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Matthew 24 and 25
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Matthew 24:1-25; Revelation 13:11-17; Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 21:20; Matthew 25:1-30

May 19, 2018

The end of the world has arrived—at least for some residents of Leilani Estates in Puna, on the island of Hawaii. The ongoing volcanic activity has brought outbreaks of lava fountains up to 300 feet high, along with lava flows and volcanic gas. In the last few weeks, 27 houses have been destroyed and 1,700 residents have been evacuated. The eruption began on May 3 with a 6.9 magnitude earthquake.

Officials are warning many more residents in Lower Puna to prepare for a possible evacuation. New eruptions are spewing more hot lava after a brief reprieve. As of Sunday, May 13, there are 17 fissures. Vacation rentals in the area have closed and residents have getaway kits packed and are ready to flee at a moment’s notice. Scientists do not know when the activity will cease. They warn residents and visitors “about the threat of explosive eruption that could fling boulders ‘the size of cows’ over a half a mile from Halemaumau Crater.”1

Our Sabbath school lesson this week focuses on Jesus’ teaching about last day events. Some of the descriptions certainly remind us of catastrophes taking place around the world, including what the people of Puna are experiencing. But, as our Sabbath Afternoon lesson points out, “Jesus didn’t just warn about what was coming. … He also told parables that, if heeded, will prepare His people for when He, the ‘Son of Man,’ returns.”

Two of the parables told by Christ in Matthew 24 and 25, tell us how to live in light of His soon return. The focus of these parables is not so much on having correct theology or a certain amount of intellectual knowledge in order to be prepared. Those who would be ready for Jesus’ second coming have a burning faith (like the extra oil of the Ten Virgins) and are busy using their spiritual gifts (as described in the Parable of the Talents).

Difficult days are ahead and we certainly need to study the Scriptures and have a clear knowledge about what is to come. But none of that can stand alone. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Of the coming storms, Christ said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

The residents of Puna know that even physical houses built on rock can shift and even melt. The spiritual getaway kit isn’t something you can toss in your car. It’s a preparation of the heart.

~ cr

[1] http://www.claremoreprogress.com/cnhi_network/officials-urge-lower-puna-residents-to-prepare-for-possible-evacuation/article_d1116770-1670-5583-802b-fb24ee72aade.html