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#3 Standing For The Truth in Troubled Times! Pt.3

September 8, 2008

Our text is found in (Matt 24:28-51) In our previous two lessons we have been looking at the dangers that are growing day by day as wicked mankind is heaping up sin after sin; a veritable tower of Babel is growing exponentially each and every day. Evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse and we are hearing of wars and rumors of wars. It seems that we are on the brink of sudden destruction.

 

Another interesting thing is that Algore’s doomsday clock is at 7 years and ten months and counting. This would coincide with the beginning of the new administration under (?) He’s telling us through the medium of junk science that we will destroy the world if we don’t stop abusing the earth. Could it be that we are nearing the end? I mean, we are looking at an antichrist running for president, and Ahab and Jezebel are right on his heels. But wait! Still another prediction of coming destruction has singled out 2012 as the date that an asteroid will hit the earth. On that date, astronomers tell us that there will be a total eclipse and the moon will become red like blood. Fearful things seem to be coming over the horizon.

 

Indeed we have the truth from the lips of our Savior, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;” (Lu 21:25) (The sea and the waves are sometimes symbolic of mankind though this could refer to actual storms.) In our text we read 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Vultures show up to eat things that have already died and we know that when Jesus comes He will first take the antichrist and the false prophet and cast them into the lake of fire and then He will kill their followers with a word. The Revelation passage and the coinciding Ezekiel passage declare that He will call for the birds of the air to feast on the flesh of kings and mighty men…etc. 29 “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 heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 

 

What are we to do? The answer is simple. We are to watch! Jesus calls us to be on the alert! And we are to be about our Father’s business. Jesus tells us in (Lu 12:43) that “It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.” Paul, speaking of employees said that we are to work as if our master were there, not just when he is there! Our minds are to be occupied with service to God, seeking to bring Him glory and honor. We are to be living witnesses of the salvation that is to be found in Jesus Christ. and we are to be strong and courageous for Him. Daniel speaks of the time of the end when the antichrist is reigning and ravaging the world and he speaks of the people who know their God, describing them as strong and doing exploits (heroic acts of daring).

 

They have the mind of Christ. And what is this mind? What does it look like?  What are its characteristics? Jesus spells it out in (Mt 10:28) when He said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The corresponding passage from (Lu 12:5) reads, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!  True believers will cling to Him and He will strengthen them and empower them to serve Him. And they will be looking for His coming. They will be looking, praying for and longing for His return which is the theme, the main subject of this passage; So while disasters are truly fearful, while a nuclear attack would be terrifying beyond description, while witnessing the destruction of an asteroid hit would be devastating, while the rise of antichrist will strike terror into the hearts of the godly, there is something even more terrifying than all these things for the scriptures tell us that “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:31)   J.C. Ryle says “The strong expressions of the passage appear inapplicable to any event less spectacular than this. Therefore, to confine the words before us, to the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. is to strain the language of Scripture.” Remember that Jesus never made an idle statement. He never wasted words. In (Nu 23:19) we read that “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”

 

Therefore, knowing this we are to stand firm in the faith, ready to present ourselves to our Heavenly Groom, a spotless, chaste bride. The circumstances accompanying the second coming of Christ will be terrible…unless those days had been shortened…  “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, frightened by what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

 

And will they be writhing in terror because of the effects of global warming? No…it will be much more terrifying than that.  The reason for their fear is that which men have spent their lives suppressing and denying. They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory.” And they shall weep for themselves for they will know that it is too late.

 

We know that on this earth, lost men and women do not have the capacity to fear God: and we know why; the things of God, spiritual matters: the Truth is foolishness to sinful mankind. They are terrified of nature, but not of the Lord of nature! They are fixated (obsessed, engrossed, hooked) on the particulars (the stuff in the box) and not on the big picture; the universals. (Not on the Creator of the box) To put it another way; they cannot see the forest for the trees. Unless God has mercy they will be totally unprepared for His coming; I mean, since they don’t believe in Him they aren’t looking for Him are they! Their minds have been filled with the lies of the false teachers since infancy.

 

They have fallen for THE LIE in its many forms and by these means, have successfully suppressed the truth in unrighteousness…to their own damnation. The Day of Judgment is fixed and on the appointed Day, Jesus will come exactly as He has said.  Again J.C. Ryle says that “The second coming of Christ will be attended by everything which can make it awful to the senses and heart of man. Consider that if the giving of the law at Sinai was so terrible that even Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake,” (Heb 12:21) then it stands to reason that the return of Christ when He comes to earth in power and great glory shall be much more terrible. If the hardy Roman soldiers “became as dead men,” (Mt 28:4) when an angel rolled the stone away to reveal the empty tomb, how much greater will the terror be when Christ returns to judge the world. No wonder that Paul said, “Knowing the terrors of the Lord we persuade men.” (2Co 5:11)

 

Blind, insensitive and shameless man ought to tremble when he hears of the things of God, especially the return of Jesus Christ to put an end to all this madness. You have to ask yourself, what will these people do when this sphere of existence suddenly stops and all their precious things are made worthless? What will they do when the graves on every side are opening, and the trumpet is summoning men to judgment?

 

What will the people of the world do when this same Jesus, who’s Gospel they have so shamefully twisted, appears in the clouds of heaven? They will call on the rocks to fall on them and on the hills to cover them. (Ho 10:8) But they will call in vain for help, for nature will not listen. Indeed nature groans under the load of sin that is heaped up on every side and only grudgingly obeys. But when the Lord of nature comes back, nature itself will sing! And there will be no time to prepare. We are warned in the scriptures of the SUDDENNESS of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Specifically in (Mal 3:1) we read, “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. Understand that this passage directs our thoughts to the second coming, that unexpected coming spoken of in (Lu 12:38-46, Re 16:15) when Jesus returns to execute judgment upon the earth; which was illustrated in His righteous eviction of the money-changing profaners from the temple by the Messiah.

 

The suddenness of Jesus’ second coming is also illustrated by the sudden destruction of Jerusalem, when Cestius and his army suddenly appeared. Like the Chinese Church of the 40’s, the Jews taught that the Messiah would come and deliver them from all harm. He would throw the Romans out and set up an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem; they of course would be co-regents with Him seeing as how He would really needed them, especially since they were so righteous and indispensable to His new administration. They literally deceived themselves right up to the end and death overtook them.

 

(Pr 6:15) tells us, “Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.” And also in (Pr 29:1) we read, “He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” When Jesus returns as the righteous Judge of all the earth, every mouth shall be stopped and He will put every enemy under His feet! Note verse 30 where we read “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, Could this speak of the illustration from Revelation 19 when all men will see Him on His white horse?

 

There is much speculation about exactly what this sign is. But I can tell you without a doubt; it will be unmistakable whatever it is for we continue reading…and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. This will be the fulfillment of the prophesy of (Zec 12:10) where he said…“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

 

I see two things here; there is the mourning of the lost; who are facing damnation. But it also says that He will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication. Here then we have salvation and damnation. There will be the intermingled sounds of weeping for joy and sorrow. The saved will weep for joy and the damned for agony of soul. (Re 1:7) says, “See, He is coming in the clouds and every eye shall see Him, even those who pierced Him, and His coming will mean bitter sorrow to every tribe upon the earth. So let it be!” Even so Amen!

 

Notice verse 31 “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” These will be the men chosen out of every tribe, tongue and nation, all called home to be with Jesus for eternity. And that day is coming. It could be either a short time or thousands of years from now. We don’t know. But Jesus tells us to be ready and 32“From the fig tree we are called to learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. Jesus often used illustrations from things of nature; things which anyone could understand. And with this illustration He said: 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.

 

Then Jesus says something that has caused men to debate for ages. He says in verse 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Now we must ask ourselves, WHAT GENERATION? Is He speaking to those living during His day? Is He speaking of the time of the final end? My answer to these questions is “YES!” I believe that He was speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and I believe that destruction was a type, a picture, a graphic illustration of the end of all things. The people alive in 70 A.D. were to be looking for the warning signs. They were to be on the alert. And as I said in last week’s lesson, the Christians living in Jerusalem and in the surrounding area were just that. They were watching and because of their vigilance they were not caught unaware. All the believers fled to Pella and were delivered from the horrific destruction that befell Jerusalem. We too are to be watchful.

 

We too are to be looking for the warning signs that Jesus spoke of. He could come at any time. He will do exactly as He said. In fact, for emphasis he said 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. He has said and He will do. He has spoken and He will bring His words to pass. If you need verification of His words they can be found in the ruins of the Temple at Jerusalem.

 

The end will come 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. In other words, no one knows the day or the hour! Many men have tried to set timetables for the coming of Jesus and none have ever come true. Why? Because no one knows the day or the hour! That is why Jesus said we must be on the alert. We must be watchful so that day does not take us by surprise.

 

You see, business will be going on as usual. Society, in whatever perverted form it takes, will be going on as usual. Things will be happening exactly as they always have 37 As they were in the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. This is another historical event that verifies the truth of God’s word. Things were going along swimmingly until sudden destruction overtook the antediluvian world.

 

Remember that this destruction did not come without a warning. Noah preached for 120 years, warning his generation that the end was near, even at the door. But did his generation care? Verse 38 tells us their reaction, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, it was business as usual until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, sudden destruction came upon them.

 

Using this illustration Jesus said; “so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Business as usual will be going on. We read in verse 40 Then two men will be in the field; they will be working as usual when suddenly, one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; like they have done everyday. Then suddenly one will be taken and one left. Chuck Spurgeon says, “The division between the godly and the ungodly, at the coming of Christ, will be very precise. Companions in labor will be separated for ever in “that day”: Then shall two be in the field,” plowing, sowing, reaping, or resting, “the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

 

 The believing laborer shall be taken by the angels to join the hosts of the redeemed, while his unbelieving fellow-workman shall be left to the judgment that will swiftly be poured out upon him. “Two women shall be grinding at the mill,” they may be fellow-servants in a rich man’s mansion, or they may be mother and daughter or two sisters in a poor man’s home, but however closely they may have been attached to one another, if one is saved by grace, and the other is still under the sentence of condemnation, “the one shall be taken, and the other left.” This separation will be eternal; there is no hint of any future reunion. Does this suggest a rapture of the Church? I don’t know. The word ‘suddenly’ comes to mind in the dealings of our Lord with His creation. Think of the parable of the sheep and the goats. Here the nations are gathered before Christ’s throne and He separates them into two groups, saved and lost. One is taken, one is left. One was saved by the grace of God and is called to inherit his heavenly reward. The other was left in his lost estate by the sovereign pleasure of God. The truth of the matter is that men and women will either be saved from their sins to the praise of God’s glorious grace or they will be left to suffer the due punishment of their sins to the praise of His glorious justice. This is the Day of Judgment. And it is coming! And we are called to be ready.

 

Remember the parable of the 10 virgins. Five were ready, five were not. Five were invited to the marriage supper. Five were told: “I never knew you!” The theme is clear; Be ready. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1Th 5:2)  Enough said!

 

Now Jesus gives us an illustration of being ready, of being prepared to meet Him. He says in verse 43 “But know this: that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. There is a commercial on the radio where a couple is preparing to leave and they are told by a thief that he’s coming to rob them tonight! The message is; “Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew in advance that a thief was coming?”

 

But that’s just it isn’t it! We do know that the day of visitation is coming. Jesus already told us that He was coming back. He has given us ample warning. We have advanced notice. The only thing is that we don’t know when. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

 

So how are we to be? Or to put it scripturally, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be? We are to be occupied with living a life consisting in holy conduct and godliness, 12 and we are to be on the alert, watching, waiting, looking for and hastening (earnestly desiring) the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” 13 “But” we are not to be watching in fear, for “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14  Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15  and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18  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. (2Pe 3:11-18)  

 

So, 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? It is the one who is occupied with godliness; who is looking for and earnestly desiring to see the day of the Lord. 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing who is about his Master’s business, when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.

 

Contrast this faithful lover of God with the mere outward professor of religion; the Christian in name only. 48But if that wicked self proclaimed servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, if he removes his mask so that his true nature is revealed 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  And so I say to you what Jesus has said to all; WATCH!

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