For 2,000 years the church has awaited the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For 2,000 years men have tried to predict the exact moment of His return. Though no man knows the exact hour or even the day He will come back, there are signs to indicate His coming is near. In the teaching series Rumblings of War and the Prince of Peace, Skip Heitzig thoroughly expounds upon Matthew 24, explaining prophecy of what must take place and encouraging the church to always be ready.
|1||Matthew 24:1-3||Rumblings of War and the Prince of Peace|
|2||Matthew 24:3-5||Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign|
|3||Matthew 24:6-8||Why We Can't All Just Get Along|
|4||Matthew 24:9-11||When Faith Turns Fatal|
|5||Matthew 24:12-14||Big Mess; Bigger Message|
|6||Matthew 24:15||God's House Vandalized!|
|7||Matthew 24:16-20||Holy Land Tour: CANCELED!|
|8||Matthew 24:21-22||When God Declares War|
|9||Matthew 24:23-28||The New Dark Ages|
|10||Matthew 24:29-31||Ready or Not, Here He Comes!|
|11||Matthew 24:32-35||The End Times Farmer's Almanac|
|12||Matthew 24:36||What Angels Want to Know|
|13||Matthew 24:37-44||Eat, Drink and Be Judged!|
|14||Matthew 24:45-51||Caught in the Act!|
When you hear of wars and rumors of war what do you think of? When you see TV news of images of the horrors of evil what do you think? Most of us turn to others for comfort and others turn to the bible for answers but the real question is do you believe in your heart that God is your Father? Matthew tells us of the concerns of the disciples as they heard of Jesus speaking of the end times. The disciples are much like you and I for they asked Jesus and He told them plainly but did they really believe? So are you hearing and believing or are you believing what you think you want to hear? Think about it.
The world is in a tempest of conflict and turmoil but more so at this present time. We see in the middle east the war of Israel and Lebanon and for what? That's the question we ask but the answer has been known for years as all of these things have been foretold. Matthew has things to say by the Holy Spirit as we read how Jesus tells the disciples of a truth and prophetic saying, concerning the end of times and the wars to come.
Questions, questions and more questions have been asked over the end times but you know we don't have to be in fear over these things for God is on the throne and in control. The Bible has many things to say about the end times and the conflict to come. All of these things are the setting of the stage for the return of Christ for His church.
The disciples asked a question of Jesus that was sparked by the words of Jesus, 2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Then the disciples asked, when shall these things be and what shall the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world? You see the disciples are really no different than you and I in the thought process they bring forth to the Lord. Notice that Jesus answers the question with many warnings of signs of the end times and what is to come.
Let's look at three things, facts, concerning verses 1-3:
The place: This was the place where Jesus gave the Olivet discourse on the Mount of Olives. For the mountain, hill if you will, overlooks Jerusalem and Jesus talks to His disciples about His second coming. If we look at the conflict in the Middle East it is in the same place that Jesus was speaking about, it's amazing, but no surprise that we are seeing many things come to life from the words of Jesus. Many times Jesus spoke of things that were easy for the people to understand when it came to the commonplace things in life. We understand things in our culture more easily when we use commonplace things and issues. Jesus wants us to understand and not to be confounded. Jerusalem is really, geographically, the center of the planet concerning nations in biblical terms. Much conflict over the city of Jerusalem over the centuries has been seen for that is the center of true religion, not as repetitious chants or rituals, but as the fellowship of the believers of Christ. Revelation speaks about Jerusalem as the place that Jesus will set up His throne and we see this as King David ruled. But right now there is a Kingless throne on Earth. But that all will change forever for Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah will come and set up His Kingdom throne for a thousand years and then Jesus will rule from Heaven in the new city of Jerusalem as it comes out of heaven.
The jaw dropper: The verse in which Jesus predicts that the temple will be thrown down and not one stone will be left upon another stunned the disciples because they thought that the temple of stone was the very place that God was going to come back and reign in the temple. But Jesus was trying to tell them that the temple was not in the things made by hand, as they saw as they left from the temple, but of the body of Christ that was to be broken for them and all who believe in Him. It was also true that the temple would be cast down for history tells of it by the Roman Empire tearing down each massive block of stone to get at the gold that had melted into the stones due to the hot fire that burned within the temple. The temple mount in Jerusalem is the hot spot of the east and the world for this piece of real estate is the most desired by all the Middle East religions. Why? The word of God tells us that in the end times the temple mount would be the center of conflict but all for the wrong reasons for they who wish to destroy the temple mount do it for their beliefs but our belief's apart from God is worthless. God tells us by His word what we are to believe. So, you can see how the thoughts of the disciples where in conflict with Jesus' thoughts of what He was trying to tell them.
The problem: The disciples wanted Jesus to tell them when these things shall be, speaking to the answer that Jesus gave them that the stones of this temple would be cast down. You see, the time from the point when they came out of the temple in Jerusalem until they sat down to listen to Jesus on the Mount of Olives was about one hour. So during this time you can imagine, just as you and I would, they pondered in their mind and hearts and between each other about the temple being torn down. Why? Well since these knew either by the scriptures that they knew and heard or by the teachings of Jesus that He was the prince of peace the messiah that would set up the kingdom of God. So the disciples where not getting it when Jesus tells them that the temple would be destroyed. They thought Jesus was here to really set up the kingdom now but that was not the focus of Jesus or the Father for reconciliation must be first by the death (Jesus' sacrifice) and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So you can see how these disciples could be misguided by their own thoughts and ideas. As we think about the times of this world we are in and the conflicts we see and hear about, it all causes us to want the kingdom of God to come right now. We who are abiding in Christ desire to depart this world just as the apostle Paul spoke saying, I am torn between the two, whether to depart from this world, which is far better or to stay in this world which is needful for you, as he spoke to his beloved followers.
So we need to keep our mind on Christ but our understanding of the things of God to those who know not the Lord and the great God of our faith. So don't be afraid or moved from your walk with God for our salvation is closer now than it was when we first believed.
Topic: End Times
Keywords: tribulation, end times,
Do you believe signs when you see them? Do you know how to read signs when they are given to you? Jesus, in Matthew 24 tells of His return and the signs we are to look for. If we have a different understanding other than what the bible says then we may miss the greatest happening of all time and be left behind.., the return of Jesus. So, will you read the signs and seek to understand, or will you simply dismiss them and interpret your own signs.
People of this world are fickle in many ways about reading signs but really the most fickle are those who see signs and ignore them. Here's what I mean; if a scientist proclaims that there are billions of stars these same folks will surely believe it…, and why should they not, the scientist is not wrong…, or are they? The question is not in the right or wrong of the scientist's statement but rather whether or not these people believe in the creator of those stars and the sign of the times.
In Matthew chapter 24 Jesus is speaking about the signs of the times, the last times. And the disciples wanted to know what will be the signs of the times? Jesus speaks to His disciples words addressing their questions, but Jesus is speaking in one context and the disciples are thinking in another. The disciples thought the kingdom of God was going to be set up right now because the Messiah was here, but Jesus tells of the future and what they should be looking for at His second coming. There was a time when Jesus told them of the very near future about Himself and that He should go up to Jerusalem and be killed, but the disciples understood none of what Jesus said about His death. We are like this at times, why? Well sometimes we are not ready to comprehend the issue at hand or we are hearing from God but we won't accept it.
The disciples asked Jesus to tell them what the signs of the end would be and Jesus tells them many difficult and horrid things about the events of the times to come. One would think the disciples, after hearing these things, would have many question but they had no reply to the things Jesus said. Jesus further tells of His second coming, for the disciples knew that Jesus came this first time but the disciples thought of Jesus' time here on this earth now as the only coming. The disciples were a bit confused with all these things and it frustrated them as it would us if we were thinking as they were.
Jesus continues to give insight to the disciple's eyes concerning the scripture of Daniel the Prophet when Daniel wrote of the abomination of desolation. But the disciples still did not understand what Jesus was saying. Jesus tells of His coming with His saints in the clouds and we who remain will be caught up to meet Jesus in the sky. You would think that the disciples would be excited about this but we see in Matthew that there is no response in question from the disciples.
Now what is all this stuff that Jesus says about His second coming? Jesus will come for His church in what we call the rapture, now this term in not in the bible but many inferences are referenced in the bible concerning this catching away of the church. It is the catching away of His church, the people who have accepted Jesus and are His and we will meet the Lord in the sky. But there is another coming as well, this is after the seven year tribulation period and this time Jesus will come with His saints to the earth and set up a thousand year reign called the millennium.
All these things that Jesus was giving to the disciples are all signs that will come to pass. Jesus loved the disciples so much that He told them and recorded these things so they would believe, more so now for us, for we read and see these things that have now come to pass as Jesus told His disciples.
We must also hear the words of Jesus and look to the sky for our salvation is near. As we see the world events we can't but think it may be very soon. Understand this; every thing has come to pass except one thing, the coming of our Lord for His church…, it could happen at any time, so, be ready for your Lord is coming.
Topic: End Times
Keywords: End Times, signs, revelation, millennium
War has always been a part of the regular life of humanity since our beginning. So what makes war a sign that Jesus' return is near? And more importantly, why can't people around the world get along? Why is it that strife, conflict, rivalry, and fighting have so marred God's highest creation? Where will it lead and how can we cope?
The age old question…, why don't we get along? Wars and rumors of war, famines, earth quakes and fighting among nations and all because we don't know how to get along. But is that really true, well, history shows record that it is true.
Accidents are common place everyone has them and if they planed them they would not be accidents. But as we see on the news of the war going on, it is no accident, these events are planned.
Jesus never told of accidents but of the reality of the future of the world to come as Jesus told the disciples of the signs of the end times.
There will be a time when we will learn war no more but the time is not yet. You see the disciples wanted to know, as we would, what the world is coming to. For the disciples knew that the scriptures talk about the Messiah coming and setting up His Kingdom, so they asked what are the signs of this time. Jesus tells them plainly: And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. We must not be alarmed at the things we see today; as if these things could move us from our faith, no, we must embrace our salvation in light of the turbulence of the world. The book of Revelation tells of the end and what will happen in the days of the tribulation time. And in that time, the last 3 ½ years of this period, will be a war called the battle of Armageddon where the people of the earth and the kings gather to battle against Christ and the God of all, in a last attempt of Satan, to end God's kingdom. We must know that God is on the throne and is in control, nothing will get passed God and nothing will be able to faze God for He is all in all and all is His.
We will continue to hear rumors of wars as the scripture says; but let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God believe also in me, for in my Fathers house are many mansion, if it were no so I would have told you, I go and if I go I will come again so that you will be with me for ever; for where I am you will be with me also. We should think about how much God loves us and how He put in place things that we can know that we are His and we are not forgotten. All these things; wars and rumors and famines, nations against nations, must come to pass but the end is not yet. This was said so we may know that we must continue to do the Lord's work even in the midst of these things. Only God knows the time and day of His coming and we must trust in our God for He is able to keep your soul that you have entrusted to Him.
Man continues to try and manipulate the events of the world and even toward trying up set the natural physics of the earth but God set these in motion and only God can and does control these things. War comes from the notion of control and man wants this control to do as he sees fit but God will only allow it to go so far. So, the battle for control is the reason for wars. Lucifer, Satan, wanted to have control of a power that did not belong to him but only for God alone. Man is always attempting to reach God with man made things but it will not work. Some of the people of the earth, in the town of Babel, built a tower to reach unto the heaven to exalt themselves before God so they could try to be in control but God saw different and caused their endeavors to cease by confounding their language so they could not understand one another. We are controlled by God, as we surrender our life to Him, in the things He sets in place.
As we see our own interest we will, by nature of the natural man, contend for those things, ideas and wants, and will do things that cause great harm and discord even with the best intention. These are the elements that cause wars and fighting's within the body of Christ. Oh yes, we have troubles in the church for the same reason the world has troubles. Religion in one of the main causes for wars for over the centuries we have seen, as we do now, many battles have occurred because people believe what they think is right and by acting upon that, without asking God or searching the scriptures often leads to bad decisions. We all must seek God for all things: remember; there is only one God and one savior Jesus Christ and in Him is the fullness of life and without Him is only pain and suffering here and in the life after.
Jesus by God's authority gives us a foretelling of the things to come because God wants us to understand that all things will come to an end but we need not be afraid for the God of our salvation is on the throne and in control.
People will be people but God is and always has been: the same yesterday and today.., God changes not. This is good news for we can rely and trust in Him for God is the one you can count on for He is everything anyone would ever want.
Think on these things:
1. Are you surprised to see so many conflicts going on around the world? When you hear of a new one, what kind of thoughts do you have? How quickly do you pray about them?
2. Do you recognize the same seeds for war and conflict within you as James says are there?
3. What tools has God given you to be at peace in the midst of trouble?
Keywords: Famine, Pestilence, Earthquakes, tribulation,
The Bible extols the benefits of faith. Faith justifies the sinner, appropriates God's promises for the believer and will bring us into eternal joy. But faith can also be fatal - there are consequences to believing! Faith in God brings us into direct opposition with Satan's worldly system and incurs the wrath and opposition of unbelievers and false believers. What will it be like for those who trust Christ just before His Second Coming?
I. Future Believers (Vs 9)
A. Will Experience Tribulation
B. Will Suffer Persecution
C. Will Endure to the End
II. Fake Believers (Vs 10)
A. Will Fall Away
B. Will Fight Each Other
III. False Believers (Vs 11)
A. Will Seize the Opportunity
B. Will Deceive through Trickery
Make it Personal:
1. Pray this week for the Persecuted Church. For more insight on how to do that effectively, see "Voice of the Martyrs" website on this at http://www.persecution.com/.
2. Examine the depth of your own relationship to Christ. Read Matthew 13:18-23 and try to figure out which category you fit into.
Keywords: faith, end times, Believers,
Whenever there's a mess, a messenger with a message is needed. God has always worked that way. In ancient Israel he sent prophets to herald truth to a recalcitrant nation. In church history God raised up evangelists to proclaim the gospel to sin-hardened and cynical generations. The future Tribulation will be the biggest mess ever, yet God will still have his message heard! Lets notice four human conditions that will prevail in the future of earth's most severe time.
I. Lawlessness (Vs 12a)
II. Callousness (Vs 12b)
III. Faithfulness (Vs13)
IV. Responsiveness (Vs14)
1. How do you notice the effect of culture upon your spiritual life? Think of modern American values as promoted by songs, movies and advertisements—how do these affect you?
2. When is it hardest for you to be faithful to Jesus Christ? When is it easiest? Why? Does having a network of spiritual friends around you help? How integrated are you with them?
3. Someone said, "The church that does not evangelize will eventually fossilize." That could be also said of every individual Christian. Pray that God will open a door for you this week to tell others about Jesus.
Topic: Human Conditions
Keywords: Lawlessness, Callousness, Faithfulness, Responsiveness,
This single verse is pivotal in understanding prophecy. It highlights something that is both historic as well as prophetic. This verse, when tied to its historical roots in the prophet Daniel, will help you understand what John wrote in the book Revelation. But it offers more than just biblical information it provides practical inspiration when properly understood.
I. Destruction in the Past
A. The Appeal to Scripture
B. The Appeal to History
II. Devastation in the Future
A. The Temple Must Stand
B. The Testimony Must be Written
III. Decision in the Present
1. What is your own take on the issues in the Middle East today? Do they have any relationship to long standing issues of the past or do you see them as isolated issues?
2. Ponder this statement: It is impossible to accept Jesus Christ's authority without accepting the Scripture's authority. Why is this true or why not?
3. How do you make decisions in Life?
A. By whatever feels right at the time.
B. By what others tell you that you should do.
C. By what society around you does in similar situations.
D. By principles found in God's inerrant, authoritative & eternal Word.
Keywords: end times, prophecy, Abomination of Desolation,
For many Christians, a trip to the Holy Land is a once-in-a-lifetime dream. To see where Jesus walked, taught and spoke prophetically of is thrilling. But trouble is in store for Israel's future, in fact Scripture refers to it as "Jacob's Trouble" (Jer. 30:7). What will be Israel's future and what can we learn about the nature of God in adversity? Moreover, what should a believer's response to catastrophic events be?
I. Catastrophe for Zion
A. The Prophetic Calendar
B. The Present Condition
II. Counsel to Zion
A. Flee for Protection
B. Forego all Provision
C. Follow Every Precaution
III. Comfort in Zion
A. It Will End Soon
B. It Will Lead to Glory
Make it Personal:
1. Read Psalm 122 this week. How does this prayer-song apply to the headlines this week?
2. How much should future glory impact the present grind? Is being heavenly minded a bad thing or a good thing? (See Rom. 8:18)
3. Are you comforted knowing that God misses nothing about the specifics of your life?
Topic: End Times
Keywords: Prophetic Calendar, Zion, Israel, end times, 70 weeks,
War is ugly but sometimes necessary. It's meant to defend the weak and punish deadly aggressors. Jesus' words here depict a time when God wages war on the human race and throws every conceivable judgment to the earth in the Tribulation. These two verses also highlight three prevailing conditions that exist between God and mankind. The first condition has existed since the Fall of Mankind, the second will be a temporary result of the first, and the third condition is rooted in the character of God and takes the edge off of the first two.
I. Continual Condemnation
II. Temporal Tribulation (Vs 21)
A. Divine Response to Man's Rebellion
B. The Worst Time in History
C. Never to be Repeated Again
III. Eternal Compassion (Vs 22)
1. How can God mix His wrath with His mercy? What is the bridge where those two seemingly opposing attributes can meet?
2. What happens to a person who refuses God's solution and God's mercy?
3. Read Ephesians 2:1-5 and compare your previous condition to your present condition. What changed? What would have happened without that change?
Keywords: Tribulation, end times, war, Rebellion, judgment,
Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."(John 9:5) and that His followers were to take up the same occupation: "You are the light of the world" (Matt 5:14). But what happens when the light has been extinguished? What happens when spiritual darkness overshadows everything, everywhere? There's an old saying, "It's always darkest just before the dawn." Jesus tells His followers here that just when the world plummets to its darkest moment, He will be returning!
I. Spiritual Vulnerability (Vss 23, 26)
A. False Claims
B. False Signs
II. Scriptural Vitality (Vs 25)
III. Supernatural Visibility (Vss 27-28)
1. What things has God given to His people to keep them from becoming deceived? How
have these things kept you from error?
2. When do you find that you are most vulnerable to spiritual attack? How do you typically respond?
3. What excites you most about Jesus returning?
Topic: End Times
Keywords: end times, Jesus' return, apostasy, Antichrist, deception,
Children love to play games. One of those games is Hide and Seek where a child, after counting to ten, will call out to his friends, "Ready or not, here I come!" One day, after a time of intense distress, Jesus will return to the earth for the second time and many will not be ready for it. Those who survive and are ready will be gathered together with the rest of God's people to be ushered into God's eternal Kingdom. Are you ready or not?
I. The Chronology of Events
A. After Great Tribulation
B. After Celestial Turbulence
II. The Coming of Christ
A. With Mourners on Earth
B. With Clouds of Heaven
C. With Power and Glory
III. The Congregation of the Elect
A. God's Angels Sent
B. God's People Summoned
MAKE IT PERSONAL:
1. Learn to view your world through the lens of the biblical writers. What indications can you see that time is short?
2. Why do you think Jesus spoke so much about hell in His earthly ministry? What does His crucifixion have to do with it? How could this truth motivate you in sharing the gospel?
3. Memorize 2 Peter 3:11 this week. Make sure personal holiness is increasing and not decreasing!
Topic: Jesus' Return
Keywords: Jesus' Return, end times, tribulation, second coming,
For years agrarians have consulted the venerable Farmer's Almanac for predictive signs on what this next season would bring, in terms of weather forecasts, threatening bugs and water table levels. It helps them know how to navigate through the growing year. Jesus gave a story to His disciples on how the future generation can tell when the season of judgment is upon them and how they should live during the last days on earth.
I. A Parable is Spoken (Vs 32)
A. A Common Style
B. A Common Sight
II. The Purpose is Given (Vs 33)
A. Notices Observed
B. Nearness Understood
III. The Period will Ripen (Vs 34)
A. Who is that Generation?
B. What will They See?
IV. The Promise is Certain (Vs 35)
A. The World Will End
B. The Word Will Endure
1. Learn to view your world through the lens of the biblical writers. What indications can you see that time is short?
2. 1 Chronicles 12:32 describes, "sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." How could your understanding of the present age and future age help you in making crucial decisions today?
Topic: End Times
Keywords: end times, Jesus' return, Fig Tree, parable,
Man's knowledge is impressive but it pales next to God's knowledge. The only things we know for certain are the things that God has revealed to us. Some things must be stored in our hearts in the imaginary file marked, "Wait for further information." As we wait for Jesus to come for us, let's consider what we know and what we don't know; in fact let's see what angels don't even know!
I. What We DO Know
A. Length of Tribulation
B. Abomination of Desolation
C. The Final Consummation
II. What We DON'T Know
A. The Calendar God Controls
B. The Company We Keep
III. What We SHOULD Know
A. That God Knows
B. That God Controls
1. How much of your life is really under your control? Someone once said, "God speaks through the regularity in which He disappoints our plans!" Know that your disappointments may be His appointments.
2. Ponder Daniel 5:23, "the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!" Does this comfort you or scare you?
Topic: God's Plan
Keywords: Angels, end times, Abomination of Desolation, tribulation, patience,
When Noah built his ark, most people thought he was nuts. Only seven others listened to his warning and went with him. Jesus spoke about the fool who thought he was prepared for the future because of his wise investments. This man said to himself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." (Luke 12:19). Jesus also tells us that the world will largely adopt this attitude in the final days of history unaware of what's ahead.
I. Demonstration of Man's Indifference (Vss. 37-41)
A. Noah's Days
C. Last Days
II. Direction for Man's Obedience (Vss. 42-44)
A. Be Aware
B. Be Alert
C. Be Ready
1. A fun group project would be to find current newspaper headlines that correspond to the description of the world of Noah's day. Then think of examples of people who have stood against these trends—it could even be an example from your own life.
2. Memorize Romans 12:1-2
3. How do you personally feel about the return of Jesus? Do you think He could come in your lifetime? Would there be any time you would be nervous if He came?
Keywords: judgment, judgement, end times, tribulation, Indifference, Depravity,
Every parent remembers walking into their child's room catching them in some act either good or bad. The youngster wasn't expecting you to be there and that child's look tells all, betraying innocence or guilt. The return of Jesus Christ will catch some people off guard while others will be diligently involved in the Master's work. Ever wonder what you'll be up to when Jesus returns: what activities, conversations and thoughts you'll be engaged in? Let's consider two possibilities.
I. The Wise Servant: The Act of Faithful Service
A. His Calling
B. His Character
C. His Compensation
II. The Wicked Servant: The Act of Fickle Selfishness
A. His Reputation
B. His Reasoning
C. His Recklessness
D. His Reckoning
1. What spiritual priorities govern your weekly calendar? How often do you talk to God about His work on earth?
2. What are the ways in which you help to build and nourish God's people? Do you have a spiritual outlet that is both satisfying to you and helpful to others?
3. Get a list of the various ministries within the church and ask God where He wants you to plug in.
Topic: Jesus' Return
Keywords: faithful, service, calling, character, Reputation, Recklessness, Reckoning, Jesus return, second coming, priorities