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Saturday, June 21, 2014

When Is Jesus Christ Coming Again?

When Is Jesus Christ Coming Again?

Matthew 24



A few days before the religious leaders arrested Jesus and put Him to death, Jesus gathered his disciples together on the Mount of Olives to tell them again (He had already tried to tell them) that he would soon have to die.  There were so many things Jesus wanted to share with his disciples but these men weren’t always able to hear what Jesus was trying to say.  And even though Jesus tried to tell them that He would be put to death and then rise from the dead, these followers of Jesus just didn’t understand.  I wonder if we aren’t like that too.  But Jesus kept trying to get through to them.  And He promised that He would send his Holy Spirit to continue helping us understand.


As Jesus was sharing and talking with his disciples, they asked Him to tell them when the end of the age would come and what would be the sign of His coming?  They knew that Jesus had promised that He would come again, so they wanted to know when it would be. 


Jesus answered them: “Both of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, or the Son, but only the Father.  Take heed, watch and pray: for you do not know when the time is.”  (Mark 13:32-33)  How many times have we heard various religious leaders say that they know the very day that the end will come?  Jesus clearly tells us that nobody can say when that day will be or exactly when Jesus will come again.


 We can see certain signs or hints that His coming is getting near, Jesus tells them.  (Matthew 13:32)  Before He comes again there will be wars and rumors of wars, and widespread famine, and disease and earthquakes in many different places.  (Matt. 24:6 and 7)  Jesus also predicted that before his return there would be an apostasy, or a falling away of believers from the Christian faith.  Many believers will grow cold in their faith and also in their love.  (Matt. 24:12)  And faithful Christians will be persecuted.


While they were discussing what would happen in the future, Jesus pointed to the beautiful temple in Jerusalem.  The Jewish temple was a magnificent building with huge limestone blocks adorned with golden ornamentation.  Every Jewish person was very proud of their temple.  But Jesus told his disciples that their temple would be destroyed.  He said: “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”  (Matthew 24:2)  Just as Jesus prophesied, the temple in Jerusalem was indeed destroyed in 70 A.D. and the Jewish people were led away into captivity and scattered into every nation!  And the nation of Israel disappeared from off the earth for nearly 2,000 years!   


Jesus uses the tragic events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem as a picture of conditions preceding His own return.  Many prophecies can be found in Scripture promising that the nation of Israel would eventually be restored before Jesus comes again.  But after nearly 2,000 years of wandering the earth many Jewish people had given up hoping that they would ever have a nation again.  An impossible dream!  But then amazingly, in 1948 the new state of Israel was established!


 Only God could have gathered many of the Jewish people back to their land and put them together again as a nation!  The miraculous restoration of the Jewish people back into their own country after nearly 2,000 years of wandering throughout the whole world had been foretold in Scripture and is a sign that the end of the Gentile world power is near.  (Luke 21:24) 


Jesus continues talking about what will happen before He comes back.  He tells his disciples: “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark.  And they did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.  Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  (Matthew 24:37-42)


Jesus says that the time when He comes back again will be like the days when Noah was living.  The days of Noah closed an era with judgment, and Christ’s return will also close an era in judgment. Noah’s day before the flood was a time of great wickedness. (Genesis 6)  And the days before Christ’s return will also be a time of great wickedness.  In Noah’s day the flood took away all of the wicked people so that only the righteous were left to inherit the earth.  And likewise when Jesus returns the wicked people will again be taken away and only the righteous will be left to inherit the kingdom of God.   


Jesus went on to tell the disciples that before He comes again little false christs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders and deceive a lot of people into thinking that they are the real Christ.  But Jesus said that when He returns everyone will know that He has come and they won’t have to guess.  “As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”  (Matthew 24:27) 


Jesus describes his coming this way: “… 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.  The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heavens, 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.  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.”  (Matthew 24:29b-31) 


Jesus tells the disciples that the gospel will be preached to every group of people and every country in the world before He returns again.  (Matthew 24:14)  Even though during the end time there will be religious deception and social evils, political problems and natural calamities, disloyalties and persecution, still Jesus’ followers are to keep on loving one another and spreading the Christian faith and giving to the poor.  It won’t be easy.  Jesus links the worldwide witness of the gospel to His Second Coming. 


In a time of indifference and carelessness the Lord will appear with startling suddenness.  Jesus said that some will be taken to meet Him, while others will be left.  Jesus told his disciples: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  (Matthew 24:42)  While we wait for our Lord’s return, let us remain honest and truthful and loving and faithful.  And let’s continue spreading the gospel.  He is there for us so let us be there for Him. 



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