- Sermon Notes
The Return of Christ
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and as we have been seeing Jesus has been teaching His disciples along the way. However there are others in the crowd as well. The leaders of Israel have been sent to question Him and of course they hoped to find some way to hinder Him. The crowds are growing greater, Them popularity is rising, Sent was being widely proclaimed as a prophet and there was talk of making Him king.
In these verses we reading today, the Pharisees have questioned Him as to when the kingdom of God was coming. His answer addresses both the events that were to immediately happen in Jerusalem. In fact Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is in your midst,” and the events of the last days.
When Jesus speaks of the events of the last days, these are the days in which we are now living and therefore must pay close attention to His words.
We will soon be following Jesus as He enters into Jerusalem for the events that bring us to His arrest, crucifixion, burial, and glorious resurrection, but today I want us to focus on the words that Jesus speaks to His disciples that speak of the events of the last days.
We are living in days of amazing technology and the rate of advancement is so staggering it’s hard to keep up with it. Our phones are smarter than the computers that ran our businesses just years ago; social media has now become a way of life.
But we have not advanced morally or spiritually and in fact Jesus says that at the return of the Son of Man it will be like the days of Noah and Bible students will remember that the days of Noah were not good. It was because of their hard hearts and decrepit morality that the earth was destroyed in those days.
History is unfolding before our very eyes and there is a storm coming like this world has never seen before. We would be wise to hear the words of Jesus to prepare our lives and to build our lives on the foundation of God’s Word and our relationship to Him.
I. Watch for the Signs of the Times
- In verse 22 Jesus said that in those days they will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man and will not see it.
- In other words, the world will encounter days of many troubles, and in the same way that the earth rumbles as an earthquake draws near, there are even now the rumblings as the last days draw near.
- Jesus gives warnings of the condition of things leading up to the last days’ events. These are given so we know when "the time is near."
- In another place, Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders because they would not discern the signs of the times when the kingdom of God was in their very midst. God expects us to have discernment as well.
- Israel 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.
- And God expects us to make ready our lives, to be prepared. To quote the famous American philosopher, Bob Dylan, "The times, they are a chang’in."
- He's giving us these things in advance to prepare our lives and to strengthen our faith.
A. Strengthen your faith in advance
- In another place Jesus says, "Behold, I told you in advance," He wants us to prepare our lives, but also He wants to strengthen our faith.
- The best way to prepare for the coming storm is to strengthen your faith by building your life on the foundation of Christ Himself.
Matthew 7:24-25, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”
- When God tells us the end of things before they occur, our faith is strengthened because we see the greatness of His power and sovereignty over the course of history.
Isaiah 46:9-10 He declares the end from the beginning.
Illus - I took a philosophy class at OSU and was asked to write a paper on the question, "Are we not just a set of chemical reactions?" My answer; the prophecy of scripture declares the greatness of God.
B. Troubles will grow in intensity
- In verse 22 Jesus said that many will be longing to see one of the days of the Son of Man. This is because of the troubles that will grow in intensity like a woman with birth pangs. In other words, the closer that we are to the events of the last days, the greater in intensity and the closer together these things will occur.
- There will be wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened.
- There will be famines and earthquakes with greater intensity and closer together. If you looked at the charts and graphs from the last 35 years, even the last 150 years; it's amazing.
- If we just looked at the number of earthquakes magnitude 7.0 and higher there is an amazing trend. From 1863-1900 – 12 earthquakes; 1901-1938 – 53 earthquakes; 1939-1976 – 71 earthquakes; 1977-2014 – 164 (190 est.)
C. Unrighteousness will increase
- Lawlessness and unrighteousness will increase and most people's love will grow cold in the last days.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 The condition of people in the last days…
- There will be many false messiah's and the false prophets who will deceive many people. In fact, deception will be growing in intensity as we get nearer to the last days. In other words, there will be a rise of false religion in the last days.
- Yet the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness against the nations. What's interesting is that when the world enters into the time of the great Tribulation, the gospel will continue to be given.
Revelation 14:6, And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
II. Be Ready for His Return
- What Jesus is speaking to in verses 26 is that people will not be ready; they will be going about their focusing their lives on buying, selling, building, marrying etc.
- But we are given the signs of His return so that we might make ready our lives.
- But there are several aspects of the last days that we need to understand so that we are not misled or confused.
- In the verses we’re studying today, Jesus speaks of his glorious return to the world of which he will rule and reign for 1000 years. And the scriptures say that we will actually return with Him. We need a deeper understanding of the events of the last days that we are entering into.
A. The church will be raptured
- When Jesus speaks of Sodom as an example of the last days, it’s also an example of the rapture of the church. As Lot and his family were taken out of Sodom before it was destroyed, so the church will be taken up before the Great Tribulation.
- God has made it clear that the church is not destined for wrath and the Great Tribulation is the wrath of God poured out on the earth.
1 Thessalonians 5:9, 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 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
B. The antichrist will arise first
- Before Jesus returns, Satan will first deceive many by causing the antichrist to arise.
- The antichrist will be a world leader who will appear to solve the world’s chaos, he will be seen as an extraordinary diplomatic genius who will finally be able to bring peace to the Middle East, or at least it will seem that way.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15, No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
- The antichrist will arise in times of great economic turmoil and the enemies of Israel will be arising in power.
- Consider the changes that are happening on the world scene today. Russia is rising out of the ashes of communism to the amazement of many. Many Arab nations are being transformed before our very eyes. Israel itself is gravely concerned.
- But the antichrist will bring a covenant of peace, or a treaty, with the nations of the world to have peace with Israel.
Illus - Islamic teaching suggests that a great Muslim leader will arise and will lead the world from Jerusalem for seven years.
- But the antichrist will betray this covenant of peace and will set himself up in the newly rebuilt Temple to create a new religion with him at the center.
2 Thessalonians 2:3, The apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
C. There will be a great tribulation
- There shall be a Great Tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world nor shall ever occur again.
- There will be two major things happening during this terrible day of Tribulation:
1.The wrath of God will be poured out upon the earth which will be seen as terrible cataclysmic events.
2.The antichrist will betray his covenant of peace 3 ½ years later, at that point, all hell will break loose against Israel as Israel's enemies attack. This will lead to a great war called the Battle of Armageddon.
- The Battle of Armageddon will culminate in the return of the Lord Himself -- verse 24.
D. Jesus will return in great glory
- The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn…
- He will enter into Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate. Though today it has been shut up and a cemetery placed in front of it to prevent the Messiah from entering in.
- When He returns the Mount of Olives will be split in two and the people of Israel will mourn as one mourns for an only son.
Zechariah 14:3-11 One day there will be true peace.
- From Jerusalem He will reign for 1000 years.
Zechariah 12:8-11 Israel will at first mourn at seeing Him.
Revelation 20:1-5 Jesus will rule and reign
Illus - Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave this speech at the surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri:
Luke 17:20-37 NASB