The Future According to Jesus – Part 2

by Pastor Bob Conway

Matthew 23:29 -25:46

Read part 1 of this sermon

THE THIRD PROPHETIC SIGN THAT WILL SIGNAL CHRIST’S RETURN IS A RISE IN FAMINE AND PESTILENCE. There will be an increase of devastating, widespread famine. In our generation, we are faced with severe drought and famine conditions throughout portions of Africa , India , and southeast Asia. many nations in these areas are already unable to properly feed their large populations.  Because of severe drought, millions of acres of fertile, agricultural land have been transformed into arid wasteland.

Large quantities of precious topsoil are lost each year. Tropical rain forest, which contribute significant amounts of our planet’s oxygen and water supply, are shrinking every year. 

Compounding these problems are the staggering statistics concerning the growth rate of the world’s population. Every day more than 225,000 people are added to the earth’s population with the largest percentage born in third world nation where food supplies are already compromised.

Luke 2:11 adds “pestilence” as a sign here. In our generation, health officials have discovered more than 25 new infectious diseases for which there are no known cures or treatments. Growing urbanization, poor sanitation and the increase in air travel have all helped to spread these deadly diseases throughout our world. Though we try to protect ourselves with antibiotic drugs, health officials now find that we may have compounded the problem. Increasing numbers of diseases are showing resistance to traditional antibiotics. Many diseases of the past—bubonic plague, smallpox, diphtheria, yellow fever, malaria—are remerging as strains that are resistant to standard treatments and are becoming deadly threats to human populations. Sexually transmitted diseases are also on the rise. Of these, the AIDS virus is the most dangerous plague in history.

Toxic substances are also proliferating in our environment. Untested chemicals created in laboratories every year are casually introduced into the earth’s biosphere without adequate tests of their effects on humans, animals or plant life. Scientists readily recognize that a large percentage of cancers and cancerous tumors are caused by exposure to hazardous substances in our environment. In addition, the pestilence of pesticides has created an emergence of a new strain of germs highly resistant to chemical eradication.

Plagues and epidemics typically follow famine and war, compounding their terrors. Jesus warned that worldwide pestilence would signify His imminent return. During the coming holocaust of the tribulation, these epidemics will decimate one-fourth of the world’s population according to Revelation 6:8 —

I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

tribTHE FOURTH PROPHETIC SIGN PRECEDING CHRIST’S RETURN WILL BE EARTHQUAKES IN VARIOUS PLACES.

Both Jesus Christ and the OT prophets prophesied that the last days would see an increase in the number and severity of earthquakes. Jesus also indicated that earthquakes would occur in diverse places. In our century, we have experienced an unparalleled increase in the frequency and intensity of “killer” earthquakes that register 6.5 or higher on the Richter scale.

In 1964, when I was in the War Room, I got the rescue operation started for the Alaskan Earthquake, which was one of the biggest at 9.0.

The reported number of severe earthquakes between 1900-1970 totaled only 37. There were 56 occurrences in 1970s, and the 1980s witnessed 74 major earthquakes. The first half of the 1990s posted a record of 125 killer earthquakes worldwide, a significant jump in the geological annals.

Seismologists can calculate an estimated time when the strain along the fault would be great enough to cause an earthquake. As an example, after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake of 7.0, the measurements showed that in the 50 years prior to 1906, the San Andreas fault accumulated about 10 feet of displacement, or movement, at points across the fault. The maximum 1906 fault slip was 21 feet, so it was suggested that 50 years x 21 feet/10 feet, about 100 years, would elapse before sufficient energy would again accumulate to produce a comparable earthquake. If that calculation is correct, we are about three years away from another killer earthquake along the San Andreas fault .

According to Jesus, the intensity of earthquakes will increase like birth-pains before He comes. These are prelude to the great earthquake that is predicted in Revelation 6:12-17 “I watched as [the Lamb] opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig-tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” False Messiahs, Wars and Rumors of Wars, Famines, Pestilence, and Earthquakes are the beginning of birth pains. Birth pains are mild warnings compared to the pains that accompany birth. These ever increasing birth pains precede the Lamb opening seven seals of the Title Deed to the Earth that bring Tribulation upon the earth as has never been seen before nor ever will be seen again!

At the end of the seven years of Tribulation, Jesus will return to the earth to judge the nations and establish His kingdom.

Matthew 24:9-31 covers the Tribulation Period, and does not apply to our future since the Church will have been raptured before the wrath of the Lamb. So we will skip down to…
THE NEXT SIGN OF CHRIST’S RETURN THAT APPLIES TO US, MATTHEW 24:32-35 — Now learn this lesson from the fig-tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
This sign relates to what happened on the second day of Holy week; we are told in Mark 11:12-14
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig-tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he [literally] said to the tree, “No more into the age, no one may eat fruit out of you.” The fig tree symbolizes Israel .
Fruit represents righteousness acts, but Jesus looked, He found none!
Fig leaves picture self-righteousness works as it did with Adam and Eve.

Mark 11:20-21 tells us what happened on the third day of Holy Week —
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig-tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig-tree you cursed has withered!” Symbolically, Israel had withered! The nation of Israel had been set aside by God until it bears fruit. But before it can bear fruit its twigs must get tender and its leaves come out. In 1948, the fig tree’s twigs became tender and its leaves came out. The nation of Israel that had been dead for centuries came back to life — physical life; not spiritual life just as predicted in the Vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones of Ezekiel 37.

Today, there is an unsaved nation of Israel that awaits its redemption! It is near, right at the door! I believe “summer” (the heat of Tribulation) that will bring about Israel ’s salvation is close. Why do I believe it? Jesus said that “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Not the generation of Jesus’ day but the generation that sees the Israel the rebirth of the nation of Israel . How long is a generation? Psalm 90:10 tells us — The length of our days is seventy years–or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 

You do the math! Summer is near! Jesus goes on to speak of . . . 

THE SUDDENNESS OF HIS RETURN, MATTHEW 24:36-41 

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Was Noah surprised by the Flood? No! God had warned Noah and told him to get ready 120 years before it came. The entire world was oblivious to the coming judgment, except for Noah and his family. When the time came, God commanded Noah to take his whole family into the ark and seven days later came the flood waters.

Noah typifies the removal of God’s people before wrath. The day of God’s wrath did not surprise righteous Noah or come as a thief in the night, but it surprised the ungodly!

The Second Coming of Christ will come in two stages. First, His coming in the air to Rapture the Church and take His bride to heaven, and then after seven years of Tribulation, His return to earth with the hosts of heaven to fight the Battle of Armageddon, followed by the establishment of His millennial kingdom on earth.

JESUS THREE PARABLES CONCERNING HIS RETURN, MATTHEW 24:42-51.

All three parables deal with the unexpectedness of His coming. The second parable of the Ten Virgins deals with His return at the end of the Tribulation Period. The third Parable of the Talents speaks of His judgment of one’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness, which results in rewards or Hell!

The first parable makes it clear in uncertain terms that we need to be watching, ready, and serving Christ when He comes. Matthew 24:42-51 — Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow-servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus delay has unsettled some in the church and discouraged others. To counter this unsettling feeling, Jesus gave His disciples an ongoing sign of His death, resurrection, and second coming on Thursday night of Holy Week.
THE SIGN OF CHRIST’S COMING IN THE LORD’S SUPPER

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus has declared in this symbolic act the purpose of His first coming — the giving of His life for the forgiveness of our sins. But death is not the end for Jesus; there is resurrection and His second coming — for He goes on to say in Matthew 26:29 — I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom. Jews vows not to drink wine again until the “Father’s kingdom comes, which is Christ’s earthly reign on David’s throne.” The LORD’S SUPPER, therefore, points both to the past and to the future — to Christ’s death at Calvary and to His messianic banquet, which is His kingdom.

Every time we partake of the LORD’S SUPPER, we look back to our redemption as He hung on the Cross, where He died to exchange our sins for God’s righteousness.

And we look forward to “that day” when He will drink of the cup with us in His Father’s kingdom.

This is the ongoing sign for the Church that believes Jesus is coming again!

Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.

The Future According to Jesus

by Pastor Bob Conway

Matthew 23:29 -25:46

One of the major emphasis of Holy Week for Christ was to reveal the signs of His second coming to His disciples. Surprisingly, I have not heard anyone speak on these prophecies during Holy Week. Therefore, I will!

During the early centuries following the ascension of Jesus into heaven, Christians often greeted one another by saying, “MARANATHA.” This Aramaic expression means “come, O Lord” and echoed the believers’ cry for the imminent return of Christ. During Holy Week, our Lord revealed warning signs that will herald His return. The fulfillment of several of these signs in our generation points to the imminent return of Jesus Christ. 

For centuries the Jews had awaited the first arrival of the Messiah, but when He did come and offer his kingdom and did promise blessing and hope and salvation, instead of receiving Him in faith and love, they rejected Him in unbelief and repulsion. They so despised Him that they wanted to murder Him as their ancestors had done with the righteous before Him. 

As a result they identified with their ancestors who murdered the prophets and the guilt and judgment that had been accumulating since the Fall would come down upon the heads of Jesus’ generation. So in a heart-wrenching lament . . .  JESUS PREDICTS HIS SECOND COMING, Matthew 23:37 -39 — 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem , you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Jesus was neither cold nor indifferent, even toward His enemies, and on this occasion His judgment is mingled with sorrow and deep pathos. His last public teaching is an exclamation of sorrow for Jerusalem. He had tried to bring the Word of God to the people, but the people of Jerusalem had been true to their reputation. The city which had killed the prophets had rejected Christ and was about to kill Him.
This lament of Jesus is filled with theological significance. Herein Jesus declares Himself to be God — the one who has longed to gather His children together. He shows Himself to be loving, kind, merciful and protecting, and yet be a God of wrath. And He reveals that He will come a second time.

The pages of the OT are filled with the LORD’S efforts to gather His people under His protection through His love and discipline and their The pages of the OT are filled with the LORD’S efforts to gather His people under His protection through His love and discipline and their continual withdrawal from Him.

Here Christ expresses the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Yahweh had chosen Israel as His people but they rejected Him. Though God desired to gather the nation to Himself, the people were not willing. What God desired to come to pass did not occur because He would not violate the free will of man. No doctrine of the predestination of individuals can survive between Jesus’ “I longed” and Jerusalem’s “you were not willing.”

The fate of desolation was chosen by the people, not imposed by God. “Look, your house is left desolate” could refer to (1) the House of David or (2) Jerusalem or (3) the nation of Israel or (4) the Temple . All four are closely allied and rise and fall together. Desolate (erhmov) refers to wilderness, desert or uninhabited region.

It has been well-said that history is destined to repeat itself. In Jeremiah 12:7, Yahweh had predicted what would happen to Jerusalem in 586 B.C. —

“I will forsake my house, abandon my inheritance; I will give the one I love into the hands of her enemies.”

Now Jesus’ prediction is tantamount to what happen to Israel in Jeremiah’s day. Again, God would abandon His inheritance into the hands to her enemies. This time in A.D. 70.

For how long? Until Israel affirms Jesus as Messiah, saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” Jesus cannot return to reign on earth until all Israel is saved!    Ironically, the crowds have already had declared this truth at Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This declaration comes from a section of Psalm 118, which speaks of the LORD God making His light shine upon Israel in the house of the LORD. Unfortunately, Israel rejected the Light so the desolation of your house also includes the absence of Jesus since He is “the Light.”

We know from Zechariah 12:10-13:9 that Israel will acknowledge Christ Jesus prior to His second coming. Until then the House of David will be forsaken by God and left abandoned to its enemies. As a sign of this desolation . . .

JESUS PREDICTS THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE BUILDINGS, Matthew 24:1-2 — Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13:1 tells us that one of His disciples said to Him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

Jesus’ lament over the desolation of Israel’s house apparently had no impact on the thinking of His disciples as they talked about the Temple complex, which was magnificent by any standard.

At the prodding of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the Second Temple (Zerubbabel’s) had been completed on March 12, 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:15 ). In the eighteenth year of his reign (19 B.C.), Herod the Great undertook a very great work, to rebuild the Temple of God, making it larger and more magnificent than Zerubbabel’s. Instead of leveling the summit of the mountain, Herod built a vast platform by raising up massive walls enclosing the whole area. On these walls a platform was laid for the Temple .

At the time of Christ, Herod’s Temple was not completely finished, yet it was one of the wonders of the world and its massive stones and the magnificent buildings impressed His disciples. Jesus responded to their observation with a question and statement, “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Notice that Jesus specified that the stones of the Temple buildings would be thrown down. The massive stones used to support the platform remain in place today. Fulfilled biblical prophecy is always accurate down to its smallest details.

In A.D. 70, Titus’ soldiers so completely destroyed the Temple buildings that their exact location on the Temple Mount is disputed. The Romans rushed from the Tower of Antonia into the sacred precincts, the halls of which were set on fire by the Jews themselves. It was against the will of Titus that a Roman soldier threw a firebrand into the northern buildings of the Temple , which caused the inferno of the whole structure, although Titus himself endeavored to extinguish the fire (War, 6:4). Gold and silver melted in between the stones and the soldiers turned each and every one upside down to get the precious metals. Josephus remarks that the Temple was destroyed on the same month and day as the holy house was burned by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., that being July 28th. A coincidence! No! A God sighting!

Jesus’ prediction must have amazed and disturbed the disciples as they made their way up the Mount of Olives . As they looked over their shoulders, they could see the Temple standing there on Mount Moriah in all its glory.

The disciples still believed that the earthly Kingdom of God would appear immediately. The destruction of the Temple did not fit the outcome of the Messiah’s arrival that they envisioned.

The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for the day of God’s intervention, “the Day of the LORD,” at the end of the age. But they were caught between unconquerable optimism and bleak pessimism. They believed God would break into history and rescue them and that this world was so utterly bad that only its complete destruction and the emergence of a new world would suffice. They were not looking for a reformation. The most distant thing from their minds was the spiritual renewal that John the Baptist and Jesus preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” So, we read in Matthew 24:3 — As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” The catastrophe of the destruction of the Temple would foreshadow and guarantee the predictions of judgment at the close of the age, but it would not coincide with the signs of His second coming and of the end of the age. The expression “Second Coming” does not appear in the NT, the nearest approximate is found in Hebrews 9:28:

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The disciples used the word Parousia (parousia), which denotes the presence, coming, arrival, advent of Christ. At this moment in time, they did not understand that there would be two comings of Christ. So . . . JESUS UNVEILS THE SIGN OF HIS SECOND COMING AND OF THE END OF THE AGE, Matthew 24:4-51.

We call this section of Jesus’ teaching, THE MOUNT OLIVET DISCOURSE. In this discourse, Jesus reveals that at the Parousia this Present Age gives way to the Millennial Kingdom in the Day of the LORD. In doing so, He reveals the conditions on earth as the sign of the time of His return. This is what the future holds according to Jesus.

FIRST, THERE WILL BE THE BEGINNING OF BIRTH PAINS, MATTHEW 24:4-8. Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains. THE FIRST PROPHETIC SIGN THAT WILL SIGNAL CHRIST’S SECOND COMING INVOLVES THE RISE OF FALSE CHRISTS AND DECEIVERS IN THE LAST DAYS. Though there are no historical references to any false messiahs prior to the resurrection of Jesus, many false messiahs have appeared throughout the centuries following His ascension. In our generation alone these impostors and deceivers include Charles Manson, Rev. sun Myung Moon, Jim Jones and David Koresh.

THE SECOND PROPHETIC SIGN THAT WILL SIGNAL CHRIST’S SECOND COMING WILL BE THE HEARING OF WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS. When Jesus spoke these words, the Roman Empire was enjoying a long era of peace. But about four decades later political turmoil would upset the great realm from one end to another. Wars and rumors of wars have occurred since. The end will come with such swiftness that it will be like a flood according to Daniel 9:26– After the sixty-two ‘sevens’, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. Since the end of World War II the number of wars in our world has increased dramatically. new nations have demanded independence as old empires disintegrate. Though there have been numerous peace treaties, the world has not known a single day without some nation at war with another somewhere on the earth.

How often has the United States been involved in a war in the last hundred years? World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Bosnia, and now the War with Iraq. And there are rumors of wars with Syria and other nations.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that wars are occurring more frequently like the beginning of birth-pains!

While nations have always found reasons to hate one another, Jesus warned that worldwide hatred would increase between nations and kingdoms. What do you think? Is the last month has relations between Arabs and Jews grown closer or further away? How about Arabs and Americans? Or Europeans and Americans?

Wars and rumors of wars are a prelude to the final war at the end of this present age when the LORD gathers the kings of the earth and their armies together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon to be cut down with a sharp sickle, and gathered as grapes and thrown into the great winepress of God’s wrath.

Continue to Part 2