The First Sunday in Advent: Waiting: Luke 21:5-38

Dear friend in Christ,


Today is the first Sunday in Advent. It a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas as well our waiting in anticipation for the final return of Jesus..


Our scripture reference is from the Gospel of Luke, from chapter 21:25-38, and which conerns the end of the old, and points to the new. For the old must pass away before the new can come.


A question was asked by the disciples of Jesus when he gave made a statement about the beautiful temple in Jerusalem which was going to be demolished as a result of the horrible war against the Jews in the year 70 a.d.


He then begins to warn them of the coming judgment on the city of Jerusalem as well speaking of the end of the old. He first speaks to them of that which was coming upon the city of Jerusalem, but yet speaking of events that can be seen as happening near the end also.



 Luke 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said,

 6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

 7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?


Dont by deceived by false teachers and preachers.

 8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.


There will be birth pains the old passes away.

 9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

 10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:

 11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.



You will be arrested and persecuted, and you will be given opportunity to be a Christ witness in the power of the Spirit.

 12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

 13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:

 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.


Divisions will come into your relationships, even amongst families.

 16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

 17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

 18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.

 19 In your patience possess ye your souls.


Jerusalem will be destroyed, the suffering will be horrible.

 20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.

 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.

 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.


In the last days, as the new day dawns.

 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.


He will return in the same manner that He ascended. (Acts 1:11)

 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.


We are encouraged to look up in anticipation of his return, not around us in fear.

 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.


Jesus illustrates of the Advent of the new by using a fig tree's cycle.

 29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.


Jesus cautions us as we await the coming of the kingdom, not to be caught in a trap of Satan.

 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting,(carousing)  and drunkenness, and cares (anxieties) of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.(unexpected)

 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.


We are to be awake, alert in our Christian walk, to pray for strength to prevail over the traps that are set before us.

 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.



Jesus taught in the temple in the daytime and at night went to commune and fellowship with His Father. In the morning, ALL the people came to hear Him in the temple.

 37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

 38 And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.



As we get to the end of our text, after giving us the encouragement to look up in expectation for His return, after warning us to be not be tricked by Satan, after giving us counsel to stay awake spiritually and to pray continually so that through faith we would perservere to the end, it is recorded of Jesus going to commune with His Father and of how ALL the people came to the temple to hear Him.


Dear friend, the new is here and we are living in His kingdom, which as some have described is a militant kingdom with the triumphant kingdom still to come. We are living in the proceeds of Christ's first Advent (redemption), and are anxiously awaiting His final Advent. Let us not forget that we are overcomers, as these two verses reveal to us.


KJV John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.


1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?


How does one receive these words that are before us from the Holy Word of God, which speak of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the end of the world? How does this fit in with this time of the year when we are thinking about our Christmas celebrations of God coming to the earth?


These words speak assurance and expected hope for us, and they also give us an increased love and concern for those who are not living in expectation of the new, but are trapped in the old through unbelief.



My dear mother passed away over 5 years ago at the age of 94 years. Since she lived  on the west coast and I lived in Minnesota, we would regularly speak on the telephone. Almost without exception, when we said good bye, we would both conclude our conversation with the some words that Jesus spoke in our text today. Left unsaid in our goodbye but understood was the reality that ultimately the New Kingdom was where we would meet again and so we said "keep looking up for our redemption is near."


Also when some of our family left back for home after being with us over the Thanksgiving holidays, when we said goodbye I shared with my daughter of how a man in our congregation always gives me a message of the new by the he says goodbye. The simple goodbye of "See you later" has a powerful message of eternality to it, for it reminds me of what is real. We are members of the new by faith in Christ here, and it is only a matter of time and a change in existence that will cause us to see our fellow believers in glory. So it gave me much peace to tell my daughter "See you later" as she left for home, knowing that we will see each other again.


But what about those who are not looking up in expectation of Him imminent return, and what about those who do not truly understand what it means to say, "See you later?"


My son is a songwriter and a singer. He is gifted in that he writes music that has deep meaning and application to it. One of his latest songs is called "Thunder in the stillness." and it is a warning to anyone who is living in hope of this life only as well as a gracious invitation to enter into the hope and expectation.


Where will you go, when the moon has turned to blood 

The highway's turned to mud and leaves you scrambling?

What will you do, when there's nothing left to hold

It's only fools gold that you're gambling?


What will you say when the shadows turn to ice

No one's playing nice in the potter's field?

Where will you turn when the sky is opened wide

there's no place left to hide and your fate is sealed?


I'll be on the others shore, won't you come with me?

Don't you want to see the Promised Land?

There's either thunder in the stillness

Or there's stillness in the storm

Take a little time to understand


Who will you believe when the voices come around

Confusion is the sound that's overtaking?

Who will hear your prayer when your bread has turned to stone

There's dust in your bones and you're forsaken?


I'll be on the others shore, won't you come with me?

Don't you want to see the Promised Land?

There's either thunder in the stillness

Or there's stillness in the storm

Take a little time to understand..


May the Lord add His blessing to these words!


Pastor Orval Wirkkala