Robert Jeffress - Breaking News
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Over the years, there have been countless works of science fiction, imagining what it would be like to break the boundaries of space and time. It's a fascinating premise for a book or movie. But for God, bending space and time is no fantasy. What we see as future, God sees as history. And today we're going to discover why that truth should be a great comfort to every believer who is experiencing his or her own tribulation in life. My message is titled, "Breaking News," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
In the 10 years or so, that I've been involved in offering a Christian's perspective on the news on certain topics, I've noticed something that seems to be happening with more and more frequency. Perhaps you've noticed it as well. Breaking news. I mean, I'll be all prepared for a segment to talk about something that the last minute the producer emails me and said, "Sorry, pastor, we're going to have to bump you because of breaking news". It seems like news is coming faster and faster, and it's changing more quickly every day. And the result is news gatherers, as well as television viewers are left exhausted with all of the breaking news.
You know, today is the single most televised event of the year, the super bowl. And I was just wondering this week, what would it take? What event would have to happen for the announcer of the game to say, "I'm sorry, we're going to cut away from the super bowl because of breaking news". It'd have to be something pretty big, wouldn't it? Perhaps it would something just like the event we're going to look at today in Revelation 11, that the Bible indicates the whole world will tune into via television. If you have your Bibles turn to Revelation 11. Revelation 11. Remember we're in the part of Revelation chapters 6 through 19, that describe the seven final years of earth's history. A period we call the tribulation that climaxes in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth. And God's judgment will come in the form of three series of judgments. The seal judgments, Revelation 6. The trumpet judgments, Revelation 8 and 9. And then finally the bowl judgments in Revelation 16.
We're in those trumpet judgments. We've already seen the sixth judgment, but we're awaiting the seventh trumpet judgments, which includes all of the final bowl judgments in the return of Christ. But between the sixth trumpet and the final seventh trumpet, there's an interlude in Revelation for John to explain some other things about the tribulation we need to understand. And that's where we pick up in chapter 11, verses 1 and 2. "Then there was given me", that is John, "A measuring rod, like a staff. And someone said, 'get up and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship in it and leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it for it has been given to the nations and they will tread under foot the holy city for 42 months'".
Underline that, 42 months. John was told by a voice, perhaps God grabs an angel, to take a rod and measure the temple. Now, the question is which temple, the temple of God. You know, when you look at the Bible, there are five different temples in Jerusalem throughout history that have existed or will exist there. Three of those temples have already been built and destroyed. There are two final temples yet to be built. And this'll help you understand the Bible more if you understand these five temples. Let me go through them real quickly with you.
First of all, there was the original temple, Solomon's Temple, that was built in 966 BC. Remember God told David that the temple was to be built, but that his son would build it, Solomon. It took seven years to build Solomon's Temple. And it was destroyed in 586 BC when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem. And you remember the Israelites were in exile in Babylon for 70 years, and then the news came that they could leave and go back to Jerusalem and they wanted to rebuild the temple. And the person who rebuilt it was named Zerubbabel. I'll always remember that it was Zerubbabel who built the temple out of rubble. And he did that in 536 BC. It took 21 years for Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple. That was the second temple.
And then the Third Temple was Herod's temple. When Rome took control of Israel, Herod the great didn't destroy Zerubbabel's temple. Instead he added to it. He enlarged it greatly to gain favor with the Jewish people. And that began in 19 BC, and actually continued to ad 64. And remember it was during that time that Jesus worshiped in the temple and went to the temple. That was Herod's temple. And that temple was destroyed in 70 ad by the Romans themselves to quell an insurrection in Jerusalem. That was Herod's temple. Now, where's the temple today? There is no temple. If you go to Temple Mount, as many of us do when we're in Israel, you'll go up there and you'll see two of the most holy muslim sites in the world, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. There is no temple.
People ask why don't the Jews offer sacrifices anymore? Simple reason, there's no temple. You have to have a temple to offer sacrifices. But the Bible says when the tribulation comes, there will be a temple there. There will be a temple during the tribulation. How do we know that? Daniel 9:27 talks about the seven-year tribulation and it says, "And he," that is the antichrist, "Will make a firm covenant with the many". I believe that's a reference not only to Israel, but to the nations, "For one week," that is seven years, a week of years. "But in the middle of the week," middle would be after the first three and a half years, "antichrist will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed is poured out on the one who makes desolate".
You remember, as we saw in Revelation six, that after the rapture, there's going to be chaos in the world. And there'll be a leader, a world leader who without any power struggle at all will be given the power by the nations of the world to bring peace into the world. He's the figure we commonly call antichrist. And it's obvious in the middle of the week, it says he will break his peace covenant with Israel. At the beginning, he will be hailed a hero because he's made peace with Israel and the nations of the world. But at the end of that first three and a half years, he breaks that covenant and stops the sacrifices. That's only common sense. That means the sacrifices have been going on. That means the temple is already there if he's able to stop the sacrifices.
So the question is, how is it that the antichrist is able to succeed in getting rid of that Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and building a temple for the Jews to worship in? Isn't that a strange thing to think? I mean that little Temple Mount area, it is the hottest, most volatile piece of real estate in the entire world. People are fighting over who's going to possess that holy religious site. And yet the antichrist is able to achieve such a thing. I was thinking about that Monday, as I was preparing on this. How could such a thing be? When Monday, it just happened, I got an unexpected invitation from the White House to come Tuesday to the White House as the president unveiled his Middle East peace plan. I thought in a visit it'll make for some good sermon material.
So I went up there and it was such a fascinating experience. First of all, the peace plan itself is tremendous, what the president is proposing because it recognizes Israel's right to possess and protect the land that God has given her. Well we hear today about the West Bank and occupied territory. The West Bank is Israel. It's Bethlehem. It's other areas that the Bible says Israel has had a right to 3.000 years. And the president understands that, and it affirms Israel's right to possess the land. At the same time, it offers a pathway to peace for the Palestinians. If they meet certain benchmarks, they can have a certain degree of sovereignty over their area, $50 billion of economic development.
Now there's not a snowball's chance in hades that they're going to meet those benchMarks or do it. But it's an attempt to have peace. And yes, we know there won't be ultimate peace until the Prince of Peace returns. But remember, the Psalmist said we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. In the New Testament, Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers". Some peace, a temporary peace, is preferable to no peace. So I applaud the president 100% on the courage to stand up and do this.
But what was interesting to me as he was talking was, in front of me was the president's family, Jared Kushner, who formulated this plan. To my left was secretary of state Pompeo. And right behind me were leaders of arab nations. Muslims who were there. And when the president finished, they all stood up and gave a standing ovation for this plan. I thought, you know, that takes some diplomatic skill to be able to get all those different people in the room, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and have them all standing up and applauding. Now that was a good thing. In the future there is going to be a world leader who is able to build a consensus, at least temporarily in the mid east. Perhaps he will be able to persuade Israel to give up certain things in order to build what they want the most, and that is a temple.
You know, there are some Jews today who care nothing about a temple, the progressive Jews. But, the fastest growing sect of Judaism right now is the orthodox Jews. And they desperately want a temple there, and they're going to get it. And it's going to be because of the shrewd negotiating skills of this world leader known as the antichrist. And that temple will be present during the tribulation. It will be destroyed somehow before the second coming of Jesus Christ. And when Christ sets up his kingdom on the earth, the millennium, there's one final temple. The fifth temple is the millennial temple for a thousand years. It's described in Ezekiel 40 through 46. Now, that is the temple, the tribulation temple that John is told to measure. "Go up and measure the temple".
You know, did Jesus need to know how big the temple was? No, let me explain what's going on here. In the Bible, to measure something means to take possession of it, to take possession of it. So he said, "Get up and measure the temple". He said, "But leave out the court, which is outside the temple". That is where the gentiles are. "For they have already taken possession of it. They will tread under the foot, the holy city for 42 months". 42 months is three and a half years. We are in the final three and a half years of the tribulation. The antichrist has broken his peace covenant with Israel. And by measuring the temple, God is showing that he still possesses it and the people who worship within it.
You know, we understand that concept of measuring something to possess it. If you go buy a house right now, before you buy that house, you want a survey of the house that marks out what property you're actually buying. It's a sign of ownership, measuring, surveying what belongs to you. Now you can measure property you own for one of two purposes. You could want to measure it in order that you could destroy it. In Lamentations 2:8, God said, "Measure Jerusalem for her destruction".
I'll never forget years ago, right before we imploded these facilities, just days before we imploded these facilities and build our great new campus here, I was walking through the old ceb building for the last time. And it was empty pretty much except for a workman. And I saw him down there measuring some things. I thought, "What is he measuring? We're getting ready to destroy this thing". I said, "What are you doing"? He said, "Well, I'm measuring to see where we're going to put a dynamite that's going to bring this building down". He was measuring it for destruction. Well, that's exactly what God does sometimes. He measured things for destruction, Lamentations 2:8. But, you could also measure something in order to protect it.
I don't know if you got any damage during that tornado that went through here a couple of months ago, but it blew our fence down, almost down, and then it fell down, I guess, last week. So we had to get a fence builder out there to build a fence. But before he built the fence, guess what he wanted. He wanted a survey of our land. He wanted to know exactly where the property line was. He wanted to know the measurements of the land that we owned so that he could protect it. And the same thing in Zachariah two. God says measure Jerusalem in order to protect her, to build a wall, to protect her. And I think that's what is meant here. He's saying measure the city because I'm going to protect it. I'm going to measure and protect not only the temple, but those who are worshiping in it, my people.
ow this is going on during the last 42 months, the last three and a half years. The gentiles have already overtaken the rest of the temple and the rest of Jerusalem. But notice something else that is going on during these last three and a half years. And that is the ministry of the two tribulation witnesses. And that is the focus of this chapter. Look at verse 3, "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses and they will prophesy for 1.260 days". That's 42 months. That's three and a half years, "In sack cloth". While these terrible judgments of God are coming, there will be two witnesses who will proclaim God's truth. And notice their characteristics in verses 4 to 6. "These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth".
A lampstand is something that gave light in the darkness. They were fueled by olive oil that came from olive trees. And so that's the nature of these two witnesses. They're giving light in the darkness. "And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies. So if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way". I don't think it's indicating that these two witnesses are dragons. It's simply saying they have supernatural power to protect themselves against the many who would harm them. And not only that, verse 6, "These have the power to shut up the sky so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying. And they have powers over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every plague as often as they desire".
Now, I read this week, commentary after commentary, people speculating who these two witnesses are. They're not named. Some people say, "Oh, it's Enoch and Elijah," because after all, those are two prophets who never died. They were raptured. They were translated into heaven before they died. So this must be Enoch and Elijah. Other people say, "No, this is Elijah and Moses," because notice the description of their ministry. They had the ability to shut off rain from the earth. That's what Elijah did after his prayer. And then Moses was able to turn the Nile River into blood. It's Elijah and Moses. My own opinion, and it's just an opinion is, these are actually two human beings who are supernaturally empowered by God who have a ministry like Elijah and Moses, though it's not Elijah and Moses.
By the way, do God's people today have the same power that these two witnesses have to perform miracles? I want you to hear very clearly. I believe God works miracles today. I believe that the power of God to work miracles has not changed. But I think what is true that has changed is God doesn't need human beings to act as an intermediary between him and those he wants to perform miracles for. I think of Dr. Criswell's famous statement. He said, "I believe in faith healing. I just don't believe in faith healers". God doesn't need a middleman. He can do it directly himself.
There have been though five periods in biblical history when God has used human beings to perform miracles for some very precise reasons. In fact, there've been five periods of miracle workers in the Bible. I've got them for you on your outline. The times of Moses and Joshua. The times of Elijah and Elisha. The times of Daniel and his three friends. Fourth, the times of Jesus's earthly ministry and his apostles, the 12 apostles. And finally the final period of miracle workers, not of miracles, but of miracle workers will be the time of these two witnesses. Now notice this word about their death. You know, we think that the martyrdom of Christians is something that was reserved for the first century. No, did you know there were more martyrs for the Christian faith in the 20th century than all the other centuries put together. And now that we're in the 21st century, it will get even worse.
Open doors, that is an organization monitoring Christian persecution around the world says that there are 11 Christians murdered every day because of their faith, and it's only intensifying. And that will be true during the tribulation as well. Look at verse 7. "When they," that is the two witnesses, "Have finished their testimony," underline that word finished. It's only after they have finished their testimony. That Greek word for testimony is the word martyr. To be a martyr is to give the final testimony of your faith. "When they have finished their ministry, the beast that comes out of the abyss, will make war with them and overcome them and kill them". This is the first reference to the antichrist in the Book of Revelation. It's the first of 38 references to the antichrist. We'll see a more detailed description of him when we get to chapter 13. He is a human being who is demonically inspired. That's why it says, "Who comes up out of the abyss".
The demon who possesses him comes up out of that abode of the abyss we talked about. "And he will make war with the two witnesses, and he will overcome them and kill them," only after they have finished their testimony. "And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is mystically called Sodom and Egypt". What city is that? John's very clear. "It's the city where also the Lord was crucified". This is Jerusalem. This is Jerusalem. They will be killed and they will be left in the streets. "And those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb". The whole world will be able to see these two witnesses killed and their bodies left in the street to decompose.