. His youngest son and I considered joining the Boy Scouts, but he did not because he said, “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do.” He had a rebellious attitude. He later married, but he and his wife divorced. He was killed in a motorcycle accident. He also drank alcohol beverages.
Mr. Harold’s daughter married a nice man, but something went terribly wrong. She shot and killed him one day. Some years later she committed suicide. Their son attended the same college that our oldest son did, and they became friends. However, after his mother died, he committed suicide about two years later.
The oldest son of Mr. Harold joined the Navy and served for years in the service. It was well known that he was addicted to alcohol. During a time of heavy drinking, someone shot and killed him. I learned just recently that his son was killed by his wife. Neighbors said that they had been drinking all day and had been arguing. So, in the third generation of Mr. Harold’s family there was drunkenness and violence.
Mr. Harold later married after his first wife died. He claimed that in self-defense he had to shoot and kill his step-son.
The handsome family I once knew when I was a boy is now gone. For the most part, there was the absence of the Lord Jesus Christ and the presence of alcoholism and violence in this family for three generations.
If only Jesus Christ had been a part of this family, the members would have known the “peace that passes all understanding,” forgiveness of their sins and the hope of eternal life. The fruit of alcoholic beverages is totally bad. It should be avoided completely. The decisions we make as parents, morally and spiritually, can and often do affect generations to come. It is with a sense of deep sadness in my heart that I recall these facts of friends of years past. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).