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Distress of Nations – People Who Panic – Luke 21:25-28

The writer and comedian Will Rogers happened to be in New York on “Black Thursday,” Oct. 24, 1929 – the time of the worst economic disaster of modern times. In his nationally syndicated newspaper column for that day, he wrote: “When Wall Street took that tail spin, you had to stand in line to get a window to jump out of, and speculators were selling space for bodies in the East River.” The New York correspondent for one of London’s sensationalist tabloids wired home that lower Broadway was clogged with corpses – a bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly underscored the mood.


Visiting New York at the time of the “slump”, as it was bravely called at first, was Winston Churchill. In an article in a London newspaper he later recalled the sight of a workman smoking his pipe on the girder of an unfinished building 400 feet above Manhattan. The fellow was inadvertently causing a traffic jam in the street below. A crowd had gathered, believing that the man was bent on self-destruction, and it was “waiting in a respectful and prudently withdrawn crescent for the final act.”

Ignatz Engel was a retired cigar maker in the Bronx who invested in the market in time to be wiped out by the Crash. On Nov. 13, depressed over his losses, he lay down on a blanket in his kitchen and opened all the jets of the gas range.


During the early hours of New Year’s Day 1930 a Brooklyn broker kept his neighbor awake with whistling and hymn-singing before turning on the gas and lying down on his bed wearing a blue serge suit, grey kid gloves, and pearl-colored spats. A young man named Lytle shot and killed himself in a hotel in Milwaukee, leaving behind four cents and a suicide note directing that “my body should go to science, my soul to Andrew W. Mellon and sympathy to my creditors.” The note also asked that his body not be removed from the room until the rent was up.

(Excerpted from 1987 article from Times Magazine)

Unsaved people, and sometimes even saved people, get caught up in events and drown in them.  They fail to understand that the only Savior of mankind is God in heaven (not banks, technology, children, spouses or other people) and they fail to understand just how capable God is to save utterly those that are His own.


Luke 21:25 explains a powerful contrast in how obedient believers are to see and react to events in the world.


25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

  • Signs! Everybody is looking for signs.
    • The scale mentioned here in Luke 21 does not appear to have happened yet. We have never had a better way of monitoring the sun, moon and stars.  We have a great idea of what is happening out in space.  We have people that specialize in weather on the Sun – apparently there are subtle gradations of “fry-your-skin-off-hot” that the sun goes through.  There are solar storms emitted by the sun that impact space weather and can impact conditions on the earth by crashing against the earth’s electromagnetic field.  We can see these solar storms coming.
    • For the first time ever, we can monitor whether or not meteors or asteroids have a good chance of striking the earth. We can’t really stop them, but we can monitor our potential for dying.  These heavenly bodies are moving at sometimes tens and hundreds of thousands of miles an hour.  We can see them way off, but we have nothing that could intercept or match their speed.
    • At some juncture, there will be some large scale disturbance in the sun, moon and stars and these will be harbingers of the Second Coming.
    • Our passage mentions that these universe shaking events will distress the nations. The earth will be fainting and groaning –  Our passage words it as the “Distress of nations in perplexity”.  We certainly have our own version of “distress of nations in perplexity”.  We can understand somewhat how they will feel.
      • Our media awareness is stunning. When my grandma and grandpa Daniels grew up in the hollers of Kentucky, they never knew what was happening in Europe, Middle East and Asia.  The issues had no impact on them.  But today, we are bombarded by Twitter updates, Facebook posts and live video feeds at the speed at which events happen.
      • We never get a time to grieve for dead people before the next tweet or post arrives, but we are informed about the daily body count piling up all over the world in almost real time.
      • It is interesting that we have a growing fascination with our environment. Climate Change is on everyone’s tongue.  We are always on top of sea level rising, iceberg melting, nuclear meltdown sites, smog indices in Tokyo or LA.  These concerns are funneled to us with extreme urgency.
      • In the future, will there be some direct connection to the events in the heavens and the emergin climate issue for the “Roaring of waves and seas”?  I have no idea. – But I do know this, we have a forerunner for the type of panic to come.  People are looking at climate change and literally losing their minds in panic.
      • Climate change has become such a sensation that it is forming its own version of morals. Almost five years ago, I remember experiencing from people the revulsion at the Duggars for having such a large family with such a huge climate killing carbon footprint.  They were considered evil by being so selfish as to have so many children.
      • It is now a public virtue to have no children. Saving the planet by killing ourselves off.
      • We monitor the environment in a scope never seen before in human history. We have people that are deeply attuned and impacted by climate change. They are anguished over the wind and waves and smog and icebergs metling.  We are a generation that is closer to the return of Christ than any other – kind of tautologous, but true.
      • Our world is filled with fainting, with fear and foreboding. It is a dark world that we live in.  There are many things that inspire fear and foreboding.
        • I read a very informative article yesterday about the expansion of the Russian nuclear arsenal. They are now specializing in low yield nuclear warheads with the intent of using those warheads at the first sign of provocation.  They are mixing these warheads into their strategic forces for deployment alongside of conventional or non-nuclear weapons because they intend to start using them as a matter of course.  They are designing weapons that will have no blast, but will simply temporarily irradiate an area with radiation to kill off all living things  – Just killing the people, but leaving everything else intact for future wealth building for the follow up invastion.  The U.S. is preparing to come up to speed and match Russia’s innovations and deployment patterns.  In a short matter of time, we will see low yield nuclear weapons used on the battlefield even for conflicts that have not been declared to be wars.
        • Nuclear arms in the arms reach of even the most petty dictactors. North Korea is now armed to the hilt.  The petty whims of a dictator could unleash death on millions.
        • If we turn to terrorism. New York has turned into a major terrorist destination (not tourism, but terrorism destination).  It is the holy grail of people waging Jihad.  Suicide bombers in the subway, delivery truck drivers running down pedestrians on bike paths.  Our way of life has been altered.
        • Lawlessness abounds. Hackers have specialized in ways to steal your money without ever seeing your face.  A few months ago, JP Morgan Chase notified us that the church credit card was making a circuit of Texas and heading towards California.  The credit card was stopping at gas stations along the way.  Economic destruction is becoming almost easier.  No confrontation needed!  At least crime used to be personal.
        • We have a massive disintegration of privacy. The Millennial generation is not really interested in privacy.  They grew up in an era where you volunteer on social media almost everything imaginable about yourself.  This is a far cry from the Generations Xers like myself who tend to be very conservative with information.  The Millennials are primarily concerned about safety and they will gladly exchange privacy, private property rights and freedoms to secure their bodily safety.  This will impact our freedom of speech, freedom of thought, right to exchange ideas.  We are quickly coming into a period where freedom of expression will be limited and it will be seen to be perfectly consistent with the re-imagined Constitution.  Britain is already publishing major articles in their mainstream newspapers about whether Pro Life people should have a right to their view.
        • We see a rise of Church shootings becoming common.
        • Governments have been toppling and they have not been replaced by anything more stable.
        • Has a generation ever had more fear and anxiety fueled by social medi
          • New words have crept into our vocublary:
            • Snowflake generation – People that melt at the slightest offense. They are perpetually offended.
            • Triggered – One campus offered free marijuana and counseling to their students after Trump was elected because people were so distraught. These people were triggered.
          • We have become professionals at anxiety, perplexity, being distressed, stressed and flummoxed.
          • We do not live in constant fear, but it is spreading. We are the first fruit of the generation mentioned in our passage. Nations that will distressed and perplexed.
          • We can certainly sympathize with their panic
        • Are these things things we are seeing building up to “The Signs”? I don’t even know the cause of the signs, but they will impact the sun, moon, stars, waves, etc.    I don’t know what they are.  But I do know that our redemption is drawing nigh.  It is getting closer by the moment.
        • The Son of Man is the One to whom the signs are pointing.
          • Unique designation for Jesus in the Gospels. You find this reference no where else.
          • It is undoubtedly a reference to Daniel 7:13

3 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven

there came one like a son of man,

and he came to the Ancient of Days

and was presented before him.

14 And to him was given dominion

and glory and a kingdom,

that all peoples, nations, and languages

should serve him;

his dominion is an everlasting dominion,

which shall not pass away,

and his kingdom one

that shall not be destroyed.

  • These signs in Luke 21 will be a fanfare unlike any other when the King of Kings bursts onto the scene.
  • If you see a destructive and universe shaking sign, it is not supposed to send you, a Saint of the Living God, into depression. It should if you are not a Saint.
  • Luke 21:28 – “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
  • For a redeemed soul, God intends for adversity and earth shattering events – the things that perplex and make others anxious – to strengthen and encourage us. Has it not ever been so in Scripture.
    • Luke 6:27 – 28 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
    • 1 Peter 1:6-7 – “6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
    • In telling the Christians to bear up under injustice, James tells his readers in James 5:7, “7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
    • When someone sins against you? Is it an opportunity to descend into bitterness, anger and frustration for years.  What does the Bible say about this anxiety driven even of being sinned against.  Forgive, because you have been forgiven.  It is a command and you are disobedient if you ignore it.
      • Colossians 3:12-13 – “12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
      • If anyone is harboring anxiety, anger and bitterness due to being perplexed and distressed over someone elses sin, then Matthew 6:14-15 should shake you awake – “14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
    • God means everything for our good. An educated, obedient Christian listens to the promises of God’s word and finds that anxiety melts away.  Anxiety and fear are a product of sin.  Romans 8:30 – “28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.  31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword…”
    • We have a different perspective than other people because God has promised us a future – a destination beyond this world where perfect justice will be realized, where unmerited rewards are ours, where peace will be established forever.
  • Things that shake other people to the core should strengthen Christians because they have the Spirit of the Living God and they see things differently than the rest of the world. In the words of our passage, when you see the earth and the heavens being afflicted – the signs – lift up your heads.  Jesus is coming!
    • Seeing evil in the world and not being stressed out about is one of the marks of a Christian.
    • If you are perpetually overwhelmed and stressed at the very least you are a disobedient Christian and you may not be a Christian at all.
    • Do no worry….
  • See suffering, consternation, perplexity and fear? Redemption is drawing near.
    • Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 6, “25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?.. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
    • Philippians 4:6 – “4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
    • We have a command from God to look at the world differently and to act differently.
    • Disobedient Christians are perplexed, distressed, annoyed, controlled and drowning in perplexity over happenings in the world, people’s sins against them and distractions.
    • We see the world differently because we know the future. Dawn is coming…
      • My heart thrills with Isaiah 60:

19 The sun shall be no more

your light by day,

nor for brightness shall the moon

give you light;[b]

but the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.[c]

20 Your sun shall no more go down,

nor your moon withdraw itself;

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your days of mourning shall be ended.

21 Your people shall all be righteous;

they shall possess the land forever,

the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,

that I might be glorified.[d]

22 The least one shall become a clan,

and the smallest one a mighty nation;

I am the Lord;

in its time I will hasten it.

  • Redemption – All creation has been groaning waiting for this moment.
    • Romans 8:18 –

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

  • You can take joy in seeing chaos because you know it will end. No one else has that promise as you do.
  • A growing appreciation for heaven as our earthly bodies fail, as wars sweep across continents, as death and disease run rampant. Jesus is coming.  The things that destroy other people will not destroy me, because God is on my side.
  • In the early America’s they had a perception of what God intended for the development of North America. Amercians saw it as their divine mission to spread civilization from coast-to-coast of this great continent.  With God supporting them, they became extraordinarily optimistic and industrious and rapidly expanded their building projects and industry from sea to shining sea.  Their sense of purpose drove them to completing with confidence a common mission.
  • We, as Christians, have a Manifest Destiny. We know what God intends for us.  Because we are not constantly engaged with distractions, anxiety and fear, we have been freed by God to turn our incredible energy focus on building great, eternal things for the sake of His glory.
  • 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Chaos means Christ is coming.  It doesn’t deter us, it just makes us more committed.  It does not cause us to devolve into selfishness and bitterness – it causes us to burn for forgiveness, mercy, grace and redemption because our great anticipation is right around the corner.
  • 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.