149 - What is the Sign of Your Coming? [b]
What is the Sign of Your Coming?
Matthew Lesson #149
January 8, 2017
“Father, we’re thankful for our salvation, we’re thankful for the spiritual life that we have in this Church Age.
We’re thankful that You have given us God the Holy Spirit who indwells us and fills us and seals us and has gifted us, and Father, we’re thankful that we have this unique relationship to You based upon the role of God the Holy Spirit in this Church Age.
Father, we pray that we might be mindful, that we have been given such great assets and such great privileges, that we might be reminded that the mission for us is to be a testimony verbally, as well as in our lives—a testimony to others around us—and to continue to pursue spiritual growth.
Father, we pray that we might remember that that is the reason we are here, and everything else is just secondary.
Father, we pray that we might focus upon Your Word today, to come to understand it more fully, that we might understand many questions that we all have about the future.
We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 24. Last time I gave somewhat of a flyover of Matthew 24-25, which is one sermon, must be understood together, one message of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the fifth discourse in Matthew. It is the only one that focuses on prophetic themes or eschatology.
Eschatology is a term that comes from two Greek words: ESCHATOS, meaning the last and LOGOS, meaning things or words or the study of something, so it is the study of the last days, the study of end times.
This is Jesus’ longest message about prophetic events, about the end times, and it is second only in length to the Sermon on the Mount.
It’s important whenever we look at any portion of Scripture that we always asked certain basic questions:
- Who is talking?
- To whom are they speaking?
- Are they speaking with reference to only that person?
- Are they speaking through that person to a broader audience?
That is important when we come to each of these discourses in Matthew. As we have seen in our study of Matthew, the reason Matthew wrote this Gospel is to teach about the coming of the Messiah and His presentation and offer of the Kingdom to Israel. That’s the primary theme.
Kingdom is the big idea, so you have to understand what Kingdom means. What Kingdom means from an Old Testament perspective is the Messianic rule on the earth of the Son of David—the greater Son of David—that He would rule from the throne of David in Jerusalem and rule over Israel and rule over all the nations. And that this would be a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity upon the earth, as we have a perfect God-Man ruler.
When Jesus came at the first coming, He came to offer the Kingdom. He was preceded by John the Baptist whose message was: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
Jesus came and had the same message: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He sent His disciples to the House of Israel and the House of Judah, not to the Gentiles; and their message was, you guessed it: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
That’s the Gospel of the Kingdom. That’s going to be important because when we get a little bit into this message, Jesus talks about the Gospel of the Kingdom being preached to all the world. The Gospel of the Kingdom, we will see, is not the Gospel that we proclaim today.
The Gospel that we proclaim today is related to the description of 1 Corinthians 15, which focuses on the death, burial, resurrection of Christ, his substitutionary payment on the cross. That is the gospel we preach today. It is part of the gospel of the Kingdom, but we’re not preaching the gospel of the Kingdom today.
The gospel of Kingdom is defined by Matthew as be ready for the coming King and the establishment of the Kingdom, that that is about to happen. Because Jesus was rejected, He ascended to Heaven—the “Kingdom Plan” was put on hold.
There’s a pause button that God the Father hit, and only at the end of the Tribulation after God the Father—according to Daniel 7, the Ancient of Days—gives the Kingdom to his Son. Jesus takes the scroll, Revelation 5, and begins to open the seals.
Those are the judgments—and we will have to review all of this—those are the judgments that enable Him to open the scroll, which is the title deed to the earth, and then He will return, and at that point, establish His Kingdom.
So once the Rapture occurs, and the church is out of here, then we go back to the offer of the Kingdom, because that’s what comes at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. So the emphasis then goes back to the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Now the gospel of the Kingdom includes the Gospel of Justification. They’re not two opposite doctrines or opposite gospels. It’s that the gospel of the Kingdom offers “more than”—it deals with something in addition to the gospel of Justification by faith alone.
That summarizes a little bit of the framework of why Matthew has been written. Now we have to bring that to bear on our understanding of Matthew 24-25, because Matthew is including what he sees, what his part of the answer to these questions are from the perspective of what he is talking about.
He’s addressing Church Age believers, of course, probably in the early AD 40s. I believe that Matthew was the first Gospel that was written following the principle laid down by Paul’s trips to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The early church is primarily Jewish and Matthew is answering a critical question, which is: Why didn’t the Kingdom come? What is going on here, and how does that relate to our mission today because the Kingdom didn’t come?
That’s why it ends with an emphasis on Jesus’ mandate to the church, which is to the disciples to go into all the world and make disciples by baptizing and by teaching.
That deals with the inter-advent age, but as we’ll see, there is very little in Matthew that talks about the inter-advent age. Now what I mean by the inter-advent age is that age between the two advents between the first coming and the second coming.
The first coming ended with the ascension of Christ to Heaven, and the period that started ten days after His ascension on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended, the first advent of the Holy Spirit, is the beginning of the Church Age, and it ends with the Rapture of the church.
What’s going on in between here is not really addressed by Matthew. We will talk about that little bit more as we go through this particular chapter.
As I indicated last time, this is a critical two chapters, to understand with relation to what happens in the Tribulation period, and that this is not addressing anything in the Church Age. That’s a fundamental assumption.
There are a lot of disagreements even among dispensationalists. There are six different views on this first part of the message down through about verse 31—at least six different views—and we will talk about those a little more, not in a lot of detail. I’m putting together a chart that will have up on the website so that you can take a look at it.
There is a second section in Matthew 24:32–25:46. I think that is a connected unit. There’s a lot of disagreement: I’ve identified at least three different positions among free grace dispensational futurists on that part. I’m not even talking about the Amillennialists, the Preterists, and the Post-Millennialists, and all those other people. So that makes it really difficult for me as a pastor.
Most of the time I can look at two or three different resources and commentaries, and everybody’s pretty much in agreement But when you look at people within our camp, within our thinking, and you see all these different views, and everybody has a lot of different arguments, I have to really spend a tremendous amount of time.
Because to be a faithful pastor and teacher, to rightly divide the Word, you’ve got to process each argument, outline the strengths and weaknesses of each person’s argument, compare and contrast, figure out their backgrounds, what is within their framework, their presuppositions, to lead them in this direction to take this particular view and who’s right and who’s wrong and that takes a lot of time.
Now I’ve gone through in a flyover manner when we’ve been in Revelation and other things to talk about Matthew 24–25, and I have my views, but I haven’t had the opportunity to truly drill down into the mass of minutia that is in the text. Now I don’t want to go too deep to drive you nuts, but it’s important to handle some of this.
The reason is—I found this to be true after 30+ years in the ministry—that if I say something in a general way without documenting it, I will get five or six questions. People say, “Well, why did you say this, and why did you say that, and what about this?” So it’s better for me just to cover the minutia when I’m in the pulpit than to have to answer a lot of questions afterward.
For some of you, it doesn’t really matter what the details are, you just want somebody to tell you what it means, and that’s fine; but others of you have more profound questions.
I’m titling this message “What is the Sign of Your Coming?” That is the question that is asked in Matthew 24:3, and we won’t get beyond that today because we have to look at some other aspects of what’s going on in terms of the context of this discourse.
I’ve highlighted seven questions that we need to address:
- “What’s the significance of the temple?” because that’s the backdrop. Jesus has just announced that the temple will be destroyed. Why is that important?
- “What is the reason for this judgment that he has announced upon the nation?”
The third question that you may not think is important but is one that is addressed all the time and that is,
- “How many questions are the disciples asking?” Are they asking four, three, two, or possibly even one? How many questions are here?
- Is the focus of this prophecy on events that are completely and totally in the future, are they on events that are mostly already fulfilled in the past, or are they being fulfilled as we go through the Church Age?
That first view is called futurism. The second view is called Preterism—which means past—I’m not going to go into a lot on Preterism. Present is something called historicism. Understanding those helps us to understand why you run into some different views along the way.
- “What did the disciples know?” What did they already understand? What were they bringing to the table when Jesus starts to talk to them about future things? What’s their frame of reference going to be from the Old Testament?
- “What are the signs of the times?” So is this talking about sign (singular) or signs (plural)? That is an important question.
- “The differences between the Second Coming, the coming of Christ, and the Rapture. Understanding that distinction is very important.
So the first question is “What’s the significance of the temple?”
When we looked at this in the past, we saw that at the conclusion of Matthew 23, Jesus announces judgment on the religious leaders of Israel. In Matthew 21 and 22 they are examining Him, and they reject Him as their Messiah, and in Matthew 23 He announces His rejection of them as His people.
He announces seven—because of the textual issue, seven-plus-one—woes against the religious leaders, against the Pharisees as hypocrites, religious leaders who lead the nation astray. He announces a judgment that will come in Matthew 23:38, referring to the temple as the House of God.
That’s actually one of the meanings of the Hebrew word hekal, which is the word for temple, translated “temple” in the Old Testament, the House of God.
Matthew 23:38, “See! Your house has left to you desolate.” He is indicating that the temple will be destroyed. But as we have always seen when God announces judgment, there is always grace. There is always grace with judgment. God doesn’t just announce judgment and leave people hanging.
You see there’s always a solution, a grace solution, for deliverance in the midst of divine judgment. Therefore, there is always hope no matter what happens, even when you’re living through a time of national disaster because of divine discipline. There is always hope.
The solution there is Matthew 23:39; Jesus said, “… you won’t see Me again until you say “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The issue is whether or not you’re going to accept, whether or not the Jewish people would accept Jesus as their Messiah.
Matthew 24:1, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.”
The action in the Greek verb here is really much more dynamic than the way it talks about, it’s the action. You can picture this as a video; and we read, “Then Jesus went out of the temple,” He is walking away. He’s made this announcement about the destruction and He leaves, and while He’s going, the disciples are now looking around at these buildings with their mouths sort of hanging open. They can’t believe that He has announced this, and that everything that they see is going to be destroyed.
We will look at the temple in just a minute, but this temple was so magnificent that one of the rabbinical sayings of the time was “if you had never seen the temple in Jerusalem, you had never seen beauty.” It was the eighth wonder of the ancient world. It was larger than any temple that was built to any God in any country anywhere in the known world at that time, and they just couldn’t imagine it.
Just as before 2001, before the events of 9/11, none of us could quite imagine that something would completely take down the Twin Towers in New York. It’s something that they just could not fathom, and so His announcement of the destruction of the temple just leaves them with their mouth hanging open.
He leaves, and He’s going in the direction of the Mount of Olives, and they’re standing there for a while looking at the temple, trying to process what He has said, and then they start running after Him to get an answer.
Here’s an artist’s depiction of what the temple looked like. It was built out of marble, marble construction of the temple itself. This is the inner temple here; this was the NAOS, and one of the walls was completely covered in gold. As you are looking at it from the south, you’re looking north.
These are the southern steps, and off to the right here you see the bridge and the arches over here, over the Kidron Valley. Jesus and they were going to come down the steps this way, and then walk down here, and then walk out, and across the bottom of the Kidron Valley over to the far side of the Mount of Olives. It was called the Mount of Olives because there were Pecan trees there, right? No, they’re olive trees.
That’s the location of the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s a huge olive grove, but it was much larger at that time than what you see today. They were just going over to the other side to sit specifically on the Mount of Olives because of what Jesus was going to teach. That’s important for understanding the background and the framework.
What we see here in verse 1 is that it is two words, the word for temple and the word for buildings, because as Jesus is leaving, His disciples come up to Him and show Him the buildings of the temple.
The word for buildings is the word OIKODOME, which focuses on the buildings, not the exterior, not the external retaining walls. The Western Wall that we have today that is known as the Wailing Wall was never part of the buildings of the temple. That was a huge retaining wall built around the Temple Mount by Herod the Great in order to support the weight of these huge buildings.
In this artist’s description here, we see the temple here in the middle. This was on Mount Moriah where Abraham had gone to sacrifice Isaac. You can see all the weight of all the stones would’ve put a tremendous amount of pressure down onto the top of Mount Moriah, and so Herod built underneath this.
When he constructed the temple there is a series of arches that ran the length and the width of the platform to support the platform and to support the weight, and then he built this retaining wall around it.
Just a little bit about this: we don’t know much about what was going on at Mount Moriah from the time of Genesis 22 until the time at the end of Samuel when God identifies the location where David will build the temple.
There is a plague that comes upon Israel, and what David does to stop the plague is to offer sacrifice. God indicates that the place of that is on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and that is the site on Mount Moriah. So this is been a threshing floor for threshing the wheat and privately owned by Araunah, but it was purchased by David for the location of the Temple.
In 586 BC, that first temple was destroyed, and then it was rebuilt starting with the return of the Jews in 536 BC But they had a lot of trouble pulling it all together, and it wasn’t until 516 BC that the second temple was consecrated under Zerubbabel, who was the governor at the time, and Joshua the high priest. That is known as the second temple.
There are two periods to the second temple. We might break it down that way. One is the Zerubbabel temple, which we will see pictured—there’s a smaller version here to the left. For our purposes, we see how the temple looked from approximately 142 BC to 63 BC when the Romans took over.
It wasn’t very large. It’s not nearly as large as the expanse of the Herodian temple. You can see that Herod expanded it much further south. He expanded the east wall a little further out to the east, and he expanded the north wall and also built a fortification for Roman soldiers located on the northwest corner. So we can see the difference in scale between these two.
Now in order to complete this massive remodeling project, Herod had to work closely with the priests, because only they could build the temple. They were very suspicious of him, that he might want to destroy the temple. So he actually had to build everything before they would allow him to tear anything down. They had to make sure that the replacements were there before any of the walls or anything else was taken down.
He doubled the area of the temple from what it was before, and expanded that, and increased the length of the Temple Mount from north to south. That would be in this diagram from the upper left to the lower right. He expanded it so that the average length of the outer side was about 600 cubits or 900 feet.
Originally, the Temple Mount was intended to be 1600 feet wide by 900 feet broad and by nine stories high. This is the original plan for Herod, but that never quite was completed.
What he had to do in order to support the weight here was to build an enormous foundation—that’s way down here. See this wall here, you can see the vaults here at the lower level. Just above it you see a solid wall and that is where we have the location of today’s Western Wall or Wailing Wall.
There are foundation stones underneath that. Those of you going to Israel with me know that we go through what they call the Western Wall tunnels. They have a neat little model that they can take apart and show you all the different stages of construction on the temple.
Then you walk down some steps, and when you get to the bottom you are facing this particular stone. This stone is approximately 45 feet in length, 11 feet high and has been measured at 16½ feet deep. The estimate is that it weighs approximately 625 tons. Think about that a little bit.
The largest stone in the Great Pyramid, I believe, is about 15 tons, so they had to move this into place. They suppose—of course, they don’t know for sure because they can’t get back under everything—but they suppose this is the largest of the foundation stones, but there many others that approached the size of this particular stone.
All of these were cut to a remarkable precision, so that they fit perfectly on top of one another with no space in between and they moved them into place with equipment that wasn’t powered by gasoline or diesel engines or any of the modern equipment that we have, so it’s quite a remarkable structure.
Herod’s engineers designed all of this and much of the work was carried out by the priests. So you can see why this was such an enormous thing that the disciples are just hanging their mouths open wondering how in the world could this ever happen. This is such a massive project.
Jesus announced this destruction with even more detail: Matthew 24:2, saying, “Do you not see all these things?” Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another.”
Now He’s referring to the buildings, He’s not referring to the walls. But, of course, some of the walls—the upper walls—were destroyed.
I’ve shown you these pictures in the last couple of lessons, where we see this pile of stones that was left over.
All of this was covered for most of the last 2,000 years, and it wasn’t uncovered until the last 30 years. In fact, you can’t see it in this picture, but if you were to go just about 10 feet higher here in the upper right, you would see an outcropping of the base of what had been an arch. That was discovered by an archaeologist in the mid-1800s, so it’s named for him: it’s called Robinson’s Arch.
I have another picture where you have some Arab children in the late 1800s playing underneath that arch, and it’s only about 5 feet over their head. Randy price told me that when he first went to Israel in 1978, that’s how high it was.
So all of this area that you’re looking at here has been excavated since about 1980. That was just all underground; that’s why so much of that was left that way. They left the stones there as a reminder of the destruction of the temple.
Now why is all this important? Because the temple was the dwelling place of God in the midst of His people. It’s the dwelling place of God. Originally, you had the tabernacle, and the term “tabernacle” in the Hebrew is Mishkan. It is from the root verb Shakan. We also talk about the Shekinah Glory—the word Shekinah comes from that root. It means to dwell. The temple is the dwelling place of God in the midst of His people.
That’s why the temple was important, so the temple signifies something, and the destruction of the temple signifies something. It signifies divine judgment.
That’s the second thing we want to look at in terms of understanding this passage, and that is the reason for the divine judgment on the nation.
This has already happened once before in Israel’s history. In 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon, invaded Israel for the third time. He first invaded in 605 BC, then he invaded around 593 BC, and now in 586 BC, he invades.
This time, he destroyed the temple, he just about wiped out the city, and he took numerous captives back to Babylon. It was for 70 years. They returned in 536 BC, and then the Jews rebuilt.
In 63 BC Pompey conquered the Levant area, so Israel and Judea came under Roman authority and remained under Roman authority, even though there were many different revolts during that period of time. This culminated in the great Jewish revolt which occurred in AD 66. So this is some 33 years after the crucifixion of Christ.
The occasion was that the Roman governor confiscated 17 talents of gold from the temple treasury, and in reaction Jewish nationalists seized the temple, stopped the daily sacrifices that were being carried out in violation of the Torah—they were being sacrificed in tribute to the Roman Emperor—and this led to a four-year revolt.
Vespasian was the general at the time; he conquered much of Judea and surrounded Jerusalem. But then Nero died, and he was appointed Caesar, so he had to go back to Rome.
So there was a pause in the assault, and it was during that time that all of the Christians left. That was one of the great causes for hostility between Jews and Jewish Christians because they were viewed as traitors because they wouldn’t stay.
As we saw last time in Luke 21, they left because Jesus said when you see the signs, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by an army, then you are to flee. So they fled because they knew that judgment was inevitable.
A similar kind of thing had happened back in 586 BC and maybe earlier in 587 BC. The leaders of the people came to Jeremiah, and they said, “We’ll do whatever God says to do.” and God said, “Give up, surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, and you will all live, and you’ll survive, and you will go to Babylon, and everything will be great, you’ll have families and children, and I’ll protect you until you return to the land.”
And they said, “Ugh, we won’t do that.” It’s like a lot of people. “We’ll do whatever God says to do.” Well, God says do this. “Na-a-ah, I’m not going to do that.”
They stayed there and fought and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands were killed by the Babylonians. This time the Christian Jews knew what had happened before, they remembered what Jesus said, so they left, and they fled to a area called Pella across the Jordan River, and that’s where they stayed during the Jewish revolt.
The reason there’s this judgment is outlined in the Old Testament, and that’s part of the background to understand this, that God had established a covenant with Israel. We refer to it as the Mosaic Covenant, or the Sinaitic Covenant, and at the end of the covenant there’s a list of covenant blessings and judgments.
That would be true in many contracts or covenants of this kind, that there’s an outline of what the king will do for a vassal. In this case, the king would be God and Israel the vassal nation. At the end of the document, there’s a statement that if you’re obedient, this is the extra things I’ll do for you. If you’re disobedient, then I’m going to do these horrible things to you.
In Leviticus 26:1-13, we have a list of the blessings. The highest blessing is in Leviticus 26:11-12, “I will set My tabernacle”—Mishkan, the dwelling place—“I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.” This is God speaking. “I will walk among you and be your God and you shall be My people.”
So if Israel’s obedient, God promises that He will dwell with them and bless them.
In Leviticus 26:14, He starts to outline five cycles of judgment or discipline. The ultimate one comes down in Leviticus 26:27-33. I’m going to start reading in verse 27, He says, “After all this”—that’s how He started each new cycle—“After all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury”—that’s judgment—“and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.” Each successive cycle is seven times harder than the one before.
In Leviticus 26:29 He says, “You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.” Because you’re surrounded in a siege: you will not have any food, you will cannibalize your own children. That is what happened: it happened in 586 BC, and it happened in the time of the Jewish revolt.
In Leviticus 26:30 God says, “I will destroy your high places.” I’m going to destroy it all because you created an abomination out of all the worship places and created your own idolatrous worship places. God said, “I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you.”
As opposed to what we read before, that my soul shall not abhor you. “My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation”—that would be the temple—“and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.”—the end of the sacrifices.
This is announcing this judgment: it happened in 586 BC; it’s going to happen again in AD 70.
“I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations”—this is the fifth cycle of discipline. Not only will I destroy everything that you have in the land, I will take you out of the land. This is the place of where there would be blessing.
So Jesus, functioning as an Old Testament prophet, has announced those seven woe judgments on Israel. They have their foundation back in the Torah, in the in the Mosaic Law. He has announced God’s judgment against them, and He’s functioning like a Mosaic profit.
That is indeed what we would expect because in Deuteronomy 18, we have an outline of the roles and how to tell a true prophet from a false prophet. And there’s the prophecy that God is going to send another prophet like Moses.
In Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” That’s the order: you listen to Him.
Deuteronomy 18:17-19, “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you”—this is God speaking to Moses—“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it should be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name”—if they disobey Him, if they’re like the Pharisees and other religious leaders—“I will require it of them.” That’s that judgment that will come.
He goes on to say in Deuteronomy 18:20, “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”
The death penalty was for anyone who claimed to speak for God and didn’t, and the way you would know it is Deuteronomy 18:22, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing doesn’t happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet is spoken it presumptuously.”
In the Olivet Discourse Jesus gives prophecy that has a near fulfillment: it’s fulfilled 33 years later. So if that came true, precisely as He predicted, then we know that what He says about the long term prophecy, which is the lion’s share of what’s in the Matthew Olivet Discourse, that that will certainly come to pass. This is the significance of the temple and the significance of the judgment that Jesus is announcing.
Next, before we get to the third point, the disciples understand a couple of things that Jesus is doing here.
- First of all, they know that Jesus is more than a prophet. They know that He is this prophet that Moses has predicted, that He was God.
They knew that He knew the future and that He could accurately answer their questions about what would take place in the future—that this wasn’t guesswork. He is the prophet like Moses.
- Second, since He is the prophet like Moses, His statements about divine judgment were true and would certainly come to pass.
For us, by way of application, this means that we can relax and trust God, even when we’re in the midst of judgment, just like the disciples could. They knew this judgment was coming, but they could relax and trust God because God is still in control when that happens.
We should understand that no matter what the crisis—look at their pattern—no matter what the crisis is, no matter what happens: whether it’s personal, whether it’s national, whatever it is, our job as believers is to fulfill the mission.
What’s the mission? To be a testimony, to be a witness of the Lord, to be an audible, verbal witness of the Gospel, for we are to engage in that same mission that was given to the disciples to go into all the world, making disciples by baptizing and teaching.
This is the mission, and we are not to be distracted by the crises that may occur or that do occur around us. We have to keep oriented to the mission of presenting the Gospel and also personal spiritual growth.
I think I’m going to end there. We only got through two of the seven questions. We will come back to those next time. But these are important because it sets the stage so that we can understand what Jesus is talking about and what He is not talking about.
Because what happens is so many people come along and say, “What are the signs of the times?” Is “signs” a plural word there? What does the text say? What’s the “sign?” So what is the sign? It is one sign. What’s the sign?
There aren’t “signs of the time” any more than the Book of Revelation is the Book of Revelations. You often hear people say that. It’s sort of like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, when I hear somebody say “Revelations.” It’s singular and “sign” is singular. There’s one sign, what’s the sign?
What we hear here in this, within the structure of what Jesus is teaching His disciples, is that there’s a judgment coming, but you have a different mission because remember the Olivet Discourse is Jesus’ last words to the Jews. He’s addressing a Jewish audience. It’s the last word to the Jews.
It’s going to be the next night that He’s going to address the Church and Church Age doctrine, and we will learn more about that next time.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity that we’ve had to come together to begin to think about what is being taught here, what is being said here, that we might be precise in our understanding, understanding judgment.
That You do interfere with man’s plans, You do interject Yourself into human history, and You do bring judgment upon people and upon nations for their disobedience to You, and especially Israel with whom You entered into a special covenant or contract in the Old Testament.
Father, we’re reminded though that with judgment there’s always grace, there’s always a solution. As there was a solution at that time, there is a solution for the ultimate judgment of eternal condemnation, and that is the solution of the cross.
Father, we pray that if there’s anyone listening, anyone who’s here today who’s never trusted in Christ as Savior, that’s the solution to the ultimate problem, trusting in Jesus because He has already died on the cross for our sins, He has paid the penalty, and so the issue is that we are to believe in Him.
There is condemnation John 3:18 says, “For those who have not believed because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The issue is trusting in Christ. For those who trust in Christ, we’re told in Romans 8:1, that there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Father, we pray that You would open the eyes and thinking of those who never trusted Christ to the glories of the Gospel, the grace of the Gospel, that it is just a free gift that they accept by faith in Jesus Christ. Father, we pray that You would make that clear to them.
For each of us we pray that You might remind us that no matter what may happen around us in terms of national disasters or personal disasters that the mission is always the same, and that is to be evangelists to communicate the Gospel to those around us: to anyone You bring in our periphery; and to continue to pursue spiritual maturity.
We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen”