Jesus describes times which could cause great anxiety but shows us we are to trust him.
Luke 21:25 – 28
25 ‘There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
This provides us with a very frightening picture of a time of distress. Without providing detail of what it might be, Jesus said there would be, “signs in the sun, moon and stars”. Something strange would be happening in the solar system and beyond or at least that is what people are observing. On earth nations are in distress and perplexity because of the roaring sea. Again, he indicates something different and frightening about the roaring sea. It may not be intended to be taken literally because the turbulent sea is a common biblical metaphor for chaos.
So, we should take the whole of this as Jesus talking about people looking all about them and only finding things that are frightening and indicating chaos. The distress is so great that people will faint with the great fear they are experiencing and in anticipation of what is going to happen to the world because “the heavenly powers are shaken.” That may be a repeat of the thought of the signs in the sky but is more likely referring to people seeing some chaos in their traditional religious activity.
Common questions are, when will this happen? Will this be soon? Are things we see now the start of this? We are asking the wrong questions with these! Jesus is simply saying these things will happen and when they do, this is what will happen next. The next thing to happen, Jesus says, is “then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” In other words when Christians perceive great chaos around them, they should remember that Jesus will return with power and great glory to bring an end to the disorder of sin and its consequences.
Jesus follows this with a further encouragement that Christians in observing such chaos should boldly lift their heads because their redemption is near. He does not mean that Christians are not now redeemed but rather we can look with confidence for that final and complete redemption (being set free from slavery) when Christ returns and there is no more sin and suffering but instead the joy of the eternal presence of the Lord.
How then do we apply this part of God’s word for today? We live in a world where we are certainly made all too aware of chaos among nations. There are odd things happening with the weather and our world is filled with chronic and acute anxiety. Jesus’ instruction is to remember that nothing is outside the control of our God. He also tells us to look forward in anticipation to the time when we will be with him forever. Thinking about those things makes all the difference in the world.
Head: Understand that the Lord has all under control no matter how chaotic life may seem.
Heart: Do not be anxious but trust the Lord.
Hands: Live with confidence even in great times of distress because the Lord reigns.
Prayer: Loving Father, thank you that Jesus has won a great victory for us in his life, death and resurrection. Help us to remember that the one who died for us controls the universe. Please take from us the anxieties we have learnt from those who have no hope and give us every confidence in Jesus Christ. In his name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Blessed Assurance
Living Church – Creek Road