- Sermon Notes
In the Last Days - 3
We are studying through the book of Matthew and have recently been studying in chapter 24 where Jesus tells us in advance about the events to come in the last days. This is the third message out of this chapter which focuses on the events of the last days.
Jesus had just prophesied in Matthew 23 about the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and of the Temple itself. Then, later, when Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives the disciples came to him in private and asked two questions, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?"
First, Jesus gave the signs of the times so that when we see those signs, we would know that the end is near. Some of the signs He mentioned were these; there will be many false prophets and those claiming to be the Messiah and will mislead many. There will be wars and rumors of war. There will be famines and earthquakes that will grow greater in intensity and be closer together as the events of the last days are near. There will be a great falling away, or apostasy, as unrighteousness and worldliness increases and most people's love will grow cold.
The Antichrist will arise who will come on the world scene as a respected world leader. He will arise at a time when the world is in great chaos. It will be near economic collapse and the world will stand at the brink of war as the tensions in the Middle East rise to a fever pitch.
The Antichrist will be seen as a great diplomatic genius, however and will be able to achieve what no one has yet been able to achieve, peace in the Middle East. He will make a covenant of peace between the nations of the world and Israel. Part of that covenant will include allowing Israel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Even Israel will respect this world leader because of this great accomplishment. But this so-called peace is nothing more than the calm before the storm.
The Antichrist will betray this covenant of peace 3 ½ years after it is signed. He will establish a new world religion by setting himself up in the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem as a god to be worshiped. Israel will respond in great anger at the desecration of the holy place. The Antichrist will then cause all of those nations who were against Israel to rise up and attack.
Jesus then said that there will be a great tribulation in those days such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world nor shall ever occur again. This great tribulation, this day of trouble, is called the great Day of the Lord and it will be when the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth. So terrible is that time of tribulation that unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved, but for the sake of the elect, for Israel, those days will be cut short.
The great tribulation will be seven years in duration. It will begin when the covenant of peace is signed that the Antichrist negotiates with Israel. It will be marked by two great themes. The second half of the tribulation will be remarkable because the nations of the world will be at war with Israel. Not only will it be a time of war such as the world has never seen before, but it will be a time of climactic phenomenal events on the earth itself such as earthquakes, plagues, famines, hailstones, scorching heat waves, terrible storms, etc.
There will also be an opportunity for people to repent and turn to the Lord during the tribulation. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world in those days, and God will even raise up 144,000 Jewish witnesses for Christ during those days.
The end of the seven year tribulation and the end of the age are marked by two great events. First, the nations will gather against Israel in one great and final battle, called the battle of Armageddon. The name Armageddon is Hebrew and it means the Valley of Megiddo. If you go to Israel with us, we will stop in this valley and you will be able to see that a great army will fit into this valley which leads directly to Jerusalem.
The second great event that will mark the end of the great tribulation will be the coming of the Son of Man, the return of Jesus Christ physically to the Earth; and that's where we pick up our scriptures today.
I. Jesus Returns as a Champion
- When Jesus entered Jerusalem a few chapters ago, this event is commonly called the triumphant entry of Christ.
- But He entered into Jerusalem on a baby donkey and He came to conquer sin and death by dying on the cross and being raised from the grave on the third day.
- But the return of Christ the second time to the Earth will not be on the foal of a donkey, but will be on a great white horse and this time He will come to conquer the nations and to judge the earth.
A. He will reign at Armageddon
- The return of Christ will be the most spectacular event the world has ever known. It's interesting that the newspapers use different sizes of letters on the front page according to the significance of the event. The greatest events of all required the use of "Second Coming" type.
- It's interesting how the world uses spiritual phrases to describe various events.
Illus – When California shut down 10 miles of the I-405 Freeway, they called it Carmaggedon. When someone has a career changing meeting it’s called a "Come to Jesus" meeting.
- But there really will be a terrible battle called Armageddon and the time to “come to Jesus” is right now because the signs of the time are all around us.
- That's why Jesus said, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when it's branch has already become tender, and put forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so you too, when you see these things recognize that He is near, right at the door."
- Consider even the events of the last century. In World War I 16 million people died. In World War II, more than 60 million people died. There are now more than 25,000 nuclear weapons available today, at its peak there were more than 85,000 nuclear weapons. Then you have the unaccounted for nuclear weapons that came out of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Illus - Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave this speech at the surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri:
“A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war.
Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.... Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
- The scriptures give us some insight into the battle of Armageddon.
Revelation 16:12, Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great River Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.
Revelation 9:16, Now the number of the army of the horsemen was 200 million; I heard the number of them.
- This is the great gathering of all the armies of the world in the Valley of Megiddo, but they will not be victorious because Christ will fight for Israel and defeat her enemies.
B. He comes to set things right
- The scripture describes that when Jesus returns He will be riding a white horse and will be called "Faithful and True."
- Jesus said that the enemy, Satan, is a liar, the father of lies, and a liar from the beginning.
- When you look around this world and see the rising of everything that's wrong, that's based on deception and lies, isn't there something that arises in you that longs for He who is faithful and true?
Revelation 19:10-16 The King of kings reigns
- Some have wondered, "Why is He delayed? Why does He wait so long?" The answer is found in the patience of God.
2 Peter 3:7-15 The Lord is patient for a reason
- The patience of our Lord is part of His mercy and is further evidence of His heart of love for the world.
- But that scripture also talks about how it should change the way we live. Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 24.
II. Be Faithful and True also
- He has a name when He returns called, "Faithful and True." Then in Matthew 24 that's what Jesus is telling us that we must be also.
- We must be on the alert and keep our lives ready by being faithful to what God has asked us to do.
A. God blesses faithfulness
- We have seen this point over and over in God's Word. God wants us to walk faithfully and it comes with a great promise, He blesses faithfulness.
- Live with a heart of anticipation, eagerly watching and waiting.
- Jesus emphasizes over and over that no one knows the day or the hour; therefore we should live as if He were coming at any time.
- That anticipation and eagerness keeps our lives spiritually ready. Verse 48; if someone believes that the Master is not coming for a long time, he will live spiritually slothful and lazy.
Illus - I remember growing up that when my parents would leave, laziness would immediately set in. I've often wondered what happened at my house when I left.
Luke 19:10-28 The parable of the minas.
- One of the important things to see in the parable is the reward that the Lord speaks about to those who are faithful. God has great purpose for us even in the age to come.
B. We have the ministry of reconciliation
- What does Christ want us to be doing with our lives? Answer; we should be doing what God is doing, building and edifying those whom God loves and strengthening faith in ourselves and in those around us.
- God is reconciling people to Himself through Jesus Christ and he gives to us the ministry of reconciliation.
Illus - You might remember a number of years ago when we had the scare about the year 2000. Many people thought all our computers were going to shut down and the world would come to a screeching halt.
My wife and I were acquainted with a man and his wife who decided the best thing to do in response to Y2K was to find some place far out in the woods in Idaho and wait there while the world fell apart. I'm here to tell you that's not what the Lord wants us to do, as tempting as that may be.
- No, the Lord wants us to be faithful until He returns; we are to be about His business as He said in Luke 19.
1 Corinthians 14:12, 26, So also you, since you are jealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church… Let all things be done for edification.
- But when we look around and see the troubles of this world, they can be summarized by realizing that people need to be made right with the Lord for that is what truly transforms our lives.
- I want to end by giving you two scriptures that summarize the Lord's heart for us in these last days.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Our ministry of reconciliation
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Encourage one another with these words.
Matthew 24:29-51 NASB