Sunday, May 12, 2013

OCCUPY TILL I COME

Occupy Till I Come
May 9, 2013
 
 
And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” Luke 19:11. As we read through this parable in Luke 19 we need to understand where Jesus was heading. Soon the Feast of Passover would be celebrated and all able bodied men were required to celebrate that Feast in Jerusalem. He was on His way there for a much higher purpose.  He would be hailed as Messiah and then a few days later He would be crucified. He knew what was going to happen and needed to teach one more time about His reason for coming. People, including His disciples, thought He would come in as the conquering King and save them from the oppression of the Romans…that He would fulfill their idea of Messiah. Was He giving this parable to the Jewish people who would be hailing Him as Messiah, or to those who are the Ekklesia? Maybe both. The immediate reason was to show these people that He first had to go away in order to receive the Kingdom. But there are truths in here that cannot be ignored by the Ekklesia.
 
“He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:12-13. Here, a certain nobleman had ten servants and that nobleman had distributed ten pounds among those ten servants along with the instruction to occupy (keep working) until he returned. Most translations use the word “mina” instead of “pound” and it was a substantial about of money in those days. One mina was equal to about 100 day’s worth of wages for a common laborer. While the master was away receiving his kingdom, the servants were expected keep doing business for him – to use the resources that the master gave them to the utmost. What a blessing the master of these servants had bestowed upon them. What trust he had in them to use the money wisely. They were to occupy – stay faithful and invest the money – until the master returned.
 
We know that the nobleman in the parable is Jesus and He is about to “go away” in order to be made King. He would soon be crucified. He has trusted servants with whom He has left something of value and He expects it to be used wisely. He expects the servants to keep working and to occupy till He comes back. Jesus will return as King at His second coming, but before that happens the Ekklesia will be “caught up”.
 
But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this [man] to reign over us”. Luke 19:14. The “citizens” are a different group. They are not the servants. The servants didn’t hate the master, but the citizens are another story. They hated him and didn’t want him to rule over them. How sad. The master had given so much to the servants, and presumably the citizens could have also been blessed. Rather than accepting his gifts, these citizens hated him.
 
As this parable unfolds, the master returns. Just as Jesus will return as Messiah after the Great Tribulation, this nobleman had received his kingdom and was now ready to judge the servants and how they invested what had been left in their possession. Each one was called before the Master. The first servant had increased the pound from one pound to ten pounds, and the master was pleased. He gave that servant authority over ten cities. Notice the servant didn’t receive an all expense paid vacation to the tropics for rest and relaxation! His reward was more valuable than that…it was more trust from the Master. The next servant increased the one pound to five and was rewarded with authority over five cities. The third servant didn’t do so well. He let unfounded fear stop him from increasing what was entrusted to him, so what he had been given was taken away and given to the servant who had the 10 pound increase. The one who brought no increase was not cast out, but he lost what was entrusted to him and received no reward.
 
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay [them] before me.Luke 19:27. Now the focus turns to those citizens who hated the master. Their life would be taken from them. So it will be at the very end when those who chose to reject Jesus must face the Great White Throne judgment.
 
Jesus gave this parable to drive home a point. He was going away to receive His kingdom. He was leaving servants in charge, but was not leaving them without resources. Each servant was given an equal share, but his rewards were based upon what he did with the pound he was given. Now, let’s take a look at how the Ekklesia can learn from this parable. Although it is about Christ’s second coming there is much for the Ekklesia to learn from it before the Harpazō – the catching away of the saints.
 
Jesus Christ is the Master. Before He departed He left His servants (that’s us) with His Gospel and the Holy Spirit. “In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:13-14. Each of us is given the treasure of the Holy Spirit, which is sealed within us when we first believe. We are also given our marching orders, which many refer to as the Great Commission. Jesus was going away and yet He was leaving His Ekklesia here on earth to go about continuing the work He began. We are to make disciples of all nations. We are to invest our pound and continue in His stead, fighting the good fight and proclaiming the Gospel to all peoples and tongues – and that includes those in our own neighborhood.
 
Certainly there are times when we feel it is difficult to continue, but we are never told to stop proclaiming the Gospel even though the “citizens hated him” and no matter what the hardships may be. Paul is a great example to us. How many jailers do you suppose he converted when in prison? How many fellow prisoners did he share the Gospel with? Sometimes we may wish to slack off but there will always be another lost soul who crosses our path who is seeking truth and needs to hear the Good News.
 
Some of these servants in the parable did well with the responsibilities they were afforded and the nobleman/master rewarded them accordingly. But then there was one who hid his pound. “For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. Luke 19:21. This is exactly where we see much of the Ekklesia today. Full of excuses for not investing what has been given. Not understanding the nature of Jesus and fearing an imagined version of Him. How can we serve Him if we don’t know Him?

Invest the pound that the Master gave you in truly studying and spreading God’s Word. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:1 Peter 3:15. “Others are better at witnessing than I am, let them do it.” This is the wrong attitude to have and studying God’s Word will give you confidence and help you overcome your fear. Do you really know why you believe or even what you believe? Practice explaining the reason for your hope. Practice explaining why Jesus came to save us and why we cannot save ourselves. The reason begins in Genesis and is explained throughout the entire Bible. Too often witnessing never gets done because Christians lack Biblical knowledge and are intimidated when confronted with what they think is a tough question. The pound Jesus gave them is wasted.
 
“But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Luke 19:14. This is the citizenry of earth as a whole who are not a part of the Ekklesia. They hate Jesus Christ and will have nothing to do with Him nor will they follow His precepts. The servants don’t hate the Master, but the citizens do. Notice that everyone is subject to the Master whether they love Him or not. What if the servant who had hidden his pound had invested it in teaching the citizens about the Master? That may have made a big difference in the life of at least one citizen.
 
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his]body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10. If you are a Christian you don’t need to be afraid of the phrase “judgment seat of Christ”. Yes, we all will have to stand before Him and tell Him what we did with the pound He gave us. The Greek word “bema” is translated “judgment seat”. This is not a punishment judgment, but a rewards judgment. This is where everything we have done for Christ will be rewarded and all else (wood, hay, and stubble) will be burned up. Just as the servant who did not invest his pound was still a servant but received no reward, so it will be with those who do not invest their pound.
 
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28.
There is another judgment, though. This is the one that the citizens who hate the Master and don’t want Him to reign over them will face. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:11-12. This passage goes on and it is heartbreaking to read. This is where the citizens who did not want the King to reign over them are cast into the lake of fire. If we, the Ekklesia, would only share our gift from God – the salvation Christ died on the cross to purchase for us – perhaps there would be very few who face this judgment.
 
Giving up on witnessing just because we perceive we are close to Christ’s soon return for His Church will only result in a loss not a gain. Those who give up at the end, especially when the going gets tough, will lose all they’ve gained as far as rewards are concerned. “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:” Matthew 6:20. What we do with our “pound” is how we lay up treasures in Heaven while awaiting our departure from earth. These treasures are not corruptible nor will they perish, but our rewards can be taken from us and given to another because we refused to be faithful and occupy till He comes. Because we don’t use the pound He gave us wisely.
 
All of Jesus’ parables drive home very potent messages. If given enough thought and study, this parable in particular will convince even the most fearful follower to get back on track. There is still a huge amount of work to do and precious little time. All those who reject the truth of the Gospel are our missionary field. They are the citizens who hate Jesus and don’t want Him to reign over them. They are living in danger of facing the Great White Throne Judgment and eternal damnation.   
 
Reaching the lost is not an impossible mission. “But Jesus beheld them, …with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. All things are possible with God and the sooner we realize that fact and start investing our pound the sooner we will get back to performing His Great Commission, not even being distracted by the promise of the coming Harpazō.
 
“Occupy Till I Come” means just that. We never stop, we never give up, and we never given in. The enemy of God would have us stop witnessing and hide our “pound” in a handkerchief.  The decision we must make is whether we are going to give in to fear and/or complacency or are we going to preserver in the face of any and all the enemy’s roadblocks?
 
God’s plan is being laid out before our eyes and He’s only asking that we invest the pound He gave us rather than hide it in a handkerchief. We must share with others and not be afraid of the citizens who hate our Lord.
 
“Occupy Till I Come” is a command not a suggestion.
 
God bless you all,
 Ron Graham

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