Let’s have a word of prayer. I’m going to do a prophecy talk tonight but there will be a bit of a prophecy talk this morning too.
Let’s just have a word of prayer.
Lord, we thank You we can come together in the name of Jesus and pray You bless and guide the teaching now as I give it.
We pray for Your help, and we pray that You help us to understand these things and to know Your will.
We thank you Lord for Jesus. Thank You for giving us your Word and that Your Word is truth, and Your Word guides us into all truth.
Guide us Lord as we look at Your Word and the current situation in the world, in the name of Jesus, amen.
Our beloved leader Boris Johnson told us this week that ‘the world is at one minute to midnight’ as ‘a deal on climate change hangs in the balance’. If we don’t get serious about climate change, ‘it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow. If Glasgow fails, the whole thing fails.’
So, are we on the way to the end? Will the end of civilization come because of climate change? Or will the climate change agenda itself be part of the one-world government system which could bring us to the end?
The new ‘Heart magazine’ just came out. We’ve got it here.
It asks: ‘How long have we got to go?’
Quite a good edition this one! It says, ‘How long have we got? Till the lights go out? Until there’s another lockdown? Till other food shortages, until the fuel runs out, until vaccine deaths are reported along with COVID deaths? Until the nation turns to God in desperation? Until Jesus returns?
Good question! How long have we got?
Well, I don’t know because He didn’t really tell us the day or the hour, but He did say that when there are certain things happening in the world, then these are signs. ‘When these things begin to happen, you should look up and lift up your heads because you know that your redemption is drawing near.’ (Luke 21.28)
Probably the longest passage where Jesus speaks about his return is in Matthew 24 and I’m going to read a few verses from Matthew 24, not to go into it in great detail but just to bring out one or two major things which Jesus says concerning His coming.
First of all, Matthew 24, where did it take place? On the Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is a significant place. It is where Jesus ascended into heaven and where, according to Zechariah chapter 14, he’s going to come back to.
As He said on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said,
If you have an authorized version, it’ll say: “… the end of the world”. The Greek word is aeon αἰῶνος (ahee-ohn’) is it ‘the end of the world’ or ‘the end of the age’?
I believe it’s ‘the end of the age’ because there’s going to be a time, after Jesus returns, in which He’s going to reign on the earth for a thousand years in the time we call the Millennial Kingdom in which there will be peace and justice and the world will be put to rights. A time which I’m looking forward to!
The authorised version says it’s ‘the end of the world’. I think aeon is better translated as ‘age’ and it will be a time after Jesus returns.
But Matthew says the disciples recognize that Jesus said that He will come back. ‘What will be the sign of your coming?’
They were looking for a Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
A lot of the church has deleted that from the agenda but, whether the church has deleted it or not, it’s going to happen because Jesus answered, and He said to them:
Those general signs of the Coming, of false messiahs, wars and troubles, Jesus says, are going to happen, they’re not in themselves the sign of the end. He says: ‘the end is not yet.’
These are things that are going to happen in the time between the First and the Second Coming of Jesus.
Therefore, don’t be surprised if, after Jesus ascends to heaven, you’re going to see wars and troubles, you’re going to see false messiahs coming and leading people astray.
Has that happened in the time between the First and Second Coming of Jesus? Yes! And it’s going to continue and get more intense as you get nearer to the Second Coming of Jesus.
Jesus then goes on to say,
‘The beginning of sorrows’ is an important phrase. There, He’s saying that when you see these specific things happening, then you know that the countdown to the end times has begun.
Therefore, when you see an increase of wars of a nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in various places. Do you see those things happening? Do you see them increasing? As you see those things increasing, these are the signs of the ‘beginning of sorrows’.
‘The beginning of sorrows’ means the beginning of the labour pains which are going to lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus.
How long those labour pains would go on? Jesus doesn’t tell us. Therefore, they could begin and come very rapidly, or they could be extended.
We can’t tell the date, but we can see that, when you see these things begin to happen’, that process will be set in motion which will lead to the Second Coming of Jesus.
Jesus then goes on to describe some of the more intense aspects of this: the persecution of Christians, false prophets coming, evil going out into the world, also, the Gospel being preached to the ends of the earth.
- Sign 1: Increase in wars and violence.
- Sign 2. Earthquakes, Famines and pestilence.
- Sign 3: Natural disasters and the environment
- Sign 4: Immorality and lawless behaviour.
- Sign 5: The rebirth of Israel and the battle for Jerusalem.
- Sign 6: Globalisation
- Sign 7: Increase in technology
- Sign 8: False Prophets and Messiahs
- Sign 9: The attack on the faith
- Sign 10: The spread of the Gospel
- The Rapture of the Church
- The Great Tribulation
- The Millennium and the new heavens and new earth.
- When does the rapture happen?
And then in the verses from verse 15 onwards, He speaks very specifically about the time which we call the Great Tribulation, referring to Daniel the prophet and the ‘abomination of desolation’ standing in the Holy Place.
I won’t go into detail about what that means but He says, ‘when you see that beginning to happen that is one of the signs that you’re now in the last time, the last of the last times’ which we call the Great Tribulation.
In verse 21, Jesus says concerning this:
A number of passages in the Old Testament, in the Book of Jeremiah and in the Book of Daniel as well as other passages use almost the same wording and speak about a time of intense trouble ‘unlike any that has been before or ever shall be again’.
Jesus says quite specifically here that if God didn’t cut short those days of intense trouble, no flesh would be saved.
It’s interesting that He says, ‘no flesh would be saved’ not ‘no soul would be saved’. You could be killed in some war or have a nuclear bomb dropped on you and, if you’re a believing Christian, your soul will be saved.
If you are believing Christian, there wouldn’t be much left of your flesh, your flesh would go, and Jesus says specifically here that no flesh would be saved, implying that, if God didn’t cut short this process of the intense trouble, then it would be the end of life on earth.
There is that possibility then – Jesus does say that God will cut it short – that it’s not going to be the end of life on earth, because, as I’ve said, there’s going to be another thousand years, a glorious time in which Jesus is going to reign and bring peace and justice to the world.
But that is a possibility coming out of this time.
Finally, in verse 29, He says,
He will send His angels with a great sound of the trumpet. They will gather together, His elect, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Then He says something very specific that, after the end of the tribulation period, there’ll be a visible sign which will be the sun going dark, the moon not giving its light, and something happens to affect the light from the stars and the heavens.
Therefore, there will be a darkness on the earth and, when that darkness happens, suddenly there will be the sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven.
It doesn’t tell us what the sign of the Son of Man is, but if we look at other scriptures you could deduce that the sign of the Son of Man is the shekinah, the glory of God with the piercing light of the glory of God coming and appearing in the heavens and the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Jesus says He’s going to come this time on the clouds of heaven, which means the glory of God, with power and great glory.
So, He is coming now to the earth with power and great glory to judge the world in righteousness.
He says He’s going to send His angels and gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
This raises the question: is that the rapture of the church or is it the gathering together of the elect? Of those who have been saved during the tribulation period and the elect of Israel?
It is a question which theologians discuss. I believe this is not a description of the rapture of the church. He speaks about a gathering which will bring people together, and that, at that time, He will return to the earth.
When He comes back Jesus is not coming back on His own, He’s coming back with the saints, those have been previously died in faith, those who’ve been caught up to meet Him in the rapture of the church, and who will be part of that time when He can reign on the earth. Praise God!
Then, He says,
He is showing us that His word is going to continue right until the end of days. And He gives us this parable of the fig tree.
Now, there are two possible interpretations of the fig tree parable:
One is that the fig tree putting forth its leaves represents all of the prophecies taking place so that, when you see them, all happening, then, you know that Jesus is coming. We see it says this is going to be the sign of the Second Coming of Jesus: when you see all these things taking place that He has spoken of taking place, then, that is a sign of Jesus returning.
The other interpretation is that the fig tree represents the restoration of Israel, the national life of Israel. Because in the Old Testament, in the Book of Jeremiah and book of Hosea, the use of the fig tree is used as a symbol of the national life of Israel. Jesus cursed the fig tree and the fig tree withered. this is seen as a picture of the withering of the national life of Israel after His First Coming, after the dispersion of the Jewish people following the events of ad70. So, when you see that withering, the scattering of the Jewish people, then, you see them gathering together again to the land of Israel, particularly to Jerusalem, then, that is a sign that you’re living in the last days.
I believe that that is a sign to those who are living in the last days, that Jesus spoke of the scattering and of the regathering of Israel to the land of Israel and specifically of the events of 1948, the restoration of Israel, and in 1967, the return of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which becomes the ‘burdensome stone burdening all nations’ as Zechariah says, a source of conflict which would lead to the last battle, the battle over Jerusalem.
These are things which refer to our generation.
Then, in verse 36, He says,
Jesus speaks of the days of Noah, the days before the Flood, days when there was great wickedness on the earth. Noah preached to that generation and constructed the ark which would be the one place which people could go into to be saved when the Flood came.
We can draw a parallel with our salvation in Jesus. The time we live in is of great wickedness on the earth. God has made an ark of salvation for those who repent and believe the Gospel, through which we will be saved if we enter in through faith in Jesus.
The Flood then came suddenly, and people were going about their normal business: eating and drinking, marrying, and given in marriage, going about their normal business. And suddenly, the Flood came and that was the end of them.
Jesus says that it’ll be the same at the time of this event. People will be going about their normal business, going about life as normal and then, ‘suddenly, one will be taken, and one will be left’.
I do believe that this is a picture of the rapture. Some people disagree. The Greek word for ‘being taken’ is παραλαμβάνεται (par-al-am-ban’-o) which means ‘to be taken alongside you’, in a friendly way,
and the Greek word for ‘left behind’ is ἀφίεται (af-ee’-ay-mee) which means ‘to be left behind’, in an unfriendly way.
Those who are taken here, I believe, are the saints who are taken at an unknown date, and He says here, Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Therefore, it’s coming suddenly, unexpectedly, with no signs given beforehand.
Remember in verse 31 he said that He’s going to come after the tribulation of those days, after the darkness, after all of that happens. Then, He will come to the earth.
This doesn’t really add up with that understanding because, if it were so, it would not be unexpected.
Revelation 6 says that, when the darkness comes and when these things start happening, even the wicked say to the rocks:
They too recognize then that this is the sign of the Second Coming of Jesus.
Therefore, this could happen at any time. In which case, you’d better be ready for Jesus to come now.
Just to sum up: you’ve got a sequence of events, wars, famines, pestilences, followed by a time of tribulation, followed by the coming of Jesus to the earth. And an exhortation here to be ready for an event which could happen at any time.
On one level, be ready for times of trouble, times of suffering, but also be ready to be with the Lord, to meet with Him at any time.
As I said, I believe that the time we’re living in now is very much summed up in verses 7 to 8, where He says:
It’s happening now. These things are going to increase as we get nearer to the Second Coming of Jesus.
In Luke 21, He spoke about ‘the distress of nations with perplexity, men’s hearts fading them from fear for what’s coming on the earth.’
The distress of nations with perplexity is a Greek phrase ἀπορίᾳ (ap-or-ee’-a) ‘with perplexity’ which means ‘with no way out’.
There’s going to be a crisis coming on the earth which is going to cause people to be afraid of what’s coming because they can’t see a solution to it – no way out of it. We see that happening now.
Additionally, the scriptures imply that, at this time, there’s going to be a very strong movement in the wrong direction, as people accept the Antichrist spirit which is going to be going out into the world, which is going to cause people to reject the truth and to accept the lie.
A number of prophecies in the Bible speak about this taking place.
Jeremiah chapter 25 says,
When you see trouble nations evil going forth from nation to nation, then, this is a sign of the last days. There’s going to be a wrong spirit in the world. People will be taking the wrong approach and rejecting God and accepting the evil spirit.
Do you see that kind of spirit at work in the world today? I think I do.
And these are things that are going to be happening in, specifically it says, the last days. You’re going to see an increase of this kind of behaviour, people going in the exact opposite way to which God tells us to go in the Bible.
In 1 John 2, John says,
You’re going to see a lot of Antichrist, a lot of the spirit of Antichrist going out, leading to the Antichrist. The final figure will come, according to Revelation 13, as the one empowered by Satan to take control of the nations in the very last of the last days.
When you see a lot of Antichrist spirit going out, whether it’s communism, Islam, new age, occultism, liberal theology denying the divinity of Jesus, when you see this spirit going out and controlling the thoughts of people around the world, it’s another sign of the last days that’s leading to the Second Coming of Jesus.