LAST DAYS: Be Prepared

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:9-14 (KJV)

The birth pangs coming on the world are small in comparison to what is going to come. There will be an unprecedented increase in storms, earthquakes, other weather related catastrophes; unlike anything the world has ever seen. This all for the purpose of God’s redemption of His people, His nation called Israel. It is my belief that we are seeing these birth pangs this very day.

The nation of Israel is being attacked daily by cowardly terrorist who believe their only sure way to eternal blessing is by the taking of the infidel – Jews, Christians and pagans – if they cannot convert them to Islam. Jesus said, “See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” 24:6. The world over is seeing these things take place, and we should see them as God’s invitation to repent of our sins and trust His Son as our personal Lord and Savior.

We must realize that these words are being spoken to the Jewish people; particularly to the disciples at this time to make them aware that He has not come to set up His earthly kingdom just yet. That the people of Israel have a time coming for cleansing and repentance. Let me give you three things for now that let me know that this is a message for the Jew: 1) When we look at the text of Matthew we see the genealogy of a King – the King of the Jews; 2) the mention of the “Abomination of desolation” in verse 15; and 3) “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” verse 16. These are clearly references to Jewish people.

There will be a point before the judgment proceeds with the nation of Israel where the Church will be taken out of this world. For some reason some want to call it a “Secret Rapture” or some other word such as that. There will be nothing secret about millions of people missing. That is why Jesus has cautioned us, warned us many times “I am coming again”, “No one knows the day or the hour”, “In such an hour as ye think not; the Son of Man cometh”. His coming for His bride is imminent, ie. sudden, and without further notice. What is secret about that? What worldly thief announces his coming? None. If any home owner knew a thief was coming they would be ready and prepared. We know Jesus is coming again for His bride; we need to be ready for His appearing, and for His call, “Come up here”.

On that day when millions disappear then, there is going to come a time of persecution on the nation of Israel. There will be a time of peace for about 3.5 years. Then that peace will be broken by the false peace maker, and that is when they will need to flee to the mountains.

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Sorrows Coming to Pass

In looking at the Olivet Discourse we see that the disciples are still without understanding concerning the death, burial and resurrection; and they are still looking for Him to set up an earthly kingdom at that present time. The thought of the temple being destroyed was beyond their thinking and curious minds. The temple; to the people of Israel represented a security, and the presence of God.

As I study this portion of Scripture a question comes to my mind. What of the ark of the covenant? Historians have told us that the ark of the covenant was hidden by Jeremiah in Egypt, or other such stories. In Jerusalem, in the time of Jesus, however, there is a temple, and there is a Holy of Holies within the temple. There is a “veil” which was torn during the crucifixion of Jesus (27:51). The ark of the covenant always represented the presence, power and glory of God. During the time of Jesus was the ark of the covenant behind the veil that was torn from the top to the bottom? Does it matter?

For the temple to be destroyed would be catastrophic for the Jewish people. In the hearts of most of the leaders of Israel, the presence, power, and glory of God seemed to be of little significance; after all, they had their temple, their sacrifices, feast days, Sabbaths, and special days.

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:1-8 (KJV)

In verse one as we saw in the last study/message Jesus departs from the temple. Again, this is Matthew’s last mention of Jesus in the temple, and now he has Him departing from it. Even if the ark of the covenant is present behind the veil, the real glory of God has left. The ark of the covenant was only a shadow of the Lord Christ. Made of wood, representing man. Covered in gold representing the purity and deity of God; and within was the law of God – the Ten Commandments – given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, Aaron’s rod that blossomed (Numbers 17:10), and a sample of the manna (Exodus 16:33). Many probably do not, nor will they want to see it; but this event of Jesus departing the temple is a very sad event; but one which speaks loudly of a coming judgment upon those who rejected Him.

Without God in the temple it was being left desolate (23:28), just as Jesus had said. Being left desolate the temple, then, would become subject to defilement, desecration, and destruction. Always evidence of God’s displeasure and departure.

In A.D. 70 the destruction of the temple was fulfilled. There was not one stone left upon another. These gleaming white marble stones were cut with precision, where each one fit perfectly as the building was being erected. The largest stone which was cut out measured 40 feet in length, by 12 feet wide, by 12 feet high, and weighed up to 100 tons. The East side of the temple was plated with gold, and as the morning sun rose it could be seen from many miles away. The temple had been forty years in the building and it was not completed at the time it was destroyed.

To see these massive stones, and hear the words of Jesus, it would be hard to imagine that that temple could be destroyed, and not one stone be left upon another. However when the temple fell, almost forty years later, it was just as Jesus said. Not one stone was left upon another.

A Study Bible note says,

24:2. not one stone shall be left here. These words were literally fulfilled in A.D. 70. Titus, the Roman general, built lare wooden scaffords around the walls of the temple buildings, piled them high with wood and other flammable items, and set them ablaze. The heat from the fires was so intense that the stones crumbled. The rubble was then sifted to retrieve the melted gold, and the remaining ruins were ‘thrown down’ into the Kidron Valley. See notes on 22:7; Luke 19:43.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NKJV, p. 1438.

It goes to show, when God says something is going to happen; it will happen; and just as He has said.

We are all somewhat curious about the future. We have that curiosity and the only way we know the future, or at least a part of it is by God’s revelation. The disciples were curious, and so asked Jesus, “When will these things be?”, and this was after they were the one’s showing Jesus the temple (v. 2); probably because they were in awe of its beauty and size. I am somewhat amazed by the architecture of the old European variety. There is an old church building in France which was started in its construction in 1100 A.D., and was completed around 1500. It is a massive piece of art, and craftsmanship. It still stands today, but for how much longer only God really knows. It is much greater to be in awe of the One who has shaped and formed and built all things from nothing.

The disciples asked Jesus three questions. Question 1: “When shall these things be?”; Question 2: “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”; and Question 3: “…of the end of the world?” When the disciples, awed by the glory of the building, saw that Jesus was not; they asked Him, “When shall these things be?” With psychics giving people false hope for the future just to gain a few dollars, people still reading their horoscopes, and some flocking to seminars where they can learn how to build their own future by building on themselves; we need a clear word from God on the matter of what the future holds. As has been said, “I don’t know what the future holds; but I know who holds the future.” We can trust and know; when we know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior; that anything that is in our future is in the hands of the Almighty God, our Creator.

The only reason people go to psychics, palm readers, fortune tellers, necromancers (People who claim to communicate with the dead), and witches is to keep control of their lives themselves. I am forever grateful that the power of the control of my future is not in my hands, but the hands of my heavenly Father. Now, don’t misunderstand me. That does not mean that I can sit down and do nothing. As a responsible man, and Christian man; I still must be vigilant to tend to my regular business affairs, spiritual life, and see that my family grows in the Lord as well. I must be a responsible steward of all that God has blessed me with, and God help me, and forgive me where I haven’t been. God will reveal as much of the future that I need to know, as He wants me to know. He most likely will not tell me when I will die; when my wife, or my children will die; or the death of anyone else for that matter. He can, and He has before with others, but there is nothing that tells us He must do so.

The disciples equate the destruction of the temple with the end of the world [age]. A question we might ask is “Why would God destroy the Temple?” It was the center of worship for the Jews. To the Jew, it was the place where God dwelt. The place where they could meet God, and for some they thought to contain Him only in the temple for themselves, leaving them free to live as they pleased.

Why would God destroy the temple? To save Israel. God will destroy buildings, houses, lands, livestock, even lives to save a soul. Jesus did not tell His disciples when the temple would be destroyed. The destruction spoken of here would take place some years in the near future; it was; and there will be another one built, sometime yet in our future. Instead of telling the disciples “When” these things would come to pass, Jesus mentioned to them some signs of things which would happen before the return of the Lord.

Then in verse four Jesus begins answering the questions when He says, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” With the world experiencing the many forms of catastrophe which we all have seen it is no wonder there are those proposing things which are really “Get rich quick” schemes and scams. Even worse though are the spiritual charlatans who propose the many ways to God; than any way is good as long as you believe. Some give you a promise: “When you send in your offerings to me, then, God will multiply for you, your offering a hundred fold”. None of these false prophets warn of sin, death, and judgment; and certainly none of them call for repentance, and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There are many in the world out to deceive and to get what they want from anyone who will follow them.

Jesus’s words are, “Take heed that no man deceive you”. In this world there is only one hope and His name is Jesus Christ Son of the Living God; who died on the cross for the sins of the world, was buried carrying our sins away, and rose again as evidence that He is the God incarnate who created all that there is.

There are even some of them who say they are christs, and there are some who will tell you they have the christ spirit or something like that, but what they teach and say is contrary to the true Christ – there is only one – and His name is Jesus, Son of the Living God. The teaching of these male and female charismatic speakers are indeed fascinating, even captivating, but lies meant to lead you away from the truth. Even Oprah has her own gospel now, and it may include Jesus but not the Bible Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again. For if she really believed in Him she would not be promoting other ways to God. The kind of message she and others are proclaiming are leading many souls away from the truth of Jesus Christ right into the arms of Lucifer. Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:” Matthew 24:6-7 (KJV)

If we take a look around the world of 2008 we find wars going on in many nations. Oun own nation the USA is at war with two nations – Iraq and Afghanistan – and working toward another with Iran, due to Iran’s arrogance, and their hatred for Israel and the United States, and their threat that nuclear power would bring to the world. The president of Iran has vowed to destroy Israel. We need not fear that happening; it won’t; because God has promised otherwise, and we have seen His Almighty hand of deliverance before.

Jesus tells us in the verse above, “See that ye be not troubled…”. There is a war going on in our own nation. It is not a war with guns, bullets, and bombs; but a war of thoughts and ideas; a war of right versus wrong – what is right and what is wrong – even getting where wrong is considered right, and right is considered as wrong. Let me give you a for instance; in the minds of some citizens of the USA same sex marriage is a good thing for those who want to practice that perversion of a sexual relationship, and if you are silent and will support it by your silence saying on occasion, “I see nothing wrong with it”, then you are good. On the other hand if you oppose this perversion of a sexual relationship, and warn people that it is against the norm, or against God and right, then you are bad. According to a number of these same sex marriage advocates to be against their marriage or union and speak against it is “Hate speech”. That is only one instance of wrong being right, and right being wrong. There are others. You could call it a “Culture war”, but I think it better called a “Spiritual war”.

Glory Departed from the Temple

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple:” Matthew 24:1 (KJV).

Beginning chapter 24 one must go back to view a little bit of chapter 23. Chapter 23 is a discourse Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees, condemning their legalistic, condemning practices of the people. Jesus refers to them as “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” seven times, and one of the “woes” pronounced Jesus calls them “blind guides” (v.16).

These were the ones who secured the temple and loved to be called “Rabbi” or in our area it would be similar to a PHD. or a doctorate in theology. Arrogance of their education, and wanting, desiring it above even, a right attitude with the Lord.

Chapter 23 ends with a lament from Jesus over the city of Jerusalem.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matthew 23:37-39 (KJV)

There are a few things we need to see concerning Jesus leaving the temple. This phrase “Jesus went out, and departed from the temple” seems almost permanent. In Matthew’s Gospel this would be the final time Jesus visited the temple, before His cross in Jerusalem. Luke’s account of Jesus’s lament over the city does not mention all that Matthew records; they are different (Luke 19:41-44). Following Matthew’s account Jesus leaves the temple not to return again until He comes in His glory as King of kings (23:39).

Let’s consider why Jesus left the temple. He departed because He, His life, His message, and His Father had been rejected by the one’s to whom He first came. “He came unto His own; and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Two times Jesus had came to the temple and found it to be full of profiteers, who were gouging the people out of their mammon and means; and He drove them out. Matthew’s gospel (chapter 21), Mark’s gospel (chapter 11), and the gospel of Luke (chapter19) has Jesus driving the “money changers” out of the temple in the latter part of His ministry; the apostle John records Him driving out the money changers early in His earthly ministry. The only plausible explanation is that Jesus cleansed the temple twice, and they never received the message. He very strongly, without wavering, was saying to them, “My house is to be a house of prayer for all people, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

Jesus spoke very strongly to all who came to Him. He did not withhold what He should say for fear that someone might be offended. Some were, especially those who were guilty of the charges; those were mostly the religious leaders who were given to their systems of belief, and refused to hear the message of Jesus. These so called spiritual leaders were angered by the clear, simple, and direct teaching of Jesus. He spoke with authority; as though He knew what He was saying and that He had it on direct authority from heaven. He did.

Jesus knowing that He had been rejected by His own and that the time of His crucifixion was drawing near; looked out over the city and pronounced this lament toward Jerusalem. The lamentation was from a broken heart, grieved that for many years and at many and various times they had rejected the prophets of God, even killing them. They were basically refusing the comforting, sheltering, loving of the Father. The warning preaching of the prophets were God’s call to gather under the sheltering wings of God, “but you would not”.

Very much unlike their favored, God annointed king of old, they would not flee to the wings of God, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wing.” Psalms 17:8 (KJV). “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Psalms 57:1 (KJV). “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” Psalms 61:4 (KJV). By these few verses from the heart of David we see that they were far from having the heart of king David, and far from the heart of God.

Jesus’s departure from the temple was very similar to the capture of the ark of the covenant in 1 Samuel 4. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of the power and presence of God. There was great and grave evil in the camp of Israel, and were foolish in sending the ark out to the battle in the first place, because they were attempting to use God in their evil. When the ark was taken, and did not come back with the defeated troops of Israel, as “his heart trembled for the ark of God” (1 Samuel 4:13), Eli died when he received the news of the captured ark. His sons Hophni and Phineas also died, and then Phineas’ wife had a son, and she died in child birth, naming the son “Ichabod” meaning “the glory is departed”. When Jesus left the temple that day; the Glory of God was departed from it, and would only return to it when they would look upon the One whom they pierced.

There are other places of Scripture which mention the departure of the glory of God from the temple. Ezekiel mentions the glory of God much in the closing chapters of his prophecy. Chapters 43-48 mention much about the return of the glory of God to the temple; speaking of the Millennial Temple; when Jesus returns in all His glory to set up His reign upon the earth. However, nearer the beginning of the prophecy, Ezekiel mentions the departure of the glory, because they have departed from God, as the nation, and gone into captivity. The prophet wrote, “Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.” Ezekiel 10:18 (KJV). Jesus Himself was the physical manisfestation of the Glory of the LORD, as the writer of Hebrews says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” Hebrews 1:1-3 (KJV). The apostle John mentions Jesus being the glory when he wrote, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (KJV)

The glory incarnate was rejected by His own people. They crucified the Glory, buried the Glory, thinking the Glory was finished. The work was finished. The work which the Father had given His Son to do, was finished. He died to live again. He died that all who believe in Him might be saved. Jesus rose again. Now, the Glory of God lives in His temple; which temple we are, who profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Last Days

That term “Last days” is not used too frequently in the Old Testament.  I found only four references using that term.  They are:

  1.   Genesis 49:1
  2.   Nehemiah 8:18
  3.   Isaiah 2:2
  4.   Micah 4:1

The first one (Genesis 49:1)  uses the same Hebrew  word as Isaiah and Micah; having to do with a prophetic prediction, or latter time.  Nehemiah has to do with the last day in the event in which they were participating  “hindmost” or last day of the event.

In Genesis 49:1 we read;

And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gen. 49:1 (KJV)

In the prophecy of Isaiah we hear the prophet say…

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Isaiah 2:2 (NKJV)

And the prophet Micah inspired by the same Spirit of God said,

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. Micah 4:1 (KJV)

Just a note:  Latter days of the NKJV, and Last days of the KJV are the same.

There are more references in the New Testament.  There are at least twelve, seven of which are found in the gospel of John, and Jesus Christ speaks the words in those references.

What is the meaning of the term “Last days” or “Latter days” in the Old Testament.  To Jacob he was looking prophetically to the future for each of his sons, and their place in the kingdom of our Saviour.  For Isaiah and Micah they saw the “Last days” as a time when people of all nations would gather around the throne of the King [Messiah] in Jerusalem – “The mountain of the house of the LORD”.  That is a day which has yet to come.

Be ready.  Jesus is coming again.  It may be very soon.

When Will Jesus Come Again?

I would hope that most of you who come here, if any, since this is new; would know that anyone who would set a date is walking in dangerous territory.  One thing we are warned that no one knows the day or the hour of His coming:

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Matthew 24:36

We must remember that this reference is speaking of the second coming of Jesus in glory and power to reign as King from Jerusalem over the whole earth (Zechariah 14:4-11).  We do not know the time, day or hour; however, it does seem we are supposed to watch for the signs of His coming.

One of the signs of His return in glory is the rapture of the Church.  That is a time when the Church of Jesus Christ, His Body on earth, will be taken up. “The dead in Christ will rise first…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16); that is all the dead from the time of Christ until the day of the catching away.  “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up…” (v. 17).

That will be a major event on the earth when it happens.  There will probably be great chaos, unlike any event that has ever taken place.  I will not go into any details, but there will be chaos all over the world, as millions of faithful, believing people in Christ Jesus will be suddenly gone.

When will Jesus come again?  When He is ready.  When the Father says to the Son “Go get my children”.

Be ready.  Get ready today by calling on the crucified, buried, and resurrected Saviour Jesus Christ.  He will save you.