- Sermon Notes
The End of the Age
Toward the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus declared that the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, and the Temple would be destroyed also. The disciples came to Him privately and asked, “Tell us, when will these things be and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
I think considering all that is happening today, many people are wondering the same thing. What does this mean? Does this have any significance to latter-day events? Is Covid-19 a sign of the times? When will these things be and what will be the sign of the end of the age?
As you will see in the verses we’re studying today, Jesus expects us to discern the signs of the times. If we’re going to have spiritual discernment, we need to understand latter-day events.
Jesus answered by giving the signs of the times so that when you see those signs, you will know that the end is drawing near. Jesus said, you will hear of wars and rumors of war. There will be 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 increase and most people’s love will grow cold.
In Luke 21, he also says that in various places there will be plagues and famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
The plagues Jesus mentions can refer to a pandemic like what we are experiencing now. There have been outbreaks of viruses before, such as the Spanish flu in 1918 and the Bubonic plague before that. But there is a growing intensity as we see more and more outbreaks, the bird flu, Ebola, SARS, MERS, etc.
Then you see the economic disaster that comes from a worldwide epidemic like we are seeing unfolding now. In many ways, it is setting the stage for latter-day events and for the revealing of the Antichrist. He is the first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse we looked at last week.
The Antichrist will arise 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.
He will be considered a genius of diplomacy. He will achieve what no one has yet been able to achieve; he will bring peace to the Middle East. He will make a covenant of peace between the nations of the world and Israel. I also believe that part of the covenant of peace will include the allowance of Israel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Even Israel will respect this world leader. But this so-called peace is 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 up an image of himself in the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Israel will respond in anger at the betrayal and the desecration of the holy place. The Antichrist will then cause the nations of the world to attack Israel as a vast army approaches Jerusalem from the north.
Jesus said 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 the wrath of God poured out on 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, Jesus said.
The great tribulation will be a literal seven years in duration. It will begin when the nations signed a covenant of peace with Israel; a covenant of peace the Antichrist negotiates.
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.
It will also be an opportunity for people to repent and turn to the Lord. 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 hill of Megiddo. When we go to Israel, we like to stop in this place. You can see that a great army could fill 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 the King of Kings
- On the day we call the triumphant entry, Jesus entered Jerusalem writing on the foal of donkey. He came to conquer sin and death by dying on the cross and being raised from the grave on the third day.
- But when Christ returns at the end of the age, He will ride a great white horse. He will return to conquer the nations and 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 newspapers use different sizes of letters on the front page according to the significance of the event. The greatest of all events require 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 the battle of Armageddon will be terrible and the time to “come to Jesus” is right now because the signs of the time are all around us.
- Verse 32 — 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 in the world. At its peak there were more than 85,000 nuclear weapons.
Illus – at the end of World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave this speech at the Japanese 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 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.
- It’s interesting that this Covid-19 virus is revealing greater animosity between nations on the world scene.
- The greatest gathering of armies in the history of the world will be at Megiddo, but they will not be victorious because Christ will intercede and will defend Israel and defeat her enemies.
B. He comes to set things right
- When Jesus returns, He will be riding a white horse and will be called “Faithful and True.”
- When you look around 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 19:11-16, I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh, He has a name written, “King of Kings, and Lord of lords.”
- Some have wondered, “Why does He delay? Why does He wait so long?” The answer is found in the patience of God.
2 Peter 3:7-9, By His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
- The patience of the Lord is part of His mercy. It’s because of His heart of love for the world.
II. Now is the Time to be Faithful and True
- When Jesus returns, He has a name written, He is called, “Faithful and True.” In Matthew 24, Jesus says that’s what we must be also.
- Be on the alert and be ready by being faithful. Now is the time for revival, to be steadfast in faith.
A. God blesses faithfulness
- You see this promise over and over in God’s Word. God wants you to walk faithfully and 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, live as if He were coming at any time.
- Anticipation and eagerness keep you spiritually ready.
- Verse 48; if someone believes the Master is not coming for a long time, he will become spiritually slothful and lazy.
Illus – I remember growing up that when my parents would leave us kids at home by ourselves, laziness would immediately set in. It’s part of human nature. I often wondered what happened when my wife and I left our kids home alone. Now that they’re adults, we’re just now hearing the stories.
Luke 19:17, “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over 10 cities.’”
- One of the important things to see in the parable is the reward for those who are faithful. God has great purpose for you even in the age to come.
B. You have the ministry of reconciliation
- What does God want you to do with your life? Answer — be doing what God is doing; building and edifying those whom God loves and strengthening faith in those around you.
- God is reconciling people to Himself through Jesus Christ and he gives you the ministry of reconciliation.
Illus – You might remember 20 years ago when we had the scare about the year 2000, or Y2K as we affectionately called it. Many people were concerned that their computers were going to shut down and the world would stop turning because computers couldn’t figure out what to do with the year 2000.
My wife and I were acquainted with a couple 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. We’ve never seen them since.
I’m here to tell you that’s not what the Lord wants you to do, as tempting as that may be.
- No, the Lord wants you to be faithful until He returns; 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 you look around and see the troubles of this world, people need to be made right with the Lord for that’s what truly transforms their lives.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, 11, But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober… Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Matthew 24:29-41 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from [a]the sky, and the powers of [b]the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His [c]elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, [d]recognize that [e]He is near, right at the [f]door. 34 Truly I say to you, this [g]generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For [h]the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not [i]understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one [j]will be taken and one [k]will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the [l]mill; one [m]will be taken and one [n]will be left.