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2008-01-13_The Coming - Great Tribulation_Matthew 24.15-31_SL

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The Coming: Great Tribulation

Matthew 24:15-35   |   Shaun LePage   |   January 13, 2008

The Coming: Great Tribulation

Matthew 24:15-35   |   Shaun LePage   |   January 13, 2008

I.       Introduction

A.    J. Dwight Pentecost 5 nights on prophecy, 1 night “Loveliness of Christ”; prophecy—overflowing crowd; “Loveliness of Christ” half full (Oxcart, p.224); not sure if that would happen today? Prophecy mostly frowned upon today because of abuses (88 reasons, etc.)

B.    Some think prophecy is just insignificant or leads to wild speculations, but you can’t separate prophecy from spiritual life—2 Tim 3:16-17; At least 25% of Bible prophetic; Jesus demonstrated repeatedly in Olivet Discourse (Mt 24-25) close link between the 2

C.    Others avoid prophecy because it’s overwhelming—and it can be. Ex: To understand Mt 24, you also need working knowledge of Daniel 9, 2 Th 2 and entire Revelation—at least!

D.    Matthew 24:15-31 is Jesus’ direct answer to disciples’ questions in v.3 “when…sign”

E.     Notice how Jesus answered disciples’ questions: 1) Don’t ask about prophecy, you’ll just get weird! 2) Don’t bother with prophecy, it’s too complex and no one knows for sure what all that stuff means anyway—no! Longest answer to any question disciples asked Him!

F.     Two weeks ago: Mt 24:1-14—“birth pangs” both increasing toward end of age and first 3 ½ years of Tribulation—warned not to be misled and not to be frightened; instead, endure through whatever tribulation you encounter and preach the gospel—make good use of time

II.     Body—Matthew 24:15-31—Jesus finally answers the question: three prophetic events related to the future Great Tribulation (Note: rapture not mentioned, later revelation for church; Trib world-wide, but prophecy focused on nation of Israel)

A.    Abomination of Desolation (15)

1.     Event predicted by “Daniel the prophet”—Daniel tells us this will happen in the middle of the seven-year tribulation (Revelation agrees), so first 3½ yrs: “birth pangs” (4-14; after rapture (another time), rise of antichrist, seal & trumpet judgments Rev 6-11);

2.     fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes Greek ruler 200 years before Christ wanted to Hellenize Jews/suppress Judaism; slaughtered pig on altar, set up Zeus in temple; but Christ spoke of it as still future; apparently fulfilled in A.D. 70 (Josephus felt it was, priests slaughtered by Romans, but Revelation (written 25 yrs after Romans destroyed Jerusalem) talks of a yet-future fulfillment just before Jesus’ return; precursors!

3.     Primary application is to people living in the 7-year Tribulation: look for this abomination; Secondary application (for us) is found in “Let the reader understand”—Jesus would not have said this if it were not possible. Gain understanding.

B.    Great Tribulation (16-28)

1.     (16-20) “…then…flee…must not turn back…woe to pregnant/nursing…pray…” Why?

2.     (21-22) “great tribulation such as has not occurred…” Rev describes amazing devastation (plagues, water to blood, worst earthquake ever, etc.); but fortunately this “great tribulation” “cut short…for the sake of the elect” (become Christians in Trib)

3.     (23-26) This time period will be full of “…false Christs and false prophets…”—reminds of signs in 4-14 (4-6) increasingly true as end of age draws near

4.     (27-28) “just as the lightning” sudden/fast? Highly visible? Contrasted with “in the wilderness…inner rooms”—no, every eye will see this! Lk 17:24; Rev 1:7; “corpse…vultures” (eagles?)—proverb implies sequence (which is the nature of the entire passage): first the great tribulation, then Christ comes in judgment

5.     Primary application for people in Tribulation—flee persecution, don’t believe false Christs/prophets; Secondary application for us found in: “Do not believe them” (2X; v.23,26); Grow in discernment. 7:15; 1 Jn 4:1ff; notice “signs and wonders” don’t prove something is from God—intent of those doing such things is to mislead even Christians; “if possible” can’t mean God’s people won’t be/can’t be deceived—if that were true, why would Jesus tell them not to be deceived!? 4 instances in NT “do not be deceived”!! “If possible” communicates the intent of false christs/prophets; we of all people should not be deceived, but sad fact is we often are and the elect in the Trib will be in danger of it as well; unless we are discerning (testing by Scripture) we can be deceived.

C.    Son of Man Coming (29-31)

1.     (29) “sun…moon darkened…stars will fall” can be figurative or literal—must look at context, many passages in OT and NT describe “the Day of the Lord” with such a picture; seems to be actual events; “star” not technical term as we use it, but “bright light in sky”—perhaps comets or meteorites; regardless—signs of 2nd Coming

2.     (30) “sign of the Son of Man (Jesus) will appear…coming on clouds of sky with power and great glory”—remember Acts 1:9-11 (literal, visible); “all the tribes of the earth will mourn”—global, but “tribes” may be Israel mourning: Zech 12:10-14→Rev 1:7

3.     (31) “elect gathered” from all over the world will be the fulfillment of a promise repeatedly made by God in the OT to regather His people—same language used by Moses in Dt, prophets Is, Zech; not rapture, but regathering of Isarel for Millenium

4.     Second Coming is promised throughout the Bible—climax of human history

5.     Jesus said some will “mourn” that day—why? Because they simply weren’t prepared. The application for all before that day is Get ready. Will you mourn at His return? Will those you love mourn at His return? 2 Pet 3-13; next: 6 parables which tell us exactly what it means to get ready and warns us about not being ready.

III.   Closing:

A.    Second  Coming Type [see LJW mock]—help to imagine the reality of it?

B.    Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with promises of the Second Coming of Christ. There are 1,845 references to it in the Old Testament, and a total of seventeen Old Testament books give it prominence. Of the 260 chapters in the entire New Testament, there are 318 references to the Second Coming, or one out of 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. The four missing books include three which are single-chapter letters written to individual persons on a particular subject, and the fourth is Galatians which does imply Christ’s coming again. For every prophecy on the First Coming of Christ, there are 8 on Christ’s Second Coming.[i]

C.    C. S. Lewis: “It seems to me impossible to retain in any recognizable form our belief in the Divinity of Christ and the truth of the Christian revelation while abandoning, or even persistently neglecting the promised, and threatened, Return. ‘He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead,’ says the Apostles’ Creed. ‘This same Jesus,’ said the angels in Acts, ‘shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.’ ‘Hereafter,’ said our Lord himself (by those words inviting crucifixion), ‘shall ye see the Son of Man…coming in the clouds of heaven.’ If this is not an integral part of the faith once given to the saints, I do not know what is.”[ii]

D.    Gain understanding, grow in discernment and get ready for His return

E.     Closing prayer


[i] Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations by Paul Lee Tan; section Second Coming

[ii] The World’s Last Night and Other Essays by C.S. Lewis, p.93

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