The Second Coming of Christ - Part 3
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 24 & July 1, 2015
*Learning about the second coming of Christ takes us from the Old Testament to the New. We go from prophecies written hundreds of years before the Lord was born to prophecies written almost 100 years after Jesus was born. And as we look into God's Word, we will find different viewpoints and different levels of understanding. Tonight we will review some of the information we looked at three weeks ago, and we will explore some of the other issues surrounding the Lord's return.
*First: Let's go back to the beginning of Matthew 24 to see what prompted the Lord's discussion of His return. Jesus had just finished strongly condemning the Jewish religious leaders. The Lord condemned them for stubbornly rejecting Him as the Messiah, plus their arrogance, lack of mercy, hypocrisy and more.
*Matthew 24:1-3 tells us what happened next:
1. Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple.
2. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.''
3. Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?''
The disciples wanted answers, and that's what we are looking for in Matthew 24. We need to learn everything we can about the second coming of Christ, and God will surely bless us as we look into His Word.
1. First tonight, we face the problem of the Temple.
*When we talk about the Lord's return, we have to face the problem of the Temple. This problem arises down in vs. 14-15, where Jesus said:
14. . . "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15. Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place'' (whoever reads, let him understand)."
*Jesus told them to look for the abomination of desolation. That means an idolatrous foul thing that makes the holy place in the Temple desolate. The prophet Daniel spoke of the abomination of desolation three separate times.
*But who is the Antichrist who will commit the abomination of desolation? As we saw last time, some think that it was Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king who reigned in Palestine around 170 B.C. Antiochus desecrated the Temple by slaughtering a pig on the altar, forcing the priests to eat pork and setting up an idol to Zeus. But he cannot be the abomination Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:15, because Jesus was warning about something in the future.
*Most Biblical experts agree that the abomination of desolation the Lord spoke of here had its initial fulfillment 40 years later when Jerusalem was conquered by the Romans, and the Temple was destroyed. That was a terrible, terrible thing. Over a million Jews were killed. But that massacre also must not be the ultimate fulfillment of the abomination of desolation. I say that, because as bad as that was, worse things have already happened. In the 20th century, Communists and Nazis were responsible for the deaths of over a hundred million people.
*But in Matthew 24:21 Jesus said: "Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." The final fulfillment of this prophecy must come in Daniel's final seven-year period of Jewish history when the abomination of desolation is committed by the Antichrist in the Jerusalem Temple. And that puts an obstacle in the way, because there is no Temple in Jerusalem today.
[PICS 1-4] -- These pictures help us understand what was on the Temple Mount when the Lord first spoke these words. But right now, there is no holy place where the Antichrist can perform the abomination of desolation.
[PIC 5] -- Instead, this is what sits on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem today.
[PIC 6] -- This is another view from the Western Wall. That building is an Islamic shrine called "The Dome of the Rock." It was completed in 692 AD, and is the oldest existing Islamic building in the world. It sits right where the Holy of Holies in the Temple used to stand. Muslims believe that the rock in the heart of this building is the place where Mohammad stepped when he rose to the heavens to receive a message from God.
*So we have the problem of not having a Temple where the Antichrist can go to carry out the abomination of desolation. But religious Jews in Israel are firmly committed to rebuild the Jewish temple Jerusalem. One such organization is "The Temple Institute" in Jerusalem.
*Here is part of their mission statement: "The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual wellbeing of both Israel and all the nations of the world. The Temple Institute's ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments."
*Toward that end, they have already begun recreating the sacred vessels and priestly clothing. Here's another quote from their website: "The Temple Institute has likewise called upon Israel's finest craftsmen and artisans, and enlisted them in the historical task of recreating the sacred vessels and vestments.
*Every vessel produced by the Temple Institute is done in accordance with the precise instructions that were first handed down by G-d to Moses. The vessels you are about to view are all fit and ready for use in the Holy Third Temple, may it be built speedily, and in our days!"
*Here are some of the vessels they have already prepared:
[PIC 7] -- A copper laver for the priests to wash their hands and feet.
[PIC 8] -- An incense chalice that holds half a portion of incense offering ingredients.
[PIC 9] -- A silver shovel used for removal of ashes from the altar every morning.
[PIC 10] -- The menorah made from a single piece of gold! (1)
*If these people have anything to say about it, that third Temple is going to be rebuilt! Maybe it will be built during the first part of the tribulation, but when it comes to end times, we face the problem of the Temple.
2. We also see the pride of the Antichrist.
*In vs. 15-16, Jesus said:
15. "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place'' (whoever reads, let him understand),
16. then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
*Here the Lord is talking about the Antichrist, and we do not know exactly who he is. Down through the ages, people have thought it was the Roman Emperor Nero, or one of the popes, Hitler or one of the other dictators.
*In 1 John 2:18, John wrote: "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour." These historical characters may have been some of those antichrists, but they were not the ultimate Antichrist.
*One thing we know for sure about the Antichrist is that he is coming into the world. Paul talked about him in 2 Thessalonians 2, and said:
1. Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2. not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
3. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (i.e. the Day of the Lord) will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4. who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
*It is safe to say that the Antichrist will be the most evil man who will ever walk the face of the earth. In vs. 3, Paul called him "the man of sin" and the "son of perdition." That means "the son of destruction, ruin and loss." In vs. 4, he "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
*In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 in the KJV, the Antichrist is so evil that his name is called "Wicked." In vs. 9, this lawless one has all the power, signs, and lying wonders of Satan. And in vs. 10, he will have special powers of deception: "With all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
*In other words, the Antichrist will have almost unlimited powers of seduction to evil with all wicked deception. He will be able to deceive almost the whole world the same way Hitler was able to seduce the Germans before World War II. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 shows us that he will deceive everyone except those who receive the love of the truth, so that they might be saved. And vs. 4 there shows us the great pride of the Antichrist: He "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
*When it comes to end times, we see the pride of the Antichrist.
3. But we also see the pressure of the tribulation.
*Back in Matthew 24:16-21, Jesus said when you see the abomination of desolation:
16. "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
17. Let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house.
18. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
19. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those with nursing babies in those days!
20. And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
21. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be."
*"Tribulation": The word picture is great pressure. There are several different views of this terrible time, and we will go into more detail when we look at the rapture. But if you believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, then you understand the tribulation is the 7-year period of time that is the last of the seventy weeks in the Book of Daniel. This 7-year period is the time when anyone who chose not to follow God before the Rapture will be left behind. They will experience worldwide hardships, disasters, famine, war, pain and suffering, which will wipe out 75% of all life on the earth before the Second Coming takes place. (2)
*This is the wrath of God, and we can see part of it in Revelation 16, where the Word of God says:
1. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.''
2. So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
3. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
4. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
5. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things.
6. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. for it is their just due.''
7. And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.''
8. Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.
9. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
*When it comes to the end times, we see the pressure of the tribulation.
4. We also see the promise of the Lord's salvation.
*First in vs. 22, God promises to shorten the days of His wrath. Jesus said, "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened." This deliverance is for the Jewish and Gentile believers who will be saved during the Great Tribulation, and will still be alive at the end.
*Then in vs. 27-28, we see a sign of the rapture, and Lord willing, soon we will talk about it in detail. Jesus said:
27. "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
28. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together."
*We don't know the timing for sure, but this we do know for sure: God is going to save His people! God is going to save everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ! As the Lord said back up in vs. 13-14:
13. . . "He who endures to the end shall be saved.
14. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
*The gospel good news is that God loves us, and wants to save us from our sins. It's the good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead, so He is able to save anyone who will receive Him as their Lord and Savior.
*When it comes to end times, we see the promise of the Lord’s salvation.
5. And we see the panic of the ungodly.
*In vs. 29-31, Jesus said:
29. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
*"Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. . ." Revelation 6:15-17 says:
15. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,
16. and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
17. For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?''
*C. S. Lewis described the Lord’s return this way: “When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. God is going to invade, all right; but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else comes crashing in? This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.
*It will be too late then to choose your side. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.” (3)
*Jesus Christ is surely coming again, and He will surely save anyone who will trust Him as Lord and Savior. Have you done that? It is the only way to get ready for the Lord's return. Simply ask the Lord to save you as we go back to God in prayer.
(3) C. S. Lewis quotation from “Mere Christianity”