- Sermon Notes
Preparing for the Last Days
When Jesus finished rebuking the Jewish leaders for being hypocrites and blind guides, He then said of Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the
prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
but you were unwilling. Behold, your house is left to you desolate!"
While they were in the temple some began to talk about how beautiful and magnificent it was. Jesus responded by telling them that the beautiful Temple in all its glory would be destroyed; not one stone would be left upon another.
These words must have amazed the disciples who no doubt must've been as awed by the construction of Herod's Temple as everyone else. The temple in Jerusalem was a fulfillment of God’s heart that He would be “Immanuel” – God with us. This has been God’s heart from the very beginning and will be to the very end. God wants relationship with you and is willing to go to great lengths to demonstrate how great His love is for you.
King David wanted to build a Temple for the Lord, but God would not allow it because David that he was a man of war with blood on his hands, but that it would be built by his son Solomon, who would be a man of peace.
Solomon's Temple was considered one of the great wonders of the world at that time, but it was completely destroyed in 586 BC when the Babylonians destroyed the city, took most of the population into exile in Babylon and burned the temple to extract the gold which had made it so famous.
Seventy years later when some of the Jews returned to Jerusalem, they were allowed to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem, but it was far less than in the days of its former glory. So, almost 500 years later, Herod the Great decided to rebuild the Temple in order to make a name for himself. He built it with great white marble stones on slabs of rock that were sometimes 50' x 11' x 16.5' and weighing 500 to 600 tons. He hired the greatest architects from Greece, Rome and Egypt. Each block was carved and ground into precise squared edges to create precise joints; so precise a knife could not be inserted between them.
So when Jesus said of the temple, "Truly I say to you, not one stone shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down." The disciples must have been shocked; which led them to ask Jesus to tell them when these things would be and what would be the signs of the end of the age.
Jesus's prophecy came to pass exactly as He said; in 66 A.D. the Jewish nation revolted against Rome. The Roman general Vespasian besieged the city, but was called to Rome to become Emperor after Nero took his own life; four years later Titus then destroyed the city and the Roman soldiers removed every ounce of gold by overturning every stone.
Jesus's answer to the disciples is a prophecy that is especially relevant in our own day because we are living in the last days and the signs of His coming are for all of us to understand. But this prophecy is given so that we might make ready our lives.
I. Understand the Signs of the Times
- Jesus gives warnings of the condition of things leading up to the last days’ events. These are given so that we know when "the time is near."
- Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders because they would not discern the signs of the times. In other words, God expects us to have discernment.
- Notice the similarity. In God's Word the Jewish people had been told in advance how to recognize the coming of God's Messiah. They were even given
the number of years from a point in history to the coming of the Messiah.
- But here's the point, all of these signs of the times were before their eyes, yet they refused to see. They refused, they would not; they chose to
make their eyes blind to what was right before their very eyes.
- In a similar way, we have been given God's Word in advance so that we might discern the signs of the times.
- God is not giving us these things to make us afraid or fill our lives with stress and worry; we have enough of that already.
Illus – a man husband was overcome with stress and went to see the doctor...
- He's giving us these signs in advance so we can prepare our lives and strengthen our faith.
A. Jerusalem will be the epicenter
- Jesus spoke of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the famous Temple of marble and gold. The reason for this destruction is seen in several
places in the scriptures.
- First, because God sent His Son to His chosen people and to the city where He had placed His name, but they did not receive Him.
2 Chronicles 6:6, I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.
Luke 19:41-44 They did not recognize the time of their visitation.
- The prophecies of Jesus regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple were fulfilled in 70 A.D., yet many of the prophecies yet to be fulfilled
require Jerusalem to be rebuilt.
- This is why May 14, 1948 when Israel re-established the nation is so significant. The Six Day War then broke out on June 5, 1967 and Jerusalem was
once again in the hands of the Jews.
- Jerusalem is so significant to the Lord that after all the events of the last days have been completed and God establishes a New Heaven and a New Earth,
He will also bring forth the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:1-7 The New Jerusalem out of heaven
B. Antichrist will arise in the last days
- Jesus began His answer by warning them, "See to it that you be not mislead. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is at
hand,’ do not go after them.”
- In other words, there will be many who falsely claim to be the Messiah or a prophet and will even show signs and wonders so as to deceive.
Matthew 24:24-25, “False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance.”
- There have been many modern examples of those who claim to be Messiah or a prophet of God. There was Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church,
Yahweh Ben Yahweh, David Koresh, and many others, of course not counting those in institutions.
- But in the last days, one will arise who will become a world leader, respected even by the nation of Israel and who will establish a covenant of peace
with the nations of the world with Israel.
Daniel 9:27, He will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (of years), but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-10 He takes his seat in the Temple of God
- It's also interesting that there are many in Islam today who believe in what is called the 12th Imam, an anointed leader or ruler who is to come and
will be a great spiritual savior who will rule over the world from Jerusalem for seven years.
- There are many other similarities to the antichrist that would be a fascinating study all unto itself.
C. There will be a Great Tribulation
- Jesus also said that at that time there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall again.
- This tribulation will be so great that unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved, but for the sake of Israel, those days
will be cut short.
- This great Tribulation was prophesied in the book of Daniel to be seven years in duration.
- This is the time period in which the Lord's wrath is poured out on the Earth. Some suggest that this was fulfilled in 70 A.D. at the destruction of
Jerusalem and the Temple, but the world has seen much worse days than that. No, the great Tribulation, also known as the Day of the Lord, will
be something the world has never seen.
- Much of the book of Revelation describes the various aspects of God's wrath as it is being poured out on the world in those days.
II. Be Encouraged and Be Ready
- First, Jesus wants us to understand and discern which is why he warns us in advance.
- When you read about how terrible those days will be and what tragic events God has in store for this world, and then see the condition of the world
today, it would be easy to be discouraged.
- But Jesus said not to let your heart be troubled and don’t allow fear to rule your hearts.
- But we are also given the events beyond these tragedies to see that our God sits on the throne above all the earth and that His plan for us is to overcome
and be strengthened in our faith.
- But He also wants us to be ready.
A. We are not destined for wrath
- One of the things that should immediately encourage us is to know God's heart toward us.
- The Great Tribulation which is to come upon the world is called “the wrath of God” and is not intended for the church, the bride of Christ.
- In verse 21 Jesus tells those who are in Judea to flee to the mountains during the time of tribulation.
- There will be two things happening at the same time. One, the Antichrist will bring the nations under his power to attack Israel. Secondly, natural cataclysmic events of the tribulation will also be occurring at the same time.
- But the church, the bride of Christ, is not destined for the wrath of God, since the wrath that we deserved fell upon Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…
- How will we be saved from the wrath of God in those days? Answer: by the rapture of the church. The rapture is when the church is "taken up" or "caught
up" with the Lord in the air.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 We will be caught up together in the clouds.
B. Be ready – be alive in Christ
- Jesus told them to be on the alert; and there are many other scriptures that say the same, God wants us to be ready.
- How? First, by understanding that in the last days, most people's love will grow cold.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 The condition of people in the last days…
- When John the Baptist made people ready; prepared for the Lord, he called them to renew their relationship to the Lord, he called them to repentance.
- One of the things we've seen over and over in scripture that God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
- Secondly, God wants us to discern the signs of the times. Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders who had seen the signs right before their eyes, yet refused
to believe them; they refused to see the signs of the time.
Matthew 16:3, "Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?"
Luke 21:5-36 NASB
5 And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, 6 "As for these things which you are
looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down."
25 "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."