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August 15, 2011

Where is Your Hope?

By Tony V. Hammack

Titus 2:13b the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Thesis: We ought to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

Introduction: Many theologians disagree on how things will unfold in regard to the end of days.  The activities aren't as contested as the time line or sequence of events.  I therefore have what some may consider a "different" end times escatological position.  I've simply decided not to take a dogmatic stance in regard to the sequence of events in the end times.  I feel like I have a decent grip on the various positions and supporting scriptural support.   I am not sure how much tribulation (whether it's the great tribulation or not) the believer will have to endure.  I encourage people to be ready to endure difficulties based on the scriptural and historic fact that the Church has over the last centuries been at times severely persecuted.  This doesn't mean I've ruled out a pre-tribulational rapture possibility I've simply chosen to consider other options and take sensible steps to prepare for possible trouble.  The pre-tribulational rapture position has some scriptural support and obvious appeal to the heart of man.  I however am not entrenched into believing this due to other scripture and history.  Why history?  Well, I've decided that if I'm going through some tribulation that includes things like (getting eaten by lions in the coliseum) and someone comes up to me and says, as the lion is getting ready to strike, "Hey brother, don't worry, this isn't the GREAT tribulation." it won't matter very much to me if it's the great tribulation or just my personal tribulation.  So how much tribulation will we have to go through?  I don't know but to sensibly prepare is a logical conclusion.  What I believe about the rapture doesn't change if I get raptured or not so I've placed my faith in Jesus Christ to save me.  My faith is not in my escatological position on end time events.  If Jesus is going to catch us up before the tribulation, as a great man of God once said, "I have my 'ticket'".

2 Peter 3:10-13
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

I.   The day of the Lord will come like a thief
II.  Everything will change
III.These changes, if they are real to us, will prioritize how we live, prompting holiness, godliness and effective outreach.
IV. We should be looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

I.  The day of the Lord will come like a thief

A thief comes without being noticed and announced. A thief is trying to catch his victim by surprise. Most robberies happen when the victim is not at home.

Matthew 24:42-44
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-4
1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

We must stay prophetically sharp if we’re to be on guard for the return of the Lord.

John 16:13
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Amos 3:7
7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing    without revealing his plan    to his servants the prophets.

Mark 13:32,33
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

II.  Everything will change
     A.  Heavens will disappear with a roar
     B.  Elements will be destroyed by fire
     C.  The earth and everything done in it will be laid bare

A. The heavens disappear
1. The stars stop shining on the earth
2. The stars literally disappear leaving the earth alone in the universe

This will most likely be the first scenario. Cloud cover that will prohibit an earthly perception of heavenly bodies. Clouds? Dust? Something supernatural?

Elements destroyed by fire.
In nature, new elements are created by adding protons and neutrons to hydrogen atoms within the nuclear reactor of a star, producing increasingly heavier elements, up to iron (atomic number 26). This process is called nucleosynthesis.

The possible scenarios that cause this kind of elemental shift are nuclear. There may also be other ways (particle accelerators, nuclear reactors) to change elements however in a roaring destructive scenario including fire, nuclear seems like a likely option.

We can also consider a hit from a cosmic object.

Matthew 24:29
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

All this is before… v. 30-31 they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Revelation 8 gives 3 different events that happen from the heavens to the earth.

Rev. 8:7 1st Trumpet; Hail and fire mixed with blood. 1/3 of the earth, 1/3 of all the trees and all the grass is burned up.

Rev. 8:7-9 2nd Trumpet; something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Rev. 8:10,11 Third Trumpet; a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— 11 the name of the star is Wormwood.  A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

A collision with an asteroid large enough to make the Yucat√°n crater would have sent so much dust and gas into the atmosphere that sunlight would have been blocked for months or years, killing much of Earth’s vegetation and interrupting the food chain many animals depended on.

The asteroid that created the Chicxulub Crater
was approximately 2.7-6.8 miles in diameter.

The earth and everything done in it will be laid bare
This passage 2 Peter 3:10 seems to indicate that human activity is brought very low by this intense destructive fire. This renovates the earth and prepares it to become the new earth.

III. These changes being real will prioritize how we live, prompting holiness, godliness and effective outreach.

When we know these to be true realities why would we want to invest the majority of our time energy and effort into building temporal things. I think it’s important that we give some attention to temporal things however these end times realities should cause us to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

Holy – Set apart unto God and set apart from sin.
Godly- Being imitators of our heavenly father.

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

If the good news of the kingdom is not preached to all nations will the end come?

The preaching serves as a testimony giving them a chance to make a decision for Christ.
Can we speed up or slow down the return of the Lord?

The gospel of the kingdom is all about surrendering to the King of the kingdom, and taking on his life and direction of service. With this surrender comes all the privileges, rights and persecution of a kingdom citizen.
Kingdom citizens are empowered by God’s grace to disposes the kingdoms of darkness leading people to Christ.

The Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Cor. 5:17,18
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

IV. We should be looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

God’s Dream Ultimately Fulfilled
Revelation 21:1-4
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Conclusion: We ought to live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

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