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Discerning The Times (Matthew [16]1-4)

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Discerning The Times

Text: Matthew 16:1-4

Place Preached - (Mississauga International Baptist Church)

Date Preached - (12/01/02)

Introduction:   

The Scribes and Pharisees couldn’t agree on anything!!

The Pharisees lived life according to the minutiae of the oral and the scribal law.

The Sadducees rejected the oral and the scribal law completely. 

The Pharisees believed in angels and in the resurrection of the body and the Sadducees did not, an opposition which Paul made use of when he was on trial before the Sanhedrin (Ac 23:6-10). 

The Pharisees were not a political party and were prepared to live under any government which would allow them to observe their own religious principles.

The Sadducees were the small, wealthy aristocracy, and were quite prepared to serve and cooperate with the Roman government, in order to retain their wealth and their privileges.

Further, the Pharisees looked for and longed for the Messiah; the Sadducees did not.

It would have been well-nigh impossible to find two more different sects and parties; and yet they came together in their envenomed desire to eliminate Jesus.

What brought them together was there common hatred of Jesus.

All error has this in common--that it is hostile to Christ.

Their purpose in coming was to tempt or trip up Christ.

They said, “Show us a Sign!”

Christ’s answer is recorded in vs.2-3

EXPLAIN – The signs of morning & evening re. the weather.

Verse 3 – Christ asks “can ye not discern the signs of the times?

EXPLAIN – The signs of “these” times.

Their particular times were the times of Christ’s incarnation and earthly ministry.

They had plenty of evidence pointing to Christ as the Messiah and Saviour of the world.  Most notably the sign of Jonah (Matt. 12:38-40)

The Bible speaks of those who knew their times.....

1 Chronicles 12:32  And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

Esther 1:13  Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:

Daniel 2:21  And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

NOW their is a secular understanding and a spiritual understanding of the times.

We live in the last days!!! 

EXPLAIN briefly what we believe about Christ’s coming.

How do we discern these times in which we live?

I. By the Scriptures

John 5:39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (Cf. Bereans)

LOOK UP & READ I Thessalonians 5:1-5

LOOK UP & READ II Timothy 3:1-5

What do the Scriptures reveal about our times?  They are....

A. Days of Darkness – I Thess 5:2, 4-5 (John 3:19)

Darkness is a covering, a cloak for wickedness & evil.

Why are these days of darkness?  Because of all the rampages of sin?  NO!!!

It is because of the suppression of truth!!!

Romans 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Therefore these dark days.....

Calls for Clarity

ILLUS: Walking through your house at night, you want and need light.

ILLUS: One candle will illuminate a huge cavern.

B. Days of Danger – I Thess 5:3; II Tim 3:1

PERILOUS - This means times will be difficult, hard, fierce. The reason for the difficulty, as the rest of the chapter  reveals, is the widespread apostasy. This makes life difficult for N.T. Christians.

Calls for Warning

Ezekiel 33 (The Watchman)

C. Days of Drunkeness – I Thess 5:6-9

Men are intoxicated by wealth and prosperity, by intellectualism & scholarship, by psychology, by religion & false teaching, by self-righteousness, by pride!!

One of the new intoxicants is tolerance.

Calls for Sobriety – serious-mindedness

These are days that call for serious living by God’s people.

II. By the Special People of God – Israel

They are God’s Timeclock

In two wars between the Jews and Rome in 70 and 135 AD, the Romans destroyed the Temple of God; exiled most of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel;

Changed Israel's name to Palestine, reminiscent of the arch-enemies of Israel - the Philistines; and rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman city, changing its name to Aelia Capitolina.

Who would have thought that the Jewish people would one day inhabit their land again, and that it would be called Israel? Certainly not the nations of the world.

Yet, God never forgot His people or His plan.

LOOK UP & READ PORTIONS of  Matthew 24:1-31 & 32-34

Talk about physical and spiritual regatherings.

Ezekiel 36 gives us the three “R’s” of Propecy concerning Israel

A. Return of the People – vs.24

Consider the utter devastation of the Jewish people after one-third of the world's Jewish population was annihilated by the Nazis.

At a time when the Jewish people were at one of their lowest ebbs God did raise them up, literally out of their graves, and made them into a nation once again. On May 14, 1948, the modern state of Israel was born in a day!

One of the tiniest nations, with one of the smallest populations in the world, has one of the most powerful armies to defend themselves.

B. Restoration of the Land – vs.34-36

Isaiah 35:1  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Since those early days of the return over 250 million trees have been planted by hand, with millions more germinating naturally from the seeds.

The rocky fields are now fertile, the swamps are drained and planted, the ancient terraces have been rebuilt, and the ruined cities of old have been re-established.

In the Jordan Valley and the Negev desert during the winter, farmers are producing and exporting over five million flowers a day. In fact, in 1998, Israel exported 1.5 billion flowers.

Israel can grow apples and oranges in the same field (unheard of anywhere else in the world); and this tiny land offers tropical bananas and pineapples along with colder climate strawberries.

In 1998, 150,000 tons of fruits and vegetables were exported from Israel, over and above feeding her own population.

Today, Israel has twice the number of plant species (3,000) than its huge neighbor, Egypt, that boasts the fertile Nile delta.

Israel has even undertaken a program to re-introduce all the animals mentioned in the Bible, which had long been missing from the land.

Israel is now a food-exporting nation with over six million people. She boasts high levels of literacy, health, education and welfare, high technology and agricultural development. All of this is accomplished in a land no bigger than the U.S. state of New Jersey.

C. Redemption of the Heart. – vs.25-28

LOOK UP & READ Rom. 11:25-27

III. By the Spiritual Climate of the Age

The days just prior to Christ’s coming are marked by three distinct spiritual characteristics.

A. Apostasy

2 Thessalonians 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

B. Deception

2 Thessalonians 2:11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

Matthew 24:24  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

C. Ecumenism

LOOK UP & READ Revelation 17:1-5

Conclusion:     (Review)

What does this mean for us?

1. Christ could come at any moment.

Imminent return.  We are only waiting for the Trumpet.

2. We need to be ready

2 Timothy 4:8  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

3. We need to be pure

1 John 3:2-3  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

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