Romaine Park Burnie Church Service – 03/04/2022, Nick Booth :- The Signs of the End Times Luke 21:5-19.
Well, today’s text and topic is one that many pastors prefer to avoid (I’d probably like to also ‘cause it can be a hot topic – but we need to know what we believe and why we believe what we believe about the end of days and Christs return.) This is a big topic and I am going to have to return to this chapter after Easter for the second message in this mini-series.
I wonder if those of us who are able might stand as I read this passage today from Luke 21: 5 – 19. When the reading is complete, I would ask you to close with the words “this is the word of the Lord” before we sit back down. Let’s read it today :-
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
Together – This is the Word of the Lord!
I said before that many avoid end times teaching!
I don’t want to avoid it and neither do I want to camp around it. It is an area that brings a lot of Christians to arguments about interpretations and about timelines and what has to happen first. But the second problem, the one of ignoring it does nothing to help us be ready for the fact that Christ will return and that some signs are foretold to let us know that we are to prepare.
I mentioned before, and it comes from the book of Hebrews, the encouragement to keep meeting together is because of the danger of losing faith during the times of persecution, of tribulation and of the Antichrist. Scripture does not say things because they are a suggestion or just a good idea so that it really doesn’t matter if we ignore it or not. No, This is the word of the Lord. It is to be heard, believed and obeyed. I thank God for His grace whenever I fail to keep his perfect standard, but hopefully day by day I am being changed more and more into his likeness and become less and less of a sinner! Yes – I, like so many of us still have a long way to go.
End Times teaching has often been avoided because there had been an over emphasis on it and many errors were taught as fact in the past!
So many end times teachers had their charts and their slides and could tell you everything about who the antichrist was and some even dared to tell us when Jesus would return! The Bible does not give us this information but it does give us signs to look out for.
By the way, Christians have been doing this throughout the centuries. (There is nothing new under the sun). I remember reading a book by Spurgeon where he tells people to ignore those who were calling Napoleon the Antichrist. They did the same thing with Hitler, with Kissinger and many other leaders throughout the ages. The truth is, they were often antichrists but they were not the Antichrist.
So the first thing that I want us to see is that in Biblical prophecy, there is often Historical context and fulfillment!
This is certainly true with the temple and the stones that were thrown down off of one another in AD 70. Yes, the building, that glorious temple built by Herod and only finally finished a few years before its destruction was torn down after the Roman soldiers had set it on fire and as they sought to recover any gold from between the stones.
This prophesy or fore-telling by Jesus was so accurately relayed in Luke’s Gospel. And it was fulfilled about 40 years later. Because of that, I think that it should make us pay attention to the remainder of what he said! Don’t you? This is the word of our Lord! These are the words that he told us and to watch and pray so that we would be ready!
Are we watching? What should we be watching for?
8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.
Number one, we need to watch so that we don’t get deceived. Deceived by false doctrine? Yes partly. Deceived by false teachers? Yes – that is true too. And specifically by false Messiahs. Since the time of Jesus – there have been many false messiahs come and say that they are he! They clearly are not! We can see by their lifestyle and by their strange teachings that this is not the case but many people do get deceived.
Let’s look at a bit of history. Not long before the time of Jesus there had been a man named Theudas who claimed to be the messiah. We hear about him and how the uprising had died out after his death in Acts 5:36.
Something similar had also happened in 160 – 167 BC with the Maccabean revolt. Then another one happened after Jesus with a man called Bar Kokhbah around AD 132. When he led a rebellion against Rome and was killed for it.
But even in the days of Jesus, Barabbas, the man released instead of Jesus was likely a pretender to the deliverer mantel. The Kingly Messianic expectation that the Jewish people had, meant that the Jews were looking for a king, they were looking for a deliverer and there were plenty of people ready to follow almost anyone who looked even remotely like that vision of Messiah.
Later over the years, we’ve seen this morph into false religion – with many in the early centuries following false teachers and heretics. Mystery religions and Gnosticism were proposing many different ideas that many people followed.
The Apostle John wrote in 1 John a way to identify who was truly a Christian teacher and who were spreading a certain type of heresy. They must declare that Jesus had come in the flesh. Yes, that Jesus was fully man as well as fully God. This counteracted one of the early heresies that said that Jesus the Man died but the Christ Spirit which they said came on him at baptism, lifted off the physical person at death. Such a teaching fits with the heretical beliefs of the gnostics that matter was evil and that the spiritual was perfect.
This is one reason why the bible makes such a big deal about Bodily resurrection. Jesus really rose, and we shall also be raised.
Next up was a guy who now has led a major world religion – it is Islam. And the leader was Mohammed. If we come forward to modern times, well we find Mormonism led by Joseph Smith., Jehovah’s witnesses who have returned to a third century heresy called Arianism.
Other religions like the Bahai faith, where their leader claims to be the reincarnation of the Christ. Rastafarianism (it’s a religious movement of Jamaican origin holding that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the Messiah and that black people are the chosen people and will eventually return to their African homeland.)
Jesus said – many will come in his name. I’ve only listed a few. There have been so many more who have come and gone, and many people have been deceived.
Wars and rumours of wars
9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” 10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
All throughout the generations wars have been happening. But I have heard it said that in the last century alone, more people were killed in war than all throughout human history!
For just over a month now, we’ve even been returned to the reality of war in our headlines. It’s not just something that can happen in a far away country. It is affecting Ukraine, but it threatens to bring the whole world into another world war. Oh, I hope and pray that this is not the case because such a war would have devastating consequences to humankind. But Jesus said that wars would happen – but this was a sign and not quite the end.
Earthquakes, famines, pestilence!
11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
We hear of these things from time to time and then we move on with our lives because they normally don’t affect us. Recently, Tonga, had an underwater Volcano eruption that produced a Tsunami that devastated its islands and killed many people. We might be able to move on – but it’s not easy for them to recover.
The Floods on Queensland and NSW last month– we though that they over – but then there is more flooding just this week.
Covid – We get past one wave of this pestilence – and then another wave comes. Oh, again, I hope and pray that this pandemic passes and lessens, diminishing in its impact with every new variant. But again – these signs are not the end – they are a sign that the end is coming and that Christ shall return.
What about this one. I really don’t like this one – Persecution
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me.
There has been historical fulfilment to this passage, but it continues to go on in our day. The disciples who were with Jesus, well the 11 that remained anyway. All except John the Apostle was martyred for their faith. John was boiled in oil and when he didn’t die, they sent him into exile on Patmos where He actually wrote the book of Revelation.
But with the death of so many Christians, Christianity keeps spreading throughout the world. The problem is that Martyrdom – I mean Christian martyrdom, where people die for their faith because of their love for Jesus and for other people who don’t yet know Christ. Well, there are more people dying and being put in prison for their faith today than at any other period throughout history.
In our nation, we are not so likely to die – but they will sue, they will threaten, they will cancel. People are moving more and more towards removing a Christian’s ability to share of their faith or to teach the teachings of the Bible. We might even get to the point where people actually believe that they are doing God a favour to kill us! There are some things that if I say, could result in our building being taken, people losing their houses, their liberty, their careers. And If we are not there yet – it could and may just happen.
So what does Jesus say?
14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
We must not let fear govern our lives
Are you worried? Does fear make you hold your tongue in the lunch room? Or does it stop you telling a family member of your faith? Well that is the tactic of Satan (our enemy) but God wants us to live out our faith and to share the truth of His love with them. No, we don’t try to be offensive to people. We don’t try to cause people harm because we are not haters. But the Love of God tells us that sin leads to destruction. That hell is a real place and that God does not want that any should perish. Yes, we might get persecuted. But God promises that nothing about our eternal life will be damaged or harmed. We can’t lose that life and eternity needs to be our priority! We need to live with eternity in view!
God wants us to Stand firm and win Life! For us and for others!
So let me return to why some have avoided talking of Christ’s return and end times. Well, because, quite simply put, many have said that Jesus will return and he still hasn’t come. We’ve grown more concerned about making money here, on our promotions, on our education or our free time, on our fun activities than we have been with serving Christ and sharing of His love with others.
So many of these signs were being fulfilled in the disciples day, and they said that they were in the last days…. Well 2000 years later, we are definitely still in the last days and closer to Christ’s return that they were. Let’s hear how the Apostle Peter responds to this question when it was asked while he was still alive. 2 Peter 3
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
This is the Word of the Lord! What will we do with it?
God is not willing that any should be lost. He is waiting patiently, he is waiting for you and for me to come to Him. But he tells us that one day, his patience will be over. The door for this opportunity of eternal life with Christ will be closed. I don’t want you to miss it. God does not want you to miss it. I want to give you the opportunity today to respond to His invitation to come as we pray this prayer for salvation. If you do pray this prayer with me today, would you please let me know so that we can pray with you, pray for you and help you grow to know Christ. Whether it is here or online, please, let’s pray together.
I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself only. I am sorry, and I repent. I ask you to forgive me.
I believe that you died on the cross to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and I give my life to you. From this day forward, help me to live every day for you and in a way that pleases you.
I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you.