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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - What Events Will Signal The End Times? - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - What Events Will Signal The End Times? - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - What Events Will Signal The End Times? - Part 1
TOPICS: Are We Living In The End Times?, End times, Bible Prophecy, Apocalypse

Hi, I am Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". While world events certainly feel apocalyptic, we are not technically living in the end times, at least not yet. Instead, we are living in what the Bible calls the last days. These last days immediately precede the end times. So here's the question. How will we know when the end times and the second coming of Christ are finally upon us? My message is titled, "What Events Will Signal the End Times?" on today's special edition of "Pathway to Victory".

Different people react to a discussion of the end times in different ways. I found that out the hard way more than 50 years ago when I was a student at Richardson high school here in the Metroplex. Our English teacher assigned us a project to select any book we wanted and to present the contents of that book as creatively as possible. Well, the book "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey had just been released. It's a book about the end times, and I thought, "Well, here's a good chance to be a witness to my class and my teacher, so I will choose that book". And you may remember in "The Late Great Planet Earth" how Lindsey shows how prophetic events and the last days correspond to current events. And one of the things he dwelt on about the end times was when the king of the north invades Israel and he identified the king of the north as Russia. And it was of particular interest because president Nixon at that time was in Moscow trying to negotiate lessening tensions with the Soviet Union.

And so I prepared my book report to the class, and as a creative twist, I got with the assistant principal and I arranged for him at just the right time in my presentation to come over the loud speaker system, pretend he was addressing the whole school, but of course he'd just be talking to our class and telling them of some important news. And so at just the right moment, I heard the speaker come on and he rang that little xylophone, ding, ding, ding, you know, to signify he had an announcement to make. And he said, "This is the assistant principal announcing. That united press international has just announced that Russia has invaded Israel. President Nixon is on the way back on air force one from Moscow". All students are immediately dismissed or to go home and to seek shelter.

At that precise moment, my teacher shrieked out, "Oh, no, it's true, it's true, it's true"! And all of the students stood up to head toward the exits. Well, I stopped them and I told them it was just an illustration of how headlines could correspond to the end times. And today, we're going to look at five headlines, five events that will signal the end is here. If you have your Bibles, turn to Matthew 24, Matthew 24. Now, before we look at these five signs, I want to talk just a moment about the end times in perspective and suggest three extremes we need to guard against when we discuss the end times. One extreme is what I call fanaticism. These are people who are always trying to set the date of the Lord's return.

And as we saw in Matthew 24:36, Jesus said, "No man, no man, no angel, not even the Son of Man knows when the return is going to be, so don't set dates". But there's another way fanatics work. They look at every news headline, every news headline, and try to read the tea leaves and say, "What is the prophetic significance of this"? And they try to say, "Every event has prophetic significance". Some do, some don't, some signs come and go. When we started this series, Hamas had just attacked Israel and we started talking about the end times. Now, there's a peace deal in the offing, a ceasefire you've probably read about. I don't know what'll come of that. I know most instances, ceasefires are just time to reload, but whether this is the end of the conflict, it's only a temporary into it. There's going to be constant conflict in the Middle East until the Lord returns.

So don't try to read something significant in every headline. The second extreme is really the opposite end of the spectrum, and it's the one most Christians fall in today, and that's fatalism. Fatalism. It's the idea, "Well, Jesus is coming back again. The world's going to get worse and worse. What can I do about that"? Well, I'll tell you what Jesus said we ought to do. We shouldn't curl up in a fetal position. We shouldn't get in our holy huddle and pray nothing bad happens to us. We ought to be out there working harder than ever. The third extreme people fall into when it comes to prophecy is cynicism. Cynicism. Perhaps the most dangerous attitude of all. People say all this stuff about the second coming of Jesus. People have believed that from the beginning and it hasn't happened.

I'll never forget hearing one of the most respected ministers in the Metroplex many years ago stand up in his large church. It was Easter Sunday, and I heard him say, "For 2,000 years, people have been saying Jesus is coming back again, and he hasn't come back, and he's not coming back". The first time Jesus came is when he came as a little baby in that manger in Bethlehem. The second coming of Jesus is when he comes into our hearts. That's the second coming of Jesus. You know his words, the words of the cynic sound eerily similar to what Peter prophesied in the end times. In 2 Peter 3:3, he said, "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation'".

That's the secularist uniformitarianism. Everything in nature is uniform. It just keeps rocking along. Peter said, "But when they say this, it escapes their notice that by the Word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at the time was destroyed being flooded with water". Peter is saying they forget two times God intervened in human history when he created this world out of nothing creation. The second time when he destroyed the world by a flood, but there's a third time he's going to intervene, and that is when he burns up this present heaven and earth. He says, "But by his word, the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men".

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible says, "Jesus is coming back again". He's coming back again. I want you to know what the signs are. First of all, he mentions spiritual deception, verses 4 and 5, and Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in my name saying, 'i am the Christ,' and will mislead many". One spiritual deception is people will say they're the Christ, but that's not the only spiritual deception. Listen to 1 Timothy 4:1, but the spirit explicitly says that in the end times, latter times, some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. There'll be a rise in occultism and the Satan worship, and we're seeing that right now.

Did you read this week that there are three elementary schools in Connecticut that are now hosting afterschool Satan clubs? Clubs built around the worship of Satan. That's being allowed, that is one predictor of the end times, but all of that is a forerunner to the final deception. It'll occur during the tribulation. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. The one that is antichrist who's coming is in accord with the activity of Satan with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love the truth so as to be saved. In the end times, the antichrist will have the ability to perform signs and wonders. Supernatural works just like the magicians did in the Old Testament in Pharaoh's court. God will give antichrist the ability to do real signs and wonders.

That's beyond my understanding, other than Paul says, "It's to people who have rejected the truth". You can reject God's truth so often that you harden your own heart, and you cannot believe the truth any longer and God sends a diluting lie into your life instead. He's going to deceive people with power and signs, and I just noticed this this week for the first time, and false wonders. Things that look to be true but aren't true. Government officials right now are very concerned about the ability to produce videos that look real. They look like the real thing, but they're fake.

In fact, just two weeks ago, Russia posted all over the internet a video supposedly of Ukrainian president Zelensky telling his troops to surrender to Russia and laying down their arms. It was fake but it looked real. There's going to be all kind of havoc caused by these kinds of deceptions. There'll be spiritual deception. Secondly, international conflict. Look at verses 6 and 7. "You'll be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See to it that you're not frightened, for those things must take place, but it's not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes".

The Marxist Philosopher Trotsky once said, "If you're looking for peace and tranquility, you've chosen the wrong age in which to live". He wrote that 100 years ago. What would he say about today's international conflicts? Yes, there are wars and rumors of wars, but it's not the end yet, but it's moving toward the end. Everything is moving to that one final world confrontation on the plain of Megiddo in Israel, the war we call Armageddon. Now, I have people ask me this all the time. They say, "Pastor, what do you think of the preterist view of Revelation"? It's the idea that yes, these prophecies were written, but they've already been fulfilled in ancient history. What do you say to that? I say that's partially true. These prophecies, for the most part, had an immediate partial fulfillment. But their complete fulfillment has not yet occurred and it won't until the end times.

For example, can you tell me when it is that the Euphrates river dried completely up? That hasn't happened yet. When has there been a 200-million-man army coming from the east? That hasn't happened yet. And when in the world in history did Jesus Christ return to the Mount of Olives and split it in two? Did that happen and I just missed it in the news? No, those things have not yet happened. There is plenty found in Revelation that is yet to come. Remember when Napoleon looked out over the plain of Megiddo in Israel? He said, "This is the most natural battlefield in all of the world. It's going to be the scene of the great world conflict".

Jesus said, "Sign one is spiritual deception. Secondly, international conflict. Thirdly, natural disasters in various places, verse 7, there will be famines and earthquakes". We see those all the time, thousands being killed through famines and earthquakes. But the biggest earthquake and famine is yet to come. In Revelation 16:3, the second bold judgment says that the second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man: and every living thing in the sea died. One thing that's going to happen, one natural disaster, is the destruction of every species of marine life. Can you imagine what that will do to the earth's ecosystem when every living thing in the oceans die? They will die, and it won't be because of plastic straws. All of these are signs, signals of the end times.

Fourth, the persecution of Christians, Jesus said, will indicate his return is soon. "Then, they will deliver you to tribulation and they will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name". Now, there has been worldwide persecution of Christians from the very beginning, and it's increased and increased in frequency and intensity. Did you know there were more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined? And it's looking to be the same way in the 21st century. We are not aware of that as American Christians because we don't feel that kind of literal physical persecution. There are other kinds of persecution we experience. Not that kind yet, but it is coming. Jesus said nobody will be able to escape it.

And finally, he gave the sign of widespread apostasy. Look at verses 10 to 12 of Matthew 24. "At that time many will fall away, and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold". Now, think about it. To fall from faith to unfaith means that you have to have some kind of faith to begin with. Atheists can never fall into apostasy. They can't fall from something to apostasy. They're already in unfaith. You can't fall from unfaith to unfaith. He's talking about people here who will give the appearance of being Christians. They will proclaim that they are Christians, but they're fake Christians, as evidenced by the fact they fall away. And you see that all across America today.

Let's do everything we can to get the gospel to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. That, you can clap off if you want to on that. That is our goal. But there's an individual response to this truth of Christ soon coming, and you find it in Revelation 16:15. John is outlining all of the events getting ready for Armageddon, the demons luring the kings of the earth to that place called Armageddon. And then, in your Bible, this statement is in parenthesis in verse 15. It's a parenthetical thought that comes from Jesus himself. That seems to interrupt what John is talking about, but really it's the greatest application you could ever come up with.

Jesus said, "Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame". In December of 1992, our family was called to Wichita Falls to pastor the church there. It was December of 1992 and our housing situation wasn't worked out yet, so the church put us up in the local Sheraton hotel. One night, we were fast asleep, freezing outside, when all of a sudden in the middle of the night, the fire alarm sounded. And the announcer came over the speaker and said, "Everybody needs to evacuate as quickly as possible. A fire has been reported".

So I mean, we scrammed out of there and got out of the hotel, stood on the parking lot for what seemed like eternity. And they finally, after about 30 minutes, explained it was a false alarm. I was standing there freezing to death in my pajamas, and I remember being so ashamed the new pastor of the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls standing in the parking lot in his pajamas. I was embarrassed until I looked around and saw that a lot of people got out with a lot less than their pajamas and had a lot more reason to be embarrassed.

Ladies and gentlemen, there's a time coming when there's going to be a real alarm for a future generation. It will be an alarm signaling the second coming of Jesus. For this present generation, it'll be the rapture of the church or even our own individual death. But an alarm is coming. If you wait until the alarm comes to get dressed, you won't have time. You've waited too long. You have to already be dressed when that alarm comes.

"What do you mean, pastor, be dressed"? There's only one garment you can put on that will guarantee you're not ashamed that the Lord's coming or when you meet God. And that garment is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His perfection, his goodness, his forgiveness. If you try to face God in your own righteousness, goodness, you're going to be ashamed. You're going to be sadly disappointed. Jesus is saying, "Make sure you're properly dressed. Don't wait until some future time. Don't wait until the alarm sounds. Put on that garment of righteousness right now". If I were going to choose a theme song for this series, "Living in the end times," it would be the song I cited a couple of weeks ago. When he shall come. Not if he should come, when he shall come with trumpet sound. Oh, may I then in him be found dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
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