- Sermon Notes
Things to Come, Part 2
1. The end of the world is a topic that has raised many questions down through the ages.
2. The good news is, God wants us to know about the end times.
3. We know this is true because He gave us His Word, the Bible, which gives us specific information about the end times so that we may know the truth about the last days and be prepared for its coming.
4. Last week, we studied the first part of a series called Things to Come, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ from Matthew 24:1-14.
5. Tonight, during the second part of the series, we will focus on two questions which arise from Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 24:15-28, specifically:
a. Who is the Antichrist?
b. Will the Church go through the Great Tribulation?
6. As I shared last week, it is my prayer that our study will strengthen our faith, increase our love, and deepen our hope for the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
1. Matthew 24-25 is called the Olivet Discourse because Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem, when He taught His disciples.
2. This message actually began in Jerusalem in Matthew 23. Jesus had just finished rebuking the Jewish leaders for their hypocrisy and their rejection of Him.
Matthew 23:37-39, “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, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
3. Jesus’ words were a prophetic judgement against Jerusalem and the Temple, which must have shocked the Jewish leaders, the crowds, and His disciples because Herod’s Temple inspired awe in all who saw it.
4. The disciples, who were still processing what Jesus had said just moments before, pointed out to Him the magnificence of Herod’s Temple as they were leaving.
5. Their comments prompted Jesus to say, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (2)
6. Jesus’ prophecy came to pass exactly as He said for in A.D. 70 the Roman General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the soldiers removed every ounce of gold from the Temple by setting it on fire and overturning every stone.
7. Again, shocked by what they had heard, we’re told in Mark 13:3 that Peter, James, John, and Andrew privately asked Jesus two questions:
a. When will the Temple be destroyed?
b. What will be the sign of Your coming at the of the end of the age?
8. Basically, they were wondering, “If Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed, then how will there be a nation for Messiah to rule?”
9. Again, the words of Jesus are important for us to understand the heart of our God and Savior.
Matthew 24:25, “Behold, I have told you in advance.”
Transition – Since Jesus told us in advance, we need to make sure we understand the things to come. Let’s begin with the first question….
I. Who is the Antichrist?
• In verses 15-16, 21, Jesus said, “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains… For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”
• The Bible declares that there will be a seven-year period called the Great Tribulation, also known as The Time of Jacobs’s Trouble, The Day of the Lord, and Daniel’s 70th Week from Daniel 9:24-27.
• As I mentioned last week, God has two primary purposes for the Great Tribulation period:
o First, the Great Tribulation will focus on Israel, to refine and prepare Israel for the coming of their King; that they may enter into and enjoy His Millennial Kingdom.
o Second, the Great Tribulation will be universal in scope, a divine judgment upon creation, the outpouring of God’s wrath upon unbelieving humanity and every rebellious nation.
• Through these judgments, God’s heart is that people will turn from their wickedness and repent in preparation for the return of the Messiah.
• Now, the “abomination of desolation” that Jesus mentioned is based on the prophecy given in Daniel 9:24-27.
Daniel 9:24-27, Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, 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.
• In Daniel 9, we’re told that Daniel had been in prayer and fasting after he read the words of the prophet Jeremiah regarding Israel’s exile in Babylon.
Jeremiah 25:11, This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
• Why was the land of Israel a desolation and a horror for seventy years? Because Israel had failed to give the land a Sabbath rest; meaning they plowed the fields, sowed seed, and harvested the land every seventh year when they should have given it rest.
Leviticus 25:2-4, Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.”
• What were the consequences for failing to give the land a Sabbath rest? Exile!
Leviticus 26:33-35, You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste. Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.
• How many times did Israel fail to give the land a Sabbath rest?
o Seventy times Israel failed to give the land a Sabbath rest!
o 70 Sabbath rests x 7 years = 490 years!
APPL – Interesting side note: Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” What was Jesus’ reply?
Matthew 18:22, Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
• So, Daniel was confessing Israel’s sin because they had failed to keep God’s Word and were suffering the consequences, an exile in Babylon for seventy years.
• During that time of prayer and fasting, God sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel to share a prophetic word about Israel’s future which includes another “seventy sevens.” (Daniel 9:20)
• In Daniel 9:24-27, the “seventy sevens” or “seventy weeks” is broken up into three parts:
o During the first seven weeks (49 years), the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt and Temple worship will be restored.
o After sixty-two weeks (434) years, “Messiah the Prince” will come to Jerusalem but “will be cut off”. This prophecy was fulfilled to the very day when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and was crucified for the sins of the world on Good Friday.
o Then a “prince” will come (not to be confused with “Messiah the Prince”) for one week (7 years). Who is this prince? He goes by other names such as the “Abomination of Desolation”, “The Beast”, and the “Antichrist”.
Transition – Notice what the Antichrist will do during the first half of the seventieth week…
A. The Antichrist will make a peace treaty with Israel
1. According to Daniel 9:27, the prince “will make a firm covenant with the many.”
2. The Antichrist will arise in times of great economic and political turmoil.
3. Israel’s enemies will become more powerful and tensions in the Middle East will rise to levels never seen before with Israel as the focal point.
4. Then Antichrist will come on the world scene as a respected world leader and be revered as a diplomatic genius.
a. For he will attempt and succeed where others have tried and failed.
b. He will successfully negotiate a peace treaty between Israel and the nations of the world.
c. Part of that covenant will include allowing Israel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem so that they may resume offering sacrifices.
ILLUS – Israel is preparing for the rebuilding of the Temple and the reestablishing of the sacrifices.
5. For the first half of the Great Tribulation, Israel will consider the Antichrist to be their great protector and benefactor, like the rest of the world. Why? Because the Antichrist will be empowered by Satan to deceive.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-10, Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
Transition – But half-way through the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist will reveal his true colors…
B. The Antichrist will break his treaty with Israel
1. Daniel 9:27 continues, “… 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. The Antichrist will betray this covenant of peace 3.5 years after it is signed.
3. He will establish a new world religion by setting himself up in the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem as a god to be worshipped.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless 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.
a. In fact, according to Revelation 13, he will cause a living statue of himself to be put into the Temple.
b. His associate, the false prophet, will cause the whole earth to worship it.
c. Satan has always wanted the world to worship him, and in the middle of the Great Tribulation, the world will do just that.
4. Israel will realize that their “protector” is their ultimate “persecutor” and will respond with great anger against his desecration of the Temple.
5. So, the Antichrist will cause all the nations who were against Israel to rise up and attack Israel.
6. For the Jews living in Jerusalem, it will be a very perilous time. So, Jesus warns them to flee in Matthew 24:15-18, “… (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.”
7. Jesus said, “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (22)
II. Will the Church Go Through the Great Tribulation?
• We have established that the Great Tribulation is the outpouring of God’s wrath upon unbelieving humanity and every rebellious nation. Notice how Jesus described it in Revelation 3:10:
Revelation 3:10, “the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
• We have also seen that Israel is the focal point of the Great Tribulation for Daniel 9:24 states, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city…”
• Calvary Chapel holds that the Bible teaches a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.
• This means the Church will be raptured before the Great Tribulation begins. Why?
A. The Church is an object of God’s grace
1. The Great Tribulation that will come upon the world, is also called the “wrath of God”.
2. It is important to note that God’s wrath is not intended for the Church because the wrath that we deserved fell upon Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for our sins.
1 Thessalonians 5:9, For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ
3. How will the Church be saved from the wrath of God in those days?
a. Answer: The Church will be “raptured”.
b. The rapture is when the Church is “taken up” or “caught up” to meet the Lord “in the air”.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, 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.
Transition – Why do some people say that the Church will go through part or all of the Great Tribulation?
• It is important to note that all biblical scholars agree that the Church is not an object of God’s wrath; that the Church must be removed before it begins.
• “When” the wrath of God begins during the Great Tribulation is where the biblical scholars disagree.
B. God’s wrath begins with the first seal judgment
1. Revelation gives us a window into heaven prior to the start of the Great Tribulation.
2. The Apostle John was “caught up” into heaven and saw God the Father on throne.
Revelation 4:1-2, After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.
3. Then in Revelation 5:1, John noticed a scroll sealed up with seven seals in God’s right hand.
Revelation 5:1, I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.
4. A strong angel then proclaimed with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” (2)
5. At first, John wept because no one in heaven or on earth was found worthy to open the book or to look into it. (3-4)
6. But an elder told John, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” (5)
7. Next, John describes a holy moment in heaven.
Revelation 5:6-7, And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain… And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
8. The four living creatures, the angels, and the elders all fell down before Him who sat upon the throne and the Lamb and worshipped. (9-14)
9. Take special note of what happens next in Revelation 6:1-2.
Revelation 6:1-2, Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
APPL – What does all of this mean?
• First, it is God who is on the throne. He is Sovereign over the heavens and earth.
• Second, it is God who holds the scroll with the seven seals. Therefore, He is the Author and Possessor of the scroll.
• Third, it is Jesus Christ who is worthy to take the scroll from Him who sits upon the throne.
• Fourth, it is also Jesus Christ who opens the first seal and when that seal is opened, the Antichrist is summoned.
o He rides a white horse because he is a deceiver.
o He carries a bow because he will make war against all who oppose him, especially Israel.
• So, when does the wrath of God begin? When Jesus opens the first seal and sends the Antichrist.
• This marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation and the outpouring of God’s wrath.
• It is for this reason that the Church must be raptured before the arrival of the Antichrist and the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
• Again, God has not destined the Church for His wrath but for His grace and love!
APPL – In light of all this, “What kind of people must we be?” The words of the Apostle Peter say it best:
2 Peter 3:14, 17-18, Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, … be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
APPL – Will you join me in asking the Lord to purify your heart so that you are ready when Jesus comes for His Church?
Matthew 24:15-28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 [a]Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 [b]Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no [c]life would have been saved; but for the sake of the [d]elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the [e]Christ,’ or ‘[f]There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will [g]show great [h]signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the [i]elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the [j]vultures will gather.