I want to focus particularly on verses 25 to 28 which really do describe the final time of trouble, a time which Matthew describes as the Great Tribulation.
Jesus describes in Matthew as Great Tribulation. Matthew 24 verse 21 says:
Again, somewhat bad news. And people would rather say that the world’s going to get better and better and we’re going to solve the problems. A lot of the church would like to say that we’re going to save the world through preaching the Gospel and that the nations will become Christianized and then when we’ve done the job, Jesus will return.
If I saw that in the Bible I would preach it, but I don’t see it in the Bible. I see that Jesus says before Jesus’ returns, before His return, there’s going to be a time of unique trouble unlike any that has been before or ever shall be. Something which is also the theme of much of the Old Testament. Isaiah 24, Daniel chapter 12, Jeremiah chapter 30 all described this same time.
A time of unique trouble when, if God didn’t cut short those days, no flesh would be saved. When it says no flesh would be saved it means that no life will be saved, in other words, God is going to intervene at this time to save life on the earth and we know that if the worst-case scenario takes place in the unfolding troubles, we could bring life on the earth to an end.
Well, God’s not going to allow that because the Second Coming of Christ is not the end of the world, it’s the end of the age. And there’s got to be another thousand years after that when He is going to rule on the earth and bring peace and justice to the world.
But there will be this unique time of trouble before what is described as the day of the Lord, and the Old Testament speaks about it. The New Testament describes it as coming before the Second Coming of Jesus and verse 27 in Luke 21 tells us what will happen at this time. It says that:
So, when Jesus comes again, He’s going to come in a different manner to the one He came the first time.
I once spoke to somebody who said, ‘If Jesus comes again, they’ll do to Him what they did the first time.'
I said, ‘They won’t have that option.'
When Jesus came the first time, He voluntarily laid aside His glory, His power. He was born in the way which we read about in the New Testament, to a virgin in Bethlehem. He grew up in Nazareth. For the first 30 years, He lived a life as a normal human being in a family. After 30 years, He ‘came out’ as the Messiah, began His ministry, preached the Gospel, showed signs and wonders to authenticate the fact that He is the Messiah and, eventually, came to the point of the cross where He laid down his life as a sacrifice for our sins, and He rose again from the dead.
All of this was prophesied in the Old Testament in such prophecies as Isaiah 53 ‘the suffering servant / Messiah’, all of which Jesus fulfilled to the letter. These are prophecies which had been written about Him in the Old Testament.
He said that he was going to return to Heaven, and He commissioned His disciples to go out into all the world and preach the Gospel and that He would send them power of the Holy Spirit to equip them for this task.
But he also promised that he would return, coming back this time not as ‘the suffering servant’, not in humility, but coming this time in power and great glory in the clouds of heaven.
The clouds of heaven means in the glory cloud, the shekinah, the sign of the visible presence of God, not to suffer and to die but, this time, with all the power of God to take possession of the kingdoms of this world and transform them into the Kingdom of our God and of His Messiah. Praise God.
That’s what’s going to happen. When He comes again, He’s going to kick out the devil and his henchmen, the beast, and the false prophet, and all those who are with him and set up his Kingdom through those who have believed in Him and establish through them peace and justice on the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness according to how we have responded to the message of the Gospel and, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ today, that’s what you’ve got to look forward to.
If you’re not a believer, then, that event will be a terrifying event for you but you don’t have to make it a terrifying event because now is the day of Salvation, now you can repent and believe so you’re ready for the Second Coming of Jesus.
I hope that everybody listening to me has made that decision or at least, by the end of this talk, we’ll make it. Because it’s the decision which is going to save your life and save your soul for all eternity.
Now, in verse 28, Jesus says
He’s speaking there to people who believe in Him and saying, ‘when you see these things beginning to happen, lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near’.
I believe that these things have begun to happen. I’ve already read this first but let’s read it again, verses 25-26:
Four things taking place there:
- There will be signs in the sun moon and stars
- There’ll be distress of nations on the earth
- Men’s hearts fading them from fear and,
- The powers of the heavens will be shaken
I’ve already mentioned some things about the signs in the sun, moon and stars causing effects on the earth, causing people to be afraid of what’s coming on the earth, tying in with the prophecies of environmental destruction which you see in other parts of the Bible: Isaiah 24, Revelation chapter 8, and other passages which speak of a time of great trouble on the face of the earth.
Luke 21speaks also about distress of nations with perplexity. The phrase with perplexity is translated from the Greek term aporia. Aporia actually means ‘with no way out’, so, when you see a crisis coming on the earth which has no way out, then, you know that this is a sign of the coming of the end.
There have been many crises in human history, they brought trouble to the earth, but they’ve come to an end. Think of the First World War, the Second World War both bringing terrible trouble. But they came to an end and society was renewed afterwards.
Remarkably, Europe, after the devastation of the Second World War raised itself with a tolerably democratic society, with reasonable wealth and security offering people something totally different to what had been before. So, then, there was a possibility of the crises being resolved.
When you come to the situation Jesus speaks of in Lucas 21, there’s going to be a crisis coming on the earth which will have ‘no way out’, no solution, no human solution. There will be one solution, that’s the Second Coming of Jesus. But it won’t be up to governments, or up to religious, political leaders to sort it out. It’ll be only Jesus who can do that.
I think we’re seeing many crises coming on the earth today which have no solution. Even the COVID crisis really has no total solution which we can work out. You can’t control the virus. We may mitigate it; we may make things better for a while but we can’t actually solve the whole problem.
The environmental crisis? We can’t solve it. There are things we can do which can perhaps make it a bit less destructive but we’re not going to resolve this crisis which is coming on the earth.
Additionally, what’s coming out of these crises are all kinds of social problems, financial problems, food crises, social crises with no solution to them.
And the Middle East situation too! There’s no solution to the problem of the Arab Israeli conflict. They’ve been trying for 40 years to work it out, yet no one can do it, and they won’t do it until first the Antichrist comes and offers a false solution, and then Jesus comes and offers the real solution.
So, you see, all these things coming which cause people to be afraid of what’s coming on the earth, men’s hearts failing them for fear of what’s coming on the earth.
I would say that that is pretty much where we’re heading into now, we see people afraid of what’s coming.
We see also that other forces within the world government are using this fear which people have of what’s coming to get them to comply with what they want them to do.
And one of the things you’ll see in this time is the fear, which is a natural fear, and which will be used as a way for people to be forced into submission to what the government wants, which, in turn, will end up with submission to what the Antichrist wants.
The Antichrist will get his power through offering a solution to the things which are making people afraid. But he will give them an answer which will turn out not to be an answer.