Is Jesus About to Return?
Text: Matthew 24:36-42
I. There was an advertisement in the local paper not too long ago titled “8 Compelling Reasons Why: Christ Is Coming Very Soon!”
A. It starts out saying, “The evidence for the soon return of Jesus Christ is overwhelming. It could be any moment. One scholar lists 167 converging clues just in the last few years of this millennium. The following are eight:”
B. A fascinating claim considering Christ’s own words in Matthew 24:36-42
C. Paul says much the same - I Thessalonians 5:2-3
D. Let us go through the eight “evidences” and see how they stack up.
II. Israel’s Rebirth
A. “As Jesus prophesied, the Jews were scattered during the Jewish-Roman war of A.D. 70 (Luke 21:24). Also prophesied to occur before Christ’s return, the nation of Israel was miraculously reborn on May 14, 1948. Israel is called ‘God’s time clock.’”
1. Notice that one verse is cited concerning the destruction of Israel, but no passage is given for its re-establishment.
2. The phrase “God’s time clock” is in quotes giving the impression it comes from the Bible, but the phrase does not appear in the Bible!
3. The impression is given that the date of Israel’s return was prophesied, but since our current calendar’s numbering system was not invented until centuries after the Bible was completed, it is obviously a false impression.
B. Actually, God promised the opposite
1. God promised to destroy Israel when it disobeyed - Leviticus 26:27-39
2. They would be driven from the land - Deuteronomy 4:25-28
3. They would cease to be a nation - Deuteronomy 8:19-20
C. The modern nation of Israel is not like ancient Israel
1. Ancient Israel was governed by the laws of Moses. Modern Israel has a different set of laws.
2. Ancient Israel was a monarchy. Modern Israel is not.
3. Ancient Israel possessed all the land promised to it by God. Modern Israel only possess a small portion of that territory.
III. Plummeting Morality
A. “Studies show a shocking breakdown just since mid-century (2 Timothy 3:1-4).”
B. It is true that morality had declined.
1. It is not the first time.
2. I’ve been reading a historical book about the dark ages. The lack of moral standards in those days is shocking to read: drunken orgies in the Vatican, Popes installing their illegitimate children in positions of power, hired assassins, etc.
3. It has happened before, Paul describes the decay of the Gentile society in Romans 1:18-32.
4. Of course our Old Testament is filled with stories of mankind’s lack of moral standards. Anyone remember how the Bible describe the world before the flood? - Genesis 6:5
5. Truly this is nothing new - Ecclesiastes 1:10-11
a. It is only new because people have forgotten their past
C. Paul was warning Timothy that the last days (the Christian Age) would be filled with difficult times as men repeatedly chase after sin.
1. It happened in the past - II Timothy 3:8
2. It happened to Paul - II Timothy 3:10-11
3. So the preacher of God’s word must not think it will not happen again. He must remain diligent - II Timothy 3:14-15
IV. Famines, Violence, and Wars
A. “Jesus said the signs before His return would come as intensifying birth pangs, seeing increased famines, violence, and wars, a clear picture of our planet (Matthew 24:6-8). One of six people on earth suffers from hunger. Violence is epidemic. A study of wars since 500 B.C. shows a recent dramatic increase. More than 100 conflicts have erupted since 1990, about twice the number for previous decades.”
B. It would naturally follow that as the world’s population increases, the number of conflicts would increase.
1. In the past regional conflicts were just that, regional. With modern communications, local wars are now involving more people.
2. But does that mean the number of wars are increasing or just that our awareness of wars is increasing?
C. Similar arguments can be made about violence and poverty
1. Is it true our country is more violent today than during the days of say the French and Indian Wars?
2. Is poverty really worse today then during the Middle Ages when the average life span was less than 40?
3. Jesus said poverty will always exist - Mark 14:7
D. But what I really find humorous is that the passage quoted says that these things would NOT be a predictor - Matthew 24:4-8
1. The passage is also discussing when Jerusalem would be destroyed - Matthew 23:37-24:3
2. Jesus is warning his followers not to become distracted by false prophets using news of disaster to gain followers.
V. Increase in Earthquakes
A. “Also prophesied to be as birth pangs (Matthew 24:7), a recent study shows a dramatic increase in earthquakes worldwide, just since the decade of Israel’s rebirth. In the 1940's there were 51 about Richter 6.0; the 1950's 475; 1980's 1,085; and the 1990's 1,514.”
B. The government’s center for earthquake monitoring has this to say, “Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant throughout this century and, according to our records, have actually seemed to decrease in recent years. A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more that 4,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by telex, computer and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years, and we are able to locate earthquakes more rapidly. The NEIC now locates about 12,000 to 14,000 earthquakes each year or approximately 35 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes. According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 18 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year. However, let's take a look at what has happened in the past 32 years, from 1969 through 2001, so far. Our records show that 1992, and 1995-1997 were the only years that we have reached or exceeded the long-term average number of major earthquakes since 1971. In 1970 and in 1971 we had 20 and 19 major earthquakes, respectively, but in other years the total was in many cases well below the 18 per year which we may expect based on the long-term average.”
1. We just have more recorders, so we are aware of more small earthquakes.
2. But major earthquakes have been relatively stable and for a number of years have been below average.
C. Then again, we have Jesus’ statement that the number of earthquakes was not a predictor of the impending destruction of Jerusalem.
VI. Explosion of Travel and Education
A. “Two key conditions described about 2,500 years ago for the Second Coming are that ‘travel and education shall be vastly increased’ (Daniel 12:4, Living Bible). In all of history, the vast increase in travel has come just since mid-century with the explosion of both ground and air transportation; in education, with the advance of science and computers.”
B. I always get suspicious when people quote the Living Bible, since it is a paraphrase and not a translation. Read Daniel 12:4
1. The angel is telling Daniel that many will seek to understand the prophesies written (that is the meaning of to and fro - scurrying through the pages). Their search will increase their understanding, but it will not reveal the meaning until the proper time.
2. In other words, people will not understand what Daniel recorded until after the events take place. Then people will say, “Oh! So that is what God meant!” - I Peter 1:10-12
VII. Explosion of Cults and the Occult
A. “Counterfeit spirituality is everywhere with cults and false Christs (Matthew 24:24), psychic phenomena, spiritism, Satan worship, witchcraft, nature worship and the New Age movement (I Timothy 4:1).”
B. Again the author applies a characteristic of the life in this world and tries to pin this common occurrence to the return of Jesus.
C. Occult practices and most Cults are nothing more than idolatry which has plagued mankind for centuries. They install a false god for people to bow down before and worship.
D. Jesus warned his followers not to be mislead by false teachers and false Christs before the fall of Jerusalem and thereby be caught in its fall (Matthew 24:24).
E. Paul told Timothy that the future held a falling away from the truth (I Timothy 4:1-3).
1. Notice that Paul said in later times (the future) and not in the last days before Christ comes.
2. Paul is not saying this is a predictor of Christ’s return.
F. The falling away was warned of in many places, such as Acts 20:28-30.
VIII. The New World Order
A. “Increased centralization of world financial and political power is a prelude to the soon-coming world power system in the hands of “Antichrist,” who will be the incarnation of Satan and who will deceive most of the world (Daniel 7-12, Matthew 24:15, Revelation 13). Beware of ‘the mark of the beast.’”
B. There is so much trash in this quote, it is hard to pick a starting point.
C. The verses:
1. Daniel 7-12 contains prophecy about:
a. The coming Messiah and when that would happen
b. About the future political situations up to the coming of the Messiah
c. About the new kingdom that the Messiah would establish (the church)
2. Matthew 24:15 is about the desolation of the Temple by the Romans just prior to the fall of Jerusalem. It was the main sign Christians were to be watchful for so they could escape the destruction of Jerusalem.
3. Revelation 13 is about the growing political and spiritual strength of Rome before its defeat at the hands of God.
a. Revelation is a book that mostly talked about things shortly to take place - Revelation 1:1,3
D. The antichrist comes from the letters of John. But John tells us who are the antichrists - II John 7; I John 4:2-3
1. It is not a single person, but anyone who puts himself against Christ.
IX. Increase in both apostasy and faith
A. “The Bible predicts in the last days, ‘A form of godliness, although they have denied its power’ (2 Timothy 3:5). Today many churches deny the eternal truths of Scripture and power of the Holy Spirit, replacing them with ungodly, temporal and ‘politically correct’ values. But also, a prophesied outpouring of God’s Spirit is causing hundreds of millions worldwide to come to true faith in Christ in record numbers, virtually unnoticed by the media.”
B. Once again the author takes a verse dealing with a characteristic of the Christian age and applies it as a predictor of Christ’s return.
1. It is much like saying “go east on I-80 and when you see a tree you’re getting close to New Jersey.”
2. The phrase “the last days” in II Timothy 3:5 is referring to the Christian Age – the last age before the end of the world.
a. Paul is warning Timothy that the Christian age will have its share of false teachers.
C. He also makes an allusion to prophecy about the start of the church, recorded as fulfilled in Acts 2 and applies it to today.
X. Actually, II Timothy 3:5-9 is a good description of this article
A. The gullible will be persuaded.
B. But the faithful will easily see through the errors
C. We do not know when the Lord will return. There are no advance warning signs. This is why we must always be prepared - Matthew 24:42-44
D. Are you ready?