The End is Now! Jesus is coming! Are you ready?
Emergency Plan/HIS Choir/Kid’s Lunch Club
How many of you actually notice billboards along the side of the road? Some billboards can be funny. (Wisconsin/Fitness[i]) Some want you to think outside the box – literally! (Preplan) Some are direct! (Seat belts/Hell) But all billboards have the same purpose. They are trying to communicate a message. In the last year, no one has tried to communicate a message more than Harold Camping of the Family Radio Broadcasting Network. How many of you have seen his billboards (May 21 – Image) and this ad which appeared in last Saturday’s Dispatch? Maybe you are wondering, “why May 21, 2011?”[ii] Harold Camping[iii] is President and General Manager of Family Radio. Using Noah as his example he believes the flood occurred in 4990 BC. I have no problem with dating events except this one can’t be proven. With that being said he takes literally 2 Peter 3:8 (With the Lord a day is like a thousand years) and Genesis 7:4 (Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth…) So one thousand years per day – for seven days. 4990 – 7000 = 2010. Hmmm, seems like we’re one year off? Not so, says Camping. Using the Hebrew calendar and Genesis 7:11 which indicate the seventeenth day of the second month – he calculates Judgment Day will be 6:00PM TODAY, May 21, 2011.
Now Mr. Camping isn’t the only person who has predicted the day Jesus Christ will return. He also said this would happen in 1994.[iv] Pope Innocent III predicted Christ would return in 1284. London astrologers thought the world would end in 1524. Martin Luther did as well in 1556 as did Isaac Newton in 1715. William Miller predicted Jesus would return to upstate New York on October 22, 1844. Jehovah Witnesses set 9 separate dates – the last date being 1994. In 1988 Edgar Whisenant published a book called 88 Reasons Why Christ Will Return in 1988 only to follow that with 89 Reasons Why Christ Will Return in 1989. The Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world will be December 21, 2012. Now my question is, what are WE supposed to do with this?” How about we talk about this biblically? For starters, turn to Luke 24. Jesus can’t return if he hasn’t left! Raise your hand if you need a Bible! Turn with me to Luke 24:50. Luke talks more about Jesus’ ascension that any other Gospel writer. (Read 50-53) Now did Luke write any other books in the Bible? Yes, he wrote Acts! So Luke gives further detail of Jesus’ ascension in Acts 1. Find Acts 1:9. (Read 9-11). Luke is instructing us that Jesus will come back in the same way he left! We call this the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ! Let’s see if we can get a better handle when comes to the 2nd coming of Jesus! First, have you ever wondered, “When will we be in the last days?” Well, we are in the last days. The last days began the day Jesus ascended and will end the day Jesus returns. Who better to get instructed on his return than Jesus himself? Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 24. This is where we will primarily be for the next three weeks. Jesus does nearly all the teaching in Matthew 24 and he’s describing two events that will shape the future: The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD. 70 and his second coming. Find verse 1 of chapter 24. Truth is, Jesus disciples are glowing! They are basking in Jesus verbal defeat of the religious leaders in Matthew 23. Jesus “woed” the leaders and “wowed” the people! Every question thrown at Jesus he answered and his disciples LOVED it! They are thinking, “One day Jesus might occupy this very temple and since we’re with him – we’ll be given positions of authority!” Apparently the temple was stunning. Dr. Mark Moore writes, “Herod the Great began renovating the temple in 19 B.C and it would not be completed until AD. 60.”[v] So THEY bring up the temple to Jesus! Then Jesus BLOWS their minds by what he says in verse 2. History proved Jesus to be prophet! Roman General Titus will build large wooden scaffolds around the walls of the temple and burn it to the ground.[vi] When Jesus said not one stone would be left on another. He was dead right.
But we have to draw a line. Literally. Take a pen or a pencil and draw a line between verse 35 and 36 in Matthew 24. Verse 1-36 point to both AD 70 and to Jesus 2nd coming, but Matthew 24:36-51 and all of Matthew 25 are exclusively pointing to Jesus’ second coming! But there are common denominators that both future events hold. Here are two: CD #1 – Matthew 24:4. Deception! Don’t be deceived! Most people expect signs to point towards the Middle East. Or it’s another war or another flood, famine or devastation. But the Bible tells us it’s less about the condition of the earth and more to do with the condition of the heart! Don’t let your heart be deceived. When I think of deception I think of Bernie Madoff. But Jesus has a different type of deception in mind. (VS 4) Have you ever heard of Theudas? How about Judas? Or a man named Bar Jesus? Luke tells us all three claimed to be the Messiah. Have you heard of Jim Jones? (Guyana - 1978) Does the name David Koresh ring a bell? (Waco, TX. 1993) Jones and Koresh claimed to be the Messiah! You don’t need another Messiah. You already have one – his name is Jesus and he did what a Messiah was supposed to do! “Greg, how do I not fall prey to a deceiver? READ the word of God!
Jesus gives us a second CD. Find verse 9-(12.) The increase of wickedness! Wicked – people who do not fear God. What is Satan’s main strategy? 1st John 3:8 - He’s a deceiver. Satan’s deception is guilt free sin! I will leave my family, impregnate another woman, embezzle money, murder, steal and covet and feel no guilt. When did God send the flood? Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Jesus gives two signs. One in Matthew 24:28. If you see a vulture in the sky what’s on the ground? Something dead. And verse 32. When you see fig trees sprouting twigs, you know summer is around the corner. But wickedness can be tricky. We can become so used to the status quo – we no longer recognize wickedness or maybe we just get used to it! Everyone else is doing it – I can too! We think it’s normal and acceptable. Don’t be deceived!
Check out this warning sign! (Image) Seems reasonable, right? Ok, Greg! What can I hang my hat on when it comes to Jesus’ coming? Find verse 36. I mean no disrespect to Harold Camping. He just doesn’t know. NO ONE KNOWS! But this we do know. Read 37. Watch this video. (Invite HIP HOP) Why do I want you to invite people to church? So they can be instructed, encouraged taught and warned. What did Noah do? He warned people for 100 years. Here’s what happened. (40-41) Jesus is referring to the rapture. Rapture means “The physical act of snatching away or taking up.”[vii] Jesus tells us here and in Matthew 13 there are two raptures. The rapture of the wicked and the rapture of the righteous. This day we call Judgment Day! Look at the screen. Here’s Hebrews 9:27: Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment… Just what is Judgment Day? Dr. Jack Cottrell said, “Popular wisdom says only two things are certain: death and taxes. The Bible’s two certainties are slightly different[viii]: Death and judgment.” Does that make you nervous? Did you ever have to see the principal at school? I know he’s your PAL, but they also carry authority! I think I might be nervous. I mean we’re standing before God and the Son of God. But Judgment Day is not to determine who is saved and who is lost! That decision was decided long before that! The purpose of Judgment Day is to demonstrate that God is impartial and just! God will judge our works – whether we feared him or not. Whether we loved him or not. Whether we had faith in him or not. That’s why so and so didn’t go to heaven! They just didn’t believe!
Bart Centre[ix] is making money off Harold Camping’s Rapture prediction! Bart Centre formed Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA in 2009. In the event that you leave today, for $135, he will rescue your pet and take care of them for 10 years. He has 250 clients and recruited 8000 people to help him. What do these 8000 all have in common? They are all atheists. Their core belief is that God does not exist! What do you believe? That not only makes a difference now but on Judgment Day!
[ii] www.gotquestions.org/Is it possible to know when Jesus is coming back?
[iv] Rose Publishing/Past False Prophecies
[v] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 535
[vi] John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1171
[vii] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for All, 549
[viii] Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once for All, 554
[ix] Columbus Dispatch, Atheist offers post-Rapture care, May 10, 2011