In the fall of 1900, the city of Galveston, Texas was thriving. Galveston possessed the nation’s largest cotton port and more millionaires’ street for street than any other city in the United States. The city of Galveston is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and in the late 1800’s the people of that city discussed the need for erecting a seawall to protect its people. A meteorologist by the name of Isaac Cline insisted that a seawall would be a waste of time and money.
He believed the idea of a hurricane hitting the Galveston area and devastating the city was in his own words, an “absurd delusion.” The people of Galveston believed Cline and voted against the proposal. Yet on September 8, 1900 the worst natural disaster in U.S. history slammed into the southern coast of Texas with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour in the city of Galveston. No one could have predicted the consequences for such a failure in preparation. Many believed the city to be invincible, nothing could alter the prosperity of Galveston and its people, or so they thought.
The storm took shape off the African coast and gathered strength from the warm summer waters. On September 7th, the storm moved off the coast of Cuba, along southern Florida and into the Gulf before taking dead aim at Galveston. Ships that had been in the waters began to relay messages back to the mainland that a huge storm was coming. The storm increased in power and size and quickly became a Category 4 storm as it tracked towards the Texas coastline.
On the morning of September 8th, water began flooding the streets of Galveston. Children were out playing, people were meeting for breakfast in diners all across the city and others were working and carrying on with life as usual. The people of Galveston simply did not believe such a natural disaster could ever happen to them. Within a few hours, the storm makes landfall and every man-made structure in the city was destroyed. This same city which just was thriving, days earlier, had now been reduced to floating debris as it lay in ruins. All told, more than 8,000 people lost their lives in the storm. It was a heavy price to pay for failing to prepare for what was surely to come.
WHAT IS TO COME:
In Luke 17 Jesus teaches on a future event known as the “Second Coming”. It is important to know that the “Second Coming” is a different event from what is known as “The Rapture”. The Rapture is an event Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 15 as well as 1 Thessalonians 4 whereby Jesus returns to Earth to call His church home–to heaven. Therefore, those who are in Christ will be called up into heaven with Him prior to what is known as the Tribulation.
The “Second Coming” is the physical and personal return of Christ with the church following the Tribulation whereby the Antichrist and evil will be destroyed and Jesus will set up His earthly kingdom. In regards to both “The Rapture” and “The Second Coming” there are many today who simply do not believe either event will take place. These people believe as Cline did concerning the hurricane that the events the Bible speaks of are an absurd delusion. What this pastor finds even more disturbing are the many church goers today who are living as if these events will never come to pass. It would appear that a healthy fear of God is definitely lacking in our world today!
OBSERVE THE KINGDOM:
In Luke 17:20, Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees concerning the coming kingdom of God. The question was actually proposed in jest as the Pharisees did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus responded “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, see here or see there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (V.20-21)
In the Greek, the word “observation” means to observe the future by signs. The Pharisees expected a physical kingdom like what David and Solomon enjoyed in the Old Testament. Jesus’ point was that the kingdom was already here, the Messiah had already come. Therefore, if you’re not going to accept the King, don’t worry about the kingdom. In order to have a kingdom, you must first have a king. The Pharisees had no intentions of making Jesus their king and many in our world today also reject Him as king.
Jesus stated that the kingdom of God is already among us. We can experience His kingdom and we can experience this King within us if we simply accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Paul said in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, living according to the scriptures and in anticipation of future events seen in God’s Word is not for the delusional, but for the faithful.
HOW WILL THE KING COME:
In Luke 17, Jesus addresses His disciples and warns them that the time will come when they will long for His coming. Persecution and earthly afflictions will become great. Sin, the wickedness of man and evil will rule the earth. And for those who love Christ and live for Him, they will yearn for His coming so that He might destroy evil and bring judgment upon the earth. Jesus compares His coming to a bolt of lightning. What do we know about lightning?
A couple of facts provide us with some important information and insight into what Jesus was saying. Lightning happens quickly. From the cloud to the ground, lightning happens in 1/10,000 of a second. This comparison stresses the importance of being in a right relationship with God at the appearing of His coming. Secondly, lightning is powerful. A single stroke of lightning can hurl a two ton car sixty miles into the air. When Jesus returns, He will possess more than enough power to judge sin and rid the earth of every evil thing. He will come quickly and He will come definitively!
The question is not; “Will Jesus come?” The question is; “How will He find you when He comes?” The people of Galveston were totally unprepared for the storm. They didn’t believe it would happen and many perished for lack of knowledge and belief. Solomon said; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. But fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7) It would be foolish for any individual to reject or ignore the scriptures. It would be foolish to turn a deaf ear to what God has revealed in His Word concerning the coming of Christ. The Bible reveals that God is longsuffering towards mankind, not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
If you have never received King Jesus into your heart and life, I encourage you to do so today so that you might long for His coming. If you know Christ but you’ve not been living like it, I want to encourage you to take God at His word, knowing that Jesus is coming again and to desire that He find you faithful when He comes.