From our Scripture readings this morning we remember the events of Palm Sunday. And we remember that the events of that day unfolded exactly as Scripture foretold, exactly as it was prophesied by Zachariah hundreds of years prior. And as Jesus rides into town that day on that donkey, he fulfills the Scriptures. He is the King coming into his own. He is the King of Kings going in with the authority to rule. You see, the Jewish people expected their Messiah to be a King that would lead them out of captivity. Who would free them from those bonds. Who would take their captors and drive them from their land. The problem is the Jews did not realize just who their captor was. Many of them thought that Rome was the captor that had enslaved the Jews. Others believed it was King Herod, a corrupt King who just wanted his own way. But that’s not true. For you see the real captor in the lives of the Jewish peoples and in the lives of anyone that does not have Jesus as their King, the true captor, the true enslaver was and is Satan. And Satan had enslaved all human kind for many thousands of years and today Jesus was coming in to show that Satan’s reign was coming to an end. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of lords. He comes riding in on a donkey--humble and lowly. And he comes during a time of great hustle and bustle—the Passover feast. It was a special Passover feast so it lasted longer, and had many more people there. Traditionally Jewish families especially the men would go to Jerusalem for the Passover. There were millions of Jews there that day. And they were getting ready to celebrate the Passover. The beginning of their freedom from their enslavement in Egypt so many years before. And here comes Jesus. They will immediately see the connection between what Jesus is doing and the prophecy of Zachariah. They have seen the things that he’s done around towns and villages. They know he heels; they know he speaks with wisdom. Some know him to be a prophet. Many of them had even heard him say who he is. They have heard him say that he is the son of God, that he is God, and that they are both the same. And as he’s coming down the road and the people say and I quote from the Gospel of Mark “Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” Hosanna is actually a Hebrew word and it means “save we pray”. The people wanted to be saved but they didn’t realize what they needed to be saved from. They had their wants and their needs. They wanted to be freed from an oppressive ruler but they needed to be freed from an oppressive slave master who had deceived everyone into thinking their true enemy was their government, when in fact it was Satan himself. Now as Jesus comes into town people gather around singing praises to him. They take off their cloaks and lay them out before Jesus. They take Palm branches off of trees and lay them before him--preparing the way for Christ. Preparing the way for the King. Now as I look back I think about this phrase making way for the King. Jesus’ ministry began with John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. And here as Jesus’ earthly ministry comes to a close the people are preparing the way for him to come in. John prepared the people for the coming of the King. And now that the King had come the people were welcoming him in and showing him the way in. Here comes Jesus coming into Jerusalem. The capital city of all Israel. And he is not coming as a visitor. He is not coming as a stranger to see the sights. Or to visit a long-lost relative. He is a King coming into his own. His going in that day showed everyone that he’s the King. And he’s coming back to take what is rightfully his. To rule over what is rightfully his. But you would think with such a grand entrance there would be speeches, maybe a few miracles but not that day. You see the speeches and miracles that Jesus makes are always for the benefit of others. But this was a sign. A fulfillment of prophecy. A sign showing their King coming in on that donkey. And he rode right in straight to the Temple. And you think he’s going to temple that’s a wonderful thing. He can teach in the temple or maybe organize his resistance at the temple that’s what everyone thought. But when he got there he did something completely different. He got angry. Now I know a lot of people don’t like to think of Jesus as being someone that can get angry. But he did; he got angry. Not all anger is bad. There is such a thing as righteous anger. And that anger can be further exemplified in the fact of the coming wrath of God. Jesus goes into the temple and he sees something that is such an affront to him. Instead of seeing a place dedicated to prayer and meditation, a place where you could humble yourself before God. A sanctuary from the clamor and glamour of the outside world, He sees the temple full of vendors and people selling animals for sacrifices. We read in Jeremiah 7:11 a prophecy of this very day in it we read "Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD." Jeremiah 7:11
It was a sight. In Matthew 21 verse 17 Jesus is recorded as saying "…It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." Matthew 21:13
There is no honest buying or selling going on. It was all for profit. People were being misled to purchase poor quality animals. The sacrifice that people needed to make needed to be a pure one. And it makes me wonder all these things happening at the Temple how does that reflect on our churches today? Are we full of all this clamor and glamour? Are we doing the things that we should be doing? Are we coming before God holy? Peaceful? Truthful? Or are we bringing nonsense with us that hides God from view. And the sacrifices that were made at the Temple needed to be pure. Now perchance some of that was happening in the temple there may have been some honest dealings going on, but the question I have is when these people go in to buy these animals for their sacrifices, is it really still a sacrifice? Or are they just trying to buy the forgiveness of their sins. Because to me a sacrifice is something that you give freely. It’s not something that you pay someone to do for you. And can you honestly say that going to the Temple, paying someone to give you a sacrifice is an honest representation of your heart? Does it show that you have a true sense of purpose? A true sense of loss. A true sense of remorse. Does it show that you have a repentant heart? I don’t think so. I think it shows that you just don’t care too much about what God thinks. About how well you can stand before God. You see because Jesus also sacrificed. But he sacrificed so much more. He sacrificed himself. And he didn’t pay anyone. He laid aside all the power of God that he would be able to experience the difficulty in giving of yourself. He sacrificed it all for every one of you and me. What a King. What a God. He loved you and me and everyone so much that he gave freely of himself. He stepped away from living the divine life to living a human life. And in doing so he endured the suffering and the loss of a true pure sacrifice. Jesus sacrifice was a full sacrifice and it was a complete sacrifice. And it was both pure and perfect. And nothing more was ever required.
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day he went to the temple--and he cleaned it out. And he kicked the people out that were making the money and he kicked the people out that were generating the demand for these money changers. For these merchandisers. Because you see there is evil in both. Trying to make a profit out of someone else’s stress, and seeking the quick fix instead of going before God. So this is something that not only happens in church. You see this also happens in us. There’s a moment in time when we realize that we just can’t do it anymore. We realize that we are insignificant and incapable of doing the things that we need to do to be closer to God. I have read in some songs that we sing and in some Scripture that our hearts shall be the home of God. “God builds a holy house without lumber brick or stone. God builds a holy house our hearts shall be his home” with that in mind we too can have clutter in our hearts that will cause a misuse of God’s space. As a result, when we are not doing things right, Jesus is going to come in and clean our temples out. It Might not be a comfortable experience but when he’s done it will be the place, and you will be the person that he wants you to be. And I suppose that that is what this day is really focusing upon. Jesus cleaning house. The King has come. The King is coming again. Folks, there are only so many times that Jesus will say here am I. will you be part of my life? Because if you’re not for him then you are against him. If Jesus Christ is not your Lord and Savior you have no part in the kingdom of God. You’re a sinner whose life is just going to tear apart. Because one day you will stand before the throne of judgment. There every human being ever created will be judged. And you’ll be judged not on the things that you’ve accomplished, not on how much you gave to charity, not even on how many good deeds you have done. You will be judged based upon one simple decision-- did you accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for you on that cross and in accepting that sacrifice did you ask him to be your Lord and Savior. Have you submitted your life over to him? This judge is none other than Jesus Christ and he will say one of two things “…Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Matthew 25:23 or "…I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity." Luke 13:27. Would you want to stand before the Lord of lords, the King of Kings and have him tell you to go away? Would you want to be thrown out of heaven and cast into the lake of fire? Because in this life we live there are two destinations. Heaven or hell. Many people are just coasting along trying to put off thoughts of tomorrow. Not really understanding the consequences of putting off God. Jesus said I and the father are one; no one comes to the father except through me. Our lives down here are not perfect we all have trials and tribulations to go through. We all have seen really happy wonderful times as well as some very painful if not miserable sad times. Some call it a little bit of heaven here on earth while others call it hell on earth. I’d like to stand up here and tell you that overall it’s going to get better but it’s not. It’s going to get worse because the time is quickly approaching when Jesus shall return once again; and this time there will be no joyous celebration here on Earth. Jesus will return after a period of tribulation, after a period of great troubles the like of which mankind has never seen before. Because that is what God’s word foretells. And you know what? That time is drawing closer every day. We have begun to see signs and prophecies from thousands of years ago being fulfilled. The King is coming again. Are you ready to stand before him one day?
Everyone at some point in time has heard about the second coming of Jesus Christ as found in Revelation chapter 19 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:11-16upon this second coming of Christ the anticipated ruler of Nations shall cast down the remaining governments of the world. He shall cast down Satan and his false prophet and Antichrist. He shall establish his physical reign here on Earth for a period of 1000 years. And there shall be peace and joy after the coming of the King.
But what about the events leading up to Christ’s return. What will they be? The Bible lists many things that will occur which will lead up to the great tribulation period. We will see the restoration of the state of Israel. This occurred in 1948. Jesus himself told us that perilous times would come. He told us that we would see false Christs and false prophets. He said there would be wars and rumors of wars. He told us that it would be nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom. Jesus told us that there would be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. He foretold that lawlessness and immorality will abound. Men will be lovers of themselves, they will be lovers of money. They will become unholy, proud, boastful, blasphemers. They will be unloving, disobedient to parents, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, traitors, headstrong, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and unthankful. Now I may be no expert on human behavior but aren’t we already seeing these signs occur? And if they haven’t occurred yet you can no doubt see that they are in the beginning stages of occurring. We shall also see the rise of the Antichrist who will be a man with a silver tongue who will step out and lead/conquer the world. He will beguile the people of this world through the help of the false prophet. The people will see the Antichrist and be deceived. They will see him as the savior of the world. We shall see the rise of the city of Babylon once again. It will be an immoral place full of many sinful ways. Some Bible scholars have even gone so far as to suggest that Babylon is actually this country. We shall also see before the great tribulation and invasion from the North of Israel possibly Russia and her allies. But then God will supernaturally destroy this invading army.
Before the great tribulation Jesus will step out in the clouds and call his church home in first Thessalonians chapter 4 we read "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 this means that when the great tribulation occurs when it begins the church will not be here. But folks I want to tell you that although the church will not be there we still may see the beginning movements of the tribulation. we may see the Antichrist. It is quite possible that he is alive today.
Now when the period of the great tribulation begins the mood of the people of the world will be such that they welcome the leadership of the Antichrist. He will seem to many to be the one to lead us out of our lawlessness. For you see Revelation 6 tells us about the condition of humanity. We will in fact turn completely one against another. We will be fighting killing and at war with everyone. These wars will be devastating and there will be famine and poverty. And from this famine and poverty there will be death to the sum of approximately 750 million people that is one quarter of the earth’s population. The Antichrist will establish a peace treaty with Israel only to break that peace a few years later. But he will rebuild the Temple. The Antichrist will destroy the city of Babylon. 3 ½ years into the tribulation the Antichrist will begin to show his true colors and he will break the peace with Israel, and he will seat himself in the Temple and proclaim himself to be God. And the Antichrist will be a brutal ruler. He will bring pain and suffering to people all over the world. He will subjugate the world’s population and control the people of the world. He will instill fear and will cause mankind to receive the Mark whereby anything you need to buy can only be purchased when a person has the Mark.
Then as God’s wrath begins to grow he causes a great earthquake to hit the Earth. It is an earthquake such as has never been seen before. It will cause every mountain and island around the whole world to be shaken and moved. He will cause the sun to turn black and the moon to turn red as blood. Mankind will be fearful and hide in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains forsaking their cities and countries. This all will happen during the first 3 to 4 years of the great tribulation. But the tribulation is seven years long and God is not done pouring out his wrath. If you read in revelations chapter 8 beginning in verse seven you will see the next set of judgments to come from God. God will send a rain of hail and fire slaked with blood upon the Earth. And this will destroy one third of the trees and all of the green grass. God will send a fiery mountain crashing into the sea and this crash will cause one third of the ocean to become blood, one third of all sea creatures will die and one third of all the ships of the world will be destroyed. Next a great star will fall from heaven burning on its way down and when it crashes it will affect one third of the rivers and make the waters bitter by which many people who will drink the water will die. And then a third part of the sun shall be smitten as well as a third part of the moon and the stars. Because of this the amount the daylight is shortened. There is more darkness now and the difficulties that humanity faces are grown tremendously because the conditions are so poor now. But wait it gets worse. Satan is allowed to open the bottomless pit where all his demons are held captive. They are loosed upon the Earth to wreak havoc, to cause pain and suffering to such an extent that we read in verse six Chapter 9 “and in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them”. This will continue for five months. These demons will have the authority to cause this pain. Then later God will command that four demons be released from their bondage in the Euphrates River and be sent to lead an army of such huge proportions that their numbers are innumerable. And they shall slay one third of mankind. Even after all this has happened mankind will still not repent of its evil ways. God will even send two witnesses who will prophesy for 3 ½ years about the remaining end times. They will have divine protection and will have power to stop the rain, to turn water into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will. After which Satan himself shall overcome them and kill them. They will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days after which God will give them back life and they will ascend into heaven while their enemies look on in fear. Shortly thereafter there will be another earthquake and one 10th of the city will be destroyed and 7000 people killed. In revelations 16 we begin to read about the next set of judgments to come from God. We read in verse two that all those who had received the mark of the beast and or worshiped his image received severe sores on their bodies which at this time would be widespread throughout the world. We read in verse three that the waters of the sea became as the blood of a dead man and every living thing in the sea died. In verses four through seven we read that the rivers and fountains became blood. The verses 8 to 9 we read that the sun gave off tremendous heat and scorched men. Following which in verses 10 to 11 we read that the Antichrist’s kingdom was cast into darkness and his subjects were in agony. In Verses 12 through 16 we read how the river Euphrates was completely dried up that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And we also read that the armies begin to gather for the battle at Armageddon. In verses 17 to 21 we read about a great earthquake. An earthquake so powerful that Jerusalem was divided into three parts. All the cities of the world crumbled. The remains of Babylon were swallowed up whole. There were no more islands and the mountains were laid low. Then there was a great hailstorm where each hailstone weighed 100 pounds. After all this the end of the tribulation has come. Jesus on a white horse returns. The King is coming once again. This time to stay. This time he plans to cleanse more than just the Temple. This time he conquers the world and defeats evil. This time he does speak and I imagine that his speech will be loud and clear. His speech shall be a summary judgment and verdict which will end this battle at Armageddon. The Armies of the beast, the Antichrist shall be obliterated and the birds of the air will be invited to feast on the bodies of all the fallen armies of Satan. Jesus cleans house once more as he establishes his kingdom on earth. Evil has been defeated, their armies destroyed. And in Christ’s righteous judgment the Antichrist and his false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. Satan is then seized and cast into the bottomless pit according to revelation 20 where he is isolated from the world and a seal is set upon him that he would not be able to deceive us no more.
Church, this is the future. These are the events as they will unfold. These events are already set in motion. The rapture, that time when Jesus returns for his church, could be in 100 years, but I don’t think so. The rapture could occur in 50 years, but I still don’t think so. The rapture could be in 25 years, perhaps. The rapture could be in five years, it’s likely. The rapture could be next year, it’s very likely. The rapture could happen this summer. The rapture could happen next month. The rapture could happen tomorrow. It could even happen before I finish my sermon today. The rapture will, according to Scripture, happen "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Corinthians 15:52 How many of you will be there with me to greet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air? How many of you recognize that the King is coming and in him is the authority to judge all mankind. How many of you will turn away from him and not seek him. It is written in Isaiah 55 "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:" Isaiah 55:6. Do you seek him? Or do you seek after those things which cause you to sin. Do you seek after those things which can separate you from the love of God? Are you like the money changers seeking to make a profit in his temple? Or are you like their customers who buy their sacrifices that they may buy their way into heaven. What type of sacrifice are you bringing before God? Is it holy? Is it acceptable? I give you a charge from Romans chapter 12 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1-2
Church, friends, guests. I do not preach this sermon today to try and scare you. Rather I found it important to let you know, to give you a forewarning of what is to come for those that are for Christ and those that are against him. Because either you are his or you’re not. Either you’re for him or you’re against him. Would you like the opportunity, for those of you who have not Christ, to bring him your sacrifice as pure and holy? Would you like the opportunity to have the King of King’s the Lord of the Lord’s come in and clean house. Would you like the opportunity to have Jesus come in to your life and remove those things which entice and enable you to sin? To remove those things which prevent you from making an honest sacrifice? You see Jesus can live in our hearts and our bodies can be the temple wherein the Holy Spirit dwells. If you choose Christ then you are choosing to let Jesus make room for his Holy Spirit to dwell and work within and through you. Jesus’ zeal for the temple of God will keep him working to clean out your temple for you. It is written "For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me." Psalm 69:9. Will you let him in? Will you let him do the work that he is so zealous to do? Or will you choose to reject the King of Kings once more, shunning him and sealing your fate to endure the wrath of Almighty God and to suffer the final judgment of Christ, the Lord of lords.