Michael Youssef - Two Events
In the last message, I shared with you from the Word of God what Jesus explained to the disciples when they asked the question, "What are the signs of your return"? And he talks about the labor pains of a pregnant woman. And we saw six signs of labor pains, so let me remind you that we have seen throughout history these six signs. They've always been around. The only difference is that when they come nearer to the time of return of Christ, that these labor pains are gonna be increasing in rapidity. The only difference is we come closer to the return of Christ, they're gonna increase in severity, until the child is born. Then here in this passage, our Lord Jesus Christ is speaking about two distinct events. I'm gonna explain them to you: two distinct events. He talks about what's gonna happen 40 years from the time where he's speaking, sitting on the Mount of Olive talking to them. That's why it's called the Olivet Discourse.
Forty years from that time on 70 AD, when Jerusalem was totally destroyed, then secondly, he talks about another event and that is the time immediately before his return. You say, "Michael, how do you know that"? Well, in the 70 AD time, the events, he talks about those days that took many, many, many, many days for Jerusalem to fall and for the temple to be destroyed. But then he switches and says, "On that day," talking about the day of his return, it's gonna be fast, it's gonna be quick, it's not gonna take long time. Those who will be living in the time of the return of Christ, they're gonna not take even hours or minutes. It's gonna be seconds, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. Now, what is this abomination of desolation that the prophet Daniel spoke about?
Now let me tell you. All theologians of all stripes, Reformed, Dispensationalists, all theologians agree on one thing: that this abomination was committed by Antiochus IV. It's a Greek name, but he was a Syrian king who ruled over Palestine which is modern Israel between 175 and 165 BC. He called himself the Magnificent God. Now, of course, his enemies have played on the Greek name, his name, and called him the Mad Man or the Insane One, and he really was. I mean, he slaughtered countless thousands of Jewish men and he sold the women and children into slavery. He desecrated the temple by offering a pig on the altar, and then he forced the Jewish priests to eat its flesh. And then he set up in the temple the idol Zeus, the pagan god. But I'm sure so many of you bright people are gonna ask me, "Michael, if he desecrated the temple back then, before Jesus, maybe 200 years before Jesus was speaking here on the Mount of Olives, how come Jesus is talking about this as a future event"?
Great question. I'm glad you thought it. Now, you can take this one of two ways. You can take this, as some people do, that when the Antichrist comes, he is going to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and there he's gonna desecrate it after he builds it. Or you take the Reformed position, the Reformed theologians' position, who believe that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit; that we are gonna experience this desecration of the Antichrist; that we will experience the pain of the blasphemy of watching the abomination of the Antichrist; that we, the temple of the Holy Spirit, will go through the agony of watching that evil creature exalting himself above everything that's called God and become an object of worship; that we, the temple of the Holy Spirit, would go through this unspeakable grief of watching people, some of them our loved ones, who will bow down and worship that evil, wicked, emissary of Satan known as the Antichrist.
Again, it's your choice. The words of our Lord here say, "Let the reader understand," is his way of saying that this is a warning to the generation who's gonna be living immediately before the return of Christ. Are you with me? Those who will be living in the last days, let that be a warning. Let that generation who will be living at the end times understand the truth of the Scripture and discern the trials that they will be enduring. Verses 16 to 28, the Lord is saying that his Second Coming should be a motivation, both to the non-believers and to the believers. You say, "Michael, the Second Coming should be motivational to the non-believer"? Yes, it really should. And we should not be embarrassed to talk about it with non-believers.
You see, for the non-believers, when they understand that the Lord's return is gonna be a day of dreadful judgment for them, they'll be motivated to repent and turn to the Lord and receive him as Savior and Lord. For the believers, this should motivate us to lovingly share the message of salvation with anyone who would listen. Verses 16 to 28, here again, the Lord talks about these two events: one that took place in 70 AD when Jerusalem fell at the hands of the Romans. Verse 16, for example, he said, "Those in Judea," this is the region, by the way, this is kind of the county around Jerusalem, that's the Judea hills, that's Judea. "Escape to the mountain".
The second event, verse 21, he talks about the end times, but then: if you read both Jewish and Christian historians about the events of 70 AD, when Jesus precisely, in details, predicted what's gonna happen 40 years later and how literally it took place just as our Lord said, the temple was razed to the ground, the horrifying account of what the Romans have done, and here was a warning for those in Judea, flee to the mountains. He was warning them of the severity of what's gonna happen 40 years from that moment when he was warning the disciples. Why? Because the Romans were determined to destroy the temple and those in the Judean region were in danger, immediate danger. I want to point to you something very, very important about this passage. Very, very important. Underline it. What is Jesus saying here? I think there is a bigger principle, a bigger principle that we need to learn here.
Our Lord is saying that no possession, remember he said, "Don't go back and get..." No possession would be worth the risk of delaying your coming and following God eternally. That the horror of the judgment should create in us single-mindedness for eternal salvation. And that is why Jesus said, "What shall profit a man," I dare say a woman, anyone. "What shall profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul"? Verse 21, our Lord then switches from "those days" to "that day". That day. Immediately prior to his return, there will be a great tribulation, such as never occurred before, beginning of time or since, or even after that. The book of Revelation from chapter 6 to chapter 16, when you see the seals and the trumpets and the bowls of judgment, yeah, you find a gradual escalation of judgment, gradual escalation, gradual escalation.
In Revelation 6 when the sixth seal of judgment is broken, there is a great earthquake and the sun and the moon are darkened. This is a reference to what our Lord Jesus is saying here in Matthew 24. Thankfully, he's going to shorten the daylight to give his fleeing children a break, to protect them in the cover of darkness, as it were. God will use the darkness for the sake of the elect, using it to hide them from their would-be destroyer. Then comes the most important part, verses 23 to 28. There will be utter confusion. Verse 23: "Then at that time," or during that time, that is of the end time, "when anyone says to you, 'Behold, here's the Christ,' 'There He is,' don't believe them".
Those who take Jesus's advice and flee from false teachers and false preachers, those who dwell in the shadow of the Word of God, those who will not fall for the deception of the Antichrist, those who will not bow down and worship him even though their own spirits will be vexed when the others do and capitulate, those who will take cover in the shadow of the one true Christ, those who will turn their backs on the earthly securities and acceptance by the culture, those who refuse to accept the mark of the beast, those who hold tenaciously onto biblical truth, those who refuse to go after false miraculous workers, those who refuse to follow preachers that follow, who are preaching false gospels, they are the ones who are gonna be victorious. Verse 24 is a verse that truly followed this one, that really made me weep but it needs some explanation. "For false christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles and deceive," and here it comes. Here it comes. "If it is even possible".
If it is even possible. That's why I need explanation. I need to explain it to you. "Even if it's possible". Beloved, Satan has never been able to deceive the true Christian believers. I'm not talking about the hangers-on or the look-like Christians. I'm talking about the true believers. Why? Because Jesus said in John chapter 10, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; and no one can snatch them out of my hand". And this is what we call the eternal security of the believers. Once a person comes to Christ, surrendering to him, no one, including Satan himself, will be able to snatch them from his hand. Scripture from cover to cover affirmed this. This is just not one verse. True believers will not be destroyed on the day of judgment because our Lord sovereignly protects them. But nonetheless, look at this verse.
Nonetheless, protected as they are, some under Satan's verbal assault will get shaken up, under the severe, terrible turmoil will have their confidence shaken up. Some under the duress of false messiahs and false preachers and false teachers, they will be battered and they're gonna lose their equilibrium. For some, when they see those horrific signs in the heavens, with the world falling apart, stars falling from heaven, sun and moon lights being radically reduced, millions are dying from diseases and starvation, thousands of their contemporaries are in dire straits, they will become emotionally drained and utterly vulnerable to the subterfuge of false christs. Take heed. Take heed. I say that to myself. Be forewarned. If it wasn't for God's protecting hand, if it's not for God's protecting hand.
Look at verse 25 with me. "See, I have told you this ahead of time". Isn't just like our Lord? He always gives us a warning. In other words, be ready, be prepared. Don't let those days take you by surprise. Protect yourself and your family ahead of time, so you're not surprised. How? Verse 27: "For just as the lightning comes from the east and visible even from the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man". You know what? I'm gonna say a whole lot more about this in the next couple of messages, and I can't wait. I just hope I don't levitate. Suffice it to tell you just a few things, very few things. Very few things, very quickly. What does that mean? Lightning in the east and the west? He is saying the coming returning of Christ is not gonna be stretched over a long period of time. His coming is not gonna take days or even hours. His coming is gonna be quick and sudden. His coming is gonna be loud and public.
Everyone in the world, everyone in the universe is gonna see it. They're gonna see the glorious, glorious event. It doesn't matter whether you're in Australia or in the Middle East or in America, North America, South America, in Asia. Every eye shall see him. Remember, in the book of Acts chapter 1, verse 11, when the disciples who have been with Jesus 3 years and one-third of a year and see him after they'd seen him resurrected, lived with him after the resurrection for 40 days and then their jaws were dropping to the ground as they saw him going up and they just didn't know, literally were speechless, and the angels said to them, "Why are you so surprised? This same Jesus whom you're seeing taken up from you is gonna come back in like manner". In Revelation 1:7 John's vision said, "Behold, he's coming with the clouds".
What is this clouds? Is this the cloud that brings rain? No, clouds in the Bible means people. Clouds means people. Those who have gone before us are gonna be with him and they're gonna come with him. These are the clouds. The Bible talks about in Hebrews, for example, "We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses". That's what the Bible talks about, cloud. Not the cloud that brings rain. We're talking about the beloved ones who have gone to heaven. They're gonna come with him and they're gonna come, that cloud, they're gonna be with him, and we're gonna meet them in the air. Because the air is the domain of Satan, because he is the prince of the air and we're gonna defeat him when we meet Jesus in the air. Every eye will see him, and it's gonna be quick, and it's gonna be fast. It'll be like lightning. And we see it in the East, see it in the West. Everybody's gonna see it.
And beloved friends, the book of Revelation says in 6:15-16, "The kings of the earth," and the celebrities, "the princes," the famous ones, "the commanders and the rich and the mighty, the slaves and the free, they will hide in caves among the rocks and the mountains. They will be calling on the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us. Hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, from the wrath of the Lamb!'" It will be seen from every corner of the globe. Don't ask me how. He will make it possible. Verse 28: "Whenever you see there is a carcass, there's a vulture. Vultures will gather". It's a common proverb at that time and still even today. We still talk about it. When we see vultures we say, "There must be a dead bird somewhere".
What it means? At the end of the great tribulation, the world is gonna be laid waste. Christ is gonna appear and is gonna clean house. And then, the new Jerusalem is gonna come and Christ will reign and rule in righteousness and in truth. And I can't wait. Now, here's our conclusion. I always anticipate because if I'm not thinking what you're thinking, I really try to put, in all of my preparation, I always put myself in your place and as what you're thinking and otherwise, I'm not relevant to you. And I said, "If I'm sitting where you are, I would wanna ask me, 'Michael, how should we react? How would you react after that word from the Word of God?'"
I would do two things. First of all, I keep my eyes and the eyes of my family on the signs of the birth pains. No, not gonna put on white robes and head for the mountains, no, no, no. Just keep my eyes on that. Not get distracted from serving and giving and doing. But keep my eyes on it. And the second thing I'll do is pray for a revival. Pray for revival, pray for revival. I'm gonna say more about this later in the series. Now, beloved, we live between two worlds. Scripture makes that very clear. We're in the here and now, we're to serve now, faithfully, do all we can in every waking moment.
So we live between the here and now, and yet to come. And the yet to come, the yet to come, is the glorious return of Christ. In the next message, I will show you how it's gonna be sudden but it's gonna be loud. I don't believe in a secret Rapture. I don't believe, I think it's gonna be so loud, everybody will see it. Everybody will see it. But for those praying and watching, those who are serving and preparing, they're not gonna be surprised. They're gonna be pleasantly surprised, but they're not gonna be surprised because they're waiting. They're preparing. They're praying. They're prayed up and they're waiting up. So we're not gonna be surprised. We're gonna be delighted, we're gonna be thrilled.