Summary: Christ is returning. In Matthew 24 we see the prize for preparation as well as the price of procrastination in the face of the promise of His coming.
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INTRODUCTION: The Olivet Discourse is Christ’s answer to His disciples responding to their request “...Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age? (Matthew 24:3) The message deals with the Second Advent of Christ and the events leading up to His revelation as mentioned by John in the book of Revelation. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him…” (Revelation 1:7) The full truth of the Rapture of the Church had not yet been revealed, as it was a mystery to be revealed to the New Testament Church after Pentecost in the teachings of the Apostles. The message Christ delivers here deals with the perilous events of the seven-year Tribulation and His inevitable return to reign on David’s throne. He speaks of the necessity of those going through this time to be ready for His return. Realizing that the church will be raptured out before these events occur, we can take the truths and principles of this message as an admonition to get ready. In our text, we see the prize for preparation as well as the price of procrastination in the face of the promise of His coming.
I. The Promise of His Coming
A. Matthew 24:7 “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
B. John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
C. Christ’s second coming is as certain as His first. At Christ’s first coming there were many who were definitely looking for and longing for that day. Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel; and Anna spoke of the infant Lord to those who were expecting redemption in Israel. But all Jews were not looking for that blessed Hope, the appearance of the Grace of God. Some like Philo discouraged any Messianic hope among the people. Christ will come a second time at a time and in a manner for which men are not ready or prepared.
D. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
E. After the fall of Atlanta in July 1864, General John B. Hood, commander of the Confederate Army, marched westward to attack the communications of General Sherman with Chattanooga and Nashville. He hoped to draw Sherman’s army from Georgia. One of the posts he attacked was Allatoona Pass, commanded by the grave and capable General Corse. Sherman himself went back with part of his army as far as Kennesaw Mountain. From the summit of the mountain he signaled the beleaguered garrison, "Hold the fort! I am coming!" Major Whittle, an evangelical Christian, related this incident to the hymn writer P. P. Bliss, who was inspired to write, Hold the fort, for I am coming, Jesus signals still; Wave the answer back to heaven, By Thy grace we will.” – Source: David J. McCleod, "The First Last Thing," Bibliotheca Sacra 156:622 (Apr/Jun 1999), pp. 77-78.
II. The Prize for Preparation
A. Matthew 24:45-47 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.”
B. Luke 12:37-40 “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.