Watching for Jesus’ Return
Sometimes we get tired of waiting for God’s promises to come to pass. Sometimes we get confused about how it is all going to take place.
People ask, “Where is the sign of his coming?”
Confusion today about how Jesus will come back to earth.
Amillennialism: Christ will come back at the end of the age just prior to destroying and recreating the heavens and earth.
Posttribulationalism: Christ will return only after a predicted period of unparalleled trouble.
Pretribulational and midtribulational: Christ will return in two phases—once for the church and later to rescue Israel (differ on the timing of the church’s removal).
We are not the only ones confused about His coming. The early disciples were confused too.
“The disciple is not called to eliminate his ignorance of the timing of the End, he is called to cope with it, and respond to it appropriately.” Timothy Geddert
1As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, "Teacher, look at these tremendous buildings! Look at the massive stones in the walls!"
Temple began construction 50 years earlier and was completed a generation later; built to rival the pyramids.
165 feet tall; Josephus says the 50 ft. wide stones were covered on all sides w/ massive plates of gold.
Herod built the Temple to placate the Jews.
This is the same temple that Jesus cleansed when he drove the money changers out (the Temple is liked to the dead fig tree that Jesus cursed).
2Jesus replied, "These magnificent buildings will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another."
•In AD 70, Roman General Titus captured the city and broke down the walls on rumor the Jews used gold to hold the marble stones together.
•Partial fulfillment of this passage took place 40 years later in A.D 70 but complete fulfillment will not take place until the end of time.
3Later, Jesus sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him privately and asked him, 4"When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to show us when all this will be fulfilled?"
•Temple was important to the Jew under Roman oppression; must have been tough to hear that it would be broken down.
•They confused the Temple destruction with Jesus second coming. Jesus sets it straight in this passage.
•This passage: God’s program for the Jewish nation, not the church.
Following verses: reference beginning of the Tribulation; beginning of horror v.8 (birth pangs). During the Tribulation period, the events referenced by Jesus will become more frequent and discernable like birth pangs of pregnancy.
5Jesus replied, "Don’t let anyone mislead you, 6because many will come in my name, claiming to be the Messiah.* They will lead many astray. 7And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. 8Nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, and famines. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come.
•Notice Jesus says: end won’t follow immediately.
•To watch for Jesus’ return means…Don’t let anyone mislead you.
oWatch for people who come and say, “I am.”
oWatch for people who say they come in the name of the Lord with quick fixes but erroneous answers to deep spiritual problems.
(Jesus says about these people: I never knew you).
9But when these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. You will be accused before governors and kings of being my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me.* 10And the Good News must first be preached to every nation.
•Preached to Roman empire/later to entire globe
11But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry about what to say in your defense. Just say what God tells you to. Then it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12"Brother will betray brother to death, fathers will betray their own children, and children will rise against their parents and cause them to be killed. 13And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved.
What did it mean for the disciples to endure til end?
What does it mean for a tribulation saint to, for us to?
Is it works salvation?
•To watch for Jesus return means…Do not be discouraged
•Because of your alliance to Jesus, expect persecution.
•God’s exhortation: use times of persecution as an opportunity to witness.
oTil the whole world knows v.10
oJust say what God tells you to v.11
Following verses: middle of Tribulation
14"The time will come when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration* standing where it should not be"--reader, pay attention! "Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 15A person outside the house* must not go back into the house* to pack. 16A person in the field must not return even to get a coat. 17How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for mothers nursing their babies in those days. 18And pray that your flight will not be in winter.
•Temple defiled 167 B.C. by Syrians and AD 70 by Romans. Final fulfillment in Tribulation: Antichrist defiles the Temple. Person who makes a treaty with Israel for 7 years, but breaks it after 3 ½ years.
Following verses: end of the Tribulation
19For those will be days of greater horror than at any time since God created the world. And it will never happen again. 20In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, the entire human race will be destroyed. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days.
Reference to fact it lasts 3 ½ years.
21"And then if anyone tells you, `Look, here is the Messiah,’ or, `There he is,’ don’t pay any attention. 22For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform miraculous signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 23Watch out! I have warned you! 24"At that time, after those horrible days end,the sun will be darkened,the moon will not give light, 25the stars will fall from the sky,and the powers of heaven will be shaken.* 26Then everyone will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds with great power and glory.* 27And he will send forth his angels to gather together his chosen ones from all over the world--from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
This portion obviously did not occur in AD 70 and must be future.
28"Now, learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout, you know without being told that summer is near. 29Just so, when you see the events I’ve described beginning to happen, you can be sure that his return is very near, right at the door. 30I assure you, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these events have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever. 32"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
•Point is not to get caught up in all the details of the future, but to take care of the responsibilities of today.
•Last parable of fig tree is for Jews and tribulation saints, but this next one is for everyone.
33And since you don’t know when they will happen, stay alert and keep watch.* 34"The coming of the Son of Man can be compared with that of a man who left home to go on a trip. He gave each of his employees instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35So keep a sharp lookout! For you do not know when the homeowner will return--at evening, midnight, early dawn, or late daybreak. 36Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37What I say to you I say to everyone: Watch for his return!"
“The eschatological drama will run it course, scene by scene. But the actors on the stage have only vague clues about where they are precisely in the play. Only the stage director knows. He has given the actors instructions about what to do and what to say when they see certain things happen. But that is it. They know how the play ends, but they do not know when the curtain will fall.”
Point is: we are not to look for signs but to look for HIM.
This passage will be especially helpful to tribulation Christians. It will give them the assurance they need to endure.
But for us it reminds us to Watch for His Coming!
While we watch we must take care of the work He has given us.
God took care of Jewish believers of AD 70
God will take care of the Tribulation saints.
God is certainly able to take care of what is going on in our lives.
Do not be deceived
Do not be discouraged
Pastor Vinnie Cappetta, PhD
Cornerstone Community Church