Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


End Times Revisited

Matthew 24:1-51

Have you ever been in an earthquake? I have, not a severe one, but one day when I was a young man I was cleaning the carpets in an empty house when suddenly I started weaving back and forth in the hallway like a drunk. I honestly had no idea what was happening until it was all over. Later, in 1993, I experienced the Spring Break Quake which came on like a big wave breaking under the house. It caused tremendous damage and several buildings here in Newberg had to be torn down because of it.

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Earthquakes put you off balance and they take away things you rely upon. Jesus knows that there will be forces that will try to do just that to His disciples, starting with the temple and Jerusalem itself. They want Him to take over now, but He won\'t because 1) the disciples, and we, have a job to do, and 2) because God is not done with His people, the Jews. So He offers a warning and a promise. The warning is that bad things are going to happen and that His coming is not now. The promise is that no matter what happens, as long as you are relying on Him, you will have stability.

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After Jesus gave his first exit interview to the religious leaders of the day, the group headed back out from Jerusalem up the Mount of Olives. I\'m sure the disciples were thinking that Jesus was finally acting like the political leader they (and all of Israel) had been waiting for. So it became natural for two things to come together. One was the beauty of the temple in the setting sun over Jerusalem. The other was whether it was time for Jesus to take over and bring Jerusalem back to world prominence it deserved.

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Just so you know, there are great disagreements about everything in chapters 24 and 25, as well as the parallel passages of Mark 13 and Luke 21. Many believe that most everything in these chapters took place near 70AD, except the literal coming of Jesus. I take the view that these prophecies have had multiple fulfillments, each more than the last, until the final fulfillment during the Great Tribulation, and the physical return of Jesus. But I think equally as important, this is about us keeping on keeping on in the face of difficulty.

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1 - 2

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They admired the beauty and stability of the temple. But because the nation through its leaders had rejected Him, the destruction of the temple and Judaism would come soon, just like in the days of Jeremiah.

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This did take place in 70AD as the Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and murdered many of its citizens. The temple has remained in ruins ever since, though the foundation stones can still be seen-now known as the Wailing Wall.

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4 - 8

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There will be a time of waiting. They thought it would be short, but it has stretched now over 2,000 years while God waits for the last person to come into the church. But during the intervening years Jesus wants us to be patient and focus on our task of sharing the gospel. During this time Jesus makes us aware of forces that would take us off the mark: either by deception, panic, or persecution.

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  • Those claiming to be the Messiah who are not will come
  • Many will believe them
  • There will be political and natural upheaval - don\'t panic, this isn\'t the end

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9 - 13

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Bad things will happen to you who cling to Me

Many people will continue to reject Me

Many who start to come to Me will fall away in bad times, it is a culling

The sin nature will only grow

False representations of God will grow as well (looking for a quick fix)

Love, a true representation of the character of God, will fade

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The emphasis is on salvation-that those who belong to Jesus, no matter what happens to them or around them-will come \"safely\" to God\'s kingdom (2 Tim 4:18).

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14

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The real thing to look for is not the rise of political or natural turmoil but the rise of the gospel. Every last person needs to come in.

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15 - 28

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Context: To the Jews about the setting up of Messiah\'s political kingdom on earth

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To give Jews hope who will live through those last horrible days, Jesus gives a very specific event to look for, and specific instructions what to do.

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This event is known as the \"abomination of desolation\" and comes from Daniel chapter 9. To understand, let\'s re-read the passage that we considered on Palm Sunday:

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Daniel 9:24-27 \"Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.? 25 Know therefore and understand that? from the going out of the word to restore and? build Jerusalem to the coming of an? anointed one, a? prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.? Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war.? Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.? And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.\"

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There are three possible fulfillments of this prophecy. The first occurred in 168 BC when Antiochus Epiphanies slaughtered a pig to Zeus on the altar of the temple. The second was when the Romans destroyed the temple in 70AD, but the third is yet to come (neither Antiochus nor the Romans made a deal with Israel).

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The shorthand is this: a coming ruler, who will have support of the entire world, will solve the Mideast peace dilemma by making a 7 year treaty between Israel and its enemies. Three and a half years into that treaty this person, known as the Antichrist, will go to a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be God. He will set up an image of himself and force everyone to worship it (Revelation 13:14-15). That act will be a sign to the Jews and the start of a major persecution of the Jews, a world thrown into utter chaos, and culminating in the physical return of Jesus to Jerusalem to begin his literal and physical rule over the earth.

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At that time, the Jews are to run to a safe place where they will be protected. Some believe that to be the rock city of Petra (Revelation 12:1-6).

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People will seek rescue and the danger is that a miracle working false Messiah who offers rescue might just entice people to abandon Jesus. His point here about the vultures is that no one will miss it.

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29 - 31

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The words of this section echo from Isaiah 13:10, Joel 2:10-11 and Revelation 6:12-13. No one will miss the overture to the return of Jesus. In Acts 1 when Jesus ascended to heaven the angels told the disciples that He would return exactly the same way. He\'ll come with armies and great power-no more the simple carpenter riding on a donkey.

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The idea of who the \"elect\" are varies according to your stance on the Tribulation. Pre-trublationists say this refers to Jewish believers. Mid-tribbers say this is both Jews and Gentile believers halfway through the Tribulation and post-tribbers think Jesus will call us all up and then we\'ll come right back down.

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32 - 35

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The fig tree came out of its winter slumber in late spring and so it was a great picture to say that 1) there will be a delay but 2) once you see these signs know for certain that I am coming. Again the purpose was to make them strong against a background of deception, turmoil, and persecution.

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\"Generation\" here is a word that can mean either a literal generation or a race of people. So if Jesus is saying the Jewish race will not pass away until He comes back it also serves to give them hope and perseverance.

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36 - 44

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It\'s about attitude. Those that ignored Noah\'s warnings perished because they weren\'t paying attention to the importance of what he was saying. In the same way those that reject what Jesus is saying will perish because He is the only ark that can save a soul from the coming judgment of the earth and the evil on it.

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45 - 51

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I think this is aimed squarely at the Pharisees. It was common for a master to set one servant in charge of the house while he was away. In this case, God set the leaders of Israel over the nation so they could reflect an accurate picture of God to the world, bring about and protect the Scriptures, and birth the Messiah. They were to be a pointer to the Messiah but instead got drunk on their own power.

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The Messiah didn\'t come and call them into account so they let the flesh do its natural thing and wanted power more than they wanted God so they beat those servants that God sent and let their greed and lust overwhelm them.

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They will not expect the return of the Master-and this stands true for everyone who is either a phony-baloney believer or who rejects Jesus as Lord. It is a sobering truth and Jesus will ram it home in Chapter 25.

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Conclusions

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We want stability in life. Jesus doesn\'t actually promise that. In fact he is pretty clear that life surrounding the Christian will be anything but calm. But what He does promise is stability in Him. No matter what comes along that tries to lure you away or knock you off your feet, as long as the primary focus of your life is serving Him, you will survive and even thrive.

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  • Don\'t set timelines
  • Don\'t worry about distractions
  • Worry about following the truth and trusting in Jesus fully.
  • Worry about the main mission: becoming like the King and being used in His story.
  • We\'ll have to account for our work, so how\'s that going?