When Will These Things Happen?

The Fulcrum of Time  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:25
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The coming destruction of Jerusalem and its temple will mark a new phase in the establishment of God's kingdom under the vindicated Son of Man.

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Descriptions of a Journey

If I asked you to describe your favorite vacation, most would start with the final destination as a summary of the trip, then may zoom in to some of your favorite individual memories.
The same thing happens in Luke 21 (which is expanded in Mt 24:1-51). vv.8-19 give a big overview, then Jesus zooms in to a couple highlights, and he concludes with some applications to His prophecy.

Curiosity and Caution (vv.7-8a)

When? It is natural to be curious about what is going to happen. As early as Genesis 3, God begins prophesy about the cross. In Gen 12 God predicts the future of Abraham’s family. Later God prophesies to Moses what will happen when he engages Pharoah. God tells the Israelites what will happen before they begin marching around Jericho. And everything after Song of Solomon in our Bibles is prophecy. Some was fulfilled in the near future, and some still waits to be fulfilled.
The Old Testament frequently withheld the time frame of when things would happen. Jesus also refused to answer the Disciples’ when question here.
What? The immediate context of the question was the destruction of the Temple, but Jesus expands the frame to include everything from the following Sunday until the end of time.
As Jesus describes the big picture, He starts with a general Caution.
Warning: Do not be led astray! False teachers would arise almost immediately after the ascension. Philippians, Galatians, 2 Timothy, 1 & 2 John are just a few places where false teachers are mentioned during the first century. This same warning is just as relevant 2 millennia later. Not all that claims to be Christian is truly aligned with the purpose of God.
Transition: In the following group of verses Jesus gives 6 characteristics of the time of the Gentiles (the time from Pentecost until the 2nd Coming). These are the signs of these things.

Looking Toward the Horizon (vv.8b-19)

False Messengers (v.8b)

Krishna, Mohammed, Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard are just a few who have claimed enlightenment of a way to God. We don’t have to look any further than David Koresh in Waco or Jim Jones in Guyana to see the destruction that comes from following a false messiah.

Wars & Uprisings (vv.9-10)

1. The end will not be at once/immediate/right away. This is a warning against premature prophecies.
This may surprise you, but I have never been pregnant, but my wife has 3 times. And I have learned that early contractions are not indications of the approaching delivery. As Matthew 24:8 describes it, these are the beginning of the birth pains.
2. Political conflict has existed for thousands of years and will continue until the 2nd Coming. Do NOT believe anyone who claims to be moving toward a world peace.
3. World Peace will not happen until AFTER the great battles of Revelation 19, when Jesus comes in Rev. 19:11 mounted not on a donkey, but on a white horse!
4. Alliances and treaties are no substitute for the King who will set all things right.
5. Until Jesus returns we can expect wars and conflict.

Natural Disasters (v.11)

1. Earthquakes, terrors and great signs in the sky should neither surprise nor alarm us.
2. Things happen below the surface of the earth that cause tectonic plates to shift yielding tidal waves and earthquakes and meteor showers, eclipses, and planetary alignment happen in the space above us.
3. These are signs that the end is coming, but not yet arrived. Disaster movies may play in the theatres, but rest assured that earth as we know it will not be destroyed by meteors or tsunami. AFTER the rebellion of Rev. 18, Jesus will establish a kingdom on earth in Rev. 20 and only AFTER the millennial reign will the new Heaven and Earth come into being.

Persecution (vv.12,16-18)

1. V. 12 reminds that the persecution and martyrdom of believers does not catch God by surprise.
2. V.16 explains that family is not forever, no matter what the holiday cards or Hallmark movies claim.
3. V.17 warns of a coming “every man for himself” mindset that will divide families as Jesus predicted in…
Luke 12:51 ESV:2016
51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
4. You may be wondering how the last phrase of v.16 and v.18 can both be true.
a. “a hair of your head” indicates this is a proverbial figure of speech (Cf. Luke 12:7; Acts 27:34; 1 Sam 14:45; 2 Sam 14:11; 1 Kgs 1:52.)
b. The ultimate reality is that even if the body is put to death (v.16) that many of us have memorized the promise of
John 3:16 ESV:2016
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Irresistible Testimony (vv.13-15)

As we get closer to the end of the time of the Gentiles, our testimony has been able to spread in ways unimagined by previous generations.
a. In Biblical times vessels existed that could navigate from Rome to the East via land or Sea, but Ships in the later 15th Century connected the American and European continents.
b. In the 16th century the printing press revolutionized written communication.
c. In the early 20th Century radio began to communicate sound and by 1926 the first noncommercial educational and religious radio station launched.
d. Technology continued to be leveraged to expand the Christian message with aviation, television, Satellite television, the WWW, and now mobile social media is providing a mouth and wisdom (v.15) unlike just 5-10 years ago.
e. Even this message from our own little church in Cottonwood Falls can be accessed on Facebook by 2.9 Billion users and 2.3 Billion on YouTube.

Endurance (v.19)

This word briefly includes what MT 24:10-13 explicitly describes as a great falling away or apostasy.
a. A word has been coined to describe a current trend that is being embraced by an alarming number of people who used to consider themselves born again.
b. Exvangelical describes those who have deconstructed their faith and now disavow any allegiance to Christ or the Gospel.
I have a young man whom I discipled who just this week posted on Twitter how he is questioning Young Earth creationism and the inerrancy of Scripture. Unfortunately, for many the loss of confidence in Scripture leads to delusion and rebellion like that of Eve.
Transition: If we were making a cross country trip, we would encounter some sites that deserve special attention. This is what Jesus does in the following verses as me moves from the long journey to the next site. If Jesus could accurately describe the near events (Pentecost & destruction of Jerusalem) it give credibility to His promises leading up to the 2nd coming.

Looking Around the Next Bend (vv.20-24)

Desolation echoes “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 12:11)

the detestable thing that causes the desolation, or desecration, of the Jerusalem temple[i]
In the Roman invasion of A.D. 70 the temple and altar itself was destroyed so that all that remains now is part of the Eastern wall. No temple meant that sacrifices could no longer be offered.
So v.21 speaks of citizens fleeing the city.
The vengeance in v.22 was prophesied in Hos 9:7 as God using foreign powers to punish His people for their disobedience.
Vv.23-24 describes how complete this punishment will be upon the Jews of Jerusalem.
Transition: From the near sign of Jerusalem Jesus moves back to the end of the longer journey.

Anticipating the Finish Line (vv.25-28)

Nature, Nations and Normal relations will experience crisis (vv.25-27)

1. When events and optimism are in turmoil, Believers should not lose hope! It is then that we will see the Son of Man and experience redemption coming to the rescue.
2. When earth has lost all hope and ability to cope, Jesus returns with power and great glory! [amen?!]
Transition: finally in v. 28 Jesus gets to the disciples’ question – When?


Jesus does not give a date reply to when, but he gives a how reply. How are we to reply when these things happen?
Straighten up! (v.28)– The reality of the 2nd Coming is to give us hope, encouragement and strength (raise your heads). We move from downcast apathy or discouragement to battle readiness when we place our trust in the blessed hope of Christ’s return!
Watch for These Things (vv.29-33)
Just as we see the color of the foliage change and we know that frost is coming. Jesus used a parable. Not to set a date, but to indicate a season.
Whenever we see one (or several) of the 6 that I gave us from vv.8-19, we are to prepare for action! We are not to use prophecy as an indication of despair, but a reminder to hope.
Watch Yourself (vv.34-36)
Delay is no excuse for doubt! Just because He hasn’t come yet, does not mean He isn’t coming. We have never been closer to the 2nd Coming than we are right now!
Article 12 of our doctrine statement-
We believe in the personal, premillennial, and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that this “Blessed Hope” has vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Titus 2:11-14).
Stay awake – Prophecy should keep us from apathy
Praying – Prophecy should motivate our communication with God.
Strength – Strength is required for service, not for passivity.
Standing (without shame) before the Son of Man.
Our response song is a word of testimony, celebration and recommitment to serve well. When the slide changes, the music will start without much of an intro. Are you ready to join me in singing “Marvelous message we bring”?
Song of Response #239.. “Jesus is Coming Again
Benediction: 2 Corinthians 2:14–15 (ESV:2016) —14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,
[i] David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 376.
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