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Title Page Lesson Nine Matthew 24:3-5 Matthew 24:3-5 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:6-9 Matthew 24:6-9 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. Matthew 24:10-13 Matthew 24:10-13 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24:14-15 Matthew 24:14-15 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Focus Verse Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Focus Thought After Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed, He gave full assurance that He would return to take His bride home. He gave many signs that would precede His coming to alert mankind to His imminent return. Introduction Introduction One of the most important prophetic chapters in the Bible is Matthew 24. As the chapter opens, the disciples were pointing out to Jesus the exquisite beauty of the Temple, which was for them a physical reminder of the covenant relationship of the Jewish people with God. Also significant were the incredible improvements that the Temple structure had been undergoing for decades. Herod the Great (73-4 BC) had begun refurbishing Introduction the Temple some years before Jesus was born. The renovation was continued by his son, Herod Antipas (4 BC–AD 39). The project was still ongoing when the disciples pointed out the buildings to Jesus. Surprisingly, Jesus responded by pronouncing the future destruction of this imposing physical structure: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). Jesus’ disciples probably were distraught and could Introduction not conceive of such a judgment occurring unless perhaps it was connected with the end of the world. They asked three questions about what they understood to be the singular final judgment. Actually, their questions required three separate answers from Jesus. In Matthew 24:3, the disciples asked: Introduction (1) “Tell us, when shall these things be?” (2) “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” (3) “What shall be the sign of the end of the world?” Jesus gave answers to each of these questions. Introduction Some of His answers specifically addressed the time when one stone would not be left upon another (AD 70). Other answers related to the signs of Christ’s second coming (throughout the church age but especially in our time). Still other answers were directed to offer signs of the end of the world (events leading to the Battle of Armageddon, which we can now view on the near horizon). This lesson will focus in detail on each of the Introduction answers that Jesus gave and demonstrate what these answers have to do with the church today. When Shall These I. When Shall These Things Things Be Be (A-C) The first question asked by the disciples was related to the destruction of the Temple. The disciples could not have understood that the Temple would be destroyed but would once again be rebuilt. They could not know that the siege that would be suffered by the Jewish people in AD 70 would be only preliminary and a foreshadowing of the ultimate fulfillment of the siege, which would occur during the Tribulation. I. When Shall These Things Some students of Scripture wonder how a single chapter can speak to more than one time period. Be (A-C) Actually, the idea that a single scriptural passage has more than one fulfillment is a standard hermeneutic principle in interpreting prophecy. In order to conceive These Things I. When Shall how Jesus could paint a word picture that would encompass both the events Be (A-C) involving AD 70 and also the events at the end of the age, it is important to study and glean further information from other Gospels as well. While Matthew’s Gospel focuses largely on an ultimate siege of Jerusalem in the Tribulation, Jesus’ words in Luke 21 center more on the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. A. Destruction of the Temple I. When Shall These Things and City Be (A-C) Jesus specifically told of a time when Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20). He said that those who would be in Judea at that time should flee (Luke 21:21). Jesus also prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and the taking captive of Jews in Judea (Luke 21:24). All interpreters apparently agree that this passage referred to the historical siege by the Roman armies less than forty years after Jesus spoke these words. B. Siege by Titus in AD 70 I. When Shall These Things The destruction of the Temple is recorded in Be (A-C) significant detail by the Jewish historian Josephus. Because of the rebellion by the Jewish people, Rome sent legions into Israel to suppress the revolt. A disastrous war ensued in which approximately one million Jews were killed and a similar number taken into captivity. I. When Shall These Things This war ended with the siege of Jerusalem and the Be (A-C) ultimate destruction of the Temple by the Roman general, Titus. Terrible conditions occurred in which cannibalism was reported along with Jewish infighting until the very time when the Temple was burned and Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled. History records that Christians remembered the words of Jesus and fled to safety. C. Siege at the End of the Age These that occurred I. When Shall the atrocitiesThings in As terrible as were Be (A-C)Jesus’ prophecy. Luke’s AD 70, this event alone could not have been the ultimate fulfillment of Gospel prophesied that Jerusalem would be “trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24), clearly speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and also predicting a future restoration of the city. I. When Shall These Things He Matthew’s focus clearly involved a later event. Be words of as was“Forsince shall be recorded the (A-C) Jesus, then great tribulation, such not the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Despite the cruelty of the first Jewish War in Israel from AD 67-70, it was hardly the greatest tribulation the Jews have seen. Things I. When Shall These Jews have suffered Both before and after this war, (A-C) Bethe Tribulation, the greatest extended greater losses and atrocities. Clearly, Matthew 24 referred to judgment the world will ever see. This event, often referred to as the “day of the LORD” in the Old Testament, also figures as a major focus in the writings of the apostle Paul and the apostle John. I. When Shall These Things The focus of Matthew 24 relates primarily to eventsBe (A-C) prophesied in Daniel 9 (the abomination of desolation referred to in Matthew 24:15), to the battle for Jerusalem recorded in Zechariah (primarily chapter 14), and to the events described in the Book of Revelation (primarily chapter 19). These prophecies point to the time when Jesus Christ will win ultimate victory over the powers of Satan and the Antichrist. Be the of What Shallthe Sign Sign II. What Shall Be Coming of Thy(A) Thy Coming A. The Universal Hope of Redemption God has always wanted the people with whom He is in covenant to anticipate the redemption that He will bring about. When punishment Be the to Adam and II. What Shallwas meted outSign of Eve for their sin in the Garden of Eden, even this Thy did not come (A) judgmentComingwithout an accompanying redemptive promise. God promised that from the seed of Eve would come One who would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Thus, from the very beginning, there was an expectation of a Redeemer. II. What atShall Be the Sign of There is least some Jewish tradition that Adam and Eve believed that redemption would come from Thy children that were born. their firstComing (A) Sadly, this was not the case. Still, God’s people universally continued to look for redemption until the time of Christ. Further, Shall Jesus proclaimed that He II. Whateven thoughBe the Sign of Himself was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Thy hope of redemption, He scripturalComing (A) also spoke of a future redemptive hope. Probably, this was difficult for those who heard the words of Jesus to grasp. Yet, a recurring theme for Jesus was that He would go away but that He would return. Indeed, when Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives after His resurrection, angels standing by the people underscored this promise. “Which also Be the Sign of II. What Shall said, Ye men of Galilee, why Coming (A) Thy stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). B. Signs Pointing toward II. What Shall Be the Sign Redemption of (B) Thy Coming talk about ultimate Jesus was not reticent to redemption during His earthly ministry, particularly as Calvary approached. It is enlightening though, that when Jesus gave signs of His coming, most of the signs could be, at least in part, descriptive of many events during the church age. Consider these verses from Matthew 24: of II. What Shall Be the Sign“For many (B) Thy Coming ye shall hear of wars and shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:5-7). II. What Shall Be the Sign of Could one not always point to wars, betrayals, Thy Coming (B) way? While there famines, pestilences, and even to people claiming falsely to represent Christ in some have been more wars and new records of both pestilences and famines in the last one hundred years, such statistics would not have been known by previous generations. While there is a very real the Sign of II. What Shall Be evidence of increased Thy Coming (B)would hardly have earthquakes over the period in which they now have been measured, such a statistic been known earlier. Jesus spoke in such a way as to point the church to always be looking for His redemption. The apostles of Jesus echoed the Sign of II. What Shall Be the need for the church (B) Thy Comingthat not only would he soon to anticipate an imminent return of Christ. Facing martyrdom, Paul wrote receive a crown, but that such a crown was “not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:8). II. What Shall Be the Sign ofstated, Of the return of Christ, the writer of Hebrews Coming (B) Thytime without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second 9:28). Further, Paul exhorted Titus to teach believers to look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). C. Imminent Hope of II. Redemption the Sign What Shall Be Today of Thy Coming (C) The tenor of the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 goes well beyond the first-century church. The first century experienced only a foretaste of events that would occur during the greatest judgment the world would ever know. II. What Shall Be the Sign of Thus, while events may have been fulfilled in part, Thy will be more clearly fulfilled in intensity the signs Coming (C) during the period just prior to the return of Jesus Christ in judgment. The prophetic landscape is now taking shape where we could realize the fulfillment of these events in our lifetimes. End Signs of theof the III. Signs of the End of the World World (A-C) A. The Tribulation Period in the Book of Revelation The last question the disciples asked Jesus was what would be the sign of the end of the world. Matthew 24 is not alone in dealing with this. The Book of Revelation lays out a general chronology of how the events will take place. One need only to look at the order and sequence of the book. III. Signs of the End of the Revelation 2-3 contains an admonition to the World Minor, which churches of Asia (A-C) represented the present church age. Revelation 4-5 represents the church in heaven, apparently already raptured, as evidenced by the crowns on the heads of the believers (stephanos in Greek). This Greek word for crown represented a victor’s crown and in the Scriptures was used only in reference to the crown placed on Jesus Christ at the cross and to the crown to be worn by victorious believers. III. Signs of the End of the Revelation 6-19 gives an overview of a time of great World (A-C) tribulation, the same Tribulation as described by Jesus in Matthew 24:21: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” The Book of Revelation describes these plagues in detail, judgments that are so terrible that the majority of the earth’s population will be killed. The book mentions three sets of seven judgments—seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials. B. The Appearance of III. Signs of the End of the Antichrist the World (A-C) One of the most prominent features of the Book of Revelation is the appearance of a man (metaphorically called a beast) who also is called in other parts of the New Testament “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” or the “antichrist.” (See II Thessalonians 2:3; I John 2:18.) This individual ultimately will work to control the monetary system so that people cannot buy or sell without his “mark.” III. Signs of the End of the According to the Book of Daniel, the apostle Paul, andWorld (A-C) this man will set the Book of Revelation, himself up in the Temple and require people to worship him. If they do not take his mark, they will not be able to buy or sell, a notion that seemed all but impossible until recent years. III. Signs of the End of the However, we now find ourselves in a place where World (A-C) computerized banking would in fact allow such a scenario. Moving closer and closer to a society where the electronic transfer of money trumps the use of cash, it is easy to see how such control could take place. C. The Abomination III. Signs of the End of of Desolation the World (A-C) The Book of Daniel, Paul’s writing in II Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 13 all describe how the Antichrist will set himself up in the Temple as a deity to be worshiped. When the nation of Israel was depoliticized after the Second Jewish War in AD 135, this was logistically impossible. III. Signs of the End of the That is, if the Antichrist were to set himself up as god World (A-C) to actually be a in Israel, there would have nation of Israel. But in 1948, a modern miracle of resurrection restored Israel as a nation. III. Signs of the End of the Further, in order for this prophecy to be fulfilled, World to be a temple. The Temple, of there would have(A-C) course, is not rebuilt as yet, although it is at least being planned in some quarters in Israel. III. Signs of the End of the Some people question whether the Arab people World the Temple would ever allow(A-C) to be rebuilt on the Temple Mount, particularly since that is where the Mosque of Omar now sits. However, we should understand that people asked the same sort of questions when denying that Israel would ever again become a nation. III. Signs of the End of the There is considerable conjecture by some World (A-C) individuals that the building of the Temple could occur in the near future and could logistically sit on its ancient site adjacent to the present mosque. The Second Coming IV. The Second Coming (A- C) Jesus spoke in detail in Matthew 24 about the signs of His coming and the coming judgment, reminding us to watch for His appearing. While Scripture is replete with prophecies concerning this event, the clearest prediction of the culmination of this is found in Revelation 19, a passage that adds considerable detail to the prediction made by Jesus in Matthew. A. King of Kings and IV. The Second Coming Lord of Lords (A- C) After the Antichrist works very hard to destroy Jewish Christian believers in Jerusalem, a succession of battles will occur, which Revelation 16:16 calls Armageddon. The King James Version refers to “the battle” in Revelation 16:14; however, the Greek word does not necessarily signify a single battle, but actually points to a series of battles—a protracted series of events. IV. The Second Coming (A- All of these events will culminate as described in Revelation 19C) Christ Himself will lead an when army from heaven to conclude the final fate of the world. The armies of the Antichrist will not be able to stand before Christ’s power and glory. B. Destruction of the Antichrist IV. The Second Coming (A- C) Satan has had a foothold in the earth since Eden, and the apostle Paul called him “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The Book of Revelation pictures Jesus Christ defeating Satan’s representative, the Antichrist, and his “assistant,” the false prophet. IV. The Second Coming (A- C) Revelation 19:20 declares that both of these men will be “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” While it is chapter 20 before we see Satan himself being bound and cast into the bottomless pit, in the final judgment, Satan will ultimately join the false prophet and Antichrist in this final destination in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). C. Possession of Our IV. The Second Coming Inheritance (A- C) While Revelation 20 closes with the final judgment, chapter 21 opens with the promise of eternal hope. John lets his readers know that there will be no more struggle or pain. John heard a great voice offering great hope! Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). IV. The Second Coming (A- C) What a wonderful time that will be when all our sorrows are past! The Need to Be Ready V. The Need to Be Ready Jesus spoke in Matthew 24 not merely to be informative. He wanted His hearers to do something with the information that He was giving them. His exhortation was consistent with the theme of the entire Bible: those who are in covenant relationship with the Lord should anticipate His coming. Jesus spent considerable Be Ready V. The Need totime making application to His prediction. He warned of some who will be taken up and some who will be left behind—in the field, at home, and at work. Jesus emphatically warned all who will hear His words to prepare their hearts and lives. Certainly, Need to a time in which V. The if ever there wasBe Readythe church was standing on the brink of the end of the age, it is today. It behooves every one of us to be prepared for the soon return of Jesus Christ. Reflections Matthew 24 is an incredibly important chapter in the Bible, not because of its beauty or poetry, and not even because of the certainty of its fulfillment. It is important because it reminds us that Jesus Christ is faithful and that the plan of God will succeed. Reflections But even more than this, Matthew 24 challenges us to be watching, anticipating the redemption that for millennia the Scripture has promised. Further, along with the writers of the New Testament, we are to watch for, anticipate, and love Christ’s appearing. As the signs of the times declare, He’s coming soon!
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