Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Word is Our Roadmap

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”         Luke 24:13-17  NKJV

Have you ever taken a road trip with small children and heard those famous words, “are we there yet”? I remember well taking our first vacation with my children driving over a thousand miles to visit my parents and hearing that phrase for most of the trip. So I used that opportunity to teach my daughters how to watch for the road signs to help answer that question, and it didn't take long for them to concentrate on watching for the signs rather than asking me how much farther we had to go.  Of course, considering that they couldn’t yet read, every time there was a sign they asked me if it was the one we were looking for, so I am not sure I helped myself with that bit of advice.

As a believer who is committed to follow Jesus’ commandment to watch, I can assure you we are living in what many consider to be the “times of the signs”.  It is obvious that so much of what the Bible tells us will happen as we approach the end is coming to pass in our lifetimes.  The excitement over our imminent departure for our heavenly home is rampant in the body and justifiably so, yet this excitement  can also lead to disappointment when something is declared to be a major event yet passes with a whimper and not a shout.  As I thought about this, and as some of you have shared your disappointments with me, my thoughts went to this passage and the obvious distress these two disciples were experiencing.  So much so that Jesus Himself decided to walk with them and provide the answers they were looking for.  What Jesus did for them, He can do for us as well.

“What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”   Have you told God why you are sad?  Jesus knew exactly what they were experiencing but He asked the question anyway.  Verbalizing our disappointment is the first step to discovering what answers God has for us in His Word, and how we can cope with what we are feeling.  Although He already knows our hearts, talk to Him and share your feelings and questions with Him and let the Spirit lead you to the answers you seek.                    
Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, “and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. “Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. “When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. “And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”          Luke 24:18-24  NKJV

“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”  They had seen the signs, observed the miracles, heard the teaching, and most of all believed the prophecy of the coming Messiah, but were disappointed when nothing happened.  Or did it?  Was their problem a lack of knowledge, an inability to observe, or was it simply a misunderstanding of what it all meant?  It would appear that Jesus understood exactly what their problem was and He goes straight to the heart of the matter with His response.

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.           Luke 24:25-27  NKJV

The word for foolish is the Greek word anóētos which is translated to mean; unintelligent; by implication, sensual:—fool(-ish), unwise.  At first glance it might seem a rather harsh response by our Lord to call these disciples foolish, but as I read what not only Jesus said, but what He did it began to make sense to me.  “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”   How I would have loved to hear this entire conversation.  Can you imagine listening to a Bible study given by Jesus on all the prophecies of the Old Testament which probably lasted at least half of a day?  Yet the point I see here is that Jesus immediately explained what was happening in the present by returning to the prophecies of old.

The disciples were so excited by the appearance of Jesus that they focused on certain prophecies of a coming King while forgetting others which predicted His death and resurrection.  It certainly seems to me that what has been happening in the past few years is simply people trying to interpret or place importance on signs without consideration of the old prophecies which tell us exactly what to watch for and what they mean.  I think it could best be said that instead of looking so much for the new, we should rather be studying the old.  That is what Jesus did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and I believe it would benefit us as a body to do the same.  What Jesus did for the disciples could easily be described as giving them a new application of the old revelation.  He explained to them how their interpretation of the old was in error, and showed them how He had fulfilled those prophecies.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.                                         2 Timothy 4:3-4  NKJV

The Greek word for itching is knēthō, which means simply; desirous of hearing something pleasant. When it comes to the rapture of the Church and the end of all things, I am no different than anyone else when it comes to wanting to hear encouraging words about how close it might be.  Yet whatever importance some might place on current signs and wonders, they must, as Jesus showed us, be examined in light of the prophecies of old.  The closer we get to where we are going, the more there will be to see.  Watch for the signs, but examine everything by the light of prophecies already given in order not to take a wrong turn and be disappointed as these disciples were.

Keep watching.