Summary: Nothing is more powerful then a good end of the world prediction, especially when it comes on the heels of a great catastrophe. BUt let's take a deep breath and listen to Jesus on this matter as He gives us instructions on facing the end.
Passage: Matthew 24:1-14
Intro: It has been quite a week.
1. stats from earthquake, tsunami
2. and the inevitable question: Could this be the end of the world?
3. one article I read, referring to nuclear reactor problems, “We will probably not live through it” speaking of the US
4. question has gripped us for millennia
5. we are going to spend the next four weeks studying what Jesus said in response to this very question.
6. and in doing so, we will discover the appropriate response to the events around us that cause so much fear.
7. amazing how much different the instructions Jesus gives than our typical response.
I. Setting the Stage
1. set the stage, Jesus had just denounced the Jewish religious system, and walked away from it’s greatest symbol, the Temple
2. disciples were still mesmerized by the Temple; the whitewashed image over the rotting corpse of Judaism. “Look at that Temple!”
3. v2, this image will be completely destroyed, and every affixed stone will be broken away from the one to which it was attached.
PP Temple rubble in Jerusalem
4. word=to destroy utterly, overthrow completely.
5. now the disciples connected the dots here in their questions in v3
6. “when?” will the Temple be destroyed, and what sign will be given that you are about to come…and what?
7. the disciples had a very narrow view of Jesus’ return, very nationalistic.
PP Acts 1:6 All about the glory of Israel.
8. Jesus’ answer is going to respond to narrow view, but more on a global scale, because His return goes far beyond Israel.
9. here are our tasks
II. Don’t Be Deceived
1. does it surprise you that troubled times breed deception?
2. deception multiplies in times of trouble because people are desperate for answers, for safety.
Il) sale of pills to protect from
radiation are way up…in the US
3. imagine the fear in Japan!
4. vv4-5, deception is a powerful force on our planet
5. we think that knowledge is power, but knowing what is going to happen does not change what is going to happen.
PP Google earth map of Sendai Japan, full of earthquakes. Knowing that it was imminent did not enable them to control it
6. markers of deceivers that use the Bible from my experience:
-coded messages understood by one man
-lately, predicting events requires a computer, used to need a sliderule or abacus
-promises of being kept safe by someone who doesn’t have the power
-“knowledge is power”
Il) Edgar Whitnesant in the 80’s
7. false Christ’s are obvious because the coming of Jesus will be unmistakable!
PP Acts 1:11
III. Don’t Panic
1. have you noticed how often false prophets and messiahs use fear as the motivation?
2. first paint a fearful scenario, then offer yourself as the solution
Il) heard this on the radio, fearful predictions, then the answer “walk toward the light” Now that is general, but clearly the speaker was offering himself as that “light”
3. in the midst of trouble (vv6-7) don’t panic
Il) word is unusual, means “to scream, to be terrified by an outcry”
4. nothing spreads like a good panic! That’s why leaders try to hard to keep emotions under control.
Il) “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”
5. why no panic? Because this is normal.
6. v6, “it is necessary” They are just cracks in the common grace of God, giving time for people to understand their frailty and turn to God
7. they are part of living in a fallen world,
Il) greatest theological hymn in history: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”
8. these things have to happen as part of God’s gracious revelation to man, but they are not the end.
IV. Think Globally, Not Locally
1. v7 is incredibly important as we look at the events of our world.
2. wars, spats, famine, earthquakes!!
3. why are these not all signs that we are in “the end times?”
4. last phrase…”in various places”
5. these problems will be local, terrible for some but not for all.
6. huge numbers killed, displaced, hungry, thirsty.
7. but if “the last days”, it will be global, with no escape.
8. these same disciples, weeks later, had a “local” view of the end times.
PP Acts 1:6. And Jesus corrected that with a call to global ministry.
PP Acts 1:7-8
9. as long as it is local, we still have time to penetrate the world with the gospel.
IV. Watch for Global Rejection of the Gospel
1. v9, this happened to the early Jewish believers, but did not end there.
2. those who say only the Jews will know persecution in the end miss a couple key
3. it will be global, “by all nations”