12. Nearness of Christ's Return:
1. WHEN JESUS TOLD HIS DISCIPLES THAT THE TEMPLE WOULD BE DESTROYED, WHAT QUESTIONS DID THEY ASK HIM?
1NR Matt. 24:3 The disciples thought the temple would not be destroyed until the end of the world, so they wanted to know when that would happen.
• "The disciples asked three questions that Jesus used to develop His . . . message.
• "The first question–'When will this [destruction of the temple] happen?' (NIV)–is addressed by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-20.
• “The second–'What will be the sign of your coming?' (NIV)–is discussed in verses 21-31.
• “The third–'What will be the sign . . . of the end of the age?' (NIV)–is dealt with in verses 4-14.
words, Jesus began His talk by answering the last question first (end of
the age); then He moved to the first question (fall of Jerusalem); and
finally He dealt with the central question, the most important
one–Christ's return in glory. Apparently, Jesus main interest is located
not in the fall of the city but in the end of the age and His second
advent. The rest of the sermon deals with proper preparation for that
2. HOW DID JESUS ANSWER THE FIRST PART OF THEIR QUESTION?
2NR Matt. 24:15-20 In AD 68, the Roman armies came up against Jerusalem and began a siege which lasted three years (68, 69, 70). Toward the end of the siege, the Romans withdrew for some—to the Jews—unknown reason. The Christians in the city remembered what Jesus had warned them and fled to the mountains. When the Romans returned and destroyed the city, none of the Christians were lost.
3. HOW DID JESUS ANSWER THE SECOND PART OF THEIR QUESTION?
3NR Matt. 24:21-31 He mentioned His second advent.
• Vss. 21, 22: "The tribulation of the 1260 year/days [Rev. 12] was the greatest in history in that it continued for centuries and from time to time produced extremely high percentages of mortality." C. Mervyn Maxwell, God Cares, vol. 2, p. 35.
• Vs. 24: Paul described the tribulation in these words.
• Acts 20:29-31 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! ...
• Vss. 27, 30,31 The second coming will not be a local appearance: It will be world-wide, and everyone will see Him come. (see Rev. 1:7)
• Vs. 30: This is the only occurrence which Jesus actually calls a "sign" . . . Christ's actual appearance in the sky.
4. HOW DID JESUS ANSWER THE THIRD PART OF THEIR QUESTION?
4NR Matt. 24:4-14 He outlined, in a panoramic view, many of the things that would happen before the end of the world.
• Vs. 6: "Wars and rumors of wars made great signs of the end in the Jewish understanding of final events, but in Matthew 24 they do not herald the end; they are part of what life is like before the end." SSLQ Sept. 20, 2001
• Vs. 12: Paul in 2 Tim 1.9 tells us that we were saved in Christ since the beginning of time; but Jesus includes in that the fact that we have to continue to "stand firm" (to choose) Him until the end (of our lives/time).
• Vs. 14: The disciples asked for "the sign" of the end of the world. This is the only part of His sermon (other than His actual appearance in the clouds [see vs. 30]) where Jesus gives them something with which to gauge the nearness of His return.
5. WHAT WARNING DID JESUS MAKE SEVERAL TIMES (EVIDENTLY BECAUSE IT WOULD BE SO ALLURING/DANGEROUS TO HIS PEOPLE)
5NR Matt. 24:4, 5, 11, 23-26
• Vss. 4, 5: Don't let a false Christ take the place of Jesus.
• Vs. 11: beware of false prophets. (If there are false prophets, there must be true prophets as well.)
• Vss. 23, 24: Since we already know that the Second Coming of Christ will be seen by everyone in the world at the same time–when He comes in the clouds–it would be foolhardy for us to search for Him in some secret place.
• Vs. 26: There have been many cults who have lured people into wilderness areas in search of Christ or some other unbiblical spiritual goal. Today, one of the most alluring prospects is "connecting" with the spirits of the dead. The New Age movement fits into this as well.
OTHER SIGNS OF CHRIST'S COMING
There are other situations that the Bible mentions that are indications that we are moving toward the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Here are a few:
6. WHAT WAS ONE THING, AMONG OTHERS, THAT JESUS SAID WOULD HAPPEN NEAR THE TIME WHEN HE WOULD APPEAR?
6NR Matt. 24:29 The sun would be darkened; the moon would give no light; the stars would fall from heaven.
• The sun went dark at 10 AM the morning of May 19, 1780, and looked blood-red that night.
’Twas on a May-day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the Spring,
Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness.…
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky, that the dreadful face of Christ
Might look from the rent clouds, not as he looked
A loving guest at Bethany, but stern
As Justice and inexorable Law.
Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts,
Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut,
Trembling beneath their legislative robes.
“It is the Lord’s Great Day! Let us adjourn,”
Some said; and then, as if with one accord,
All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice
The intolerable hush. “This well may be”
The Day of Judgment which the world awaits;
But be it so or not, I only know
My present duty, and my Lord’s command
To occupy till He come. So at the post
Where He hath set me in His providence,
I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face,—
No faithless servant frightened from my task,
But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls;
And therefore, with all reverence, I would say,
Let God do His work, we will see to ours.
Bring in the candles.”
John Greenleaf Whittier
• The Stars fell from the sky.
The Meteor Storm of November 12/13, 1833
7. WHAT SIGNS CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IN THE LABOR WORLD?
7NR James 5:1-8 James warns of those who, because of their riches mistreat the poor.
• Vs. 4: In a time that stands on the border of the coming of Jesus in the clouds, there will be trouble between wealthy business owners and their workers. Could this be an indication of the advent of labor unions?
(James isn't necessarily speaking against the wealthy merely because they are rich. There is nothing wrong with having wealth so long as a person doesn't rob others in any way while earning the money. But James describes the misuse of others by many in order to amass a fortune. The multiplication of this kind of attitude and practice indicates that the coming of the Lord is near at hand.)
8. WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS IN THE GROWTH GOD'S PEOPLE WOULD MAKE IN UNDERSTAND-ING BIBLE TRUTH?
8NR Dan. 12:4 Many people will seek diligently (go to and fro) for an understanding of the prophecies of Daniel. In the end times (of which Daniel is referring) knowledge of these prophecies will increase. (The prophecies of Daniel were largely a mystery before the beginning of the 19th century. In the early 1800s several Bible students studied the prophetic sections of Daniel and began to see a pattern. By diligent study they found the keys to unlock the message of Daniel. Today, the messages of Daniel and Revelation are open and understood by all who are willing to study them.
9. WHAT SIGNS WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD?
9NR Luke 21:11
Earthquakes have been on the increase in recent years.
10. HOW CAN WE EXPECT TO FIND THE MORAL WORLD PRIOR TO THE COMING OF JESUS?
10NR 2 Tim. 3:1-5
New International Version: But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
widespread iniquity prevalent today may in a
11. WHAT DOES JESUS WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW ABOUT BEFORE HE COMES?
11NR Matt. 24:12, 14
• The last
days will be marked by lawlessness and
12. CAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD OF SCIENCE POINT TO THE NEARNESS OF CHRIST'S COMING?
12NR 2 Pet. 3:3-5 Scoffers; evolutionary theory.
• One of
the worst sins of modern-day man is that he has turned away from believing
in a God who has the power to create, and accept instead, the theory that
everything in the world came about by chance.
13. WHAT SIGNS CAN WE LOOK FOR IN THE POLITICAL WORLD?
13NR Isa. 2:3-5
The national leaders will make a great show of their
14. WHEN WE SEE THESE SIGNS HAPPENING, HOW SHOULD WE REACT?
14NR Mark 13:28, 29 (1479) When these things happen, we shall know that Christ's coming is at the door.
Imagine inviting the President of the United States for dinner at your house. You want everything to be just perfect. But as you prepare, you get sidetracked into:
Watching a cardinal on the branch in front of the
Suddenly you realize that the time for the President's arrival is almost here and you haven't finished getting everything ready. You begin to hurry with this and that which needs to be done.
But then you see the presidential limousine pull up out front and the Secret Service men fanning out across the yard. It's too late; he's here; and you are not ready.
It's the same with us in relationship to the coming of Jesus: we may find life has so many pleasures that we get side-tracked, and fail to get ready for Jesus' coming. But soon He'll step out of the sky and appear in all of His glory, with all His angels around Him so as to fill the entire sky all around the world. If you aren't ready then . . . it's too late.
The only way we can be ready to meet Jesus when He comes is to be ready at all times.
Mat 24:44: So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Don't wait. Get ready now . . .