Robert Jeffress - Jesus On The End Times
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. There's no doubt about it, we are living in what the Bible calls the end times. People are rising up causing civil unrest. Christians are under attack in all parts of the world. And tyrants are plotting to destroy the nation of Israel. So when is Jesus coming back? And what should we be doing right now to prepare? Well, today I'm going to show you what Jesus himself said about his second coming and the signs that would precede it. My message is titled "Jesus on the End Times" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Are you going to be left behind? That's the question posed by the book series that has now sold over 100 million copies. If you've read the books or you've seen the movies you know that the book series deals with the events starting with the rapture and tribulation that will culminate with the return of Jesus Christ. Now, some people marginalize people who believe in these things. They say, "Well, that's just a group of eccentrics that believe all that stuff in the Bible". Did you know a pew research survey showed that 1/3 of Americans believe that the world is going to end just as the Bible describes and that it's going to happen in the next 40 years. That's tens of millions of Americans who are waiting for the end to come just as the Bible predicts.
Now, personally I have no idea when the end is going to happen. God hasn't given us a date. But he does want us to be aware of the events that will lead up to his return so that we can be sober, on the alert, and ready for his appearing. Some people have been hardened to the idea of Christ coming back again. They say, "Oh, I hear all that stuff all the time. People have been saying for 2.000 years he's coming back again, it hasn't happened yet". And don't be fooled. Peter said, "Remember, with the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day". The fact is, Jesus' return to earth was a major subject of his teaching. For example, in the passage we're going to look at today Jesus gave the longest discourse about end times of any passage in scripture except for the Book of Revelation. And Jesus said, make no mistake about it, he is coming back again. Jesus is coming back again. And he's coming back for everyone to see.
In Matthew 24 verse 27 he said, "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be". Now, what are you gonna do with that? What Jesus said about his second coming? Now, unless you're willing to say Jesus was just suffering from a heatstroke that day when he sat on the Mount of Olives and talked about his second coming, or if you're saying, "Oh, he must have been of his meds that day, that's why you can engage in all this crazy talk". Unless you're willing to say that you have to take seriously the words that Jesus said about his literal visible return to planet earth.
You see, it is intellectually dishonest to say, "Well, I live my life by Jesus' teachings on the sermon on the mount, but I don't get involved in all that Bible prophecy stuff". No, if you're gonna take seriously Jesus' words on the sermon on the mount, why don't you take seriously what he said in his sermon on the Mount of Olives when he talked about his return? Either all of what Jesus is saying is true or none of it's true. And the fact is, Jesus had a great deal to say about his second coming. And today, we're going to look at what exactly he said. If you have your Bibles turn to Matthew chapter 24 as we discover what Jesus said about the end times.
Now, as I just pointed out, these two chapters are the longest discourse on Bible prophecy found anywhere except in the Book of Revelation. The context is key to understanding what Jesus is saying. When Jesus spoke these words it was on Wednesday of his final week here on earth before he was crucified and raised from the dead. And on that Wednesday Jesus took his disciples up to the Temple Mount, up to the temple so that he could pronounce a pronouncement, a judgment against all the religious leaders. Remember he called them hypocrites. He said they were nothing but whitewashed sepulchres. Clean on the outside, dirty on the inside.
And after he pronounced that judgment on the religious leaders in Matthew 23, look at what happened in Matthew 24 beginning with verse one. "And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when his disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to him. And Jesus answered and said to them, 'do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down'". Jesus said, "See all of this? One day every stone of this place is gonna be torn down". Well, that was blasphemy to them to think that the temple would one day be destroyed.
I was thinking about this passage yesterday afternoon driving to the airport in Washington, D.C., and going past our Capitol. It's a magnificent structure, the United States Capitol. Imagine you were taking a group on a tour of the Capitol and as you stood outside you pointed up and said, "You know what, one day terrorists are going to destroy this place and remove it brick by brick until it's nothing but a pile of rubble". The secret service would be around you so quick you wouldn't know what happened to you for saying such a thing. That'd be blasphemy to talk about such an occurrence. It was that way in Jesus' day.
What do you mean, Lord? Why, they were scared to even talk about it in the temple area. So the Bible says they crossed, the left the Temple Mount, and sitting on the side of the Mount of Olives, looking over that spectacular sight of the temple, they asked the Lord this question. Look at verse three. They said, "Lord, tell us when will these things be? What things? The destruction of the temple? When will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age"?
Now, I want you to stay with me on this. The disciples were asking about three things. They said, "Lord, we wanna know when is the temple gonna be destroyed? And by the way, what are gonna be the signs of your coming and the end of the age"? They treated all three of those things as simultaneous events. The destruction of the temple, the second coming, and the end of the age. What they could not see looking forward was that all of these events, yes, were future, but they would be separated by thousands of years. Jesus skips past the destruction of the temple, fast-forwards thousands of years, and starts talking about what will happen before the Lord returns.
And what I want you to notice here are five signs that Jesus mentioned that would precede his visible return to earth. Now, as we talk about each of these five signs, understand that in one sense we're seeing many of these things take place right now. Understand that throughout history many of these things have taken place. But as we'll see at the end of the message today, Jesus said before he comes these things are going to continue to increase in intensity and frequency. What are the five signs? Number one, he mentions spiritual deception. Look at verses four and five, "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'".
Now, in every age there have been religious charlatans, hucksters. We think about Jim Jones and we think about David Koresh, implying Jesus' words as this reality. As we get closer to the end we're gonna see the number of these false teachers increase. And in fact, toward the end, many will actually claim to be the Christ himself. Listen carefully to what Paul wrote to Timothy in first Timothy 4 verse 1. He said, "The spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the doctrines of demons". And all of this deception of satan and his demons of course will come to a climax during the Great Tribulation when the antichrist himself, the great world leader will have the power to perform signs and wonders in order to deceive some.
Second Thessalonians 2 verse 9 says, "He will use all powers and signs and false wonders". Make no mistake about it. Satan has the ability to perform miracles. Just because a miracle occurs doesn't mean necessarily it comes from God. For whatever reason, God has given satan limited authority to perform signs and wonders in order to deceive those people who have hardened their hearts against God. In the end times you will see that on the increase, culminating with the antichrist.
The second sign, international conflict. Matthew 24:6 and 7, "And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See to it that you are not frightened, for these things must take place, but that is not the end yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom". Leon Trotsky wrote, "If you're looking for peace, you've chosen the wrong generation in which to be born". You know when he wrote those words? Trotsky, the Marxist philosopher, founder of the red army, wrote those words more than 100 years ago. The world wasn't peaceful in his day. And it's not peaceful today either. We're seeing international conflict on an unprecedented scale around the country. Jesus said this is a sign of his soon return.
Thirdly, he said there will natural disasters that will precede his coming. And in various places, verse seven, "There will be famines". Think even what's going on in California with the lack of water there. There'll be famines, there'll be earthquakes. Think what we saw from Nepal. "But all of these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs". Interestingly, Jesus, in a similar discourse in Luke 21:11 added to the list of earthquakes and famines the words pestilence. Pestilence. The word pestilence, you know what it refers to? It refers to an outbreak of a disease on an epidemic level. That's what he's talking about, the outbreak of disease. Think anthrax, smallpox, botulism. Jesus said it's coming. These pandemics are going to be one of the signs that precede his return.
Number four, Jesus said fierce persecution will mark his return. Look in Matthew 24 verse 9. "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and will be hated by all the nations because of my name". You know, I don't know a single Christian who has memorized that verse and claimed it as his life verse. Oh, what's your life verse choice? Matthew 24:9, they're gonna persecute me and kill me. Most people don't want to focus on that. It's not a very pleasant thought. But ladies and gentlemen, if you believe the words of Jesus you have to take this seriously. Jesus said before he returns there is going to be a mass persecution of believers. And you're seeing that happen on the world stage right now.
Let me give you just a few examples. In Pakistan a Christian couple was tortured and then burned to death by a mob of 1.500 muslims for allegedly burning a copy of the Quran. Reports say that the Christian woman was pregnant at the time of her death, and clung to the arm of her husband. We remember a year ago in Nigeria, the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 teenage girls, most of them from Christian families. After ceasefire talks broke down the leader of that group released a video with a chilling message. First, he boasted of the superiority of Islam. Quote, "Allah has proved too difficult for the infidel. Allah has proved too difficult for the tyrant. Allah has proved too difficult for the United States. Allah has proved too difficult for a plane called drone. Allah has proved too difficult for everyone. Allah is mightier than anyone".
I'm gonna say more about this next week. But how is it anybody can deny that Islam is a violent religion. They kill in the name of Islam. They butcher people in the name of Islam. They burn churches down in the name of Islam. They do it all as a way to worship their false God, Allah. This is what modern Islam has become. A large segment of it has become a violent religion that hates Christians and Jews. No, I'm not saying the majority of Muslims are warmongers. I'm not saying the majority of them are terrorists. But when you have even 5% of Islam embracing radical Islam, that means there are 75 million radical Muslims in the world who want to do nothing, but persecute the people of God. It's time for us to quit being silent about the mass persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
All of this is a sign of the soon return of Christ. And by the way, the persecution we're seeing happen around the world, it's getting ready to land on the shores of America as well. Don't think you're safe or I'm safe. The seeds are being sown right now for the soon coming persecution of Christians. Get ready for it. Know what you're gonna do. Know how you're going to stand.
Jesus said, fifth, another sign of his return would be widespread apostasy. Look at verses 10 to 12. "And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold". I want you to look at that term fall away. That's the word apostasy. Apostasy means a falling away. Jesus is saying one of the signs of my return is that people will fall away from their faith. Now, the only people who can fall away are people who once believed something. Or professed to believe something. No atheist is ever guilty of apostasy. Atheists don't fall away from faith to unfaith. They're already in unfaith. They can't fall any further. When Jesus talks about apostasy he's talking about people who claim to be believers, who claim to be the Bible and believe the Bible, but in the last days they will fall away from that faith and try to lead as many people astray as possible.
And you're seeing that happen today in evangelical churches across this country. Churches who, in the name of unity say, "We no longer believe this book is the inspired inerrant Word of God. We no longer claim that Jesus was born of a virgin. We no longer believe in the blood atonement of Christ for the sins of the world. We no longer believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. We have a more inclusive message". And they're leading people astray. You have Christian churches in the name of love saying, "We no longer are gonna stand up against certain things. We're not gonna stand up against a woman's right to choose abortion. We're not gonna stand up against same-sex marriage". That's modern evangelicalism. That's what you're hearing taught, not just in churches that have long ago given up the scriptures. You're hearing that taught in churches that say they believe God's word. That's the kind of apostasy that Jesus said would Mark his return.
Now, Jesus said all five of these things will be present before he comes back to earth again. When we talk about the end times, the last days, what we're really talking about is that period of time that will begin with the rapture and will conclude with Christ's visible coming to the earth. How close are we to that happening? Let me close today with two principles about the signs of the end times I want you to remember. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus said, "No man can know the hour or the day when these things are going to happen". Jesus said you can't know the time. But he said, "I want you to understand the times that will precede my return". And as we look at our world today there are two principles I want us to keep in mind.
Principle number one, the signs will be present in every generation. All of these things I've talked about, international conflict, persecution of believers, apostasy, all of these things are present in every generation. And that's why it's a mistake to take any single headline that blares across, you know, the drudge report or the fox news alert, and say, "Oh, here it is, this is the sign, this means the end is near". We can't do that, that's very dangerous to do. Instead of looking at any single thing, we need to look in the general direction of the way things are moving to ascertain exactly what is happening. So remember, these signs will be present in every generation. But principle number two, the signs will accelerate in intensity and frequency as we approach the end. The signs will accelerate in intensity and frequency as we approach the end.
Look at verse 8 of Matthew 24 and how Jesus illustrates that truth. He said, "But all of these things", that is these signs, "Are merely the beginning of birth pangs". Labor pains. Now I have to admit to you, the only thing I've ever given birth to are three kidney stones. I named 'em, they're very special to me. But I've never, you know. I've never given birth to anything. How many of you ladies have ever given birth to a child though? Okay. You understand what Jesus is talking about when he's talking about labor pains. You know, when a woman is pregnant she can look at the calendar and have a general idea of when that baby is coming. And as the day appears you begin to experience birth pangs, labor pains. It's a sign that something big is about to happen.
Now, sometimes those labor pains start and then they stop, they subside. But then comes that time, ladies, and you remember it well, many of you, when those labor pains begin to increase in frequency. There are more of them and they're shorter apart. And they begin to increase in intensity, you really start to feel them. And that's when you know you're about to give birth. Now, that's the analogy Jesus said of these signs. He said when the end is about to come these signs will increase in frequency and intensity.
You know, if we were to graph it I think it would look this way. If you were to put these signs on a graph and start with 2.000 years ago when Christ ascended into heaven, over these last 2.000 years the graph would go up and down, up and down. The signs would increase and then they would decrease. But Jesus said when we get close to the end, instead of going up and down the graph will start to move upward in the same direction. Where are we on the graph? For 2.000 years we've seen the signs come and go. But I believe we're starting to see that graph go upwards as the end approaches. Pastor, why do you say that? Over the next few weeks we're going to look at three specific signs that the Bible says will precede the return of the Lord. And if you were to ask me what the greatest of these signs is, it's gonna be the one we're gonna talk about next week. And that is the rise of radical Islam.