The Second Coming of Christ Part 4: God Talks about the Timing

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The Second Coming of Christ

Part 4: God Talks about the Timing

Matthew 24:29-44

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - July 8, 2015


*It was two days before the cross. Jesus had just finished condemning the Jewish religious leaders for stubbornly rejecting Him as the Messiah. The Lord also condemned them for their arrogance, their lack of mercy, hypocrisy and more.

*Then in Matthew 24, Jesus told His disciples that every stone of the Temple they admired would be thrown down. That's why in Matthew 24:3, "As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'"

*When will these things be? -- Tonight we will talk about the timing. But there are some questions about the timing, so let's start by focusing on some sure things in tonight's Scripture.

[1] First: The return of our Redeemer is sure.

*The return of our Redeemer is very sure. Verses 29-31 make this truth clear, because here Jesus said:

29. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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.

31. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

*In these few verses, the Lord tells us 9 things that will surely happen. We can look forward with a sure hope that it will be just as He said. Our Redeemer will surely return!

*Dr. George Sweeting once estimated that more than one fourth of the whole Bible is future prophecy. Over 1,800 references to Christ's return appear in the Old Testament. And in the 260 chapters of the New Testament there are more than 300 references to the Lord's return. Twenty-three of the 27 books in the New Testament refer to this great event!

*Dr. Sweeting reported that for every single prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are 8 prophecies for the Lord's second coming. What a comfort this is for us as Christians. Jesus is coming again! (1)

*The return of our redeemer is sure.

[2] Another sure thing in tonight's Scripture is the Word of God, and I say that because the truth of God's Word is timeless.

*Down in vs. 35, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." The Bible has been ridiculed and rejected, but it never has and it never will pass away! I

*Author Chuck Colson gave this testimony about the Word of God: "The Bible: -- banned, burned, beloved. More widely read; more frequently attacked than any other book in history. Generations of intellectuals have attempted to discredit it; dictators of every age have outlawed it, and executed those who read it. Yet soldiers carry it into battle believing it more powerful than their weapons. And fragments of it smuggled into solitary prison cells have transformed ruthless killers into gentle saints." (2)

*Wise men and women down through the ages have looked to the Word of God for strength and renewal in life. And if you want something you can hang on to, something that will last forever, this is it! No matter what kind of madness is going on in the world, and no matter what kind of problems you are facing in your personal life, hang on to the Word of God, because the truth of God's Word is timeless.


1. But in tonight's Scripture, the Lord talks about the timing of His return, and the timing of the season should be studied.

*Jesus talked about the season of His return in vs. 32-34, where He said:

32. "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.

33. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors.

34. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled.

*Bible scholars see a picture of Israel in this parable because the fig tree was one of the symbols of Israel. In Hosea 9:10, for example, the Lord God said, "I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves to that shame; They became an abomination like the thing they loved."

*That verse shows us two of the Old Testament symbols for Israel: The fig tree and the grapevine. John Phillips tells us that the grapevine picture of Israel showed up a few days before this discussion between the Lord and His disciples. The grapevine was central in a parable Jesus told the Christ-rejecting chief priests and elders in the Temple. (3)

*That parable is back in Matthew 21, where Jesus said:

33. "Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.

34. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit.

35. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another.

36. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them.

37. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'

38. But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.'

39. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?''

41. They said to Him, "He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.''

42. Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?

43. Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.

44. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.''

45. Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.

46. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.

*The grapevine was an Old Testament symbol of Israel. But in John 15, just a few hours before the cross, Jesus made a change when He said:

1. "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

2. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit."

*Now, what about the fig tree? -- John Phillips explained that the fig tree here in Matthew 24 was the symbol of Israel for two very specific times: The generation alive during Jesus' ministry on the earth, and the generation alive when Jesus would come again. Both of these generations are alike in this big way: The Jewish people would be living in the land, but not believing in their Messiah, spiritually symbolized as a fig tree with leaves but no fruit.

*When Jesus was on the way to the Temple that morning back in Matthew 21, God's Word says:

18. Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.

19. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again.'' And immediately the fig tree withered away.

*That was the only judgment miracle Jesus ever performed, and He did it because that fig tree represented the leadership and most of the people in Israel at that time. They had the appearance of fruit, but no fruit, because they had rejected their Messiah.

*That's why John 1 says this about Jesus:

10. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

11. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

*Now here in Matthew 24, Jesus used the fig tree as a timepiece for His return. Again in vs. 32-34, Jesus said:

32. "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.

33. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors.

34. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled."

*The problem was that just as the physical fig tree withered and died, the nation of Israel also withered and died, just as the Lord said it would. In the Luke 21 version of this discussion, Jesus said:

23. "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.

24. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

*We've already talked in detail about the horrible destruction that took place in 70 AD when the Romans under Titus destroyed the Temple. Over 1,100,000 Jews were killed. But the Romans under Hadrian crushed a second Jewish rebellion in a 3-year war that ended in 135 AD. The Romans killed 580,000 Jews during that later war. They also completely destroyed Jerusalem, and are believed to have run plows over at least part, and maybe even the whole city. Surviving Jews were expelled and banned from ever returning to Jerusalem. (4)

*Jesus said the Jews would be led away captive into all nations and they were. The fig tree was dead, but not forever because our miracle-working God had other plans! We could spend days talking about the rebirth of the nation of Israel. We could look back at Ezekiel 36-39 to see the dry bones of the dead nation coming back together, and coming back to life. We could also study the great future war that will come between the coalitions of nations lining up today.

*Tonight I want to focus on the return of the Jews to their homeland. God prophesied this would happen. For example, in Isaiah 43:5-6, God gave this prophetic word for the Jews:

5. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west;

6. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth

*In 1880, there were more than 7 million Jews in the world, while the Jewish population in Palestine was next to nothing. But God was about to fulfill His promise in Isaiah 43! The first large migration began in 1882.

*When World War I began in 1914, there were 80,000 Jews living in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 gave British approval for the Jews to establish a national homeland. Then Great Britain backed down in the face of Arab pressure, but 400,000 Jews had settled in the homeland by 1939.

*In 1939 the British government issued a 'White Paper' that reversed their support of the Balfour Declaration. They announced an absolute limit of only 75,000 more Jews being allowed to immigrate to Palestine. But the Lord Jesus wasn't in on that White Paper! So in 1948, the State of Israel declared its independence, and now over 6 million Jews live in Israel. (5)

*In Luke 21:24, Jesus said Jerusalem would be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled, and Jerusalem was under the control of the Gentiles for almost 2,000 years. But on Wednesday, June 7th, 1967, the Jews regained control of the city during the 6-Day War, and they have had it ever since. For the Jews to do all of this was a miracle from God. For the Jews to even exist after 20 centuries is a miracle of God. No other conquered people in the history of the world have survived with their national identity intact.

*The Lord miraculously brought them back to Israel, and He miraculously gave them victory over their enemies. God even brought the dead Hebrew language back to life. John Phillips gave this great explanation:

*"You know, the rebirth of Israel is a very great miracle. . . Here is a people that can't be assimilated, and they can't be exterminated. And my friend, they've now gone back to the Promised Land for the third time. The fig tree is putting forth its leaves. They went once from Egypt. That was the first time they went back to the Promised Land, and they gave the world the Bible. They went back again from Babylon, and in the process of time they gave the world Jesus. And now they've gone back for the third time. And they don't know it yet, because Paul says, 'Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in,' but they're getting ready to give the world the Millennium.

*They've gone back now for the third time, and the fig tree is putting forth its leaves. It's an amazing thing when you stop to think of it that a nation uprooted, scattered, buried in a hundred countries for hundreds upon hundreds of years should suddenly come back to life in our generation, -- something very significant about our generation. The fig tree is putting forth its leaves.

*Just think for example of the Hebrew language. It was a dead language in the days of Jesus. It wasn't the spoken language of Palestine. They spoke Aramaic. Hebrew was the language of the scholars. It was reserved for the reading of the Scriptures.

*Now here is a language, you see, that had been dead for some 2,000 years that's come back to life again. That's an astonishing fact, when you stop to think about it. It was the idea of a Jew named Israel Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. He was a Russian-born Jew. He was on his way to Palestine between the two world wars, and he announced to his Russian-born bride onboard the ship as they were heading toward the coast of Palestine that he intended to speak to her only in Hebrew when they got there.

*And he was so impatient about it he began to fulfill his pledge right then and there on the deck of the ship. He was a man with a single mind. He had only one purpose for existing, and that was to resurrect the dead Hebrew language.

*He wanted to have twelve children, one for each of the tribes of Israel. He had eleven. . . His children were the first children since the days of the Romans to be born into a home where only Hebrew was spoken. He used to send his kids out into the streets to pick fist fights with other Jewish kids in Hebrew.

*And in the end, he won. As Jews became increasingly nervous in the countries of their adoption, and began to come back in ever increasing numbers from ever more cities and countries in the world, they were speaking a Babel of languages. They decided that they had to have a common language. They had one in English, but they were getting fed up with the English. They decided at Ben Yehuda's insistence to resurrect the Hebrew language. . .

*Now here's a language which has been dead for two thousand years. You know, language has a living entity to it. And you can find out for yourself, you see, if you've got an Oxford Dictionary, the kind I had when I was a kid in school. It's absolutely useless today. There are no words in it for any of the modern concepts of the nuclear, electronic age.

*Now here's a language been dead for two thousand years, no word for anything in it for modern society. No word for automobile, no word for electricity, no word for train, no word for steamship, no word for spark plug, no word for anything. And so what do they do? They went back to the old Hebrew roots, because Hebrew is a root language, something you can find out for yourself by looking at the back of a Strong's Concordance. And they go back to these old Hebrew roots.

*And just to give a crude kind of an illustration, supposing they wanted a word for an automobile, they'd go back to the word for chariot, that old dead Hebrew root, and they'd add a little prefix to it or a suffix to it, and they'd coin a new word. And they went on doing that, you see, until all of those old, dead Hebrew roots put forth their leaves, and a dead language came to life. It is an extraordinary thing, and it says something about our generation." (3)

*The fig tree has most definitely been putting out leaves, but the vast majority of them don't believe in the Lord, yet. One source I read said that in 2013, there were only 20,000 Messianic or Christ-following Jews in Israel. (6)

*So after almost 2,000 years the fig tree, Israel, is in exactly the same situation as it was when the Lord went back to Heaven: With the Jews living in the land, but not believing in their Messiah. They have the appearance of fruit, but no fruit, because so far they have still rejected their Messiah.

*But again in vs. 32-34, Jesus said:

32. "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.

33. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors.

34. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled.

*This is why the timing of the season must be studied.

2. But when we study the timing, we have to be careful because our knowledge of the day has been delayed.

*As the Lord said in vs. 36, "But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." We have to be very careful not to set a specific date for the Lord's return.

*Jesus tells us that knowledge of His return is delayed for unbelievers:

37. "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

38. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

39. and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."

*Knowledge of the Lord's return is delayed for unbelievers, but it is also delayed for Christians. As Jesus told His followers in vs. 42, "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming."

*What do the years 1000 AD,1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1992, and 1994 all have in common? These all are years when people wrongly predicted that the Lord would return. (7)

*One of the most frantic time periods concerning the return of Christ happened just before 1000 AD. None of the events required by the Bible were taking place, but there seemed to be something special about the number 1000. During last months of 999, everyone was on his best behavior. Worldly goods were sold and given to the poor. Many groups of pilgrims travelled to Jerusalem to meet the Lord there. Buildings went unrepaired. Crops were left unplanted. And criminals were set free from jails. But we do not know what hour our Lord is coming. (8)

*I have this book titled "101 Reasons Why Christ Returns by 1988." I got it back in the late 1970s, and it's a good book too. Most of the 101 reasons make perfect sense. But of course Jesus didn't return in 1988.

*Probably the most tragic prediction in modern times happened in 1992. Some of you may remember this. A Korean group called "Mission for the Coming Days" had the Korean churches in an uproar. They predicted October 28, 1992 as the date for the rapture. Numerology was the basis for the date. Several camera pictures somehow contained ghostly images that were thought to be a supernatural confirmation of the date.

*An estimated 5,000 people sold their homes and deserted their jobs and families to wait for Jesus' return. Several expectant mothers reportedly had abortions so they could be more easily raptured. What a tragic mistake. And anybody who tries to set the date for the Lord's return is making a mistake. (8)

*Many different people in different places at different times with different theories have predicted the date for Jesus to return. They were different in a whole lot of ways, but they all had one thing in common: They were all wrong. So we must be careful not to set a specific date for the Lord's return, because our knowledge of the day is delayed.

3. But the need to prepare is paramount.

*The Lord warns us in vs. 37-39:

37. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

38. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

39. and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."

*The need to prepare is paramount. In vs. 42-44, Jesus stressed this truth again very clearly to His followers:

42. "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

43. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

44. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him."

*We all need to get ready, and we need to stay ready for the Lord's return. This is so important that the Lord gave two parables to help us be ready. Lord willing, we will look at those in a couple of weeks. And next week, we will take a closer look at the rapture. But we all need to get ready for the Lord's return.

*Are you ready? The only way to get ready is to receive Jesus as your Lord Savior. So trust in the cross of Christ and the price He paid for our sins. Our Risen Savior Jesus Christ is surely coming again, and He will surely save anyone who will trust in Him.

*That is the only way to get ready for the Lord's return. Make sure you are ready as we go back to God in prayer.

(1) SermonCentral illustration submitted by Guy Caley - Source: "Today in the Word", MBI, December, 1989, p. 40

(2) Quotation by Charles Colson - Source: "Bible Illustrator for Windows" - Topic: Bible - Index: 414-434 - Date: 10/1995.10185 - Title: Bible

(3) Adapted from "Israel, God's Timepiece - Parable of the Fig Tree" by John Phillips - Dr. John Phillips Ministries International -


(5) Sources:

SermonCentral sermon "The Role of Israel in the Last Days" by John Stensrud - Matthew 24:32-39 - Immanuel BC of Elgin, IL on Dec. 9, 2001


(7) Russell Chandler, "Doom's Day" - p. 91 - Source: sermon "When Satan Comes Out of the Closet" by James Merritt - 2 Thess 2:1-12

(8) Sources:

"End of the World Date Prediction Timeline" - - 06152004 - Source:

"Miscalculated Rapture: October 28, 1992," - WEF-Theological News 23, no. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1992), 1 - Source: "The Imminent Return of the Lord" by Earl D. Radmacher, Th.D. - Chafer Theological Seminary - CTSJ 4:1 - January 1998 - Chafer.nextmeta.comfilesv4n3_radm.pdf

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