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Understanding Matthew 24 Understanding Matthew 24

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Understanding Matthew 24

Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Thu, Mar 12, 2009

MICHAEL STEVENSON

EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION

"Proclaiming the Word of God"

 



 

FROM THE SERMON NOTEBOOK

 



 

IT IS ALWAYS wonderful to be able to speak to you all and I want you to know God’s love for you because God really does love you each. Today as I stand before you, I want to focus on prophecy today. We are now in a time period that the Bible calls the "end times" or "latter-days" and yes, it is a real time period—it is the time that precedes the soon coming return of Jesus Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings.

Yet, most people do not even know or understand what is happening! They do not even pay attention or heed what the warnings are—if they did, they would turn to God and would no longer follow after the lies of Satan!

Jesus has told us that "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."—Matthew 24:36 It is perhaps good that we don’t exactly know when Christ is going to return because we knew the date, then we just may want to be lazy in doing the work of which God has for his people! Worse yet, we might also decide we are going to keep sinning and then finally turn to God at the end. The Kingdom of God should be our goal, but also, we must keep right on doing the work that is there for the Church until we die or until Christ finally does return!

Perhaps this is one of the most important things of the Church of God—doing the work that God has outlined for His people to do and to accomplish—yet, we cannot just simply keep going on about our own business and not doing anything about the message with which Jesus Christ has given to us—just like this is not my work—but it is God’s work—it is the work with which Jesus Christ has given us to do—to proclaim the very coming Kingdom of God to the whole world! That is what we are to be doing (Mark 16:15) and as we do this, we must then make those that believe disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and baptize them into God’s Church.

But, what about preaching the fact that we are now in the last days—preaching the news that Jesus Christ is about to return and that he will return visibly and that everyone will know when he does indeed return? What about spreading this message that God’s Kingdom is going to be physically set up upon the earth and that we will be able to enjoy that Kingdom in all honesty? Well, that is the goal of today’s sermon—that is the purpose of which I want to speak to you about today!

Now, to help us with keeping watch of when it is about time that Jesus is going to return—the Bible has given us some things we need to know. Christ has told us to "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."—Matthew 24:42 Therefore, brethren, it is important that we know and that we understand what those things are so that we can make sure that we are ready for him to return!

But then Christ tells us "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."–-Matthew 24:44 Now if we are not ready, we are going to be caught off guard! The whole purpose of Jesus’ telling us to be prepared is so that we do not predict, but so that we will be prepared and be ready for that time. How about you, are you going to be ready for his return? After all, Christ has told us to be faithful and to be watchful because "It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns."—Matthew 24:46 And therefore, if that means that it will be good for us, then we need to understand some very important prophecies that speak clearly of the time when Jesus is going to return! After all, Christ has told us that the foolish will be kept out of the Kingdom of God because they were not prepared! We know this from the parable that Jesus gave us concerning the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) and thus, we can learn a lot from those ten virgins! You see, five of them were not prepared, they were foolish and they did not take any oil with them at all and yet, the other five had taken plenty of oil with them and they were very prepared! Finally came the bridegroom and when he came, the five that had not taken enough oil were left without because they had to go fill up their lamps and to do so they had to go try to find oil to buy.

When Christ returns, those who are not ready are going to be clearly shut out—they will find themselves not ready for the coming of the Groom who is Jesus Christ and only those who are ready will be brought in because they had prepared for the time when Christ returns! But, what about you? Will you be ready? Will you be like the five that were prepared and who had enough oil or will you be more like the five that were not prepared and who did not have enough oil with them?

We are now seeing an increase of religion—sects that are leading people astray. We are in a time period when many are coming and claiming that they have come representing Jesus—yet, they are only really representing the "god of this world" who is Satan—they are not really representing God nor are they even at all telling you the plain truth about Christ and the Gospel in which he had come to earth preaching! "Watch out that no one deceives you."—Matthew 24:4 Well, some of you might say "I can’t be deceived" and others might say "no one will ever deceive me!" But, the truth of it is, you can be deceived! We have seen it happen in the Worldwide Church of God when the Tkach family came to power and took everything over—they deceived everyone in there and yet, there fortunately where those who had paid attention and who left and did not follow after that. But, also, there are going to be even more and more people as the months go on and so forth that will come in the name of Christ, saying they represent him and proclaiming that he is Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:5 and yet, all this they will do so that they can deceive!

We need to know that there are "many false prophets will appear and deceive many people."—Matthew 24:11 Why is this? It is because they are doing the work of the devil! They are in reality working on behalf of Satan—seeking to destroy everyone who is follows God. Yet, we cannot allow them to deceive us!

In the Old Testament we find that false prophets are mentioned. They claim to receive messages from God but at the same time, they are really preaching health and wealth and trying to make it sound like their messages are so good. They said what people want to hear and they come and convince people that they have all the answers! Some of them tell people that "God wants you to be rich" and others say that "it doesn’t matter what you do" because "There is no punishment for sin" and yet, the Bible assures us that the punishment for sin is spiritual death!

We need to be watchful for these people. But this is not all, there are also those religions and false teachers who proclaim that it is acceptable to commit murder such as the Muslims. I don’t care what anyone says! There is a truth here—that truth is this—that Muslims seek to destroy God’s people. If you actually read their Koran, you will find that it says bluntly "death to America" and to kill the infidels and yet we are made to believe that it is only a few Muslims who are extreme when yet, it is right in the Koran that the Muslims use all the time! My friends, we cannot accept the lies of false teachers! When they tell us that they are sent from God or sent from some false god, and they are actually speaking words which are against what the Bible tells us----we need to then be warned and stay clear from them!

We are now entering into a world where it is acceptable to look at Muslims and think of their religion as a great religion and yet, Christ was warning us of false teachers—he didn’t want to see anyone conform to the standards of false teachers and to conform to those who would not hearken to God or to the standards that God has set. We need to be able to recognize false teachers and we need to know that they are truly going to be escalating on a more wide scale than we have ever before seen.

If we are prepared for what they are going to be doing, then we are going to be able to be ready for the time when the Antichrist will also come to power and yet, that time is coming soon and I believe we are now right at the very door of that time when he is about to raise his ugly head!

And also, they will be taking us and they will be killing us for being Christian (Matt. 24:9) and let me say, it is already happening—but it will happen on an even wider scale. You need to know this because it will happen.

Another warning that Jesus has given us is that "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold"—Matt. 24:12. With false teaching and morals which are rapidly decaying, we see the loss of real love for God and we see that there is less and less love for our fellow beings. Sin is what dampens love for God and for others and turns us against each other. If you are involved in sin, you cannot have real love for God and you cannot have real love for others. This is a truth that we must realize—it is a truth that we must understand! We are seeing it more and more and yet, there is a promise that Christ gave us—that if we will stand firm, if we will keep hold of the Gospel, we will be saved when God finally judges everyone at the Great White Throne judgment!

Now, here is something that we could only see finally in our day. Something which no other day could have ever seen a witness of. "And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."—Matt. 24:14 What we are seeing here is that the Gospel, the Good News, the very message of the soon coming Kingdom of God will be proclaimed on a scale never before seen. The late Herbert W. Armstrong pioneered radio, television and print. Now, we see God’s people using the media through internet and through chat rooms. We see brethren who are proclaiming this message through means that we never before thought possible.

Jesus told us that this would be preached to the whole world! The increase of using the mass-media for the purpose of spreading the Good News of the Kingdom of God has remarkably increased. Now we find that with the use of satellite for the internet, there is no place on earth that cannot receive the Gospel. Thanks to laptops which have battery life that can last a long time and the use of generators, we can now be in the remotest regions of earth and find the internet. What a wonderful age of technology! This technology is allowing God’s Church to spread forth them Kingdom of God without necessarily having to travel to those areas of the earth!

Never before could we have seen all these things happen as they are now happening. What a tremendous opportunity we are being given for us to utilize the internet to spread the Gospel! I cannot think of anything that is more wonderful that to be able to preach the Gospel to everyone through the use of the media and technology that we now have in our very day—something that no other day has had!

Our voices are going out into all the earth—Just as the Israelites accepted the Gospel, so also will others throughout the earth because of our voices going forth throughout the world (Romans 10:18) and because of this, we are going to see an increase of persecution as well.

But, the news is that the Gospel is bearing fruit and is growing abundantly. We are seeing this happening more and more (Colossians 1:6).

Brethren, what a wonderful opportunity that we have to be sharing this message throughout the whole world and what a great chance we are given to make sure that this message does go forth as it is being proclaimed. This message is a message of hope as it lets people know that God’s Kingdom is going to be established upon the earth and that there will literally finally be true world peace!

I cannot think of anything else that is so awesome and so totally wonderful than this. I should hope that all of us would agree that this is awesome!

But then, Jesus warns us and tells us about the abomination of desolation. This is another KEY that we need to know about concerning about the time Jesus returns. This is going to be critical as we find. I want you to ask yourselves, just what was this "abomination that causes desolation" that Jesus spoke of. It is interesting to note that Daniel also spoke of this very clearly.

We find that Daniel first of all says to us that "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days."—Daniel 12:11 Now first off, I want to remind everyone that days often spoken of through prophecy refers to years. Further, I want you to understand that the Jews are waiting for the time when they will be able to again sacrifice. Now when we see the Jews begin to sacrifice, we are going to know that the time is clearly here—that things are going to be winding up and then when we see the sacrifice abolished and the abomination take place, then we are going to be able to really know. The abomination is more than likely going to be set up in the temple.

Now more than likely, this is referring to when someone or something (some power) goes and causes the altar to be desolated in some manner or perhaps the place where the Jews are sacrificing. Now it is also interesting to note that the Jews do not need to have a temple to sacrifice in. They can sacrifice on the Temple Mount at any time.

Now, let’s flip over to Daniel 9:27 and see what Daniel writes there. We read "He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven. In the middle of the seven he will put an end to a sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." There has been quite a bit of discussion on numbers, times, and events throughout the book of Daniel. Daniel is big into numbers. There are three basic views that we find regarding actually vs. 26-27 and they are: 1) the prophecy took place in the past at the desecration of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168-167 B.C. (Daniel 11:31); 2) it was being fulfilled in the past at the destruction of the temple by the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70 when there were about one million Jews who were slaughtered; or 3) it is still yet to be fulfilled within the future under the coming antichrist. Now, I want you to understand also that prophecy is dual. Often times, prophecy takes on a dual application and so perhaps, it could have referred to all three time periods. It is very important that we understand this and see what it is that Jesus was referring to, which I personally believe is referring to the future—when we see the Jews sacrifice again and then suddenly comes in the Antichrist who will desecrate the area that the Jews are using for the sacrifices. This is going to be made clear although when this does happen. But, I am not even going to actually speculate on how this will take place. But, this I do know also that more than likely, judging from Daniel 9:27, it will last about 7 years.

So then, we again come back to the question—what was the "abomination that causes desolation" which was spoken of? Rather than one specific object, event, or a single person, then it could very much be referring to multiple vents or persons or powers. It could also be seen as some soret of desolate attempt to mock and deny the reality of God’s true presence The antichrist is going to be setting up an image of himself and ordering everyone to worship it (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:14-15). These are all abominations that truly do mock God including those that took place in 168 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig to Zeus on the temple altar and then again when Titus place an idol on the site of theburned temple after it was destroyed in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Whatever the truth is, we can clearly see that it is going to indeed take place again.

Now, let’s look at v. 16 of Matthew. This is also something else which is critical to note. When we see the time that the abomination is taking place, then we are told "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." Flee to the mountains? Why? Well, I believe that this is the beginning of the seven year tribulation period thus, we can easily refer back to Daniel 9:27. Remember there, Daniel spoke of "seven" and if I am correct, then this is telling God’s people to flee to the mountains! This is telling God’s people to go to safety—the place that God is either preparing for us—or a place where we will gather so that we can be taken to the place of safety. But, we can clearly see that Jesus is telling us that we will LITERALLY need to flee! This perhaps is because of what will be taking place over the seven years that will follow! It is going to be a dangerous and awful time that will take place. But, it is going to take place.

Now, another reason that I believe that this is referring to the seven years is because of Matthew 24:21-22. We find that these two verses tells us plainly "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." Here is another reason to believe that what I am saying is correct because this happens at the time of the seven years. Surely the time of the seven years is going to be the time of great distress, something we never before have seen and ever will be seeing. This is something which is going to be very awful and something that will not be easy. From this though, we should be prepared for what is going to be coming about!

As we prepare, let us remember that there will also be false teachers who will be telling us that Christ is here or there and that they will try their best to lead us astray. They will try to tell people that they have Christ in their teachings or in their churches (Matt. 24:23, 24) and they will do what they can to make it sound really good and that they know for a fact what the truth is when in reality, they are only blinded by Satan and they are being used to blind the eyes of mankind. Let us also remember that we are warned of these things ahead of time and that Christ had warned us (Matt. 24:25) so let us not be caught unaware, but be cautious and be watching as we are prepared for all that is beginning to come upon us.

Remember, as God’s people, we need to remain loyal to God and remain watchful because things are just beginning to get worse than we have ever before seen. Yes, indeed, we are now seeing these things take place. I hope you understand what you have been warned about because truly, they will happen. If you don’t stand on the watch, you will be caught off guard and you will not know what is coming about. The world does not know and the world is looking for their own ways out of these problems. Yet, they do not understand what is coming upon us. This is the precious truth that you need to know concerning all the events which are going to occur.

Brethren, let me tell you bluntly right now, this is the precious truth and it is in your own Bibles! I want you to read it for yourselves. For those of you who take notes, you can go back and look at the verses which I have given you today in this sermon. Remember, stand alert, stand steadfast, and be prepared!

   Discussion: Understanding Matthew 24

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