Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ Open For Business Until He Comes

          One of the most common considerations in prophecy is the “when” question. As people try to understand the meaning of symbolic language, they often wonder if there is some kind of timeline to help us figure out where we fit into God’s grand scheme of creation and redemption. However, as much as we might like such when-questions answer, Scripture suggests that God isn’t as concerned about answering this curiosity as we are in presenting it.

          Today this was illustrated to me as I considered a particular parable in connection to the prophetic message of the book of Revelation. Jesus began with the description, A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.[1] With this simple language, Jesus illustrated something about himself, about heaven, about what he would be doing sooner than anyone could have imagined, and what we could expect of the more distant future.

          The imagery Jesus presented was familiar to his listeners. They understood what a nobleman was, a wealthy man who owned and operated an estate. They understood that such a man would make a journey to a far country in order to transact further business for the good of his estate. They understood kingdoms, and that the Roman Empire would put various kingdoms under the leadership of those of their choosing. And they could easily picture such an estate owner returning from his trip to get back to the affairs of the home business.

          The next part of the imagery is equally familiar to the listeners. Jesus added, Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’[2] For the original listeners they would understand a nobleman having servants, and that each servant was given the same responsibility. The nobleman preparing his servants for his time away would also have been a natural, familiar scenario.

          While the parable goes on to show the difference between those who were good servants, and those who were not, there is this little description of the responsibility of these servants that gives insight into the way we are to understand our focus in the book of Revelation.

          There is no doubt that this parable pictures Jesus’ ascension into heaven, his glorification at the Father’s right hand, receiving an everlasting kingdom, and one day returning for his church. That means that these servants give us an indication of what the church should be doing while we wait for his return.

          Jesus instruction was, “Engage in business until I come.” What business? The nobleman’s business; or, the business of Jesus’ kingdom. Do we have any clues as to what this business looks like today? Yes, we do.

          Before Jesus ascended to heaven, or, left on his trip, as this parable illustrated, he told his church,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”[3]

          While we must be careful that we do not read too much into Jesus’ parables, there is something to the simplicity of this description that separates his responsibility for what he is doing while he is gone on this trip, including when the Father tells him it is time to return, from the responsibility of the servants to engage in the business of his estate while he is gone.

          In other words, there is nothing in Scripture that tells us we will know in advance when he will come. There will be no secret surprises, with Jesus coming at a time that only some of his brothers know about.[4] There will not be such clear clues that we can quit our jobs, cash in our retirement savings, and sit on the Mount of Olives waiting for him to arrive.[5]

          Rather, his words ring out very simply, and timelessly true, “Engage in business until I come!” Or, as he clarified just before he left on his trip, keep on making disciples until he comes; keep on baptizing all brand new disciples until he comes; keep on teaching all his disciples to obey all that he has taught us about living as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”[6]

          Jesus has told us to engage ourselves in the business of his kingdom until he returns from his journey. “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes,”[7]whenever that will actually be.

          From my heart,


© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Luke 19:12
[2] Luke 19:13
[3] Matthew 28:18-20
[4] Matthew 24:23-28
[5] Paul seemed to be dealing with this kind of thinking when he wrote I Thessalonians.
[6] I Peter 2:9
[7] Luke 12:43

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