Please turn to Matthew 24.
You know there have been many predictions in our time that the world is going to end. In fact, you probably remember, the most recent one, which made the news, May 21. This turned into a real opportunity for unbelievers to scoff, and gave them another reason to dismiss the gospel message. In fact, Peter warns us of this in 2 Peter 3, he tells us, “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?” We saw that with the mockery that filled the airwaves and internet after the rapture failed to take place.
Many here know of Hal Lindsey, who has been involved in teaching on the return of Christ. Back in the late 80’s, he made some claims that the rapture was about to occur. Obviously, it didn’t come true, and he has since repented and no longer names dates, though he continues in ministry about the end times. Going back even further, in the 60’s there were claims that the rapture would take place.
Why is it that so many of these claims have been made? Well, these expectations are set upon the signs and information that Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 24. 2 Tim 2:15 tells us that it is God’s will that we be able to rightly divide (or correctly interpret) the word of truth, so let’s look a little closer at Matthew 24.
In Matthew 24 Jesus names a number of signs that will chacterize the world just before His return.
1.) He speaks of the increase of false prophets/teachers and people claiming to be the Messiah, or World Savior.
b. Sergei Torop (Russian incarnation of Jesus)
c. Mohammed - proclaiming the Mahdi
d. Joseph Smith - Mormons/ LDS
e. The Maitreya – “World Teacher,” proclaimed by New Agers
2.) Then He says we will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Anyone heard of that lately? Presently, our world has been completely filled with wars and people revolting against their leaders, even in States here in the U.S.!
a. War in Iraq
b. War in Afghanistan
c. War threatened with Iran
d. Massacre of Christians in Nigeria (and other Muslim countries)
e. Egypt - Isaiah 19
f. Arab Spring (Syria, Tunisia, Libya, etc.)
3.) Thirdly, he speaks of natural disasters, earthquakes and famines that happen in various places. Luke adds in Luke 21 that there will be pestilences, terrors and great signs from heaven. He also says that there will be “distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.”
4.) Lawlessness will increase, and the love of most will grow cold. But in this time, the gospel will be preached throughout the world.
Just looking around we can see that these signs are happening around us more and more every day, with even the Bible belt of America being some of the places hardest hit. After describing these events in Matt. 24, he tells of some events in the heavens that will herald his very soon coming, and then He speaks of His return with His angels to gather His elect.
Jesus tells us that when we see all these things occurring, that we can be sure his coming is near. Next He says, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matt. 24:34).
Here’s where the dilemmas comes in.
What generation is the LORD speaking of? If we look back at the beginning of ch. 24, we see that His disciples are asking when is Jesus’ return and the end of the world. Now for a Jew, that phrase understands that God is fulfilling His promise to Abraham, that He is giving the Promised Land to the Jewish nation, and exalting the Jews above all the nations, in order to bring glory and praises to His name, according to His faithfulness to fulfill and keep the promises made to the Jewish patriarchs.
So the nation of Israel must be in existence for these events to take place. So we can draw from this that he is speaking to the generation being born when the nation of Israel comes back together. The nation of Israel was reinstated by the United Nations in 1948. If you get anything from this message this morning, let it be this: Israel is God’s time clock concerning the working out of redemption in human history.
The next question is, “How long is a generation?” This is primarily why there have been so many claims for the rapture, but have resulted in disappointment and crushed the hopes of many. What did the LORD mean by generation. Did he mean 40 years, by which the Israelites were condemned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, till that generation died out? Well, 1948 plus 40 years would put it at 1988. Sound familiar to anyone in here?
How about 60 years? That would put the timing of the rapture at 2008… but that time too is past so it couldn’t have been then.
In my readings one day, I was reading through Psalm 90, and I came across verse 10: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty, yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
I was preparing for these Sunday evening sermon, I came across a verse in Gen 15 which defines a generation as 100 years. Now if that were the true meaning of “generation”, it would shoot this sermon in the foot! What is a pastor to do!? Ha ha… fortunately, we can look around us and see that the sense of Moses’ Psalm is more accurate. Not many Americans live to be 100 years old. In fact, a recent report came out by the Center for Disease Control saying that Americans live on average to be about 77.9 years old.
This Psalm spoken by Moses, I believe is key to understanding Matt. 24. This verse, spoken by Moses, assumes that the normal lifespan for a man to live is 70 years. And He says, “if due to strength, 80 years.” If we take 1948, the year Israel became a nation-state, and add 70 years, we get 2018. So if the assumption of 70 years is correct, that places the return of Jesus at 2018. But the Bible teaches us in Daniel 9 that the prince who is to come, will make a strong covenant with the many for one week, or one ‘SEVEN,’ that is, one period of 7 years which is known to the Jews as a shvua.
This one world ruler will be heralded because of his solution of peace in the Middle-East. He will successfully bring a seven-year peace treaty. The U.S. and other nations are increasingly pressuring Israel to cave to the demands of Muslims who want the Israeli nation destroyed, in the words of their leaders, “Wiped off the Map!”
President Obama himself stated in 2010, and again in May of this year, that he hoped to have a two-state solution for Palestine and the Jews in place by September of this year. There is a BIG PUSH for peace in the Middle-East right now.
But this effort to divide Israel has been in motion for some time now, and even conservative president Bush played a part in trying to divide Israel. Remember Hurricane Katrina under President Bush’s watch? God promised Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you” (Gen 12:3). . The Bush administration was working on removing the control of Israel and the Israeli settlements from the Gaza strip. Hurricane Katrina was a direct judgment from God on America for cursing Israel
Jesus said that no man knows the day nor the hour of His return, but He commanded us to recognize the signs of the times, saying that when we see these things, to lift up our heads, for our salvation is near!
Other New Age websites tell there is a day coming soon, when an advanced alien civilization from far far away, will zip in close at the speed of light, hover near the earth, and then we will hear a loud sound. Then, all of a sudden millions of people will disappear off the face of the earth!
(And we’re supposed to be the weird ones!)
They will supposedly be taken to another galaxy or universe for rehabilitation, while humanity makes it’s next “evolutionary jump” into God-consciousness, just like Oprah and Shirley Maclaine said. I don’t know about you, but it sounds a lot to me like the demons are getting ready for the rapture, so they can keep on deceiving!
The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Barbara Marciniak, a New Age author, says in her book “Bringers of the Dawn”:
Will 2011 be the year of the rapture? Will this be the year for a peace treaty initiated by Antichrist? September is coming fast. Only time will tell. But if it is not, it still will not destroy my faith. God’s word has been and continues to be fulfilled perfectly, and He will fulfill His word in His perfect timing. We only must obey His word, and be faithful to His calling on our lives.
Many Christians disagree as to when or even if the rapture is going to happen. And that’s okay. Your belief concerning the rapture has nothing to do with your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Some think that the rapture is going to be pre-Wrath, that is, in the middle of the seven year reign of the Antichrist. Some think that it is going to be Post-tribulational, at the end of Antichrist’s reign, as Christ returns in the sky, he will collect and transform all the saints.
But I think that the fact the demons are preparing a deception at this stage for the disappearance of (according to John Randolf Pierce’s spirit guide,) 2 billion, this is a great argument for the Pre-Trib position, because evidently the demons believe it too, and they are preparing those in “harmony” with their teachings that it is going to happen soon!
Jesus defined eternal life for us in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Here he defines eternal life as a relationship, knowing God personally.
I tell the youth, if you are not spending time daily reading the Bible and in prayer, you are probably not saved.
The apostle Paul tells us in 2 Cor 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith: examine yourselves… do you not realize that Christ is in you, unless you fail the test?