Summary: Living in the last days - looking at the signs.
The Last Days Part 1
I have heard for many years that we are living in the last days and I actually believe that we are. The first sermon that I ever preached was titled “Time Is Running Out” and it was based on our living in the last days. That sermon was preached 26 years ago this month and now, 26 years later, I am even more convinced that we are living in the last days. When I refer to the “last days” I am referring to Christ’s return for His church. I did not understand 26 years ago that these last days could be concluded in my life time or 100 years from now. The problem is that we do not know and based on several Scripture references that we will discuss in this series, it is crucial that we are always ready because we cannot know the exact time of Christ’s return. Also to this point is that our individual “last days” may be very different should we die before His return. This series will focus primarily on the signs that Jesus gave as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. I will start with the reason why we must individually be in a constant state of readiness and I request that you remember this as your foundation for the remainder of the messages in this series. Turn with me to Matthew 24:36-44.
I. Be Ready - ALWAYS
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore be on alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
Also turn to Revelation 22:10-11.
And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.’ Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”
Jesus made this point very clearly after He had discussed the signs of the end. He said that no man know when that day will be, only God Himself. This is key because there have been several in recent years that have “prophesied” the exact date of Christ’s return. Jesus said that He did not even know so if He did not know, how could man? Man can’t know the exact day. For this reason Jesus said that we must always be ready. To make it crystal clear for the disciples, He gave them an example of a thief breaking into someone’s home. If the homeowner knew exactly when the thief would come, that homeowner would be prepared to defend his home. He would be ready for the attack. However, if the homeowner did not know when the thief was coming, his only recourse was to always be prepared “just in case.” This way the thief could not catch him by surprise. This is a state of mind. Let me give you another example. In our present war in Iraq, those soldiers on the front line are suffering physically as well as mentally. They must be on constant alert, even while they are resting because they never know when an attack might happen. When they return home the transition back to a “normal” life can be difficult. They saw this also with the soldiers returning from Vietnam. To be on alert means you are constantly watching and preparing for the “what if”. This is the state of mind that we must operate in to be prepared for Christ’s coming – we must always be ready.