Matthew 24:15-28 The Great Tribulation Pt. 3: The Abomination of Desolation

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Explaining the Abomination of Desolation and Great Tribulation's Historical Context. Application: No matter what Trial or Tribulation we face, we are not under God’s judgment and God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.

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Intro

The Abomination of Desolation.
What is it and what does it show us about God’s grace today?

Context

We’ve been studying Matthew 24 and have been looking at how this is not a prophecy about the end of the world, but a prophecy about the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans.
Right before this passage in Matthew 23, Jesus condemned Jerusalem and said that because Jerusalem rejected Christ and killed the prophets God sent to it their house, their temple would be left desolate (Matthew 23:37-38).
And then pointing to the Temple that was standing there in Jesus’ day, He told the disciples Truly I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down (Matthew 24:2).
By this point He had already cleansed the Temple twice and according to the Law in Leviticus 14 it needed to be torn town brick by brick.
And so the disciples come and ask him Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? (Matthew 24:3).
When will you come and destroy the Temple and how will we know its about to happen.
And the rest of Matthew 24 answers that question. He tells them all the signs that re going to take place and as to when he says Matthew 24:34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
That’s the key to interpreting this whole passage.
Either everything Jesus says, all these things, took place in that generation, the generation living in Jesus’ day, or else Jesus was a false prophet.
And what we are going to see, especially today, is that everything Jesus talked about happened within about 40 years, within one generation, of giving the Olivet discourse.
Verses 4-14 talked about the beginning of the birth pains. A phrase that talked about one age giving birth to a new one.
Christ established the Kingdom and the New Covenant in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, and for 40 years there was an overlap of the New Covenant, gospel, Christian, Church age and the Old Covenant age.
And when Jerusalem was destroyed, the Old Covenant which was obsolete and growing old according to Hebrews (Heb. 8:13), finally vanished away and gave birth to the New Covenant Christian age to stand on its own without the Old Covenant weighing it down.
And that takes us to the labor and delivery of this stand Alone New Covenant age and the putting away of the Old Covenant Age, with the Abomination of Desolation prophesied by Jesus in verses 15-28.

I. Abomination of Desolation

Matthew 24:15-20 So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.
Now right off the bat, I want you to see that what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 24 is a local judgment.
People that take the Great Tribulation to be a future, world wide Tribulation seem to ignore the fact that Jesus explicitly says its all going to happen in Judea.
If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains.
This is not a worldwide judgment. This is a judgment you can run away from on foot. Just flee to the mountains.
And we are going to see, that is exactly what the Christians did before Jerusalem was destroyed when they saw the Abomination of Desolation.
Well what is that?

Antiochus

The Abomination of Desolation comes from the book of Daniel.
And in Daniel the Abomination of Desolation had to do with a man named Antiochus Epiphanes.
Antiochus was a monster.
He was a Syrian King who ruled over Israel and terrorized the Jews.
He slaughtering thousands of Jewish men and sold women and children into slavery.
And in 168 BC he slaughtered a pig on the Altar of the Temple and desecrated it. He made it unclean and cut off the people of God from worshiping for three years until the Maccabean revolt finally drove the Syrians out.

Double Fulfillment Vs. Type

But here Jesus points to that Abomination of Desolation and says you need to be looking for that again.
This is another one of those examples of what we might call ultimate fulfillment or double fulfillment.
And people that take Matthew 24 to be future will often say, “Well yeah its about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, but there will be another fulfillment one day in the future of everything Jesus says.”
The problem with that is if there can be a double fulfillment why not a third, fourth, fifth, hundredth? How would anyone ever know when its actually being fulfilled?
But more important than that, I think we should limit our double fulfillment and ultimate fulfilment of prophecy to the things the New Testament explicitly tells us “This - what you’re seeing - is that - what was prophesied.
So no. I don’t think we should be looking for double fulfillments where the Bible doesn’t explicitly say so. If the Bible is prophesying about something, we should take that to be all that it is.
Now that’s not say prophecies like Matthew 24 can’t still be looked at or thought through as a Type.
A Type is a shadowy picture that gives us a little bit of clarity about something we are seeing today.
For example, the destruction of Jerusalem, or Sodom and Gomorrah or Babylon, are all a type, a shadowy picture, of the Final Judgment.
We can look at them and say that is a picture, a blurry picture, of what that greater judgment is going to be like.
But here’s the difference between a type and double fulfillment.
With a type we say ok this, what we are seeing, is like that. But with a double fulfillment you have to say we are looking for all these prophecies to happen again.
So for example, say a nation, any nation, was coming under judgment.
It would be fair to look at other nations God has judged in the Bible and say that gives us a picture of what might be going on behind the scenes. Of what God is doing.
But it would not be fair to look at those and say, “Well yeah. Matthew 24 happened to Jerusalem, but we should still be looking for it to happen again” when there is no Biblical basis to do so.
Unless otherwise told in Scripture, we should understand prophecy to only be talking about what its talking about and then look at those prophecies to see what applications they might have for us today.
So with the Abomination of Desolation, we should look at that in Matthew 24 and see that the destruction of Jerusalem itself is the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy, not Antiochus Ephiphanes, because Jesus explicitly says so.
There’s not some future double fulfillment because what Jesus was talking about was the double fulfillment.
Its like Jesus takes the Abomination of Desolation out of the box as a True Prophet of God, and starts the prophecy clock on it again.
For Him, the Abomination of Desolation wasn’t just about the Temple being desecrated and made unclean under Antiochus Ephiphanes. The ultimate fulfillment of the Abomination of Desolation would be the Temple’s total and complete destruction.
Would be when it was torn down and desecrated by the Romans not one stone left on another altogether.
So Jesus says, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. But then He also says let the reader understand.
That’s a note from Matthew that expects the reader to know what Jesus is talking about.
He doesn’t explain it because he expected Christians to know what they were supposed to be looking for.
Well what is that?
Thankfully Luke tells us.

Surrounded by Armies

Luke 21:20-22 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
Now Matthew was written for a Jewish audience so he takes for granted his audience’s understanding of the Abomination of Desolation and the book of Daniel.
Luke, on the other hand, writes for Gentile believers like us to flesh out and explain what Jesus said.
So for Luke, the Abomination of Desolation is near when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, and when you see that, everyone in Judea, the greater country outside of Jerusalem needs to flee to the mountains and those who are inside the city of Jerusalem itself need to get out.
That’s why Matthew says Matthew 24:17-18 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
When people worked in the fields they would show up in a cloak. But as the day got hotter they would take it off and leave it on the side of the field.
And Jesus’ point was that when you see the Abomination of Desolation, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, don’t waste a second. You’re not going to have much time. You need to get out.
Don’t worry about your stuff and don’t even worry cloak to keep you warm at night.
You need to flee.
That’s why He also says Matthew 24:20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.
During the winter the days would be short and travel would be cold and hard because the roads would be covered in mud (France, TNTC: Matthew, 344).
And on the Sabbath, the gates of Jersualem would be shut and you wouldn’t be able to buy supplies on your way out of town because no one would be working.
Not to mention some of the Jews might arrest you for traveling more than a mile or two on the Sabbath and keep you in the city against your will.
All of this again shows us that Jesus was talking to the generation alive at that time and the judgment that was going to come on Judea and Jerusalem.
We aren’t worried about Sabbath laws today. And if the Great Tribulation was a world wide judgment in the future, it would make little since for Jesus to tell us to flee and try to run away from it or pray that our flight would not be on the Sabbath.
No. He was telling the church, when Rome comes and surrounds Jerusalem that’s when you know its destruction is near and its time to get out.
And that is exactly what the church did.

History of Flight

Now this history starts with a man named Gessius Florus. Florus was a Procurator or Governor of Palestine put there by Nero himself.
Florus reigned over Jerusalem from 64-66 AD and he really pushed Israel to the edge (Bruce Gore, YouTube: 37. The Fall of Jerusalem and the Apocalypse, 3 min 40 sec).
Obviously Israel had Roman Governors. We have Pilate, Felix, Festus, all mentioned in the Bible.
And some governors were better than others driving tension between Rome and the Jews.
Well when Florus comes along, he’s about as bad as they can get.
Josephus, who was a Jewish Historian from that day fought in and was an eye witness the the Jewish Wars leading up to the destruction of the Temple, tells us that Florus “filled Judea with abundance of miseries” and even called his government barbaric.
(Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 541).
Just to give you an example, Florus stole money from the Temple and when he did a crowd broke out to protest.
Some men in the crowd took the opportunity to insult Florus and curse his name.
So the next day, Florus called up the leaders of Israel and commanded them to hand over the criminals.
Because of the large crowd, the Jews didn’t know who they were so they begged for forgiveness and promised that the people would not give Florus anymore trouble.
All this did was anger Florus so he slaughtered 3,600 men, women, and children to make the point.
Wars, Book 2, Chapter 14, Paragraph 6-9, (293-308)), Josephus, 616).
There was another man named Cestius Gallus, and he was the governor of Syria right next door.
He came to Jerusalem and 3 million Jews came out and begged him to help them against Florus.
Florus convinced Cestius it was all nonsense, and Cestius promised the Jews that Florus would treat them better from there on out.
However, now Florus started to worry that the Jews might try to get someone to Caesar, and he would lose everything he had in the Roman government.
So from that day on, he did everything he could to incite the Jews into a rebellion thinking that if he could drive them to revolt against Rome everything he did would be justified (Wars, Book 2, Ch. 14, P. 6-9 (280-283).
So he pushed and pushed and pushed until it, finally, all reached a boiling point.
And finally in the Fall of 66, the revolt of the Jewish people broke out and they drove Rome out of Jerusalem and took control of the city (Gore, YouTube: 37. The Fall of Jerusalem and the Apocalypse, 5 min 35 sec).
Now Rome couldn’t have that. So Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, musters an army to go to retake Jerusalem.
Cestius surrounded the city and laid seige to it.
And then 6 days later, nobody really knows why, Cestius called off his troops and left the city (Josephus 631-633).
Now the Zealots in Jerusalem saw this as an opportunity.
You’ll remember them from the gospels.
These were the Jews that hated Rome and wanted to violently overthrow the Roman Government and liberate Israel from their enemies.
And so when they saw Cestius retreat, they took that as divine intervention, and so the zealots went after him.
They chased the Romans down, killed thousands of soldiers, and won a decisive victory at the Battle of Beth-Horon.
Well when they came back to the city, that gave them all the political power they would need to take control of Jerusalem because it looked like God was finally going to free Israel from Roman oppression (Gore, YouTube: 37. The Fall of Jerusalem and the Apocalypse, 6 min 30 sec).
And that was the spark that started the Jewish Wars.
After all this, Nero realized he had a huge problem on his hands. There was already some instability in the Empire, but now there was a major revolt in a major part of the Roman World.
So Nero decides to make an example of the Jews. and he sends Vespasian, one of the best military minds in the history of the Roman Empire to squash this thing once and for all.
So he comes with 60,000 troops, crosses the Euphrates, and burns down city after city on their way to Jerusalem.
Remember how Jesus called out woes to those cities that rejected him? Woe to you Chorazin! Bethsaida! Capernaum! (Luke 10:13-16).
With Vespasian the bill was coming due.
Eventually Vespasian goes back to Rome to become Emperor after the Year of the Four Emperors where Rome was in turmoil and in death throes to bring the Empire back to stability.
You remember Jesus prophesying about wars and rumors of wars. That was it.
He left his son, Titus, to finish the campaign, and Titus laid seige to Jerusalem in April of AD 70 and eventually destroyed the city 5 months later in August.
But before Titus ever got there the Christians were already gone.
When they saw Cestius surround Jerusalem, and then retreat, they remembered what Jesus said and got out of dodge.
Some went north to Syria. Some to Egypt. Others to the Judean wilderness and country side (Bruce Gore, YouTube: 37. The Fall of Jerusalem and the Apocalypse, 8 min).
A church historian, Eusebius, even tells us that some of these Christians found refuge in a city called Pella and explicitly says they escaped the hands of the Romans because they listened to Jesus’ prophecy.
And so Christ protected His people. Just like Lot, He brought them out of the city before it was destroyed.
But that wasn’t the case for the Jews. While all the Christians were running away Jerusalem as fast as they could, all the Jews were fleeing to the city.
As Rome marched up and down the countryside, they thought the safest place to be was Jerusalem.
In the ancient world if your in a war you want to be behind some city walls.
And Jerusalem was well stocked with enough food and supplies to withstand a seige for several years.
Plus, in the Jewish mind, God, would protect His Temple. He wouldn’t let it be destroyed and He would save His people.
But because they rejected Christ, what they failed to realize was that there was no salvation coming for them. Only judgment.
Like Luke said, those were the days of Vengeance (Luke 21:22).

II. Days of Vengeance

Remember what Jesus had said. Matthew 23:32-36 Woe to you scribes and Pharisees...Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers...I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth...Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Israel, that generation, rejected Christ. They crucified him. And then, when He sent his church, they killed them too.
The first persecutors of the Church was not Rome it was the Jews. That’s what you see all throughout the book of Acts.
And do you remember what the Martyrs said in the book of Revelation?
Revelation 6:10-11 How long, O Lord before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the land?”
How long until you avenge us?
And they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
This is what they were talking about.
When Rome destroyed Jerusalem Israel had finally filled up the measure of their sins with the blood of Christ and the saints and now God was pouring it out on them in the cup of His wrath.
And do you see how great God’s wrath was?
Everyone in Israel ran to Jerusalem. The city became packed, overwhelmed and overpopulated.
That wasn’t an accident. It was the providence of God.
God gathered that generation from all over Judea, everywhere Christ preached, healed the sick, and ministered, and he brought them into one place to pour out His wrath on everyone at once.
Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19).
These were days of vengeance.
What happened in Jerusalem during that five month seige was absolutely horrible.
Jesus said...
Matthew 24:19-22 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!...
Jesus singles out mothers to give a total picture of just how horrible the wrath of God would be. They kind of epitomize the suffering the Jews were going to endure.
For one, they would see their children murdered by the sword of the Roman soldiers. Unable to protect them or calm their fears.
Also, if you were pregnant or had nursing infants it meant there was no chance of escape without a horrible cost.
If you tried to run away, your child would weigh you down and make it hard to escape.
So if you did try to escape, the best chance you would have was to abandon your child. Leave them behind. Crying, scared, and alone to wait for their death.
Finally, in the seige of Jerusalem, Jesus knew they would see their children starving.
Famine is one of the curses for breaking God’s covenant, and during the seige of Jerusalem a man-made famine absolutely wrecked the city.
You see, the Zealots thought God was going to save them. So what they did, was that they burned all the food in the city to try and force God’s hand to deliver them.
If they hadn’t done that, they probably could've lasted out the seige for several years, but within just a few weeks time people started starving.
And if that weren’t bad enough, Josephus tells us that the famine got so bad, and people got so hungry that women and parents started eating their own children.
Which is one of the most severe curses for breaking God’s covenant. Deuteronomy 28:53 And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.
And in the seige of Jerusalem that actually happened.
But that wasn’t all.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
A Tribulation is a great calamity or suffering.
And if those days had not been cut short, no human being, literally no flesh, would be saved. But for the sake of God’s elect they will be cut short.
The idea there is that if Rome had waged a multi-year seige where Jerusalem was closed in, they would’ve sent troops all throughout the land and killed anyone they found.
But God brought it to an end in just five months to protect his church that had fled for the hills.
And Jesus said that the Great Tribulation the suffering that would fall on Jerusalem would be such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.
This by the way takes away any possibility of a double fulfillment because this Great Tribulation that never will be again was going to take place in that generation.
And it was Great.
Famine and disease wreaked havoc in the city.
Everybody else was either killed or taken captive.
Over one million people died.
And the Romans eventually got so tired of killing that they started taking everybody not fighting them alive.
Anyone over 17 years old they sent to the Egyptian mines or Roman theaters to be killed with the sword or torn apart by wild beasts (Josephus 748-749).
Anyone under 17 they sold as slaves and they took so many slaves that they actually crashed the whole slave economy.
And in a bit of dark irony as Jews tried to flee the city they were captured, nearly five hundred a day, and the Romans whipped them, tortured them, and crucified them like they crucified Christ before the wall of the city to try and scare the Jews into surrendering (Josephus 720).
And Josephus says that out of the wrath and hatred they had for the Jews, they nailed one after another after another after another until there was no more room for crosses and no more crosses for the bodies (Josephus 720).
It was so horrible, that Titus, the Roman General, even said it could have only been the wrath of God turning on his people (Bruce Gore, YouTube: 37. The Fall of Jerusalem and the Apocalypse, 24 min).
Now someone might say, Well, how was this the Greatest Tribulation ever? Weren’t more Jews killed in the Holocaust?

Great Tribulation Definition

That language, never was nor never will be, is prophetic language.
Remember Jesus is a prophet, those words describe\ a great work and mighty judgment of God in History.
When he told Pharoah about the angel of death that would kill every first born in Egypt, Moses said Exodus 11:6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.
Talking about the destruction of the first Temple by Babylon Ezekiel 5:9 And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the like of which I will never do again.
So for Jesus, the Great Tribulation described the suffering that rocked the Roman world as the Old Covenant age gave birth to the New (remember how the early signs talked about the beginning of the birth pangs.
It includes all the suffering and birth pains of the world, the church, and especially Jerusalem as the Old Covenant age passed away and gave way to the New (Heb. 8:13).
And the siege of Jerusalem is really where the Great Tribulation focuses in and comes to a point because it was the final labor pains, the last thing, that finally put away the Old Covenant and gave birth to the stand alone, New Covenant age.
This is why it never was nor ever will be again.
And for the Jews, there really was nothing like it. This was the moment the Kingdom was taken from them and given to a people producing the fruits of it (Matthew 21:43), and it was the moment, where when they needed God most, they realized He had abandoned them.
There is no greater calamity or suffering, tribulation, than that.
And that’s the context that makes the next part of the Olivet Discourse make sense.

3. Judgment Instead of Salvation

Matthew 24:23-28 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
As the Romans invaded Jerusalem and especially as everything just kept looking worse and worse, it would have been easy to deceive the Jews to believe that in their darkest hour, the Christ was about to show up.
He was hidden. Maybe in the wilderness or some secret, inner room, but God has to save us.
He promised the Messiah would deliver us from our enemies, and we’ve never needed deliverance more than now when we are on the brink of absolute and total destruction.
And they will be so convincing with false signs and wonders that if it were actually possible to deceive the Elect, they would.
The judgment here is that the Jews would have their hopes built up only to be crushed back down because Jesus says do not believe it.
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
The lightning is an allusion to Zechariah 9:14.
Matthew had already quoted Zechariah 9:9 at the Triumphal entry when he said Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey.
The prophecy of Zechariah 9 is a prophecy all about the Kingdom. About the Messiah coming to establish His worldwide Kingdom over all the nations.
And verse 14 says Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord God will sound the trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.
He is the warrior King who judges his enemies with his arrow like lightening, and establishes His Kingdom.
You’ll remember that Jesus established the Kingdom in His life, death, and resurrection, but with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, it finally stands on its own.
It is the New Covenant Kingdom and the Old Covenant was finally put away.
That’s the coming of the Son of Man.
In context, this is not talking about the Second Coming. Matthew’s coming of the Son of Man is from Daniel 7 which says the Son of Man will come up to the Ancient of Days to receive dominion, glory, and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him (Daniel 7:13-14).
So the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24 is not His coming back to earth, its His sitting on the throne.
The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1).
And when Jesus destroyed Jerusalem, it was definitive proof what the King of kings would do to any nation that rejected Him and persecuted His church.
Kiss the Son less you perish (Psalm 2:12).
The destruction of Jerusalem was Christ’s final work to establish the Kingdom once and for all.
And finally Jesus says, Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
This is a covenant judgment.
Deuteronomy 28:25-26: If Israel broke the covenant God said The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away.
This would be a clear and undeniable sign that Israel was under judgment for breaking God’s covenant.
Apostate Old Covenant Israel is the corpse, and they were going to be killed under the judgment of God left to rot and be eaten by the birds
And here’s what’s really interesting. You can translate that word vultures as Eagles. And when Rome went into battle, the symbol of their armies was an eagle.
Wherever the corpse is, there the eagles, the Roman legions, will gather.
Everything Jesus prophesied about the Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation came to pass in history exactly as Christ said it would.
Christ used the Romans to judge Israel and pour out all the curses of the covenant on the ones that crucified Him.

Conclusion

Now. What does this have to do with us.
Let’s make one quick application.
From the Abomination of Desolation, we see that Christ protected His people from God’s wrath. He brought them out of Jerusalem before the judgment of fell on that city.
Here’s what I want to take away from that.

No matter what Trial or Tribulation we face, we are not under God’s judgment and God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Whatever trial, tribulation, or suffering we might face we need to remember There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
There is no wrath, no judgment for God’s elect.
Even when God judges nations, which he still does, Revelation and Ezekiel tell us God seals His elect to protect them from that judgment just like He did with the church before the Fall of Jerusalem.
So whether its corporately, all of us going through something together, or just personally, When everything in our life feels like its falling apart...
Whether that’s out there in the world with things like the Economy, cultural decay, or civil unrest...
If God asks us to suffer persecution together and hold fast to Christ...
Or if its just personal hardships God has providentially given us to endure, we don’t have to fear or wonder what God is doing or where God is.
Christ holds us in His hand.
And because Christ holds us in His hand, nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:35, 37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The temptation of trials and suffering is to believe the lie that God’s forgotten you, or left you, that He doesn’t love you or maybe He’s angry.
But all that says is that the gospel is not true.
Christ died on the cross in our place for our sin. He bore the wrath and judgment of God so that we would never have to.
So whatever trial you face, you are not under judgment. You are not under condemnation. God is not angry at you. All of His wrath was fully satisfied in the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
You have been adopted by your heavenly Father, with the precious blood of Jesus that secures for you an eternal redemption. A forever adoption.
Israel broke God’s covenant, rejected Christ, and was abandoned by God.
But if you’re in Christ, Jesus kept the covenant on your behalf. He forgave your sins once and for all.
You will never be cut off. You will never be forsaken, because Christ was forsaken on your behalf.
Now because of Christ we can trust that all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28).
Sure it might be hard. But its not God’s judgment or anger. All that was already satisfied in Christ.
Instead, God is our good Father who with perfect wisdom knows precisely what we need to loose our grip on the world and love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
So when we face tribulation and hard times, our job is to grow in our sanctification.
To remember that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness, and our job is to let steadfastness have its full effect (James 1:4).
When it feels like your life is about to crush us under its weight, the Love of Christ holds you up.
That’s why we should Count it all joy, brothers when you face trials of various kinds.
Because every trial big and small, even the ones that feel like they are going to drown you, prove over and over again and over again God’s amazing grace to keep us and hold us up when we are too weak to keep going on our own.
Our suffering and our trials, when used rightly, can lead to worship.
They can show us our sin so we can repent.
They can remind us how much God loves us and forgiven us in Christ.
And they make our life one that brings glory to God by showing the world how good, amazing, and gracious God is when we walk by faith and not by sight.
Don’t waste your suffering, and don’t let your suffering rob from you the joy of the Lord.

No matter what Trial or Tribulation you face, you are not under judgment and God will never leave you or forsake you.

He holds us and delivers us even when you feel like you are living in a free fall.
So let me ask you. What in your life do you feel like is about to crush you? What is getting so heavy you don’t know how much longer you can hold it up?
Do you trust God, or are you buying into the lie that maybe He’s forgotten you?
I want you to go to the Lord and say God how are you using this to make me more like Christ?
How are you using this for my good? Show me so that I can let steadfastness have its full effect.
And then I want you look at your life to see where God’s grace is keeping you, and give Him thanks.
We might go through suffering, hardship, and tribulation in this life.
But because of Jesus, God will never abandon us like He abandoned Israel.
We never have to fear God’s judgment or anger and we can trust His wisdom and providence is for our good and His glory.
In Christ, God has promised you over and over and over again, the most common command in the entire Bible: Do not fear. For I am with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you no matter what you might face.

Let’s Pray

Scripture Reading

Psalm 103:10-19 “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”
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