When will these things happen?
Over the summer we have been going through a series to Understand Bible Prophecy.
My goal is to help us all better understand what God has revealed about Himself, and His plan to redeem us, and to restore us to Himself.
I do not believe God wants any believer to think that they cannot understand what God has revealed in certain passages and books. God gave us what He revealed that we might better know Him.
All prophecy is given to encourage, exhort and comfort.
How has prophecy been an encouragement to us thus far?
We have seen in past weeks how what God revealed gives us assurance that His word is true, and we can trust it!
We have seen that God is faithful. What He revealed has not changed from the time of Job, up through the time of the apostles. He has not changed plans. He is faithful, and will do all He has said.
We have seen that God does what He says. We do not need to interpret things spiritually to make scripture work. No, we can read it in the normal, literal sense.
We have seen that prophecy can bring us comfort and hope. Knowing that God plans to come and take us to Himself is a great hope! Knowing that He will resurrect our loved ones, that we may be together with them, with Christ is a great comfort for all who have lost loved ones that were believers.
Today, we are going to look at another prophecy. Will this bring us encouragement? Will it bring us comfort? Will it bring us some exhortation?
Let’s ask God to speak to us from His word how He would like, and for Him to give us ears to hear, and a will to obey.
In past weeks we talked about the Day of the Lord. We talked about the Rapture of the Church. We talked about the coming Kingdom of God. We talked about the Resurrection.
Naturally, the question many people have is, “When will these things happen?”
Believe it or not, this same question was asked by the disciples to Jesus during His last week, before the crucifixion.
Their question and the answer Jesus gave is recorded for us in Matthew’s, Mark’s and Luke’s gospels.
None of the three authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit to include the whole of Jesus’ answer. Each of them wrote what the Spirit wanted them to emphasize to their individual audiences.
Matthew’s gospel was written primarily for Jews. Mark’s was an abbreviated account written for Romans. Luke’s was written primarily for Greeks, and as an apologetic for Christianity.
To help us get a fuller understanding of Jesus’ answer to the question, I have done my best to compile what I believe is the complete answer from the three gospels.
For the sermon notes today, I have given you a printout with the three gospel accounts in parallel columns.
Matthews account, from Matthew 24, is in the first column.
Marks account, from Mark 13, is in the second column.
Lukes account, from Luke 21, is in the third column.
This is the format that helps me to better understand Jesus’ answer, and I hope it is a help to you as well.
Let’s work our way through this passage.
As we do, look for clues as to why Jesus is sharing what is coming in the future with His disciples, and with us and all those in the future who will read this message from Jesus.
To work our way through, I am going to read through what I believe are the portions from each account that will give us the complete picture of what Jesus said.
Feel free to glance across the other columns to see how the accounts line up.
Let’s begin in Matthew 24.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said,
“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately,
This gives us the setting. After leaving the temple, Jesus left the city of Jerusalem, went across the valley to the Mount of Olives.
Here on the Mount of Olives, Jesus disciples question Him, and He answers. His answer is called by some the Olivet Discourse; which is a fancy way of saying, Jesus’ answer and explanation.
What what He answering?
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
What are the questions? Underline them in your notes.
When will this happen (the destruction of the temple)?
What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?
Two different things here. So, Jesus will answer them, and give surrounding details as well.
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
All these are the beginning of birth pains.
The wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences (read deadly diseases), and fearful events and signs in the heavens are not the sign of the destruction of the temple; nor are they the end. They are just birth pangs. The end is coming, but not yet.
We are in this time period right now. Not a day goes by that we do not hear of some war, strife, earthquake, disease, or other catastrophe. These things should remind of us Jesus prophecy. He told the truth!
What was jesus’ command in this portion?
Do no be frightened.
Why did He share this? Because He did not want us to be unaware. He did not want us to be afraid when we hear of these things.
Next, Luke has an important detail that Matthew and Mark do not.
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.
And so you will bear testimony to me.
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Circle this verse. Why did Jesus share what was coming? Because we need to let people know. Not only do we let them know about the bad things coming, but we let them know about the hope of salvation which is found in Christ alone!
Jesus wants us to know, and share the hope of eternal life which we have in Him.
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
Circle “Do not worry.”
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
Too often, we worry about what we will say. When it comes time to bear witness, we need to trust Him to give us the words to say.
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
Everyone will hate you because of me.
People will not all respond well. In fact, even our closest friends and family members will reject the message and betray us.
Why are they doing it? Because of Jesus.
But not a hair of your head will perish.
God will preserve and rescue us. He is going to resurrect us even if we die!
Stand firm, and you will win life.
Circle this. Jesus wants us to stand firm even though things are going to get rough.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Unfortunately, many will not be faithful to Christ when opposition comes. Many will turn away.
If we stand firm, we will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
This happened in AD 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.
This took place in the midst of the wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences which are taking place now, and will continue to take place during the Tribulation period. Revelation speaks of these things taking place as part of God’s wrath being poured out.
Then, just in the midst of that outpouring of God’s wrath, there will an idol set up in God’s temple to draw all people from worshipping the One true God.
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
The people of the ruler who will come… there will be a future ruler coming to oppose God. The people of that future ruler will destroy Jerusalem, both the city and the temple sanctuary.
Later, when that ruler comes, he will make a covenant with many for seven years. In the middle of those years, he will set up this abomination in the new temple of God. This will be an idol for people to worship, instead of worshiping God.
This is what Jesus refers to again here in the Olivet Discourse.
Just as when the temple was destroyed in AD 70, so too, when this abomination takes place, the Jews who will then be living need to flee Jerusalem.
then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the distress of those days “ ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Generation - race
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Do not be frightened...
We must bear witness to all nations.
Be careful of: carousing, drunkeness, anxieties of life
Read through Matthew 24. Ask the Lord why He revealed this to you.
Read Mark 13. Ask the Lord why He revealed this to you.
Read Luke 21:5-36. Ask the Lord why He revealed this to you.
Read the compiled account using the homework sheet. Ask the Lord why He revealed this to you.
Read the compiled account again. What frightens you in life? How can you be careful to not allow the “anxieties of life” overwhelm you? Review Joseph’s messages if necessary. Take your cares to the Lord who cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Pray through the anxiety, and ask the Lord to help you focus on what is true, noble, right, lovely, pure, admirable, and excellent (Philippians 4:8). Set your mind on those things. Set your minds on the comfort that God knows what is going to happen. Set your mind on the Lord who will be with you. Set your hope on God who is working all of this out for His eternal plan, and who will give you the strength you need for the moment (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Read Luke 21:34-36. Are you Praying and being careful each day? How can you be more careful? How can you be a witness this week? How can you help to prepare your children? Your grandchildren? Your nieces and nephews? Your friends so that they can know the comfort and hope in light of what is coming?