Jentezen Franklin - Signs of the Times: Are You Ready?
If you have your Bibles, I want you to open them to Matthew 24. "Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives the disciples came to Him privately saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the signs of your coming and of the end of the age?' And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Take heed that no one deceives you.'" Then He begins to list a lot of things that will happen. "Many will be offended and the love of many," verse 12, "Will grow cold. But he that endures to the end will be saved".
Then He talks about in verse 32, "Now learn this parable from the fig tree, that when the branch is already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also when you see all of these things know that it is near even at the door. Assuredly I say to you, this generation, this generation that sees the fig tree come to life again". The fig tree. "What is that"? I'll tell you in a moment. "This generation will not by no means pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away". And then He begins to give the scenario of what we call the rapture. Paul called it, "being caught away".
It is the coming of the Lord and He begins to talk about, "But of the day and the hour, no man knows, even the angels in heaven, but my Father only. But as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be with the coming of the Son of Man. As they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving, it's just normal days. Until the day Noah entered into the ark. Until the flood came and took them away so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be lying in the field, one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be working in the mill, one will be taken, one would be left. Watch therefore, for you do not know the hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known the hour the thief would come, he would have watched. He would have not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready for the Son of Man is coming," Listen, "At an hour you do not expect".
So, I wanna preach just a few moments about what is taking place in prophecy and why it matters to us. Jesus on the Mount of Olives called His disciples together and they were sitting there talking and they begin to ask Him a series of questions. "What will be the signs of your coming? How will we know that we are in the end times"? And the end of the world is what they call it. "How will we know that everything like we know the world is about to change"? And Jesus Himself began to tell them that, "There would be a generation of people that would witness a rapid fulfilment of prophecy. All of them suddenly, one after another would begin to take place". And He said, "That generation that witnesses these things will be the generation. I will not tell you the hour. I will not tell you the day, but you can know the season when you see these signs begin to take place". He said, "There will come false prophets and religious faith leaders".
And I used to think that was just like the, you know, like the extreme, or some crazy religions and far out things, but I think too that that includes false teachers and preachers in the pulpits of churches who are not preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ. And is so watered down that people are, they're having itching ears and they're telling them what they wanna hear instead of preaching about eternity and getting ready for the Lord to come. It's so important. And then He said, "There would be wars". And this is Jesus said, "Look, notice these things, wars and rumors of wars. Threats of wars". And then He said, "There would be severe racial tension". When He said, "Nations shall rise against nation". The word, "Nation" in Greek is Ethnos, against Ethnos. In other words, ethnic tension will get greater, and greater, and greater among the different groups of people.
And you will see this happening right before your eyes. And then He said, "There would be an increase in famine, and earthquakes, and diseases, and natural disasters". Jesus predicted all of these, and the skeptics say, "Well, it's always been that way. I've heard this all of my life. It's always been that way". But Jesus was saying that, "These signs will be like birth pains". It even says that, the apostle Paul talks about it in Romans, "And as the time gets closer, it's like a mother that's having a baby". You know, she has little signs when she first starts, and just a little, "Oh, something feels uncomfortable. And then there's a long period of time, and then a little bit more severe pain, and and then the time starts getting shorter, and then it's pain, after pain, after pain, after pain". He said, "That's exactly how it'll be. The generation that will know that I'm coming back, it won't be one thing and then a long period. It will be one thing after another".
It feels like since the pandemic to me, it's been one thing after another, after another. There's always been wars, there's always been false prophets, there's always been earthquakes, there's always been famines, there's always been diseases and racial tensions, there's always been these things, but He said, "When you see these things coming again, and again, and again, one after another, after another. they will be more frequent, they will be more intense, Then it ought to get your attention". And then He said, "Because of inequity the love of many would wax cold". But then He said in verse 37, "If you really wanna know what it's like..." This is Jesus preaching about signs of the times. He said, "It would be as the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the son of man". He said, "On the day that I return it will be just like any other ordinary day".
He gives that description, "For as in the days of Noah, that they were before the flood they were eating, drinking, marrying, entering into marriage until the day Noah entered into the ark". It was just like another ordinary day. People were just going about their business, and He said, "That's exactly how it's gonna be when I come back". They didn't even realize it. Suddenly the flood came, and they were left behind. And He said, "So shall it be at the coming of the son of man. I'm not gonna give you the day. I'm not gonna give you the hour". But He said, "I'm gonna give you important clues".
And then He said in Matthew 24, He told them the parable of the fig tree. What is the fig tree? The fig tree is Israel. The fig tree is when you see the nation of Israel come alive again and begin to produce fruit. Do you understand that after they were decimated, and destroyed, and conquered, for 1,900 years the Jewish people were scattered all over the planet? And then in the 1940s Hitler and the Nazis came and they started killing them in every nation they could find them. Slaughtering over 6 million Jews. And it looked like the nation of Israel... Now why? Why were those people so targeted? Because Satan knew that that was the way that the Messiah was gonna try to do His thing and so, they have been targeted. It has gone on forever. They were in slavery in Egypt, and they were in slavery in Babylon and on and on.
But they had never been back and had their own land. For 1,900 years. And during World War II after the war, the Holocaust, United Nations felt so sorry for them, that they voted. It's astounding. I'm gonna tell that story one day. I can't do it today. But it's astounding how that happened. And in one day a nation was born, fulfilling the scripture in Isaiah. I believe it's the 68th chapter that said, "A nation will be born in a day. Born at once". And that happened in 1948. How many of you... now here is my point, here's why I'm preaching this, here's why I'm saying this. This is huge. A.D. 70 Jerusalem is destroyed and 1,900 years Israel, the people never come back to the land. But in 1948 Jesus said, "There would be a generation that would see the fig tree come alive and reproduce fruit".
Now, I wanna ask you a question, how many of you were alive in 1948. Let me see your hands, raise it high. Guess what? That is the generation. They're thinning out. But never in the history... you talk about prophecy. Jesus said, "I tell you that generation will not pass. Whoever is alive in that generation", and it happened at the United Nations. In 1948 Israel became a nation. When did all that happen? In this generation that we're still alive in. In this generation. Do you know that the Bible says in the book of Psalms that a generation is basically 70 years? It says, "The days of our lives..." And don't let this depress you. But this is just how it is. This is what the Bible said.
Now, there is a reason of strength which is a big deal. Amen. But He said, "The days of our lives are 70 years". This is a generation. "And if by reason of strength you can have 80 years. But if you do keep getting old," He's trying to say there. "You soon still gon' be cut off and you gon' fly away". How can I say? So, I'm one you kinda... I wasn't born in '48 but I put 70 rocks in this. You know, really all your promise, all your promise is, I heard about a preacher who did this and read it in a book one time. He said every year he took out a stone. And you know, you start out with 70 years. And for me, I'm 61 so, these are already gone. I don't have but, excuse me. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. And I'm giving myself some 80. But it's amazing, isn't it?
We think we gon' live forever. We don't like to talk about eternity, we don't want to talk about death, we don't wanna talk about it, but the truth is every year these, I got a lot more out there than I've got in here. And I that all that He said you really can count on if you're lucky, we would say is 70 years, and if by strength 80 or so. And the rocks are getting fewer and fewer. And what I'm trying to preach to you, oh glory to God, that in 1948, that's 75 years ago this year. And people are fading out and they're going home to be with the Lord. But He said, "There would be some left from that generation".
I'm not preaching the hour. I'm not preaching the day. I'm preaching Jesus' sermon on the signs of the times. How close are we? How soon could Jesus return? I mean, in seven years we could be in the millennium if Jesus came today. This thing can happen at any moment and Jesus said, "You better be ready". What's gonna happen? What do we know for sure about prophecy, the rapture? Where is that at? 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "The lord Himself will descend with a shout. He's gonna shout and then there's gonna be a voice. The voice of archangel". It's Michael the warrior. He'll assemble all the angels and they will stand as guardians. "Jesus, at the rapture will not come back to earth. He will stop in midair in the clouds".
The angels will stand to protect and to escort us. Suddenly something is gonna happen. The Bible said, "The trump of God will sound and the dead in Christ shall rise first. And when Jesus comes, He will bring the spirits of those who have died". And the first reunion... it's three reunions that will take place. The first reunion will be the spirit of those who've died in Christ. I could stand up here and I think, I see faces flashing through my mind. People I've preached their funerals. But on that day, that day that could happen before the sun sets today, the spirit will reunite. The body will come up out of the grave, only, it will have a body just like Jesus, a resurrection body, perfect body, and the body will reunite with the spirit.
Then there will be a second reunion, the righteous dead that have been resurrected in their bodies will be called up together with the ones who had been raptured who were living. And suddenly the dead will be alive and be reunited with the living in midair. Families will wrap themselves around each other and praise God.
And then the final reunion. And so shall they ever be with the Lord, we will see Him in the clouds face to face and be reunited with Him forever. What do we know for sure? That's going to happen and by the way there's already been four raptures. Enoch walked with God and was not... God took him, he got raptured. Elijah never died, that fiery chariot came and raptured him. Jesus in Acts 1 went up on a cloudy elevator and was raptured into heaven the apostle Paul said, "I was caught up into the third heaven and I didn't want to come back. They made me come back".
When He comes out of Matthew 24, He goes immediately into Matthew 25, what is Matthew 25? The story of the ten virgins. The parable. And Jesus taught it, He said, "If you wanna know what my coming is gon' be like, when the bridegroom comes, all of them knew he was coming, but only 50% of them had oil in their lamps. The other 50% were not ready for the coming of the bridegroom". And He said, "At midnight, in an hour that you think not", I'm telling you that what I'm preaching to you, we are seeing fulfilment of prophecy that is astounding. And back in the 70s when I sat and heard preachers they used to preach about this stuff, and we live with an expectancy. But now nobody really is looking for Jesus to come.
For most of you this sermon won't get past the parking lot. We really don't believe He's coming back but you must understand there's more prophecies about his second coming. The first coming was in Bethlehem, "O little town of Bethlehem". But the second coming is gonna happen, and He's gonna... the rapture is not the second coming. The rapture is the rapture. The catching away of the church. Immediately when that happens, we go into the great tribulation, we don't, you do. I'll be in heaven at a rewards banquet called, "The marriage supper of the lamb". And the world will go in chaos. America will go in chaos. You gon' get what you wanted, there will be no churches and no pastors preaching the truth, they'll all be gone. And some of you gon' be calling my cellphone. I'm not gonna answer.
But imagine with me, that's when the antichrist will step out. That's when he will create one currency, we already see it happening. One government and one faith. I believe it will be the Muslim faith that will be enforced on the world just like what you're seeing. And if you're a Christian or if you're a Jew, you will be slaughtered or you will convert. And if you don't take the mark of the beast, it could be a chip, it will be some form of technology that never even existed when I heard preachers preach about this stuff. And here we are and we're seeing it and it's happening rapid, Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
And yet Jesus said, "Don't worry. I'm not coming back when they're looking for it, there's gonna be a generation that will see the tree come back to life, Israel. And they won't even be awake then. They will know I'm coming but they will be asleep. And the bridegroom cries out at midnight". And the Bible said, "Five were not ready and five were ready". Listen to me. The only reason Jesus told that parable was because He wanted us to know it is possible to think that you are ready for the rapture and not really be ready. There is no other reason that parable is in there. He's warning us, "You must be ready".
And as pastor of this church, I feel compelled to cry out, "Jesus is coming". Nobody can fix the world. I'm not a negative preacher. I'm gonna occupy and live, and we're gonna be salt and light, and we're gonna enjoy our lives and our families. You ought to go to college, and you ought to get a career, and you ought to do all of that, and you ought to get married, but you ought to have on the forefront of your heart, "He's coming again. He's coming again". And we must be ready above all, above everything we must be ready.
Are you ready for the soon return of Jesus Christ? The rapture. Halfway through that tribulation He's coming back on a white horse and we're coming with Him, and that's when He's gonna step, He's annihilate the armies of the antichrist in the valley of Megiddo and then He's feet will touch down according to Zachariah 14, on the Mount of Olives and He's gonna walk over to the city of Jerusalem and set up His kingdom and His millennial reign for 1,000 years.
Clap your hands to the King of kings. Clap your hands to the Lord of lords. He shall reign and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Stand to your feet. No one moving. Every head bowed. Every eye closed. Every person at every campus listening to me, if you don't know, you can know. If you're not sure, you can be sure. Are you ready? Jesus said, "People would be left behind. One taken, one left behind. One eating a meal and two, and one taken, one left behind". Don't get left behind. This is your chance. He could come today. I want to have on our heart this word saying, "Be ready. Be ready. Be ready for the coming of Jesus Christ".