Faithlife Sermons

02 - Jesus' Crystal Ball 2009

Matt. 24:3
ON His way to the cross and subsequent resurrection, Jesus was asked about the future. “What will be the signs…”
In response, the greatest Prophet of all time peered down the road to the future and made several predictions. They began with a list called:
The beginning of sorrows
4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, 'and will deceive many.
6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
The word “sorrows” comes from a Greek word meaning travail. It’s used to describe a woman’s birth pains.
When a woman goes into labor, the birth pains increase in two ways: frequency and intensity.
Famines, earthquakes and plagues have always been a part of human history.
What Jesus was predicting is that wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes would begin taking place more frequently and with greater intensity as the time of His return draws near.
And they have and are…
Here’s what we need to understand:
Prognosticators throughout the ages have tried to convince the world that 'the end' is here - or at least, very near – they’ve pointed to weird weather patterns, wars, famines, new diseases, etc.
So what's different now?
Never before has the world seen the accumulation of prophetic events as we have today, starting with the granddaddy of them all—the rebirth of Israel as a nation in 1948.
Although no one knows the day nor the hour that Messiah will return, no generation has had as many signs of the times as our generation.
We have more reason to believe that Jesus could come in our lifetime than any other generation before us!
Next, Jesus predicted:
A Plague of betrayal
Dr. Luke says in chapter 21: 16, “You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.”
Paul’s letter to Timothy echoes the same warning, and paints a dark character sketch of end-time mankind:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves (heavily narcissistic“it’s all about me” kind of people), lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving…
…slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”—2 Tim. 3:1-4
Did you catch that? End-time humanity will be lovers of themselves, of money, and of sinful pleasure…but void of love for others, for God, and for righteousness! They will be lovers of all the wrong things…
Next, Jesus predicted a:
Flood of deception and Messianic Impostors
“For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, and will deceive many.”
“At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.”—Matt. 24
According to world statistics, since the time of Jesus, 22,000 persons have deceived people by calling themselves "Christ!"
And there are dozens around the world as we speak.
Isn’t it interesting; we have no problem with men saying they are Mohammad, or Buddha, or Krishna, or Confucius…only Jesus!
Then Jesus predicted that:
Nature would go into Travail
Nature has at times in Bible record reflected what is happening in the spiritual world.
For instance, when Jesus was dying on the cross the Bible records that, “At high noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.”—Matt. 27:45
And there is abundant extra-biblical evidence for this incredible event.
The Christian apologist Tertullian, writing in the second century, speaks of a “cosmic” or “world event”--visible in Rome, Athens, and other Mediterranean cities, and challenged his non-Christian adversaries with these words:
“At the moment of Christ's death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own records, and is preserved in your archives to this day.”
Jesus vividly describes cosmic and earthly upheaval just before His return:
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”—Lk. 21:25-26
Matthew records the same prediction from Jesus: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars (meteorites) shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." 24:29
John the Revelator describes a trumpet blown by an angel that has immediate influence on sun, moon and stars:
“Then the fourth angel blew his trumpet, and one-third of the sun was struck, and one-third of the moon, and one-third of the stars, and they became dark. And one-third of the day was dark…”—Rev. 8:12
The Prophet Joel saw the same thing: “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will no longer shine.”—Joel 3:14-15
This is a sign the whole world is soon to witness.
When it happens it will appear as though our entire galaxy is disintegrating as millions of meteorites hurl themselves in all directions.
Peoples of all nations will react to this sign with terrifying panic and every soul on earth will begin to realise that the end of this age is at hand.
Jesus gave these signs for a reason. He said in Matt. 24:42-44,
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.”
Jesus likened these things to a homeowner whose house is in danger of being broken into. He says:
If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times.”—Lk. 21
Then he gives a very important illustration:
“Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. 30 When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place.”
SO, THE JESUS WHO came to earth over 2,000 years ago clearly testified that He would come a 2nd time!
What will that second coming be like?
Jesus said that, first of all…
Cultural apathy concerning His appearance would be prevalent
People will grow skeptical of such an event happening.
2nd Peter 3:3-4: “I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
These mockers will be the mouthpieces of a cavalier attitude on the part of the final generation about Christ’s return. Jesus said:
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 27 In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and we ddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.
IN other words, just as in Noah’s day, people will go on with life as usual with no concern whatsoever that judgment is coming.
IN NOAH’S DAY they ignored the warnings of God about coming judgment. It was business as usual—marrying, partying, doing business—until judgment suddenly fell.
Next, He gives another illustration. Listen carefully:
“And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—29 until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”—Lk. 21
IN LOT’S DAY, the same attitude prevailed. But there’s also one important thing to notice: The Bible records that the angels told Lot they could do nothing until he was removed from the scene.
As soon as righteous Lot was delivered out of the city of sin, the fire fell.
Jesus said that our day would be the same. They will ignore the warnings of God and be taken by surprise when God brings judgment.
And God’s final judgment will not take place until the righteous have been taken out!
The second characteristic of Jesus’ return is:
It will be sudden and unexpected
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”—Matt. 24:27
ILLUS: This week we had storms and I saw a large lightning flash that lit up the night sky. It was there…and gone.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”—1 Cor. 15:51-52
Moment: uncut-able, indivisible (an "atom" of time)
Twinkling: a jerk, a twitch of the eye, an instant of time
IN a MOMENT AND A TWINKLING, the child of God will be jerked up into heaven!
Then Jesus said:
It will separate one from another
“I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."—Lk. 17:34-36
The return of Christ will be the final arbiter of who knew and walked with him, and who didn’t.
Jesus predicted that millions of people would awaken to the absence of a loved one who had been there just hours before.
You have married people here. One had accepted Christ and the other hadn’t. You have roommates. One had accepted Him, while the other hadn’t. You have family members under the same roof. Some had accepted Christ, others hadn’t.
This “catching up into heaven” was foreshadowed by an O.T. man named Enoch,
“By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. They looked all over and couldn't find him because God had taken him."—Heb. 11:5
The greatest search party in world history will be launched for the multitudes that suddenly disappear, but they will not be found, for God will have taken them.
The same Jesus Who came the first time, born in a manger in Bethlehem, will come a second time.
As Jesus wound His way through Jerusalem toward the cross and toward His resurrection from the dead, He told us what was coming to earth before His second coming.
Are you ready?
If not, what is standing in the way?
Whatever it is, is it worth it?
Today, right now, you can make peace with God!
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