Back To The Future
This morning we are picking back up in the Gospel of Mark.
If you’re new to our church, it would be good for you to know that we practice a form of preaching called “Expository Preaching”. What that means is we believe the Bible is best taught by taking books of the Bible and then studying them from beginning to end, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, in order to understand what they mean in our lives today.
With that said, we are currently walking through the Gospel of Mark, a book that is meant to teach us who Jesus is, what he came to do, and what it means for you and I to follow him.
So, if you haven’t been with us, I would encourage you to go online to marysvillefellowship.com or download our app from the app store where you can listen to all the messages leading up to today.
As we come back to our study today, you may recall we are working our way through Mark chapter 13, a chapter in Mark’s Gospel that is unique to the rest of the book. Unique because it is composed of what theologians refer to as apocalyptic literature. Which means it is a chapter about end time events, specifically the days leading up to Jesus’s return.
And as we’ve learned, Mark gives us this chapter for two reasons.
First, the chapter is strategically placed between chapter 12 and 14 in order to bring encouragement to the followers of Jesus because dark days lie ahead. We know this because as chapter 12 closes out Jesus’s public ministry, chapter 14-16 will pick up with the betrayal, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus into heaven.
And in the middle of that is chapter 13. A chapter meant to give hope to Mark’s readers and us hope as we await the return of Jesus.
And as we learned, this waiting period is called “The Church Age”. It’s the time frame between Jesus’s ascension at the beginning of and his return in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation.
What that means then is, chapter 13 isn’t just for the readers of Mark’s day, it’s for us as well as we to continue to wait for Jesus to return. And like the disciples of Mark’s day, this chapter is meant to give us hope and focus as we await that day.
Second, chapter 13 is the result of an observation the disciples made concerning the temple at the end of chapter 12.
You may recall, as Jesus and the disciples were leaving the temple, they mentioned to Jesus how amazing they thought the temple structure was. But the Jesus surprises them with his own observation. Instead of agreeing with them, Jesus tells them the temple is going to be destroyed.
And as we’ve discussed, the very idea of the destruction of the temple would have been a cataclysmic event for the Jews of that day. For many Jews, the temples destruction would have signified the end of the world.
So as you might imagine the disciples now have a question. When Jesus? When will this happen? When will the world end?
And it’s no different today. The truth is, we live in a culture that is obsessed with end of the world events and calamities.
So, like the disciples we want to know when these things are going to happen. When will the world end. And specifically, as Christians, we want to know when Jesus is going to return, and what will be the signs of his coming.
So, that’s what chapter 13 is all about. It’s about finding hope when it seems like the world is falling apart, and it’s about knowing what to look for and prepare for as we await Jesus’s return.
So, how does Jesus respond to the disciples question, and to our question. Interestingly enough, Jesus doesn’t start with the answer, instead, he starts with a warning. And as we learned, the warning is twofold.
Interestingly enough, Jesus doesn’t start with the answer, instead, he starts with a warning. And as we learned, the warning is twofold.
First, he warns us not to be deceived by false teachers or false signs.
False teachers would be those who claim to have knowledge about the end times, but their teaching doesn’t line up with the Bible. Jesus says don’t be deceived by such people.
False signs would be wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters. Jesus says, don’t let such things deceive you. Wars and natural disasters aren’t signs, but are the natural result of a sin stained world. They’ve existed since Adam and Eve fell in the garden of Eden, and they’ll exist right up to the end. They are the result of sin, not signs of the end of the world.
Second, Jesus says don’t be deceived by persecution. In other words, don’t be surprised when you face difficulties as a Christian, and then automatically assume that the end is near.
The Apostle Peter had to remind the early church of this. Peter writes, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (ESV)
How many of you have remember that song from the 60’s, “My Mama Said”? So, what did mama say? "Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this mama said.”
That’s what Peter is saying here. Peter says, “Hey guys, don’t act surprised when persecution comes your way. ‘Jesus said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this Jesus said.’”
And as we discussed last week, that’s so often the challenge for many American Christians. Because unfortunately we have this western mindset that following Jesus is all about blessing and prosperity, not persecution.
But Peter says, “Guys, persecution comes with following Jesus. It’s part of the deal.” In fact, Peter says it’s the evidence that you are a Christ follower. He goes on to write:
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (ESV)
And the challenge for many American Christians, is when persecution comes, we think its strange. We act surprised. And as a result we begin to associate it with the end of the world.
So, we say things like:
“Can you believe it! They took the 10 commandments out of the schools. Jesus must be coming back soon!”
“Can you believe it! A gay couple sued a Christian couple because they wouldn’t bake them a cake, and they won the lawsuit! Jesus must be coming back soon!”
“Can you believe it! On The View, Joy Behar said anybody that follows Jesus is mentally ill. Jesus must be coming back soon!”
“Can you believe it! On The View, Joy Behar said Mike Pence is mentally ill because he talks to Jesus. Jesus must be coming back soon!”
That’s what we do, right? So, Jesus says, “Don’t be deceived by such persecution. Don’t be surprised. They hated me, so they’re going to hate you. It doesn’t mean the world is ending. It’s not a sign that I’m coming back. It’s just what comes with following me. If you’re going to stand up for me, you’re going to get persecuted.”
So, that’s where Jesus starts. And now, with that out of the way, Jesus is is now ready to answer their question and give us some end time insight.
And to be honest, this is where the chapter gets tricky, because as Jesus gives his answer, he’s not going to move chronologically. In other words, he’s not going to give us a linear timeline from beginning to end.
Let me explain it like this. How many of you have seen the “Back to the Future” movies?
If you don’t recall, there were three of them. Back to the Future 1, 2, & 3.
You may recall, in the first Marty Mcfly, played by Michael J. Fox, uses the DeLorean time machine to jump from 1985 back to 1955, where he encounters his teenage parents, and goes through quite an ordeal before jumping back to 1985.
In the second movie, Back to the Future 2, Marty goes from 1985 to 2015, where he encounters his future son, as he tries to fix the future before he returns back to 1955 to once again deal with his teenage parents.
And then in the third movie, Back to the Future 3, Marty goes from 1955 back to 1885, where he encounters his western ancestors, and then finally ends up back in the present in 1985.
Everybody with me? That’s kind of what this chapter is going to be like. The flux capacitor is going to get a workout. Because here’s how this chapter is going to break down.
In part 1, verses 14-23, Jesus is going to start in 30 A.D, which is their present., and jump forward to 70 A.D., which is the disciples future.
Because here’s how this chapter is going to go from here. In this first section, Jesus is going to start in 30 A.D his present., jump to 70 A.D., the disciples future, and then back to 30 A.D..
In part 2, verses 24-31, from 70 A.D., Jesus is going to jump into the future future to the end of the world, to an unknown date, and then he’s going to jump back to 30 A.D.., to his present.
And finally in part 3, verses 32-37, Jesus is going to jump from 30 A.D. to our present here in 2018, as he speaks to us.
From there he’s going to jump to the future future. To a time nobody has been to. After spending some time there, he’s going to jump back to their future. And then when he’s done there, he’s going to jump to our present.
From there he’s going to jump back to their future.
Everybody with me?
And as a result, some of what we are going to learn is some of the material today doesn’t apply directly to us, but is mean to encourage us, and then some of it applies directly to our lives and is meant to warn us. he is going to say applies directly to us, and some does not. So, hold on, because we are getting ready to take quite a ride in Jesus’s DeLoean.
Now, in order to make the best use of our time, we are going to move through part 1 rather quickly, since it has more to do with the disciples current circumstances.
And then we’re going to jump to part 2, where we’re going to spend a little more time, because there is a future event we need to be aware of.
And finally, we are going to jump to part 3 as Jesus finishes out by giving us some instruction for the present.
So, as you can see, we are going to cover quite a bit of ground this morning. And our goal today is twofold.
First to determine what the signs of Jesus’s return are.
Second, to determine what we need to do in order to prepare for Jesus’s return.
So, with as our basis, let’s begin as we dive into part 1. And we’re going to call this section:
Back to the Temple, Part 1
You may recall, in verse 2, Jesus told the disciples the temple would one day be destroyed, and in verse 4 the disciples ask, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” (ESV)
Jesus is now ready to give them an answer, and beginning in verse 14 he focuses back on their question. Jesus says:
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” -13 (ESV)
Jesus begins by telling the disciples what sign they need to be looking for. So what’s the sign? Jesus says, “When you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be...” (ESV)
As Jesus looks into the future, he references a future event in the temple. And event so horrific that it will be seen as an abomination. We know this because Jesus uses the term “abomination of desolation”, which is an OT term and is always used in reference to something horrific happening in or to the temple.
For example, in 168 B.C., Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple then by erecting a small altar dedicated to Zeus over the altar of God and sacrificed a pig. It was an abomination of desolation.
As Jesus looks into the future, he references an act of sacrilege that that is going to take place in the temple.
So, when Jesus says this, the sign, similar to that, that is going to happen in the temple. Something abominable.
And this is a big deal, because as we’ve discussed in the past, the temple was considered the most holy and sacred place in Judaism, and so it was treated with extreme reverence. In fact, only certain people were allowed to enter certain parts of the temple.
It started with the “outer court”, also known as the “court of women”. We talked about this area a few weeks ago. This is where the offering was collected and it represented the boundary for the women. In other words, women weren’t allowed to go beyond this point.
The next part was the “inner court”, also known as the “hall of Israel”. This is where the men would wait as their sacrifices were made and burned on the altar of God.
Dividing the hall of Israel was the “dukan”. This is where the priests blessed the people. Maybe think of it as the altar area.
A little further beyond that was the “court of priests”, and this is where the sacrifices were prepared and burned.
And this is what comprised the inner court.
The next section of the temple was the holiest section, and it consisted of two parts, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
The Holy Place contained a seven-branched candlestick, a golden altar on which to burn incense and a table on which showbread (shewbread) was placed. It also had five tables along both the north and south walls of the area.
The Holy of Holies, when originally constructed by King Solomon in the OT, contained the Ark of the Covenant, representing the very presence of God himself. And it was such a holy place that the only person who could enter the Holy of Holies was the high priest, and he could only enter once a year to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the people.
But in Jesus’s time, nobody knew where the ark was, and this area was empty and more symbolic in nature.
So, as you can see, the Jews treated the temple, and each area of the temple with great care and reverence.
But what Jesus is saying, is there is a day coming when those areas will be defiled. When the holy of holies will be disregarded and desecrated. Something so outrageous is going to take place that it will be considered an abomination.
So, Jesus says, when you see this happen, you’ll know the destruction of the temple is at hand.
So, a good question might be, “Has it taken place, and if it has, when?”
Well, we know it’s taken place, because as I showed you a couple of weeks ago, there’s no longer a temple on the temple in Jerusalem.
So, when did that take place? Well, based on how Mark writes, Mark seems to be implying its taking place as he writes this letter.
How do we know this? We know this based on a parenthetical comment that Mark inserts into this passage. Let me show you what I’m talking about. Let’s look again at what Mark writes. Beginning in verse 14 he writes, “but when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand)...” (ESV)
What I want you to notice is the statement, “let the reader understand” . And what I want you to notice is that this is not something Jesus said. It’s something Mark has inserted.
In other words, as Mark quotes the words of Jesus, Mark inserts this statement as a way of saying, “So if you’re reading this now, then be aware that it did happen or it’s happening right now”.
So, what is Mark referring to. What had happened or was happening as Mark wrote this letter?
Well, we know Mark wrote this gospel sometime between 67-70 A.D. And ironically, its in that time frame that there is trouble brewing in Jerusalem on the temple mount.
History tells us in 66 A.D. a Jewish revolt broke out against the Roman Empire. A war that lasted until 73 A.D. and resulted in the defeat of the Jews and the destruction of Jersualem and the temple.
And what’s interesting, is just about the time Mark is writing this letter, in 67 A.D., as the war rages in and around Jerusalem, a group of Jewish rebels called Zealots took possession of the Temple area and Temple mount. And they did the unthinkable.
Because, while the Zealots were zealous for the nation of Israel, they were more politically motivated than religiously motivated. In other words, their reverence for the holy wasn’t high on their radar.
So, as a result, when they occupied the temple area, they allowed criminals to walk around in the Holy of Holies. They even committed murder within the temple itself. And for the religious Jew, this was a nightmare.
In fact, when the former High Priest, Ananus, saw the acts of sacrilege taking place by the zealots in 67 A.D., he made this statement, “It would have been far better for me to have died before I had seen the house of God laden with such abominations and its unapproachable and hallowed places crowded with the feet of murderers.” (War IV. iii.10)
So, as Mark is writing his letter, as he makes the statement, “let the reader understand”, these events are unfolding. What Mark is implying, is that what Jesus said would happen is happening. This is the sign. The destruction of the Temple is right around the corner. Let the reader, let you and I understand.
And Mark was right. Because in the summer of 70 A.D., the Roman army breached the walls of Jersualem, entered the temple area, and tore the temple down. And the words of Jesus were full-filled.
And that’s why what Jesus says next shouldn’t surprise us as Jesus gives further instruction and warning concerning this day.
Because from what history tells us, the days leading up to the destruction of the temple were dark days within the walls of Jerusalem. Because in order to overtake the city, the Roman army had laid siege to the city of Jerusalem for 7 months.
What that meant was, for 7 months nobody entered and nobody left the city. And as a result, there was famine, starvation, and death within the city walls.
That’s why what Jesus says next in this prophecy is so relevant. In verse 15, Jesus says when this happens, when you see the abomination within the temple, “15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.”
What Jesus is saying is, “When you see the abominations begin to take place in the temple, ‘Run! Run for your lives. Run for the hills. Don’t even take time to pack. Don’t grab your possessions. Get out of Dodge as fast as you can. Dark days are about to come’”.
He continues, “17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!”
17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.” (ESV)
Jesus says, “And how miserable it will be for a woman if she is pregnant during this time. How horrible it will be for nursing mothers.” Why would Jesus say that? Well, for one, to flee as a pregnant woman would have been difficult. And to have to take care of a baby while you’re running for the hills wouldn’t be the best.
We know this because in , we are told of a siege against the city of Samaria that went on for so long, that women were literally eating their young.
He goes on to say, “18 Pray that it may not happen in winter.”
18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.” (ESV)
What Jesus is saying is, “When you see the abominations begin to take place in the temple, ‘Run! Run for your lives. Run for the hills. Don’t even take time to pack. Don’t grab your possessions. Get out of Dodge as fast as you can.’”.
Jesus says, “Pray it’s not in winter. Pray it’s not at a time where it will be difficult to travel.” Because when that day comes, if you get stuck in the city, or within the vicinity of the city, you’re going to wish you were dead.”
In fact, it’s going to be so bad, Jesus says it’s going to seem like the end of the world. Jesus goes on to say, “19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.”
19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.” (ESV)
Jesus says, “Let me tell you how bad this situation is going to be. It’s going to feel like it’s the end of the world.” In other words, people are going to think there’s never been a time as bad as this, since the time of creation itself. That’s how bad it’s going to be.
And Jesus goes on to say, “Let me tell you how bad it will be if you don’t get out. It’s going to feel like it’s the end of the world. In other words, people are going to think there’s never been a time as bad as this, since the time of creation itself. That’s how bad it’s going to be.”
And as history tells us, the misery of the siege lasted 7 months. For 7 months people suffered, starved, and died within the city. And if they came out of the city and tried to escape, they were crucified by the Romans. For many people, it appeared to be the end of the world.
But it wasn’t the end of the world. And while it was a period that seemed to have no end, concerning this predicted seige, Jesus goes on to say, 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.” (ESV)
In fact, Jesus says it will be so bad, it will feel like it’s the end of the world. People will think there’s never been a time as bad as this.
Here’s what Jesus means by that. As sieges go, 7 months wasn’t a long time. In 597 B.C., when King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, he laid siege to Jerusalem for over a year. And there are other examples in the OT where sieges could last years.
So, as sieges go, 7 months might have seemed like the end of the world, but according to Jesus, because God cares about his people, he shortened their misery so they all wouldn’t perish.
Jesus now closes out this section with a warning, “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” (ESV)
Jesus says, “But let’s just be clear here. As bad as those days will be. It’s not the end. So, don’t be deceived if somebody claims to be me, or somebody says, ‘Look, Jesus is coming back’. This still isn’t the end. So don’t be deceived but be ready, because I’ve given you a heads up.”
So, there you have it. Back to the Temple Part 1. From 30 A.D. Jesus looks forward to 70 A.D. as he foretells what will take place and what to look for. And just as Jesus said it would happen, in 70 A.D. the temple was destroyed.
So, there you have it. Back to the Temple Part 1. From 30 A.D. Jesus looks forward to 70 A.D. and he foretells what will take place and what to look for. And just as Jesus said it would happen, in 70 A.D. the temple was destroyed.
A good question to ask then is, “How does this apply to us?” As I said a few weeks ago, it simply applies in showing us that we can trust what Jesus says. History confirms it. What Jesus said would happen, happened.
So it applies in the sense, that if the first part came true, then the rest of what Jesus has to say is going to happen. And that does affect us, because as we sit here, it’s in the process of happening. That’s why Mark says, “Let the reader understand.”
This brings us to the part two of Jesus’s answer. We’ll call this section:
Back to the Future, Future Part 2
In this next section, Jesus is going to jump from the temple destruction of 70 A.D. to an unknown future, future date. Listen to how he begins.
“But in those days, after that tribulation...
Jesus begins where he left off in part 1. As he now looks past 70 A.D. further into the future, he says, “But in those days, after that tribulation...”
We’re going to camp there for a second, and ask, “What does Jesus mean when he says that.” What are “those days” and what “tribulation” is he referring to?
Let’s begin with “tribulation”. And the tribulation he’s referring to is what we just talked about. He’s talking about 70 A.D. and the destruction of the temple. And then he says, “After that”. In other words, “Here’s what is going to happen after the destruction of the temple”. And then he references another time period called “Those Days”.
And then as he references this next time period, he refers to it as, “Those Days”.
So, what does that mean? Basically, “those days” represents a future time period, but not immediately after the destruction of the temple. How do we know that? In other words, it doesn’t happen right away. You might be wondering, “How do I know that?”
Jesus references it as “In those days”. So, what does that mean? In those days represents a future time, but not immediately after the destruction of the temple. How do we know that?
We know this because, as we’re going to see, what Jesus is about to tell us, hasn’t happened yet. Let me show you what I mean, and I think you’ll agree it hasn’t. Listen to what Jesus says is going to happen in those days.
Jesus goes on to say, “...the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (ESV)
Jesus says, “In those days, in this future time period, the sun will be darkened, the moon will go dark, stars will fall from the sky, and the sky will shake.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of anything like that happening on planet earth. That sounds like a cataclysmic event, doesn’t it? So, that’s how we know it’s a future future event, because it hasn’t happened yet.
Because as far as I can tell, the sun is still shining, the moon shines its light, the stars are still in place, and the heavens haven’t shaken.
But Jesus says, there is a future future date when this will take place. When a cataclysmic event will take place that will literally shake the universe, and life as we know it on planet earth will end.
So, what is this event? Is it an earthquake? Does an astroid hit the earth? What causes the stars to fall and the sun to quit shining? Simply put, it’s a tribulation that will outweigh all other tribulations.
In fact, the book of Revelation gives us great detail into this event. And while we don’ have time today to dive into the book of Revelation, here’s what we need to understand. If you study the book of Revelation, what you’ll discover is in his vision of heaven, the Apostle John sees a scroll that has seven seals. And as each seal is opened, judgments are released on the earth as we draw closer to the end, to the ultimate return of Jesus.
And what many theologians believe, is that at this point in the Church Age, 4 of the 7 have already been broken, resulting in a series of events that have been unleashed on the earth that consist of four specific judgments: War, famine, conquest, and death. And what theologians believe is that these judgments are intensifying to an ultimate end.
And if we took the time to study it, what we would discover is they are right. For instance, while war has always been a part of human history, we’ve gotten better at it, and more people have died. It’s estimated that around 160 million people died as a result of war in the 20th century. Historians have labeled it the bloodiest century in human history.
We would see that while famine and plagues have always been a part of human history, in the last 2000 years, even with modern medicine, viruses and sicknesses are getting worse as sicknesses such as cancer plague our culture.
I know we’d like to think mankind is getting better, but we’er not. Our condition is only getting worse.
And if we had the time to study Revelation this morning, what we’d discover is with each generation, we see the same cycle of war, famine, conquest, and death. And with each generation and each cycle of tribulation it gets worse, and worse as we say, “How much worse can it get?”
What Jesus is saying in , is there is a day coming when it’s going to get bad enough, and the cycle of tribulation will end with a final tribulation.
In other words, throughout the book the Apostle John describes the different judgments of God that are on the earth because of sin. Thes judgments come in the form of war, famine, conquest, and death.
In fact, the book of Revelation calls it “The Great Tribulation” and it refers to a specific time frame in human history that will lead to a day the Bible calls “The Day of the Lord.” The day when God says, “Enough is enough.” The day when Jesus returns. That’s the future future event that Jesus is pointing to. That’s what he’s talking about when he says, “Those Days”.
So, what will that tribulation and day entail? From what the book of Revelation tells us, it’s a tribulation that will last for 7 years. And it will be a time of great distress on the earth that the earth as the earth undergoes war, plagues, famine, and pestilence on an epic level. It will be a time of tribulation the world has never seen.
In fact, the book of Revelation says towards the end of this 7 year tribulation, stars will begin falling from the sky. Listen to how the Apostle John describes that day.
“When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” (ESV)
John says when this tribulation takes place, the earth is literally going to be destroyed. It will be the tribulation of all tribulations. And it will lead to what is called “The Day of the Lord”. The day that God judges the earth for its sin. Listen to what John goes on to write:
15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (ESV)
On this future future date, the day of Judgment will come as the Lord returns, and those who refused to put their faith in Jesus will face the consequence of their decision. In fact, the book of Revelation calls it “The Great White Throne Judgment”. Listen to what John tells us about that day.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (ESV)
On that day, those who refused to acknowledge their sin. Those who refused to put their faith in Jesus. Those who refused to make Jesus Lord of their life, will be thrown into the lake of fire, and forever removed from the presence of the Lord.
The apostle Paul describes that day like this, “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might...” (ESV)
Now, you might be thinking, “Wow pastor, that’s a terrifying though!”. You’re right, it is, and if your not following Jesus, you should be especially fearful of that day.
Listen to what Jesus goes on to say about that day:
But here’s the good news. If you’ve put your faith in Jesus. If you’re following Jesus. If you’ve made Him Lord of your Life. You don’t have to worry about that day. Because in , Jesus says, in the midst of those days, he is coming back for those that love him. Listen to what Jesus goes on to say about “those days”.
26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” (ESV)
Jesus says, “In those days, I will return. And there will be no doubt it is me. Because when I come the sky will open up, and I will come in great power. And I will send angels ahead of me and they will gather everyone who has put their faith in me.”
The Apostle Paul describes that day like this, “15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (ESV)
The day Jesus is describing, and the day Paul is describing is commonly called “The Rapture”. It’s not a word you’ll find in the Bible, but it’s a word theologians use to describe that day. The day the Lord returns for his people. The day Jesus lifts us up out of this world. The day that we are with the Lord. Jesus says that day is coming.
Now, the truth is, as I describe all this, you’re probably thinking, “Ok pastor, that sounds exciting, but when is it going to happen? How will we know when this great tribulation is coming? And at one point in the midst of that tribulation will the rapture take place?”
Great questions. But first we get to those answers, Jesus is going to finish answering the disciples question.
Remember, they want to know when the temple is going to be destroyed, and while we know the answer, Jesus hasn’t given them the answer. So Jesus gives them a time frame as he jumps from this future future moment, back to 30 A.D. Listen to what he goes on to tell his disciples about their question.
28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (ESV)
Jesus now returns to his present time, and he says to the disciples, “Here’s how you can determine when the temple is going to be destroyed. Just like a fig tree puts out its leaves, and you know its summer. There are going to be events that begin to take place, events that will point to its destruction. In fact, this generation won’t pass away until these things take place.”
In other words, “Guys, you’re generation, the generation you’re a part of, is going to witness the beginning of all these things. The beginning of all this is going to happen in your lifetime”.
And the fact is, it did. Forty years later, in 70 A.D., the first prediction Jesus gives of the future comes true as the temple is destroyed.
Now, again, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, that’s great pastor. And I know it’s meant to show me that what Jesus says happened, happened. But that doesn’t really apply to us. When does the part that applies to us come? When is this rapture deal going to happen? When is this Great tribulation going to take place? How will we know when the rest of what Jesus said is going to happen?”
Well let’s find out as we move to the final part. We’re going to call this final section:
Back to the Future Present, Part 3
After giving his disciples a time frame, Jesus now returns to the future. To our future. Listen to what he says:
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (ESV)
Jesus begins this final section by pointing forward to “those days”. To the day of the great tribulation and rapture. We know this because he says, “Concerning that day or that hour...” So, he’s talking about “Those days”.
And concerning that day, and that hour, Jesus gives us two pieces of information. First, he gives us a timeframe, and second, he gives us a warning.
Let’s start with the timeframe. So, what does Jesus say? When will he return? He says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (ESV)
Jesus says, “Nobody knows when Jesus is coming back. The only person that knows is God”. Now, at this point you’re probably thinking, “Pastor, what kind of a time frame is that? Nobody knows? Hows does that help us?”
Here’s what we need to understand, Jesus did give us a time frame, and the time frame is called “anytime”. In other words, what Jesus is saying is, “My return could happen at any moment”. In , Jesus puts it like this, “37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (ESV)
First, Jesus did give us a time frame, and the time frame is called “anytime”. In other words, what Jesus is saying is, “My return could happen at any moment. In , Jesus puts it like this, “37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (ESV)
Jesus says the day of his return could happen at any moment. He says it will be a lot like the days leading up to the flood in . Jesus says prior to Noah’s flood, people were just doing life. Sure, they’d been warned the flood was coming. Noah pleaded with them to repent. But they’re were no signs of a flood. So they lived like it would never happen. They were marrying, eating, drinking, and enjoying life. And then one day, at an hour and day they weren’t expecting, the rain began to fall and the springs of the earth opened up, and the day of their judgment was upon them. Jesus says, the rapture and day of the Lord will be a lot like that. People have been told it’s coming. They’ve been encouraged to repent. But instead they’ve chosen to live like it will never happen. But Jesus says it’s coming. And it will happen in a time frame called “anytime”.
I did give you a time frame. The time frame is “anytime”.
That’s why what Jesus says next is so important. Jesus goes on to say, “33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (ESV)
Jesus now issues a warning. He says, “Be on guard, keep awake”. So, what does Jesus mean by that? What are we to be on guard for? Here’s what Jesus is saying, “Since I could come back at anytime, then live with that mentality.” In other words, live like today is that day. Why? Because Jesus says, “For you do not know when the time will come.” But you can be sure, it will. So, live like it’s today.
Jesus then likens it to a man who goes on a business trip, puts his servants in charge of watching the house, and then returns when they are least expecting it and finds them sleeping on the job.
It’s like the teenager who decides to have a party while his parents are gone, and then they get home early and bust him. He thought they weren’t coming back until tomorrow. But he was wrong. They came back when he least expected it.
Jesus says, “Don’t be like that teenager. Don’t live unexpectedly. Instead live with a daily expectation of His return.”
But that’s the challenge, right? Because the truth is, most Christians don’t live like that. We don’t live with an “anytime” mentality. Instead we live with a “someday” mentality. Yeah, someday Jesus might return. Yeah someday I’ll get serious about following Him. Yeah, someday I’ll address the sin issues in my life. Yeah, someday I’ll quit sleeping around. Yeah, someday I’ll quit partying. Yeah, someday I’ll quit gossiping. Yeah, someday I’ll lead somebody to Jesus. Yeah, someday make God a priority in my life. Yeah, someday I’ll focus on the eternal instead of the temporal. Yeah, someday...”
That’s how we live, right? Like the days of Noah. Someday. Can I just tell you, that’s a dangerous way to live.
Because Jesus gives us a timeframe. It’s called “anytime”. And Jesus gives us a warning. He says, “Because the time frame is ‘anytime’, don’t live like anytime won’t happen today. Instead, live like today is that day.”
As we close this morning, I know we’ve covered a lot of material, and I know you probably still have questions about this passage, but here’s the challenge I’d like to leave you with. To leave you asking yourself this question:
Question - When it comes to your faith in Jesus, do you live with an “anytime” or “someday” mentality? In other words, when it comes to your faith, are you living like the teenager who thinks his parents aren’t coming back until tomorrow, or are you living with the expectation they could return at anytime, at any moment?
Because the truth is, those are two different mindsets and they each lead to a different way of living your life for Jesus. One focuses on a daily walk of obedience and spiritual growth. The other focuses on living life haphazardly with no fear of the unknown.
Let me put it like this. If Jesus returned in the next 30 seconds. If all of a sudden, the sky cracked open, and there was a shout from heaven, and Jesus came back for his church, would you be ready? Or would you be caught off guard. Are you ready for his return? Are you living for his return? Is your mindset an “anytime” mindset or a “someday” mindset.
Because here’s the reality, those are two different mindsets and they each lead to a different way of living your life for Jesus. One focuses on a daily walk of obedience and spiritual growth. The other focuses on living life haphazardly with no fear of the unknown.
So, how are you living your life? Do you live your life like Jesus could come back today? Because at the end of the day, that’s how Jesus has asked us to live for him. With the understanding that he could return at any moment.
That’s why it’s so important that each day is a day committed to him. That’s why it’s so important that each day is a day committed to reaching others for Him. That’s why it’ so important we live each day like it’s the last opportunity to live for him. Because at ‘anytime’ he could return. And the question is, “When ‘anytime’ happens, will you be ready, or will you be caught off guard.”
Would you bow your heads with me.