Summary: Signs that we’re living in the last days.
The Last Days Part 4
In the first three messages, I shared with you the signs that Jesus said we should take heed of to determine the days in which we are living. Those signs included the rise of false prophets claiming to be Christ or His representative deceiving people; the increase in wars between nations; the increase in famines and earthquakes; how people will fall away from the faith and begin to hate one another; how the love of many Christians will grow cold; to finally the deterioration of the family. All of these signs are presently around us so the question that must be answered is what should we do? Jesus said that we should not be afraid for these things must come to pass before His return, but He also shared with us what we should be doing in the mean time. We should be living with an expectation of His return. Turn with me to Matthew 24 for the conclusion of this series.
I. The Tribulation First
In our study of the book of Revelation, we understood that there will be terrible times on the earth, a time when evil is rampant and God begins to pour out His judgment. Jesus mentioned these times in Matthew 24:15-28. Verses 15 and 16 says “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountain.” What is the abomination of desolation that Jesus refers to as spoken by Daniel? The 11th chapter of Daniel speaks of the first abomination of desolation when he states “And forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up abomination of desolation.” This first reference concerns Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian who came down and destroyed Jerusalem, but I do not believe this is who Jesus was referring to. I believe the reference Jesus was referring to is found in the 12th chapter of Daniel. The 12th of Daniel prophesies of the end time and give some insight into the tribulation period. Verse one speaks of the end times while verse eleven speaks of the antichrist. Verse one and eleven says “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued……And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.” During the tribulation period the temple will be rebuilt and the nation of Israel will be back in Palestine. Most believe the reference that Christ is making pertains to the temple of Jerusalem that was rebuilt.
My point with this is that there will be a tribulation period that must happen before Christ returns. Although all of these signs are giving us a glimpse of what is ahead, the end is not yet. Also do not forget that the Church (those who have previously accepted Christ before these times come) will have already been raptured. Remember Jesus said that two will be in the field and one will be taken and the other left and that two women will be working, one will be taken and the other left (Matthew 24:40-41). This will happen before the tribulation period. So we know that before Christ returns it will get much worse and right before His return the world will experience the worse times that have ever been recorded and the antichrist will be on the scene. Since Jesus tells us to not be afraid, there must be a reason and that reason is that we will be fine IF we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.
II. What We Should Be Doing
Everything that I have shared with you leads up to this moment, understanding what we should be doing based on our understanding that time is quickly running out. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:42-46 “Therefore be on the 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. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave who his master finds so doing when he returns.” In these verses Jesus tells us to be ready, always ready. Some have interpreted these verses to mean that they should stay in their houses so as not to sin and be watching the sky for His return. That is not what Jesus was talking about, although not sinning is a very good thing. He was talking about us living as Christians.