20. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
25. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26. Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
29. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30. When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
34. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
35. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
I intend to be very brief and I want us to be able to spend a good bit of time at the end of the message all together praying and seeking God for His grace and divine favors. A lot of things are being played out all over this world on the stage that we call earth. I’m going to talk to you about the greatest drama of all the ages; what God is doing and will climax with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This chapter 21 gives us a tremendous record of three different stages of the development of our Lord and especially as it relates to His coming in power and glory. These stages are like acts of a great drama and I’m going to relate to those three acts of this great drama of the ages. I want us to focus our attention on what God is doing, and the fulfillment of the prophetic word, and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe that even though there are great things happening, heart-searching, heart-rending, heart-breaking things that are happening in this world, far above the drought in one place and floods in another, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, far above that is this great eternal drama that is being played out when God has His own divine will in the lives of people upon this earth.
Jesus, in this chapter, is teaching and talking to His disciples and they are looking at the temple and how it is adorned (verse 5) and how beautiful it is. They are just commenting about it. Jesus begins to describe what I’m referring here from verses 5-24a, the first act in this great drama of end time events. Leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall and destruction of the temple and Jerusalem being overrun by Gentiles until the time the Gentiles would be fulfilled. He describes what it is going to be like in their immediate future. He says, first of all, that the temple itself is going to be destroyed. Not one stone will be left unturned upon another. We don’t know the exact date when Jesus was saying this to His disciples. It could have been around the year 33 or so. But in 70 A.D. it was not long until it completely came to pass. It was an absolute prophecy that came to pass that people could see and the disciples and the apostles were able to see it. The very words and prophecies of Jesus that Jerusalem would indeed be compassed about with armies. He said there would be many false Christs that would arise (verse 8). He said “Don’t you follow them. Don’t listen to false voices. Don’t listen to false claims. Don’t be deceived with people who are saying ‘Here is Christ and There is Christ. Here is the Messiah. There is the Messiah.’ All these types of things are going to be taking place right here in your near future. There will be wars and commotions on the earth, but the end is not yet.” When these things are taking place in the tribulation that is being poured out upon the earth before the destruction of Jerusalem, He said that’s not the signal, that’s not the signs of the end because the end is not yet. It will come by and by.
He describes that there would be earthquakes and famines and pestilences (verse 11). He talks about all of these sights and signs that would be in the heavens; unusual demonstrations in the natural world, unusual things for them to see. Then He described the seriousness of life for the Christians themselves; great persecutions, imprisonments for some, execution of others, some denying each other, some betraying one another, and some turning back. It would appear from what Jesus said and from what other writers wrote to us in Scripture, for example the Hebrews writer, that there was a tremendous problem with people turning away from their faith and going back to Judaism, turning away from Christianity. There is a strong statement in Hebrews 6 that people who turn away from the Lord and from the blood of Jesus Christ that they crucify the Son of God afresh and bring Him to open shame. He says it is impossible to bring them back to repentance, seeing what they do. So, there must have been problems in those days as Jesus predicted and prophesied with people losing their faith.
It would appear that in times of trouble and questions that people do become uneasy and shaky and they want to turn to something they can see and put their hands on. They want to see a kingdom that will materialize right in front of them before they can feel safe and secure. But Jesus is saying ‘For My sake they will imprison you. For My sake because you are a Christian and you are holding up My Name, it will mean that persecutions will come upon you and trials and troubles will come.’ Then He said that one thing you need to know for sure is when you see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then you know that that city is about to fall and it is going to be bad for people who are in that city then. People will need to flee from there. It will be bad for a woman who has a child or a baby, because they will become refugees. They will have to move out of that city if they are to escape the destruction because if they stay they will be destroyed. Some will be taken to all different countries of the world and will be scattered and dispersed everywhere all over the earth. The city itself will be destroyed and not one stone will be left upon the others. He said that when you see this you know that the desolation is near to Jerusalem. The awful desolation and destruction of the temple that would be by Gentile powers, Roman powers, and others in charge who come in to destroy the temple and all the sacred things of the Jews and all the familiar places of the Christians themselves.
Then He said that Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled. What He is saying is that with the destruction of Jerusalem and the coming in of Gentile rulers over it, like the Roman Empire in particular, He said then Jerusalem will be trodden down until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
He is beginning to what I would refer to then as Act II, the time when Jerusalem is destroyed and Gentile powers come in and take over and they cover that land and that country and have rule over it for many, many, many years, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. We have looked back in history and we know that for almost 2,000 years Jerusalem was indeed covered and ruled and governed by Gentile forces and powers. One of the greatest things that ever happened despite all the things that happened through the years was the fact that in our own time, in 1948, one of the greatest acts or developments in this drama of the ages is Jerusalem being turned again to Jewish people and the Jews being able to come home and being able to come back to their land. Amos prophesied about this and he said that they will be brought back and planted in their own land and they shall never be plucked up again. There have been many efforts to dislodge them and to turn them out and take that country away from them. There are many, many schemes of different nations now that would like to simply go in and wipe that Jewish nation completely off the map. But according to God’s Word and God’s divine prophecy that He has given to us, that is a divine impossibility.
I’m glad that regardless of what moves and shakes and happens here in this world and regardless of the schemes, God is still on the throne. He is still the divine eternal sovereign God and He can bring forth His divine will and all His people have to do is keep their eyes focused upon Him, His Word, His promised and His mighty power and nothing can shake us or turn us aside from following hard after Him.
That Act II has been underway for such a long time that now then we can see the beginning of Act III. The times of the Gentiles is just about fulfilled totally, completely and absolutely in Jerusalem. There are some who are still there. There are some opposing forces that still claim part of the city. We do not know exactly what will take place to bring about the rebuilding of the temple. We don’t know exactly when this is going to happen and when other forces and nations and nationalities and powers will be moved out of there. But we know God in His own time, in His own way will bring into being the beginning of this Act III. We think that this beginning of this third stage is already begun with Jews coming back home and the Jewish nation. There are some things that are to take place with them yet. For one thing, as a nation and as a people, they have not turned to God. They have not accepted the Christ. They are still heathen in that respect. There are some covenants and promises from God in the prophets and old that are related to them as a nation that do not bind in a spiritual sense because God has grafted in others to bring us in, the Church in, the new Israel, to be the beneficiaries of His covenants with the children or descendants of Abraham. So that now every person who has faith in Jesus Christ is considered a descendant of Abraham and of Abraham’s seed because of faith in the true Messiah.
We don’t know what God will do yet in Israel. We don’t know what He will do yet the Jewish people who have stood so hard against Christ. We know that they have suffered for centuries because of the stand they took in the first place against Jesus Christ and were guilty of His crucifixion. We know that they have suffered and have been scattered all over the world and have suffered all over the world and great prejudice and great sorrow have they reaped through the years. We think of the six million Jews destroyed in Germany alone by Gentiles. I want to tell you, we don’t know what else is to be written, what other dark chapters that may be written. But we do know that God is moving on His divine calendar according to His own will. He doesn’t figure time like we do. He doesn’t have to wear a watch to keep up with the events. He doesn’t have to use a calendar. He dwells in eternity. He sees the ending from the beginning and it is all moving according to His divine decrees and His divine power. Hallelujah! I’m glad it’s in His hands. Aren’t you? Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Oh, thank God. I’m glad it’s all in His hands.
But then Jesus moves on to talk about this third phase. After the time of the Gentiles is up, then that ushers in this third act that I’m talking about. I want us to look at that. What He has given in this portion is signs of the return of the Lord in power and glory and the great day of the Lord.
He says that there will be great signs that will alert us to be looking toward the very end time itself and the appearing of the Lord when the Son of man shall come in a cloud with power and great glory. He is to return where every eye shall see Him and that is the climaxing moment when the curtain of eternity, so to speak, and the curtain of this world and the curtain of time is rolled back and this whole world views the coming of the Lord in power and great glory. He begins to say that when you start to see these signs coming that He mentions here, you need to start looking up. Let’s look at these signs for just a moment.
He said there will be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars and upon the earth, distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the earth shall be shaken. He said when you see these kinds of signs happening, when things are shaken all around this earth, He said that that should be a signal to you to start looking up because your redemption draweth nigh. When trouble comes to you, look up. Redemption draws nigh. When things are shaken, look. Your redemption draws nigh. When things we don’t understand happen, look up, for your redemption draws nigh. I wish we could sing that song right now that says ‘Signs of the time are everywhere. There’s a brand new feeling in the air. Keep your eyes upon the eastern sky. Lift up your head, redemption draweth nigh.”
He said when you see all these troublesome signs, these troublesome things happening, things in the heavens and things in the stars and things on earth, and distress of all nations, look up, your redemption draweth nigh. The end of our age is much nearer than we could possibly imagine and recognize and believe tonight.
Then He gives the parable of the fig tree and other trees, too. No doubt, He is saying when you see the fig tree budding out and other trees too, you know that summer is near. Spring is here and summer will soon be coming. That is a natural kind of illustration He is using. But He is using it in relation to these particular signs. He said when you see these particular signs, you know that right away the kingdom of God is very near to you and the fulfillment of what God is saying. I want you to look at verse 31: “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” He is saying to us that when these happen that we can so readily and even identify even right now, He is saying that the kingdom of God, when the King of Glory will come on a cloud with great power and great glory, that time is near. That is near. The kingdom of God, the literal Kingdom of God when He will reign on this earth and put down all enemies and defeat all foes and will establish His kingdom and He will reign and the saints of God who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb will rule and reign with Him, He is saying that that kingdom is near when you see these signs taking place. He said Heaven and earth can pass away, let everything that happens in the heavens, even stars can fall, the earth can pass away, but My Word shall not pass away. There are no powers in this earth or in hell that can thwart the divine purpose of God. There are no powers in this world that can prevent the divine will of God being done according to His Word. He says His Word will not pass away. You can stand on it. You can depend on it.
I want to look closely now at verses 34-36 because even though I am referring to the coming of the Lord in power and great glory to reign, we are looking forward to a special event before that when the Lord comes to receive His own people in what we call the Rapture or the catching up of the Church – the saints of God, people who are in Christ Jesus. That puts that date, even though no man knows the day or the hour, that puts that date even closer than the idea of the kingdom on earth and the Lord coming in power and glory for every eye shall see Him. He gives this warning and admonition. “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time you hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life…” It is not a time for us to be careless with our soul. It is not a time for us to be indifferent. It is not a time for us to turn to the right or to the left or lose the vision that God has given to us and this church and His work in this world. It is not a time for us to be overcome with cares. But He says to us to “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man.” This is a time for special watching with our eyes upon the Lord. This is the time for prayer and seeking God and His perfect will and understanding what He is doing in this earth. It is the time for us to examine our own hearts and let the sanctifying power of God through the Word and through the blood of Jesus keep us pure and holy and undefiled so that we may be accounted worthy to escape the great wrath that is coming upon this earth and go and be with our Lord.
I am calling you to prayer right now.
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