Holy Land Tour: CANCELED!
Well, good morning.
A couple of things. First of all, thank you for your patience. I've been told that the children's ministry has grown, that they're up of late 30%. So that means it's hard to get kids in than it was a while back.
And so you have to stand in line a little bit longer. And, anyway, thank you for that. And I asked Alan, when he told me that we're up 30% in the children's ministry, what does that mean, Alan? He says, we need 80 more helpers.
So if the Lord lays that on your heart, you want to get involved, you'd love to make an impact on a young person for eternity, that'd be a great place to start. We'd invite you to go over to the children's ministry. This coming Wednesday night, you have an opportunity to bring someone, a friend, two friends, 30 friends, to hear a case for Creationism and Intelligent Design from Dr. Paul Nelson, who we've had similar things like that in the past. And Paul is going to come and share as a scientist. I've seen some of the products he's done, fabulous stuff, and a great opportunity to reach your unsaved friends, so we invite you out Wednesday night.
By the way, you know the song that we just sang, "Hallelujah." Not the last one, but the song before that, the words to that, David Row wrote that song. I don't know if you know that or not, one of our own pastors here.
And that's not the only one he's written. He's got like a whole slew of songs that are great worship tunes that we have sung, and maybe you just didn't know that Dave wrote them. But, anyway, thank you for that contribution, Pastor Dave.
Would you turn in your Bibles to Matthew 24? I know we prayed in the service already, but let's do it again. Lord, now we open Your Word, and in so doing, we open our hearts because we need to learn what your Spirit has to say to the church in these days. As we go through familiar verses, the words of Christ in Matthew 24, give us, Lord, a fuller, deeper understanding that we might live in anticipation of Your return. We ask these things in Jesus' name, Amen.
Taking a tour to Israel is one of the highlights of any Christian's life. But the most frequently asked question that people have regarding a trip to Israel is this. Is it safe?
And when I'm asked that, I ask them back. Well, compared to what? If you're comparing it to parts of Los Angeles, it's safe.
If you're comparing it to a dairy farm in Idaho or Nebraska, it might not be as safe. And so they'll then say, well, then, I'm going to wait. I'd love to go. I'll go to Jerusalem one day, but I want to wait till it's safe. Then I'll say, well, you're going to wait a long time, like till the millennium because I don't think it's going to get safe anytime soon.
Jesus predicts a time is coming when no one is going to want to take a tour to Israel. And if there was one, it would be canceled because a time is coming upon those people in that area that will be the worst ever. Israel is an interesting group of people, interesting place. Israel has survived 400 years of slavery, two deportations, 2,000 years of dispersion around the world, a Holocaust, and a host of other such attacks.
According to one writer, Jerusalem has seen 36 wars, that city alone. 17 times, it's been leveled to the ground, reduced to ashes. 18 times, it has risen. It's that kind of activity that caused ancient historian Flavius Josephus to write, "No other city has ever suffered such things. The calamities, which have happened to anyone from the beginning, do not seem comparable to those which have befallen the Jews."
There is an interesting little quip that comes to us from the Talmud. The Talmud is the codification of all the laws and commentaries on Old Testament scripture. There's a little saying in the Talmud that says, "10 measures of suffering have descended upon the world, nine of them went to Jerusalem, and one to the rest of the world," because of the things that that city and those people have suffered.
Do you remember "Fiddler on the Roof"? And do you remember the star, I guess, the patriarch of the family, was a guy by the name of Tevye? And Tevye in this film-- it's a classic movie-- at one point in the movie, he looks up toward Heaven as if to pray. And he says, (IN JEWISH ACCENT) I know, I know, we're the chosen people. But once in a while, couldn't you choose somebody else?
Because he knows that to be chosen has also meant a great deal of suffering. It brings up a question. Why? Why have the Jews been hated throughout the centuries so much? Why has anti-Semitism been expressed in the manner in which it has, even until recent times?
And we're going to look at our verses this morning. We started with verse 15 last week, and we want to read now down to verse 20, including verse 15. "Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, standing in the holy place, whoever reads, let him understand.
Then, let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the house top not go down to take anything out of his house, and let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and those who are nursing babies in those days. And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath."
I want to confess to you that I really struggled with Matthew 24 in this sense. I thought, do I really want in the first series that we go through to be this technical, this prophetic? Until what has happened recently over in the Middle East started erupting. Then, I thought, well, we all want to know where all this fits Biblically in the end times.
But, also, what I'm hoping is happening by now is that we're seeing how all of these verses fit together, that we're seeing how portions of Daniel and Matthew and Revelation and 2 Thessalonians 2, et cetera, all elucidate one another. And we start getting the big picture, and it starts clicking. And we go, oh, I get it, I see, because Jesus would have us know and understand the days in which we live.
Now I want you to listen to this statement. This person says, quote, "The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting.
The country is in danger, yes, danger from within and danger from without. We need law and order. Without law and order, our nation cannot survive."
Powerful words, not of a modern politician or statesman, those words were spoken by Adolf Hitler in 1932, which brings up this point. Dictators will not take over areas always by force, but will come during a time of turmoil, opportunistically to offer their little solution, their peace plan. And that's important to recognize because a time is coming when another powerful world ruler will sense the turmoil in the world and come up with a solution that people will buy into, including the Jewish nation. And that covenant, that deal, that peace plan will be broken right in the middle.
So let's look at our text a little more carefully this morning. We understand-- there's an obvious point to be made-- that catastrophe is coming for Zion. Just a quick read of the verses so far reveals that, for the people living in Judea, Jerusalem, great catastrophe is going to befall them.
And we notice that the language here is localized. It's geo-specific. He mentions the trouble is coming to Judea, not Philadelphia, Judea. That though there will be worldwide problems, something very tragic is going to happen to those people living around Jerusalem, and to the people who are Jewish people because it says, "Pray that your flight will not be in the winter or on the Sabbath."
The prophet Jeremiah, looking through time, announces a day is coming. There is none like it, for it is the time of Jacob's trouble, Israel's trouble. Trouble is going to befall the Jews.
You say, wait a minute, trouble has already befallen them on a number of occasions. You're right. But all of those things have merely been previews of coming attractions. They will all pale in comparison to what is coming in these last days.
So we noticed last week, and we read it again, that Jesus, in this section, hearkens back to what Daniel the prophet wrote, "when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet." So let's go back to Daniel, the prophet, today. Let's go to Daniel, chapter 9, and see what Jesus Christ was referring to.
And the section you're about to read, only four verses, are considered the backbone of prophecy because everything hangs off of that backbone. And if you can understand Daniel 9, you're going to go much further ahead in understanding the big scope of what's coming in the future. Daniel, chapter 9, beginning in verse 24, the angel Gabriel is speaking to Daniel, the prophet.
And he says, "70 weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring an everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know, therefore, and understand that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah, the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and 62 weeks. The street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublesome times.
And after the 62 weeks, Messiah shall be cut off"-- boy, that's interesting-- "but not for Himself. And the people of the Prince who is to come shall destroy the city in the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood. Until the end of the war, desolations are determined.
Then, He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week. But in the middle of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations, shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation which is determined is poured out on the desolate."
Four verses, it's like a Reader's Digest version of prophecy. Four verses that deal with Israel, Israel's Messiah, the Antichrist, the abomination of desolation. There's a few things to notice about Daniel's 70-week prophecy.
Number one, it refers to the Jews. 70 weeks are determined, he says, for your people and for your holy city, your people, the Jewish people, your holy city, the city of Jerusalem. So the main player in this end-time scenario, or at least 70-week scenario, is the Jewish people.
Second thing to notice is that it's a set period of time. 70 weeks are determined. The word "determined" means to "cut out" or "to mark." That is, here is a divine calendar, a timetable, and there are certain events that must happen during that prophetic timetable.
And how much time is it? Well, it says 70 weeks, right? Now, if you have my translation, it says 70 weeks. It may not in other versions, and here's why.
It actually, in Hebrew, reads [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], 70 sevens, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. So it's undisclosed. It's unspecific as to what seven means, 70 sevens. Seven what? Seven days? Seven years? Seven what?
So here it's translated seven weeks. And I'm not going to go through all the rigmarole of research. But the consensus of Hebrew scholars and Christian scholars is that it refers to weeks of years.
70 weeks of years are determined for Israel, or 490 years. Translators feel so strongly about that that the Revised Standard version simply renders it, "70 weeks of years are determined for your people and for your city." The New Century version is even more specific and clearer when it says, "490 years are determined," because it says, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], 70 sevens, all right.
Daniel's hearing this. Daniel would have understood the concept of 490 years, 70 sets of seven years, and here's why. It says in chapter 9 at the beginning, that Daniel is reading the prophet Jeremiah, and it dawns on him that he, they, the Jews, in Babylonian captivity, are just about at the end of the 70-year captivity.
He reads that Jeremiah predicts, you'll be in Babylon 70 years. He goes, hey, 70 years is almost up. So he gets on his knees, and he prays to God that they would be forgiven, and they would be delivered. At that time, the angel Gabriel comes and gives him this revelation.
Now, have you ever wondered why the Jews were in captivity for 70 years? Why 70? Why not 50? Why not 100? Why 70?
I'm glad you asked because the Bible tells us exactly why it was 70 years, and why Jeremiah predicted it. The very last chapter of the book of II Chronicles says, "These people are going into the captivity of Babylon," and then the reason is given. "To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate, she kept the Sabbath to fulfill 70 years."
What does that mean? You remember back in the law, the Jews were told to keep the Sabbath every week, right? You worked six days, and the seventh day, you kicked back, man. You cruised. It's the Sabbath.
Well, there was not only a Sabbath day. There was a Sabbath year. Do you remember that? If you have a field, God said, for six years, you sow, and you reap.
But the seventh year, you let the land rest. You don't work it. You let whatever grows of itself grow and you get that.
Israel disobeyed the Sabbath year commandment for 490 years. How many Sabbath years is that? 70. God is, in effect, saying, you owe me 70 years.
And in taking them to Babylon, out of their land, letting it rest 70 years, it could, in God's estimation, recover. So Daniel knew that. He knew why they were there, and he knew the 70 years was about up, and that they were going to go back soon.
Well, if you look a little more carefully, you'll notice that the time of the Messiah's arrival in Jerusalem is told to us. After 69 weeks, seven and 62, it says, well, look at it, verse 25. "Know therefore and understand"-- so that's a commandment for you to know and understand this-- "that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks"-- that's 49 years-- "and 62 weeks."
Add to that 434 years, gives you a total of 69 weeks, or 483 years. "The street will be built again and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the 62 weeks, Messiah shall be cut off but not for Himself."
So know this and understand this. A commandment will come to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. From the time of that commandment, 483 years later, Messiah is going to show up. That in and of itself is an amazing statement.
Fortunately, we know the exact date the commandment was given for the Jews to go back and restore and rebuild the city. It was March 14, 445 BC, a date well attested to in the annals of history. It was given by one Artaxerxes Longimanus, a Persian emperor, who told the Jews to go back, and not just build the temple, but build the city, the wall, and the streets. And, incidentally, guess how long it took for them to build the wall and the streets? 49 years, seven weeks of years.
Well, this fascinated a guy who was reading through this. His name was Sir Robert Anderson. He was the investigative head of Scotland Yard. He put pencil to paper and started figuring this all out.
And he took the 483 years, 69 weeks, and said, how many days would that be? So he figured it would be 173,880 days. So he counted from March 14, 445 BC, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 173,880 days. And he thought, OK, whatever day I come up with must be a significant date, and the Messiah must be around. Well, the date he ended up with was April 6, 32 AD, 173,880 days after March 14, 445 BC.
That turns out to be a most significant date of a most significant occurrence. In the Jewish calendar, it would be the 10th of Nissan-- not the truck-- the Jewish calendar month Nissan. And on the 10th of Nissan was the day that lambs were taken from the flocks to be presented as the Passover lamb.
April 6, 32 AD, 10th of Nissan, it was also the very day Jesus Christ, the first and only time presented Himself to the Jewish nation as their Messiah. Went on the Mount of Olives, He sat on the donkey. And palm branches were waved, and He entered into the city of Jerusalem.
Wow. And you know what He said on that very day? Listen to these words. He said, "If you"-- Jerusalem-- "had known, even you"-- especially in this your day-- "the things that make for your peace.
But now they are hidden from your eyes. Your enemies will surround you on every side and level you. And they will not leave in you one stone upon another because you did not know the time of your visitation."
What day was Jesus referring to? What time of visitation was Jesus referring to? The day He held them accountable as a Jewish nation to know, the 173,880th day after March 14, 445 BC, because Daniel said, given to him by Gabriel, from that day till that day, and Messiah will show up. It's spectacular.
Now, just in case you go home and you decide, OK, I'm going to try this. I'm going to get a calendar. That's cool. You may come back disappointed.
And you'll say, Skip, you're wrong. I counted in my calendar, because I did the math, 176,295 days. That's because you miscalculated.
Probably you were working off of our calendar, the Julian calendar, 365 days a year. The ancient calendar was not the Julian calendar. The ancient calendar, the Babylonian calendar, all of the Biblical calendars go off of it, is a lunar, not a solar calendar. It's 360 days.
So if you take 360 days, add the leap years, take in consideration when they added an extra month in the Jewish calendar to keep it seasonal, you, too, will come up with 173,880 days. If you want the research on it, it's put in a book called The Coming Prince by Sir Robert Anderson. It's spectacular.
What does that mean to us? Well, it continues in verse 27 to speak of, after 69 weeks are done and the Messiah comes and is killed, crucified, cut off, there still is an unaccounted for week or seven-year period, verse 27. "Then he"-- that is a coming prince, aside, apart from the Messiah-- "will confirm a covenant with many for one week."
That's the last seven-year period, the time of Jacob's trouble, the Great Tribulation. But "in the middle of the week"-- three and 1/2 years-- "he will bring an end to the sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abomination shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation which is determined is poured out on the desolate."
Now we get it. Now, when Jesus says in verse 15, we understand. When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, standing in the holy place, you who are in Judea, get out of dodge, quickly, flee to the mountains. Don't go to your house.
Don't get anything. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 shekels, I guess, just go.
That's the abomination of desolation spoken of. Now that's yet future, that's yet future. That hasn't happened yet.
And that's important because somebody might say, well, wait a minute. If those 69 weeks, 483 years happened, and then Jesus came and He died, then perhaps the 70th week, that last seven-year period, would happen immediately after the death of Christ. That seems to chronologically fit.
No, it doesn't because look again at the list in verse 24 of all the things that have to be accomplished. 70 weeks are determined. "For your people in the holy city to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity"-- we could say that maybe those happened at the cross-- but look at this one. "To bring an everlasting righteousness," have you seen that around lately?
"To seal up vision and prophecy," have they all been fulfilled yet? "To anoint the most holy," that is when Christ returns and rules and reigns. No, those things have not yet been fulfilled.
So Daniel carves out a seven-year period that Jesus refers to, that John speaks about in Revelation, and Paul refers to, et cetera, a coming period of time, where a man will come, make a peace treaty with the Jews, in the middle of it, set up an image, abomination of desolation, and that will kick off the last three and 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation. Look back at verse 21 of Matthew 24, "For then, there will be great tribulation, such has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." OK.
Let's get out of that for a moment. And let's think about where we are today, our present condition. I'm going to offer up something to you as a premise. And I want you to kick it around in your minds.
Here's the premise. What if God's plan for redeeming the world required the existence of a nation and the continuance of that nation? Then, if you destroyed that nation, you could thwart God's plan of salvation and redemption. If God's plan required a nation to exist, you destroy that people, God's plan is over.
When you look at it that way, anti-Semitism takes on a whole new face, a whole different satanic face. Then it starts making sense. You start reading scriptures, like Exodus 1 and 2. And up to this point, you go, why is this pharaoh intent on killing every Jew?
Or you read about Haman in Persia in the book of Esther. Why is Haman bent on killing every single Jew in the kingdom? What's behind that? Or Herod the Great, kill every child in Bethlehem, this age and below? And even the Holocaust, what got into Adolf Hitler's pea brain to think, I'm going to destroy every Jew in all of Europe?
You see, anti-Semitism has a satanic kind of a root because God's salvation depends on the existence of a nation. If you could destroy all the Jews before Jesus Christ, you wouldn't have Jesus born. You wouldn't have a royal Messianic line.
There would be no salvation. If you could destroy all the Jews after Jesus Christ, then satan could prove that God can't keep his promises to restore and rebuild the Jewish nation, like He has promised. So satan could prove that God is a liar, so that's very, very significant.
I don't if you caught this or not, but right after September 11th, when we discovered the perpetrator was one Osama bin Laden, and he was placed on the FBI'S Top 10 Most Wanted criminals on Earth, here's a Saudi national who masterminded 9/11 and the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, et cetera. Barbara Walters flew over to Saudi Arabia to interview Saudi citizens, leaders, and especially university students, to ask them, do you know what happened in America and do you know why it happened. I was shocked at their answers. I was shocked.
When asked what was the root cause and who was behind this-- because the answer was Osama bin Laden; everybody in intelligentsia in the world knew that-- these Saudi citizens and university students said, oh, we know who's behind this. It's the Jews. The Jews? Yeah, it's their fault. I saw it with my own eyes.
And it's interesting that recently a cleric, a preacher, Musa al-Qarni, a Saudi preacher, said the uproar and the chaos that we see today in the human race, the real terrorists behind it all are Jews and Christians. So a whole rewriting of history is going on. Now fast forward to this day and age, there's a guy over in Iran, who's building nuclear weapons. His name is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Aren't you glad you have an easier name than that? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said recently, I believe the end of the world is coming very soon. And what he is looking for, and he even said so, is the hidden imam is coming, the Mahdi of the Muslims, the Muslim messiah, basically, whom, he said, will enact a world-wide jihad.
If you think what you've seen so far in terrorism is bad, you ain't seen nothing yet. A worldwide jihad against the Jews to eliminate them all and against the great satan, that would be you and me here in the West. And that's why people in the know, who are watching what's happening over in the Middle East, are figuring this guy is getting nuclear weapons for the ability to carry out his apocalyptic views.
Now here you have Israel, this little nation, with 100 million enemies that would love nothing more than to see it disappear and go into the sea. They're feeling already isolated, and the Bible predicts a time is coming when the nations of the world will turn against her. So we have enough stuff in our purview now to say, boy, this stuff is just sort of lining up.
So let's look at the counsel Jesus gives to the Jews. Matthew 24, "He says, then, let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." Everybody in the world at that time is going to feel a certain oppression by the Antichrist. They'll be forced to take a mark, the Bible tells us. Especially if you're Jewish, especially if you're a Jewish believer in Messiah, you'll be persecuted.
But ground zero is going to be Jerusalem. Ground zero is Judea because that's where the abomination takes place in the temple, remember. So if you're anywhere living in metro Jerusalem, get out and get out fast. That's the words of Jesus.
Now Zechariah tells us that, during that time, the Jews are going to flee Jerusalem, but not everyone's going to make it. There's going to be carnage, mass murder, by this Antichrist. Zechariah puts it this way.
"Two thirds shall be cut off and die, and only one third shall be left in it." So it seems that this Antichrist, if I put all of these scriptures together, Zechariah, Revelation, Matthew 24, this world leader is going to slaughter millions of Jews in Israel. But then those who make it out past a certain point, maybe east of the Dead Sea, toward Moab, something Petra, they are going to be, when they escape-- those that do, the third that Zechariah mentions-- sovereignly protected by God.
Listen to this. It's in Revelation, chapter 12, Israel is spoken of. "They fled to the wilderness where God has prepared a place to give her care for 1,260 days." You know how much that is? Exactly three and 1/2 years, exactly three and 1/2 years.
Then a few verses down, Revelation 12, verse 14, "Israel was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she is nourished for time, times, and a half of time," until or "from the presence of the serpent." It's another interesting way of putting three and 1/2 years. Time, a year; times, plural, two years; half a time, half a year; three and 1/2 years; 1,260 days, the middle of the seven-year period, the middle of the week.
Jesus also says-- look in verse 17-- "Let him who is on the house top not go down to take anything out of his house. Let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes." Don't get anything you think you have to have. Get out quickly. Urgency is the word for the hour.
Remember playing those games when you were kids, sometimes even as adults, you're asked a question. If your house is on fire and you got to leave, if there is one thing you could take, what would it be? Because that will reveal who you are, what's important to you, what you value.
One of these recent tests, that question was asked. If your house is burning down and you can only take one thing out, what would it be? One gal said, "My pets, two cats, hamster, and a rabbit." One man said, "I'd take a signed football because football is my life."
What a sad life.
I heard women laughing louder at that one. One gal said, "I'd take my jewelry, cigarettes, and coffeemaker."
And she said, why? I'd need a smoke and a cup of coffee if my house burned down.
She'd need more than that.
So Jesus is stressing urgency, announcing those who are living in metro Jerusalem and the environs of Judea, to get out and think of nothing else except to run, flee, escape. First 19, "But woe to those who are pregnant and those who are nursing babies in those days." You can understand why.
To be pregnant is going to restrict mobility. You're going to be slowed down. If you're watching little children, it's going to hinder your escape.
He goes on. "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath." That to me is interesting because winters in Israel aren't really bad. It's a mild climate. But they can get the early and the latter rains.
And the early rains that come in the wintertime can-- well, inclement weather can restrict the flow of traffic anywhere. We know what that's like. I live off of a dirt road right now. And the last few weeks, with all the rains, it's slow, fish-tailing out of there. And sometimes, even in Jerusalem, the snow can fall, and it can paralyze the city.
But Jesus also said, if you're going to pray something, you pray that your flight be not in winter or on the Sabbath. You know why? And it's still true today. All public transportation, except for a few taxis, all closed on the Sabbath. From Friday at sunset till Saturday night, really Sunday morning, you can't get anywhere by railway, train, or by the Egged bus system, which is the national bus. It's closed down.
Not only that, but there are pockets of Jewish communities around Judea still to this day, ultra orthodox, that won't budge on the Sabbath and would keep other people from trying to budge. If you were to drive a car today, or these days on a Sabbath, to a neighborhood called Mea Shearim, your car would be pelted with stones. They would break your windows because they say you are desecrating their Sabbath. So you understand why Jesus would say, OK, look, when you see this is coming, you pray for great weather, and you pray that it's not Sabbath so you can get out of town. If the abomination of desolation is going to happen, pray that it's on the right day so that you can get out.
I find something fascinating about what we just read. The unique part of this text is that Jesus does not promise everyone involved supernatural protection. And He doesn't tell them pray for supernatural protection.
But there's a mixture of God's sovereignty in revealing this stuff and man's common sense in putting it together for protection. That's noteworthy for every Christian of all times. Because, so often, our prayer is, but wait a minute.
I'm a Christian. God's supposed to protect me. But Jesus says, OK, listen, I'm going to tell you in advance what's going to happen so you get ready to leave and pray that it's on the right day.
You remember when Jesus sent out 70 people to preach around the Sea of Galilee? And He said, now, whatever you do, don't take any provisions with you, no staff, no clothes, just go. God will take care of you.
Well, before the crucifixion, Jesus said, in Luke 22, "'When I sent you out to preach the good news, you did not have a traveler's bag or extra clothing. Did you lack anything?' And they said, 'No.' Then Jesus said, 'But now, take money, take a traveler's bag.
And if you don't have a sword, sell your clothes and buy one.'" In other words, from this point on, you are to use normal means for provision and protection. Use common sense. You say, where is the protection, where is the provision?
Jesus wrote a special note for people just living in Jerusalem during this time. That's pretty cool. You know what it's sort of like?
There's a story of a guy named Jones. Jones lived in a house when floodwaters came into town. Jones, because of the flood waters getting higher in his house, decided to climb up on the roof of his house.
And as the waters came up, a neighbor came by and paddled in a boat and said, "Jones, get on the boat, and I'll bring you to safety." He said, "Oh, no, no, no, no, I'm a Christian. I trust the Lord. He'll save me."
The waters kept rising, got up to his waist. A little while later, a powerboat came by. "Mr. Jones, hop in the boat. I'll take you to safety."
"Oh, no, I trust the Lord. He'll save me." Boat went away. Well, the waters kept rising, up to his waist, his chest, his chin.
And now he's on his tiptoes, and the water's just at his chin level. And so they dispatched a helicopter. Helicopter came by. And through their little foghorn loudspeaker, (MUFFLED) Krh. "Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones." Krh.
He looks up. He says, "We'll give you a rope, and we'll save you." "Oh, no, no, I'm a Christian. I'll be safe. God will save me."
And the helicopter goes away. So Jones is now treading water for two hours till he dies. And in heaven, he's very disappointed.
"God, I trusted You. Why didn't You save me?" God said, "Look, I gave you two boats and a helicopter. What more do you want?"
That's how God wanted to save him. And so Jesus predicts what is coming, that they might couple that revelation with their common sense and get out. I want to close on this note. And we're going to read ahead just a couple verses to get it, and that is the comfort that is coming to Zion.
Not only is catastrophe coming, Jesus promised that, not only does He give counsel to those during that era, but there is comfort. And the comfort is this. That time will not be terribly long.
And the end of it will usher in the most glorious period of human history yet. Verse 22, "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the elect's sake, those days will be shortened."
How many days total? 1,260 times, times, 1/2 a time, three and 1/2 years, half of a seven. Verse 30, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and 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."
James Gray once said, "Who can mind the journey when the road leads home?" The long, painful journey of the Jewish nation will end eventually when Messiah returns and, for 1,000 years, from Jerusalem, rules and reigns in a renewed Earth. So Isaiah writes prophetically, "Comfort, yes, comfort, my people, speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins."
So Jesus is coming back. It says so right here, the power and great glory. But it says the tribes of the earth will mourn.
So here's the good news, good news. Jesus is coming back. Here's the bad news. Jesus is coming back.
It's good because Israel will be restored. The world will be restored. Jesus will rule and reign. It will be perfect.
The bad news, not everybody will buy into that. Not everybody will surrender to that. Not everybody will surrender to Christ and receive Him as Savior. And there will be a period of unparalleled judgment and eternal separation from God for those who have refused God's only solution, predicted by Daniel, to the exact day provided for all mankind.
So what news do you want? Well, give me the bad news first. OK. Jesus is coming. Hm. What's the good news? Jesus is coming.
If you know Him, it's good news. If you don't, it's bad news. So I'm saying, get on the side of the good news, the best news. Jesus Christ came out of Heaven to die for your sins personally. And He said, pray that you will escape all of these things and stand before the Son of man. Let's pray together.
Heavenly Father, we want to thank You for the clear understanding given to us by Jesus Christ, taking something that maybe was ambiguous in the book of Daniel, and making it clear. And now, after we are able to see what John writes through Your spirit and revelation and other passages, we get now the big picture. Thank You for revealing to us in advance and reminding us that we need to look around a bit, to discern our own age and where we stand in the annals of world history.
That we could very well be at the precipice of a number of very significant end-time events happening. We don't want to draw premature conclusions or make statements about when You're going to return.
But You told us, when these things begin to happen, look up because Your redemption draws near. And so, Father, I pray that we are aware. We would also be ready, ready to meet our Savior, ready to meet our Lord, and to make sure that You are our Lord.
So, Father, I just pray as we close for every single person who's hearing this, that You would continue to prompt us to live lives that please You, to make decisions in the light of eternity, and then for those who have come, who have come today to this place at the invitation of a friend or relative, out of curiosity, but they have never surrendered their lives to Christ, they have never consciously been born again by asking Jesus to be their personal Savior and personal Lord, they've never made a choice to consciously decide to live their future for You. But you're bringing them to a new place today, Lord, a new place in their life to make a decision, a decision whereby the Second Coming of Christ is good news. So we pray that You'd help many here today make that choice.
As our heads are bowed, as we're praying, as you're considering your own life right now, if you are not sure, sure that if you were to die, you'd go to heaven, or maybe you're sure that if you died, you wouldn't go to heaven. Maybe you one time made a choice of sorts, maybe when you were young, and you said, yeah, I got to get more involved in church. Or I got to go to church more. I got to think about God.
But all that aside, you've never yet totally just surrendered to Christ and said, I'm going to receive Him, and I'm going to live for Him, I'm going to turn my life over to Him, this is your opportunity. God brought you here for a reason. It's no coincidence.
And if you are willing now to embrace Jesus Christ as your Savior, or to come back to Him after going wherever, but you're here this morning and you want to do that, as we're praying, I want you to raise your hand up. Raise it up so I can see your hand. I'm going to acknowledge your hand and pray for you as we close.
God bless you, right up in the front. Raise your hand up. This is your hour. This is your opportunity.
You're saying, pray for me. I'm going to give my life to Christ, or I'm going to come back to Christ. Raise your hand up in the air so I can see it. God bless you and you, right there in the middle and toward the back.
Who else? This could be the day of your visitation. This could be your time. Yes, sir, right up here.
Anyone, anyone in the balcony, raise your hand up? You want to say yes to the Lord? Anyone else?
Heavenly Father, we thank You for these hands that have gone up. They represent lives that You love and have a plan for each one. And we pray now, that as they come to You, You'd rescue them.
And they would know a peace they have never known up till now. In Jesus' name, amen. Let's all stand. We're going to do this quickly.
But I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands, I saw a few of your hands go up, I'm going to ask you to make it public because Jesus died publicly, calls us to live for Him publicly. So if you raised your hand, I'm going to ask you, as we sing this song, to find the nearest aisle. Whether you're in the middle, front, back, come right up here in the front, where I'm going to lead you in a prayer publicly, to say, Jesus, be my Lord and Savior, my master, and make it real today.
So if you raised your hand, make your way to an aisle right now and just come right up here. Don't be afraid to do this. Jesus said, if you confess Me before men, I'll confess you before My Father. Come right on up, God bless you.
(SINGING) Nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible for You. You have redeemed my soul from a pit of emptiness.
You have redeemed my soul from death. Because you have redeemed my soul from a pit of emptiness. You have redeemed from death.
Now, men, I saw a couple men's hands go up. But I look down here, and I see a bunch of wonderful women who have come forward.
Come on, men. Be men. Make a stand for Christ. No hiding. Come on up.
(SINGING) You have redeemed my soul from a pit of emptiness. You have redeemed my soul from death.
God bless you guys. Come on up.
(SINGING) You have redeemed my soul from the pit of emptiness. You have redeemed my soul from death.
I know it's not easy to get up and walk an aisle and stand in front of a whole bunch of people who are looking at you. You're feeling all sorts of emotions. But you know, I believe something is happening already. Once you decide, I'm going to make a stand for Christ today, it makes it easier to stand for Him tomorrow and the next day. It just settles something inside your own life and heart.
Now, what I'd like to do is pray with you. I want to introduce you to the Lord. The best way I know how is I'm going to say a prayer that I'd like you to repeat after me out loud.
But I want you just to say it from your heart to the Lord, OK? Tune all of us out for just a moment. It's you and God, you're doing business. So let's pray together, and you say this out loud after me. Lord, I give You my life.
Lord, I give You my life.
I know I'm a sinner.
I know I'm a sinner.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.
I trust Jesus.
I trust Jesus.
Who died on the cross.
Who died on the cross.
And rose from the dead.
And rose from the dead.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my past.
I turn from my past.
I turn to You.
I turn to You.
To follow You.
To follow You.
To obey You.
To obey You.
With Your help.
With Your help.
Fill me with Your spirit.
Fill me with Your Spirit.
And help me to live for You.
And help me live for You.
Today and every day.
Today and every day.
In Jesus' name.
In Jesus' name.