15 Mar 2020
Eschatology, or the study of last things, is a subject that fascinates Bible readers. However, with the diversity of views, it is also a rather intimidating subject. Yet Jesus deemed it important enough for Him to explain in great detail in Matthew 24. He explains the signs of His return and of the end of this age. Whilst it is good to take up a position in eschatology, we must not be dogmatic nor insistent in our posture. This sermon seeks to provide a simple but useful framework to approach Matthew 24, and the study of last things. As we behold the sovereign plan of God who ordains all things throughout human history, let us then learn to fear Him, and not the Covid-19 pandemic around us. Let us have the confidence to be centred in the gospel, and not be centred on the virus. Check out the sermon here and may you be blessed!
Eschatology, or the study of last things, is a subject that fascinates Bible readers. However, with the diversity of views, it is also a rather intimidating subject. Yet Jesus deemed it important enough for Him to explain in great detail in Matthew 24.
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I'd like us to turn our attention to the passage before us Matthew chapter 24. Now I had a sleepless night, uh on Monday morning, Monday night, and not because I was worried about the COVID 19 situation but because I was preparing for the sermon this week. It's not an easy passage in Matthew chapter 24.
I'm sure if you've read the Bible before, you know this is a passage about end times, about the last things, we call that prophecy. We call that eschatology, ESCHATOLOGY, so that's the study of last things.
Even though it's difficult, many people are fascinated by it because I can understand, we all want to know the future. We all want to know when COVID 19 is going to end. We want to know which stocks to buy for the future? We want to know which team will win the league and so on. We, we like to find out more about the future and of course, you will want to know what's the end times like according to God in the Bible?
So we are looking at a very interesting I think, passage and a few sermons that is to come, but I want to say it is not easy because there have been a variety, a large diversity of views with regards to how we should understand eschatology, and how one should understand Matthew chapter 24.
So you have things like premillennialism and postmillennialism and amillennialism. And if that is not complicated enough, you also have pre-tribulation and post-tribulation, and mid-tribulation. I mean, it's like wow, so with all these words, with all these concepts, there is a whole range of permutations that are possible.
So I want to say that something that has been debated for 2000 years is not going to be easily solved in a few sermons here. I also want to say that while we have a view, I have a view as we preach this, uh I'm not dogmatic about it, in a sense, I'm not insistent this is the only one that is correct and everyone else who differs is wrong.
Now, I think we have a position, but our posture is not one of obstinacy, uh it's not one of arrogance and hey, for end times, we might very well be proven wrong at the end of the day. So we're looking at the signs of the end times, the times we anticipate the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I like us to look at the verses again. I know you've read it for Scriptures reading but I want you to read it again because I think the key to understanding this text is to have a greater familiarity with the actual words Jesus gave.
So Matthew chapter 24 verse 1, I'm going to read this slowly so that it gives you time to remember, to absorb, to digest.
1Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
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?” 4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. (Seeing that you are not) See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight might not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you beforehand. 26So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
That is the text we have today, very long 31 verses and I'm sure at the end of this reading, you have questions, that's the one thing I know. What is this all about? So you have questions like, what are these events, exactly, what is Jesus talking about? And even if I could figure out what these events mean, when will they happen, when will they take place? And what about that phrase that is so sticky in our minds that phrase that is so unique, what is this ‘abomination of desolation’? It rhymes, when I said this to my son, he said, “Wah, the Bible so rhyme ah?” Well, actually in the Hebrew or in the Greek, it doesn't rhyme, alright but for us, it happens to be the ‘abomination of desolation’.
So my goal this morning is just to be able to answer these three questions. Alright, it's not going to be a heavy going message, I think because we are not going to dwell in the many, many details, at least not for this first introductory sermon.
But my goal is to give you clarity as to what these events might be, when these events may take place? What, how can we make sense of ‘abomination of desolation’? I want you to see a broad structural outline, that's all of Matthew 24. If we could do that, we, I will consider it goal achieved this morning.
Alright, so I'm not going to kind of bite off more than we can chew. I want to also say if you're lost, if you are lost at the end of this sermon, you can don't bother to come for the next few weeks because you'll be even more lost, alright? But if you are clear today, I think it will be beneficial for you in the weeks to come.
So let's start, how do we answer these questions? How do we make sense of Matthew 24 verses 1 to 31? I picture it like a jigsaw puzzle. Hey, anyone never done a jigsaw puzzle in your life? I'm sure you have and if you want to have this jigsaw puzzle done up, it is usually wise to start where it is obvious, the easy pieces go first.
So what are the easy pieces in a jigsaw puzzle? Universally, everybody starts with the four corners, then you work at the sides, the edges, or maybe you find some prominent picture or image and you start from there. We always start from the obvious. It's the same, when we look at Matthew 24.
We want to start with the obvious, then we work backwards to look at the not so obvious. So at the end of the day, hopefully we have a beautiful picture as best as we can as the Scriptures allow us about the end times. So the easy corner to start is the top or rather the first piece most people put up the top left hand corner, the beginning of the verse, the beginning of this passage and that's where we begin.
So Jesus here is leaving the temple when the disciples came to point out to him about the marvellous structures, the buildings of the temple. And Jesus then said, “You see all these, do you not? I say to you truly they will not be left here, one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
So Jesus is saying, this temple in Jerusalem will be absolutely destroyed, razed to the ground, not one stone will be upon another. Then the disciples said, “alright, we get that, when will this happen?”
And by the way, we also want to ask you, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” They linked these things together in their minds. Their timeline is “Temple destroyed, Jesus comes back”, so they asked, “When will this happen, what are the signs?”
You say, why do they link this together? Well, for those who are new with us, you might not see this but for those of you who have been with us in our sermon series, in Matthew, you'll remember last week, we saw Matthew 23 in verse 38, Jesus, because of the sinfulness and rebellion of the nation of Israel said, “God's righteous, judgment will come upon you, the house, your house will be left to you desolate.” This refers, I think, to the city of Jerusalem. It refers to the people of Israel, but primarily it refers to the Temple of God.
“So the temple will be destroyed, your worship will be left to desolate”, but we also remember, besides the righteous judgment pronounced, Jesus says “He will return” in verse 39 “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’”, which means “there will come a day you will recognize me for who I am, that will be the day I will return.”
So verse 38 says, “City destroyed, Temple destroyed”, thus verse 39 says, “I will return.” So you could understand now why the disciples would ask “when will the temple be destroyed and when will you return?” They linked it together.
Now, the answer from Jesus would really I think shocked them. I think in their heads, they must be thinking alright, temple destroyed, Jesus returns really quickly, real soon, so they linked it together. But the reply of Jesus is something like this: “Okay, don't be lost. Don't get into all the microscopic words there. I put this up just to help you appreciate.”
Jesus is saying “Yes, the temple will be destroyed and I will return. The Son of Man will be coming on the clouds of glory but before that happens, could you not see that there are many things that must take place before I come back? I will come back, but not before these things that I tell you.”
So let's look at these things in chunks. There's no time and no capacity for us to look at every verse in detail today but I think we can look at it in broad strokes, in big chunks.
So the first big chunk from what Jesus said to the time Jesus will return is the ‘beginning of the birth pains’, you see that I just highlight the words that's all I do. Take your Bible, circle it, that's all we're doing. Bible reading does not always need to be very complicated.
Number 2, the second event, second chunk is that of the ‘tribulation’. Third significant highlight here would be what we call the ‘abomination of desolation’. When that happens, it triggers off the next phase, which is the ‘Great Tribulation’. I'm merely using the words in the text, no additional theological jargon.
And then we see the cosmic signs. The sun will be darkened, and so on. I summarize that into cosmic science, not things on Earth but things in the atmosphere, the stratosphere, the sky, the heavens above, before the Son of Man will return.
So let's look a little bit at the first chunk which is ‘the beginning of the birth pains’. Let's elaborate on that, let's magnify that, let's enlarge that and we see verses 4 to 8 about the ‘beginning of birth pains’. What is this season, what is this age, what is this time period characterized by? It's characterized by the fact many will be led astray.
There'll be a lot of false teachers, and they'll be led astray from Christ. There will be wars and rumors of wars, so it will be a time of tremendous unrest and panic and turmoil. If you think COVID 19 is bad, this is worse, because we also see famines and earthquakes and Luke 21 tells us there will also be pestilences, it's a parallel text, so that will be the 1st phase, the ‘beginning of birth pains’.
The 2nd phase is the ‘tribulation’. And in the ‘tribulation’, God's people will be delivered to die, they will be put to death. Again, the same thing we see in the ‘beginning of birth pains’ continue in this ‘tribulation’ where there are many false prophets. This will be a time of great sinfulness and lawlessness and as a result, the many there, their love will grow cold but paradoxically, it is also a time where the Gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world. This is the ‘tribulation’.
The 3rd thing is that of the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken off by the prophet Daniel. We're going to look at that in greater detail in a moment. But this ‘abomination of desolation’ would trigger the next thing which is the ‘Great Tribulation’. You can read all the details of how horrible it is. Therefore, you got to escape and never come back but in essence, the prime characteristic is that such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.
So it is a time of unparalleled misery, pain, death, suffering, unparalleled, that's why it's called the ‘Great Tribulation’. And then we would see the cosmic signs and immediately, or rather, immediately after the ‘Great Tribulation’, you have the cosmic signs and then you will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds in great glory.”
So, let me use my whiteboard, I have not used it for a long time, time to resurrect it. We are looking at a very interesting but uh diverse subject according to theologians and I think the best approach is to keep things simple.
So you are looking at end times. Jesus spoke about these things, maybe in AD 32 to 33. We are not exactly sure historically when but He did say these things in Matthew chapter 24. What did He speak about? He's talking about the times of the end. He says, first of all, there must be what I'll call BP, er BBP, ‘beginning of birth pains’. So pardon me if it's short form, don't write too much.
After ‘beginning of birth pains’, you would have the, you got to get this clear in your head, otherwise later you will be lost, so you have BBP’, then the next thing is ‘tribulation’, let's call that T. After ‘tribulation’ you have, alright ‘abomination of desolation’ AOD, alright. After ‘abomination of desolation’, you have ‘Great Tribulation’, GT. After ‘Great Tribulation’, you have ‘cosmic signs’, let’s put cosmic. And after that, the last thing, here, the Second Coming.
So we know roughly, uh the sequence of events laid out here. We also know, I'm sure none of you would disagree, the Second Coming is an event that has not taken place, right? Has Jesus come back for His church a second time? No, not yet. So we know this is somewhere in the future. Now, we already know some of the events. We know that this is somewhere in the future. The question now is when do these things happen?
You get the jigsaw puzzle? We are talking about these events. We know where this is. It should be at the corner, at the end, so let's try to fit them now, where and when do they take place? I think one of the easier ways to start is to look at something that is described in great detail in the Bible.
And that event that is described in great detail that we don't have to doubt is that of the ‘abomination of desolation’. This event right in the middle is a good piece to start with, because God gives a lot of description about it. You get how it should work and this ‘abomination of desolation’ is right in the middle of what Jesus said, as you could see and so that's what we're going to spend a little time on.
What is this ‘abomination of desolation’? The word ‘abomination’ in the Hebrew and in a Greek, they both mean detestable. Ugly, hideous, horrific, that's the idea. Something so bad, so detestable, so rotten before God. So that's what the ‘abomination’ is, something really hated by God.
What is it? Well, let's look at the next word, ‘desolation’. The word ‘desolation’ again, simply means destruction or ruin. So apparently, there is an event that is something that is so horrific, so detestable that it will also bring along destruction. Then we realize that this detestable thing that leads to destruction is spoken off by the prophet, Daniel.
So we have information. We can mine those information out. Daniel spoke about the ‘abomination of desolation’ in three passages in his book, Daniel chapter 9, and verse 27. Then you read in Daniel chapter 11, verses 33 to 36 and then you read of Daniel chapter 12 and verse 11. So you see, Daniel 9 chapter, Daniel 11, Daniel 12, gives you information and actually some uh also see the ‘abomination of desolation’ in Daniel chapter 8. Regardless, let's stick to 9, 11 and 12, we can study that in detail in our 3rd sermon.
But here, we also see that Jesus narrows the ‘abomination of desolation’ to be taking place in the holy place. This clearly refers to the Temple in Jerusalem. So, we understand that for the end times to come, this is a necessary event where someone is going to do something absolutely detestable that will bring about destruction in the Temple of God.
Now, when did this happen? This is where theologians can differ and essentially I think this is a key distinction. There are many theologians today in time past today, many people I would respect as well, they would tell you that the ‘abomination of desolation’ happened sometime in the past, in AD? Anyone wants to try? Something happened in the Temple in Jerusalem that brought about great destruction that continued in great destruction, AD, louder, 70.
So in AD 70 you say what happened? I was not even born. Yah you're not born, that's fine. But in AD 70, historically, we all know is the siege of Jerusalem. About two, three years before that, Israel wanted to revolt against the Roman Empire. So this general called Titus Vespasian is sent by Caesar, leading the troops to lay siege and to destroy Jerusalem, to teach them a lesson about trying to rebel against the Roman Empire.
The siege was said to be so bad, so severe, so long that the food sources dried out within Jerusalem and mothers were so desperate that they killed and ate their own infants. That's how bad Josephus, the historian said about this event. It was so severe that 1 million Jews died in the siege of Jerusalem.
If you go to Jerusalem today, you would still see the temple stones overturned and in shambles. What happened? According to Josephus, is that in those days, when the siege was taking place, the Israelites wanted to keep their precious possessions, especially gold. In this time of turmoil, gold seems to be a good bet I'm told, but in those days, they also had their riches stored as gold.
So they wanted to protect their gold and so they hid their gold in the Temple. But when the siege came and when the soldiers burned the Temple, the heat melted the gold and it flowed in between the cracks and crevices of the rocks, and when it is cooled down, it is stuck there. So after the war is over, guess what the Roman soldiers will do? They will pry open the rocks to extract the gold from within. It makes sense and therefore, no stone is left on top of another.
So people look at AD 70 when Rome invaded Jerusalem, destroyed it and absolutely tore down the Temple. And so they believe that the ‘abomination of desolation’ is committed by Titus Vespasian. And if you go to Rome today, you will still see the arch at Rome that celebrated that the siege of Jerusalem.
So that's their understanding of the ‘abomination of desolation’. It is by this man, Titus, in AD 70. He came in, he destroyed the Temple and so if you take this point of view, then these things happened early on before AD70 and so on.
Now, the question is, can we be sure it's Titus Vespasian because there are people who say no, it is not Titus, they are theologians? That's why it's so difficult, right, because can be this, can be that, so some people say it's not Titus but this refers to someone else in the future and we gave a title to him because the Bible gives a title to him, and he is called the Antichrist. You might have heard about this.
There is someone who is of great evil, who will come. He's called the Antichrist spoken of in 1 John chapter 2, 18 “Children, it is the last hour and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come, therefore we know that it is the last hour.” So in the end times, actually we are also considered living at the ‘in the last days’ because we await Jesus' return.
So, John is saying there are many antichrists already today. Actually, there are many false teachers in the world today. Not everyone who calls himself a preacher or pastor is sent of God, we know that, they are wolves in sheep's clothing. So John is saying there are many antichrists but you have heard that antichrist is coming. If I may add, the Antichrist is coming.
So John is saying there is someone who is going to oppose Christ, pretend to be Christ, want to usurp the place of Christ, this man is coming. He is called the Antichrist. It is not Vespasian. It's not Titus. Why? Because Titus Vespasian destroyed the temple in AD 70.
But the book of 1 John is written in AD 95 or AD 110, at least 25 years later, John say, hey, there's still someone coming, not Titus, but the Antichrist. 1 John 4:2 also 4:3 says, “This is the spirit of antichrist, which you heard was coming and is now in the world already.” So, this is where the question lies. What is the ‘abomination of desolation’? Is it by Titus? Is it by the Antichrist?
So let's take hypothesis one, Titus. There are many shades. There are many variations, subtleties, but essentially, there's this one view that believes it is Titus AD70 and if that is so, then we need to link all these events maybe to here. This one we know is definitely not yet, correct? So, you may link all these circles, this chunk, to believe that they all take place at or before AD 70. That is the implication.
That means you will not go through ‘tribulation’ or ‘Great Tribulation’, it's already taken place if we think AOD refers to AD70. My difficulty with thinking that the ‘abomination of desolation’ is committed by Titus is this, Jesus said, “For then there will be great tribulation after the abomination of desolation comes, there will be great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now no and never will be.”
Now I know that the siege of Jerusalem is terrible, 1 million Jews died. But do you know how many people died during the final solution under Hitler? 6 million. You are absolutely spot on. 6 million people died during the Nazi rule. Now it doesn't seem to me that ‘abomination of desolation’ in AD 70, if that is the case, really fits the never will be description.
Mind you, if you read Revelation, Revelation is a long book 20 over chapters but most people would think that chapter 6 to chapter 19, these 14 chapters detailed the ‘tribulation’, the, the wrath of God being poured out upon this world. It describes the seven years of ‘tribulation’.
And Revelation when you read it, speaks of tremendous horror and death, where large populations of the world will die. Now when I read this, I feel that the horror and judgment and severity exceeds that of 1 million Jews in Jerusalem.
So for that reason, this may not be the best approach or view, in my opinion and then you would also read in verse 29, immediately after the ‘tribulation’, there will be cosmic signs, there'll be an entire darkening and so on.
Now, you say the world darkened when Jesus died on the cross? Yeah, perhaps but this is not when Jesus died. This is after and I don't read that when Titus came into Rome or into Jerusalem, there was this cosmic sign that then led to the bright return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, it is my opinion I will say this. It is my opinion, actually is not my only lah, there are plenty of other people who believe it is not Titus, but the AOD refers to someone and something yet to happen in the future. So that's where the verses like 1 John 2, 1 John 4 come in speaking about the Antichrist.
And then you read about 2 Thessalonians, about this man, this very special wicked man. 3 “Let no one deceive you in any way for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first.” There will be a great rebellion, the man of lawlessness is revealed. He's also the son of destruction, very severe names and titles given to him and in verse 4 we read, “Who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God.”
Now, when Titus came in, I don't think he did anything like that. He just destroyed as a military conqueror but I don't think as far as I read, that he will sit in a temple and say that he is to be worshiped. But there is a man who is going to come, the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, who is so haughty and proud, he will exalt himself. He'll put down every other religion and he will plonk himself in the temple and says, “Worship me and no other worship is to be tolerated, otherwise.”
This man is not just a smart man, he's going to be smart, he's going to be powerful, but he's not just naturally smart because he's going to be supernaturally empowered. 2 Thessalonians 2:9, “the coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders”, so he can do some miracles, for sure. Does this fit Titus Vespasian? Probably not.
Then again, we have known that he's the son of destruction, the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, the lawless one we see here. Another term that I think is attributed to the Antichrist is in Revelation 13, right in the middle of this period of ‘tribulation’. We read of the beast, he's also called the beast. He was given a mouth, uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and he was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months.
42 months is 3½ years, trust my maths, 3½ years, which is half of 7 years, which seems very reminiscent of Daniels 70 7s’ prophecy in particular the 70th 7. So at, I think, the middle of the 70th 7, the middle of the last 7 years of this ‘tribulation’, the beast would be manifested. He will come into the temple, sit at the temple, forbid all other worship, blaspheme God, as we read here, after blasphemies against God blaspheming His Name and His dwelling, that is those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them and authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nations, this antichrist man of destruction, son of lawlessness and so on, he will conduct massive persecution and massacre of God's people.
So, we see then that if this is the view, then, these things do not happen in AD 70. So, if this is the correct view, I will have to erase this. It is somewhere in the future, get that and it will be by not Titus but let's call him Antichrist.
So, AOD is likely to happen in the future. We do not know when and therefore, I think it is likely that these events, BBP, ‘tribulation’, AOD, GT would be shifted into the future because this piece belongs to the future.
If you and we will look at Daniel's 70th week prophecy, you know that AOD is right in the middle of T and GT, they are together, you don't split them, they come together, so this will be together. Some people say the ‘beginning of birth pains’ is already now, but then it has been having birth pain for 2000 years. My wife when she had her first pregnancy, she had labor pain for 30 hours. I think 2000 years, 2000 years is a bit long.
So regardless, some may think we are already living in the age of BBP. I think probably not but all this will be shifted to somewhere in the future, alright?
So all that being said, this is the summary, uh there will be the ‘beginning of the birth pains’ and there will be all these things of false teachers, wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes. People say it is already here because we are already experiencing these things. That, that's true and in a sense, we are seeing more and more of these things, don't you think?
I'm told, I read that earthquakes are getting more severe and more frequent in the world today. However, I also do think that perhaps this world environment we live in, though we experience these things are not experiencing the real ‘beginning of birth pains’ because when this time occurs, it will be such an intensification like never before.
So if you are worried about earthquakes today, it will be worse then. If you are worried about pestilences like COVID today, it will be worse then. The world will be in such a turmoil and we would know from the intensity, this is the ‘beginning of birth pains’.
Then we read about the ‘tribulation’ where there will be, I think, intense persecution of Christians. It's clear. It's about persecution, the ‘tribulation’ of Christians. They will deliver you up to ‘tribulation’, you will be hated by all nations. They won't hate one another, they will hate you.
There'll be many false prophets, many will fall away because of the intense persecution, the hypocrites, the false professing people in church. They will give up, just like Jesus talked about the four soils. There will be those that seem to grow well, but when the sun rises, they wither and die away.
And there will be great sin in the world, and many will have their hearts grow cold but that will also be a time as I've mentioned, where the Gospel is proclaimed throughout the whole earth. Then we see the ‘abomination of desolation’. I think this refers to the Antichrist coming into the Temple, setting himself up as the image of worship that will trigger the ‘Great Tribulation’ where there is unparalleled massacre and suffering and pain. Following that will be the immediate sign of the cosmic, cosmos changing. The world if you can imagine it will be in darkness, no sun, no moon, no stars. And in that context, in that backdrop comes “the glory of the Son of Man in the clouds in great glory”.
Now, I do want to tell you that whilst this is my view, uh and actually many theologians' views as well, there is a difficult text in verse 34, that says, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
So because of this statement, there are those who say, then this cannot refer to something in the future because this generation, the disciples generation must see the fulfilment of the ‘beginning of birth pains’, the ‘tribulation’, the ‘abomination’, the ‘Great Tribulation’, and so on. So they feel that, no, “it has to be Titus”. But there is a way to look into this text that does not need to force it into that interpretation. We'll look at that in the weeks to come.
So like I said, my goal is to share what these events are, when these timelines might be and what is the ‘abomination of desolation’? We come back to this question, when will these things be? When will the Temple be destroyed? It seems as if Jesus did not quite tell them when the Temple is destroyed? We know it's AD 70 but Jesus actually answered more that question, “what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age” and He says, “I will come back.” You're right. Okay. The problem is because they assume that it will come immediately so Jesus said, “I will come back”, but it will be quite some events later.
That's all I want to achieve today. If you're lost, I guess I won't see you next Sunday but if you're still with us, then we will go into greater detail in the subsequent phases, alright, but that's the achievement we want to have. Just to have a broad framework, a simple approach to eschatology that is biblically founded.
Now someone asked, Pastor, “Do you plan for this sermon to be on this week where the COVID situation is like this?” I said, “No, I didn't plan this.” As you know, we started with Matthew from the beginning until now, but I think it really is a timely message, isn't it? We are so caught up with the viral situation but in this story, in this teaching, in this text, I can't think of anything else but to be stunned with “am affirmed in how God is in perfect control of everything.” Nothing gets out of hand, nothing is out of His timeline. Everything is as He has planned it to be. Yes, the viral situation is big, but let's not forget we have a bigger God. God is so big, there is nothing that would confound Him.
As a people, I pray that in this season, we will not be virus centered but be Gospel-centered. There is a great hope in the Gospel. The great hope is Jesus is coming again. Whether you think the ‘tribulation’ has happened, or whether you think the ‘tribulation’ is going to happen, the fact remains no matter what, at the end of time, at the end of this age, Jesus is definitely coming again and that's our blessed hope.
And even if I should die in this life and we will all die and even if we should suffer and die, what loss is there if we know that at the end of the day, we will be ushered into glory? Take all the necessary precautions, don't tempt God and presume upon God, but don't be stricken by fear.
Don't fear the virus, fear God and keep His commandments and I pray that in this season, the Gospel remains central to our hearts and lives. Now we are sitting in a physical distancing kind of way and we are going to keep that for a while I I suspect, but let not this situation create spiritual distancing in your soul. Whether you're home or here, I hope worship of the Great God will be maintained always in your life.
I'm praying for you. I'm praying that your faith will not fail. I'm praying that Gospeliters will let the light, light of the Gospel shine through in these difficult times. Let's live together in such a way that makes God look glorious. He is glorious.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. The message of the Bible is the Gospel that Jesus gave His life to save sinners and Jesus will come one day to receive those who believe upon Him.
And whilst we may suffer in this fallen world, we will. We may even suffer more than the world because we are persecuted by the world. The mantra of the Bible and of the Christian is present sufferings - future glory.
Don't let your heart be all wrapped up with gloom and doom. I'm not asking you to have a flippant flighty hope, as if oh, things will get better with COVID or that I'm definitely immune from the virus. No, I don't see that in the Bible but I do see that the ultimate end of those who believe and follow Jesus will be eternal glory forevermore and that is what we need in our lives today.
Jesus is coming back. May this joy, this hope, this assurance fuel your Christian life. May the hope of the Gospel motivate you to pursue a life of holiness and sanctification. May the thought of Jesus, your Master coming back, spur you to diligence and to sacrifice and to service in His vineyard. If He is not coming back, forget about everything but because He is coming back, everything changes.
So my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, take this time, remind yourself of this joy when Jesus returns. And I pray for you, if you're here and you're not a Christian, you're not a believer, one day Jesus is going to come and as you have read, many will mourn, because it will be too late perhaps for them to repent and believe.
It will be the Day of Judgment. They will stand before Jesus as sinners who deserve the wrath of God. But today you can be forgiven. You can be cleansed and I pray to God that He will grant to you repentance and faith that you turn from your sin, turn from your self-righteousness and look to Jesus Christ alone. May you repent, believe in Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
Father, thank You again for this morning in a time like this, how encouraging it is for us to know that You are the God of all times. You are the God of all prophecy. You're the God of all sovereignty. You are the God of all promise and hope. Turn our hearts upwards, teach us to fear God and not to fear the virus.
Teach us to lay down our lives for the sake of the Gospel because Jesus laid down His life and Jesus is coming back again. So bless each heart, may souls be saved, saints be encouraged. We thank You and pray all this in Jesus Name, Amen.
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More Episodes from Pastor Jason Lim:
17 May 2020
10 May 2020
03 May 2020
26 Apr 2020
19 Apr 2020
12 Apr 2020
29 Mar 2020
22 Mar 2020
Episodes from other sermons:
12 Apr 2020
22 Mar 2020
25 Dec 2019
22 Dec 2019
15 Dec 2019
27 Oct 2019
21 Apr 2019
19 Apr 2019