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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Matthew 24

John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Matthew 24

John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Matthew 24
John Bradshaw - Great Chapters of the Bible, Matthew 24
TOPICS: Great Chapters of the Bible, Bible Prophecy, End times, Second Coming

This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. People are fascinated by the future. What will tomorrow be like? Or next year? Or next century? We've long looked forward to flying cars and cities on the moon. Children a generation ago watched "The Jetsons" and "Lost in Space" and "Star Trek". A Swiss physician in the 1950s predicted that surgery would one day no longer be needed as every illness could be treated with a pill. We're still making predictions.

Engineers at Google have, probably self-servingly, predicted that it won't be long and people will be able to live forever. But who'd have thought 50 years ago that you'd be able to carry a device in your pocket that would let you communicate with anyone and access information about anything at any time from anywhere? There are still people who read horoscopes, believing that an astrologer is able to predict circumstances for your life based on the position of the sun when you were born. Any validity to that? No. Even a little bit? No. Nothing scientific, nothing reliable, nothing credible about that at all.

So why do people give it the time of day? Because the future intrigues us, and an answer today about tomorrow is irresistible for some people. There are spiritist mediums who claim to be able to tell you what has happened or what will happen, what your future holds, or that they can bring you messages from the other side. Can they? No. At least, not with the cooperation of God, not with God's blessing. If you recall the story in the Bible about King Saul consulting the witch of En Dor, you'll remember that God was completely opposed to that practice. She's referred to as the witch of En Dor for a reason. In her professional life she was getting information from somewhere. If she was getting it from anywhere, it was the dark side, from the devil.

There's nothing about psychics and mediums and séances and so on that Christians ought to have anything at all to do with. Today we continue our ongoing series, "Great Chapters of the Bible". There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. Of course, it's a little subjective to be singling out some chapters of the Bible and not others as great. But there are undoubtedly memorable chapters, some mountaintop chapters. Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and deals almost entirely with the subject of God's Word.

Matthew chapter 5 contains the Beatitudes. In Exodus 20, God wrote the Ten Commandments on two tables of stone. In Daniel chapter 2, Babylonian king has an epic dream, which turns out to be an incredible prophecy about the rise and fall of nations, from the time of King Nebuchadnezzar until the return of Jesus to this earth.

Today, a look into the future, at least from the perspective of when these words were spoken. In Matthew chapter 23, Jesus is speaking to a group of scribes and Pharisees, religious leaders who prided themselves in their strict adherence to the law of God. He calls them "a brood of vipers". He tells them their fathers killed the prophets, that they are no better. He says in verse 37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing". And then this: "Your house is left to you desolate".

Chilling words. The chosen ones, this people God had rescued from Egypt, had sustained in the wilderness for 40 years, and then brought into the land that flowed with milk and honey, and He says, essentially, "I'm done with you". The disciples of Jesus listened to this, and they wondered. And Matthew chapter 24 begins like this: "Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple". Just what they were expecting Jesus to say is not recorded in the passage, but those buildings were magnificent. You'd anticipate that a person would have admired them. This was the second temple, refurbished by King Herod, who had a penchant, or a penchant, for massive building projects. The Temple Mount was his masterpiece. But Jesus' response was not what anyone was expecting: "Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down".

Now, you can visit Jerusalem today and see some of those very stones that were pushed off the Temple Mount. They are huge. It's no wonder the disciples expected the temple to stand forever. And so they asked Jesus a question. This is Matthew 24 and verse 3: "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 sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'" Jesus' answer was interesting. They asked Him two questions, but He blended the answer. Tell us about Your return to the earth and the end of the age. And, tell us about this phenomenal time when Jerusalem will be destroyed. But you'll notice something, Jesus' initial response. He, in fact, didn't immediately answer the question. But He gave His friends a warning.

This is verse 4 and verse 5: "And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Christ," and will deceive many.'" In more modern times, there have been spiritual leaders who have led people away from faith in God. Jim Jones led a large group of followers to Guyana in the 1970s. You wonder how 900 people could die, more than 300 of them children. But Jones was a charismatic individual. He came in the name of Jesus. He undoubtedly did a lot of good. In a turbulent time, he ran a church that was a model of racial harmony. He'd been endorsed by people in high places.

But again, remember, he did what he did in the name of Jesus. David Koresh, the leader of the group that perished at Waco, Texas, was another who quoted the Bible and used, or, or misused, Scripture, and succeeded in convincing a group of people to follow him into what turned out to be a tragedy. There are many religious leaders today leading cults that exert control over the minds of others and lead people into dark spiritual places. The solution to that, of course, is that a person prayerfully reads the Bible for themselves and follows God's leading, according to the Bible and not according to the word of another person. Once someone gets caught up with a false spiritual leader, it's not always easy to get out of that mess.

Let's bring that closer to home. It might be that your relationship with God is being dictated to, that someone doesn't want you to think for yourself. Maybe a domineering spiritual leader is wielding outsized authority in your life. Let me encourage you to think for yourself, to get as spiritually healthy as you can, and to refuse to be led away from the teachings of Jesus. For the Christian, the final authority is the Word of God, not the word of a pastor, or the word of a priest, or the word of a politician. Make the Bible your guide and let the teachings of God, let the sayings of Jesus give direction to your life. I'll be back with more from Matthew 24 in just a moment.

Thanks for joining me on It Is Written. We're looking at another great chapter of the Bible, this time, Matthew 24. Jesus' disciples asked Him to tell them about two things: the signs of His coming and of the end of the world. And after warning them against being deceived by false christs, people who would come in His name and deceive many, He said this in verses 6 and 7: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom".

So how are we doing for wars? Yes, there were wars in Bible times, but we both know that in recent times the incidence of war and the extreme effects of war have become greater and greater. Whatever Planet Earth might have witnessed in ancient times, more recent centuries have been truly shocking. You know, it's estimated that when Spain conquered the Aztecs, more than 24 million people perished. Millions died in the Thirty Years' War in Europe in the 1600s. In World War I, there were around 20 million deaths, and then World War II cost around 70 million lives. Add to that the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the wars in Nigeria and Yemen and Bangladesh and Mexico and Bosnia and Angola and Sudan and the Middle East and...

And it's a wonder there's anyone left on the planet. Jesus said that the time of His return would be characterized by warfare. The day in which we live undoubtedly sounds like that time: nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And Jesus went on to say, "And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places". What do we know about famines? In the 1800s, a famine in Ireland killed a million people and saw another million leave the country. There have been devastating famines in China. Two million or more died in the Persian famine of about 100 years ago. The Soviet famine of the 1930s resulted in the deaths of between 5 and 8 million people.

Just think about that number. The Great Chinese Famine in the middle of the last century caused tens of millions of deaths. But then there's the Biafra famine and Ethiopia and so many more. So notice what Jesus said: Famine would be a sign of His return. That being the case, then our day could easily be the day that Jesus was talking about. Now, today we're doing better globally with famine, and that's owing to improved agriculture techniques and the ability to get food to people who need it. But with food deserts becoming more and more common these days, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that things could get much worse very quickly. Desperate water shortages have plagued major cities in various parts of the world in recent years.

Jesus spoke about pestilences, disease epidemics. You can think about some of the colossal disease outbreaks of centuries ago. Or, we could start a little closer to our time. In 1918 and 1919, between 30 and 50 million people died worldwide from influenza, the flu. More than 25 million people have died from AIDs, while more than 35 million people currently live with HIV. In recent years we've tried to get our heads around some disturbing new diseases, like H1N1 (swine flu) and SARS and Ebola. We're probably forgetting that tuberculosis is killing more than a million people a year right now. And what about the pestilences that we just become comfortable with? It's estimated that in 2018 there were 17 million new cases of cancer worldwide and 9 1/2 million cancer deaths. Almost 450 million people live with diabetes, and just under 2 million people a year die as a result.

The World Health Organization says that 18 million people a year die from heart disease, which is, which is almost 1 in every 3 deaths. Fifteen million people a year have a stroke. More than a third of them die as a result. Keep in mind we live with these diseases. We sort of expect that we'll get them or that someone we know will. These are the killers we become comfortable with. Jesus said that pestilence, disease epidemics, would be a sign of His return. And He mentioned earthquakes as a sign of His return. Iran, 2003: 31, 000 or more people dead. Pakistan, 2005: around 100,000 dead. China, 2008: 88,000 dead. Two hundred and twenty-eight thousand people dead as a result of a tsunami in Asia that was triggered by an earthquake. Haiti, in 2010, as many as 300,000 people died. And we remember earthquakes in many other parts of the world.

Now, notice something that Jesus said about this, because it would be understandable if someone said, "Oh, oh, John, we've had these things forever. Wars in Bible times, famines in Bible times, pestilences, too". Well, of course, that's true. But what Jesus said is really worth noting. He said this in Matthew 24, verse 8. He said, "All these are the beginning of sorrows". Now, that word He used there, "sorrows," that's a word that signifies "birth pains". Now, you can tell by looking at me that I'm no expert in birth pains, but here's what we know. When a baby gets close to entering into the world, contractions begin. The closer to delivery, the more frequent and the more intense the birth pains become. Jesus said that the signs of His return would be like birth pains.

Now, another earthquake doesn't mean too much on its own. Neither does another disease outbreak. But take them together, and recognizing that they're becoming more and more frequent and more intense, you can't fail to recognize that what Jesus said, that these are a sign of the end of the age, is of special relevance. If these signs indicate that the return of Jesus is near, what are you doing to prepare for that? How are you living your life? Have you invited Jesus to live His life in you? Have you accepted His offer of a new heart and a new start in life? He'll give you new direction. He'll give you a new hope. All the talk about the end of the world and eternity in heaven, it's all true. God wants you to know today that He wants you to be ready for eternity through having faith in Jesus as your sin-bearer. More from Matthew 24, another great chapter of the Bible, in just a moment.

Thanks for joining me on It Is Written. Matthew chapter 24 is one of the landmark chapters of the Bible. It's a chapter like no other. Well, almost. Luke 21 is an alternate account of this message given by Jesus to His disciples, very similar information there. In Matthew 24, Jesus said this in verse 12: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold". Doesn't that sound like the world in which we live? I don't want to be an alarmist, but consider a couple of things that are incontrovertible. In recent times there's been an unmistakable rise of incivility in the United States. It would be okay if that's as bad as it got, but it gets a whole lot worse. There's currently a terrible plague of mass killings, in schools and in nightclubs and concerts and places of worship and places of employment.

Yes, of course, there's been violence in the world since Cain killed Abel, but while the rate of violent crime is actually down in many parts of the United States, at least since the early 1990s, what we're seeing today is truly unprecedented. Back to that idea of birth pains in verse 8, it's not just that these things happen, but that these terrible events are more frequent and, it seems, more intense. But notice what Jesus says in verse 13: "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved". In a discourse where He's talking about some real hardship coming to the world, He goes on to speak about the "abomination of desolation," about "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be". He encourages people to, to "[endure] to the end".

Now, that's significant. You know, there are many reasons people fall away from faith in God, and so often those reasons are small. Here's what I mean. A man falls into sin, and, and then he feels as though God won't accept him back. Someone gets tangled up in something they regret, and then they feel so much shame they don't want to face people at church, and so they stay away. Then it becomes easier to stay away. They say, "It'll be okay because I'll stay close to God". But, of course, that just doesn't happen. Discouragement drags a lot of people away from God. Failure does. When what we know is that God is patient, kind, loving, and forgiving, these things ought not so to be. We shouldn't let any of that keep us out of the arms of a loving God.

In Luke 21, it speaks of persecution, but Jesus says that will turn for you to a testimony. God's able to bring something wonderful out of something truly difficult. It's what God does. If you're facing difficulty in your life right now, I want to encourage you to endure. Hang in there with God. Things will turn around. And God will bring you through. It's what He does. You don't need to be able to see the end from the beginning. You just need to believe that God does. I hear people talk about the need for a person to be able to forgive themselves. I've never read that in the Bible. We're not told to forgive ourselves, but to trust that God forgives. He does. And He always will.

There's a need to endure, and if you feel like you don't have the strength to do that, remember what Paul told the church at Ephesus: "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might". God is your strength. You lean on Him, and He will sustain you. Now, there's more in Matthew chapter 24. Jesus speaks about signs in the sun and the moon.

A few years ago, the BBC ran a story entitled "What Caused the Dark Day"? Through the years, people have postulated that maybe it was an eclipse, or smoke from a fire, or a thick cloud. But it was none of that. It was May 19; the year was 1780. While it was still morning, darkness descended across New England in the United States. Night fell by lunchtime. People lit candles. Many people began to pray, wondering if this was the end of the world. It wasn't. But it was a fulfillment of a prediction in Matthew 24, verse 29: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken". It's calculated that on November the 12th in 1833, about 30 meteors were seen a second. About 150,000 of them, in all, seen across much of the United States.

Now, at that time, the Second Great Awakening was underway, a major religious revival, so you can see what God was doing. The Pittsburgh Gazette wrote, "Some say it looked as if the heavens were pouring down showers of fire, others, that it resembled the falling of brilliant and burning snow, not an occasional spit here and there, but as it would look in a storm, save only, that the flakes flew in an opposite direction to the wind". God was trying to get people's attention. The signs of Matthew 24 were being fulfilled. It was time that people made sure they were right with God because, broadly speaking, humanity was entering its final days.

Jesus said in verse 33: "When you see all these things, know that it is near, at the doors"! Later in the chapter, He said that the day of His return will be like it was in the days of Noah. In Noah's day, the whole world was invited to get on the ark and be saved, but in that time of amazing wickedness, only eight people accepted the invitation. Jesus spoke of a time when two women would be at the mill, two men in a field, and He said that one would be saved while the other would be lost. You know that message is clear. People with similar opportunities, and yet one is saved, and one is lost. Matthew chapter 24 touches on a lot, but the entire chapter is given to encourage us to be ready to meet Jesus, to be ready for His return, to be ready for eternity.

So let me ask you: Are you ready? If you are, that's wonderful news. If you're not, I have some wonderful news for you. You're watching this right now because that has been ordained by God. And I'm going to invite you to be ready now. "Ready" means you've handed your heart over to God. It doesn't mean that you've fixed all your problems. It means that you've invited Jesus into your heart, that you've accepted Him as Savior, that you believe He accepts you, because He does. And now you live with confidence that He's with you, and He's growing you, and that He's coming back to this world for you one day soon to take you to be with Him forever.

In verse 42, Jesus says: "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming". We can't know exactly when it is, but we can know His coming is near. So Jesus says, "Watch. Be ready. Watch. Don't delay". This whole chapter is given so we should not be casual about faith. We ought to take it seriously enough to accept Jesus into our lives right now.

Friend, how's that working out for you? An entire chapter letting you know that sign after sign after sign after sign has been fulfilled, and that Jesus is coming back for you soon. I have one more verse for you, Matthew 24:14. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all...nations, and then the end will come". The gospel hasn't yet gone to everyone everywhere, but we're getting close. We're close. Matthew 24 says we're getting close. So watch, pray, invite Jesus into your heart, believe that He is your Lord and your Savior, and when you do, you can know for sure that eternal life is yours.
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