Robert Jeffress - Early Warning Signs
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The Bible teaches that one day, a time of terrible calamity will grip our world, unleashing disaster and terror like never before. We call it the Great Tribulation. And at any moment, God could put into motion the events that will set off the end of the world. Gratefully, he's provided some cautionary red flags in order to signal us that it's time to get ready. My message is titled, "Early Warning Signs" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Transplants to Texas, from states like California are surprised by a number of things when they come to Texas. But one of the things that surprises the most is our weather. You know, when you come from a state where the weather is pretty uniform, it's all the same all the time, people that come to Texas are surprised when what starts out as a clear and beautiful day can change dramatically in the afternoon. Ominous clouds appear on the horizon, warnings come about threatening tornadic activity and thunderstorms that can change very, very quickly. I was reading this week that of the 10 deadliest tornadoes in our country, nine of them occurred before there was advanced warning technology, severe weather technology that would warn people of the approaching storm.
Today we hear those warnings all the time. But it's interesting how people respond to those warnings of severe weather. If you live in Texas, you know what I'm talking about. When people hear that a tornado is coming or a thunderstorm is coming, they go outside, they want to film it on their cell phone. Post it on social media, have you ever noticed that? Or hailstorm is coming down, big hailstorm and people go out, they collect them and put them in the refrigerator to save them for I don't know what. But that's kind of the response. Sometimes people actually flop those weather warnings. I'm not scared of it, I'm going to go out and I'm going to face it head on. Other people though, in a more common response, they just ignore them. We get so used to the people breaking into our radio programs or television programs and warning us of a storm, we grow numb to them. But those who flaunt or just ignore storm warnings do so at their own peril. It can be very risky.
You know, the Bible tells us that there's another severe storm coming to our earth one day. It's going to be the most fierce storm the world has ever experienced. It's the storm of God's wrath. And although the storm hasn't come yet, there are warning signs on the horizon. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24, he said, there will be signs. It won't be the tribulation itself, but they will be signs that preceded the tribulation, like birth pains. And when you see those storm signs appear, it's time to get ready. Those who ignore the signs of God's coming storm upon the earth, risk severe and eternal consequences. And that's what we're going to see today in our study of Revelation 6. If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Revelation 6 as we look at these early warning signs that will precede the Great Tribulation.
Now, you heard me say a few weeks ago that I believe the church of Jesus Christ is safe from the coming storm of God's judgment. We will not experience that coming storm. Now when I talk about the church, I'm not talking about the register of everybody who's a member of the church. You can be on the church roll but not be a part of the church. The church is a collection of all true believers in Jesus Christ that transcends church walls, that transcends denominations, everybody who has put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ is a part of the true church and the true church is not going to experience the coming tribulation, the pouring out of God's wrath upon the earth.
Now, we go into this time of the tribulation after the rapture, what is the tribulation? It is a time certainly for God to pour out his wrath upon the earth, but most specifically, it is a time for God to complete his plan with Israel. Remember 4.000 years ago, God chose a man named Abraham. And he said, Abraham, I'm going to make you the father of a great nation. And this nation that you're going to be the father of, is going to be the recipient of my love and my judgment, you are going to display to the whole world the truth about me, Jehovah God, and of course, that's the nation of Israel. God selected Israel to be an object lesson to the entire world of God's love, and God's holiness. And so Israel has been the recipient of God's blessing through the years. But God has not finished his work with Israel yet. And I want you to see how the tribulation is actually the completion of God's plan for Israel before he brings in the end to the world as we know it.
I want you to turn over to Daniel 9, beginning with verse 24. And I want to show you what I believe is the single most amazing prophecy in all of the Bible. Now remember the background for Daniel, Daniel was a young Jew, who was taken captive by the Babylonians along with most of the Jews living in the Israel. The Babylonians took them captive in 586 BC, and the Daniel and all of the people were discouraged by this. And as years turned into decades, and they were in Babylon, they naturally wanted to know, is this an end of God's plan for his people? Has God's plan been thwarted? It certainly isn't completed yet that the temple's been destroyed. We're no longer in the land, is God finished with Israel?
So Daniel begin to pray to God and ask God to give him a Revelation about what the future would hold for him, but for all of Israel as well. And Daniel got more than he bargained for. God sent to Daniel the angel Gabriel. And Gabriel gave Daniel a panoramic vision of God's final plan for all Israel. And you find it here in verses 24 to 27, look at this with me. "70 weeks have been decreed for your people". Now, what does that mean? Well, what that word weeks is an unfortunate translation of the Hebrew, what is put down as weeks actually means sevens, sevens, there are seven days in a week, sevens. 70 sevens, what is 70 times seven? 490. Now, what does it mean 490? Well, you look earlier in Daniel 9 he's been talking about years, how many year? So what Gabriel is saying is 490 years have been decreed for your people and your holy city. And in these 490 years, here's what is going to happen to finish up God's plan for Israel.
In these 490 years, first of all, to finish the transgression, that is to put an end to Israel's rebellion, to make an end of sin. This is a reference to the eradication of the sacrificial system, no more sacrifices needed. Why? Thirdly, to make an atonement for iniquity. Israel's sins will have been finally paid for sometime during this 490 year period. To bring in everlasting righteousness. That's a reference for the millennium, the rule of Christ on earth. To seal up vision and prophecy: that means no more prophecy needed any longer and to anoint the most holy place that is to rebuild the temple and have it be a permanent fixture on the earth. In other words, Gabriel said Daniel, in 490 years all of these things are going to be happened and all of these promises are going to be fulfilled.
Now, if I were Daniel, I would want to know, is that 490 years from today? When do we start counting down these 490 years? Well, Gabriel tells us in verse 26, it doesn't start right now, Daniel, but here's when you can start counting. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until the Messiah the prince there will be seven sevens and 62 sevens. Now, 62 plus seven is what? 69. 69 weeks of years, 69 sevens. If you want to do the math on it, that's 483 years. In other words, God has the stopwatch, it has 490 at the top, he's going to press that stopwatch at some point in the future. What is that future? Whenever the decree goes out to rebuild Jerusalem. Remember, Daniel was in Babylon. But he said at some future time, somebody who rules Babylon is going to give you the go signal, Jews to go back to the land and to rebuild the City of Jerusalem.
Did you know that actually happened in history? And we know the exact year, we know the exact month, we know the exact day from secular history when that happened: it is March the 14th, 445 BC. That's when the Persian ruler, Artaxerxes Longimanus, gave the decree to allow the Jews to return and to rebuild Jerusalem. Gabriel said that's when the stopwatch begins. From the time that decree goes out until Messiah the prince, there will be 483 years. What does that mean until Messiah the prince? Who was Messiah? Jesus, good class, very good. Okay, the Messiah was Jesus. What does that mean from the time he appeared in Bethlehem? Is that when the 483 years stops? No, it says Messiah the prince. This is a reference to the time that Jesus was presented as the Son of God, do you remember when that happened? When it became clear to the whole nation, he was presented nationally, it was when he entered the city on the back of a donkey. And the people said hosanna, hosanna. That was the national presentation of Jesus as the Messiah.
Now again, we know when that happened, great studies of biblical, studies of biblical chronology like J. Dwight Pentecost and Harold Hohner, who specialize in chronology of the Bible have calculated delighted that day to be April the 2nd 32 ad. And using the irregularities and the differences between the Jewish and the Roman calendars, they have gone to great lengths to show the time between the day that Artaxerxes Longimanus issued that decree in 445 BC to go back to Jerusalem until Jesus rode into the city on that day in 32 ad April 2, it was exactly, exactly 483 years to the very date. That that is what I call amazing. Remember, Daniel lived decades before that decree went out. He lived in the sixth century BC and the 500s but he was able to look down because Gabriel allowed him to and said this is going to happen in 445 BC, we're going to be allowed to go back and not only that, Messiah the prince will be presented in ad 32.
483 years when Israel rejected Messiah, God stopped the stopwatch. It started at 490 years, 483 years past, but when Israel rejected Christ, boom! The stopwatch stopped. How many years would have been left? You're going to work on the graphics, seven years are left. There is a seven year period of time left for God to finish everything he's going to do with Israel. Now that time that God stopped the stopwatch, he stopped it in 32 ad and it's been stopped for 2.000 years. And it's predicted right here in verse 26, that a number of things would happen after that 483 years before the final seven years, there'd be a gap. I don't think Daniel or anybody knew the thousands of years but it has been, he said then after those 483 years, Messiah will be cut off, that's a reference to the crucifixion and have nothing. And the people who are of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary, that happened in 70 ad when Titus entered the city and destroyed Jerusalem. And it's end will come with a flood.
Now verse 27, and he, that is the prince the antichrist, will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, one week, seven years, that is when the final seven years begins ticking off. But in the middle of that seven years, after the first three and a half years, he will break that covenant. He will put a stop to sacrificing grain offering then on the wings of abominations, will come one who makes desolate. There are seven years left for God to finish his plan with Israel. Right now the stopwatch is stopped, between verses 26 and 27, we are living in that gap of time we call the church age. This is the time that God has temporarily set aside Israel, he said, I'm stopping with you right now so I can do something over here. Allow the gentiles, non-Jews to come to faith in Christ.
And that's what Paul had in mind in Romans 11:25 when he said, I don't want you to be ignorant, brethren, that a partial hardening has come to Israel until the fullness of the gentiles has come in. When I have finished my plan with the gentiles, I'm not forsaking Israel, I've not forgotten about Israel. I'm letting gentiles come to faith in Christ but when the end of that time comes, we're going to restart the stopwatch and finish the plan with Israel. That's what the church age is, and what is the end of that period of time? It's the rapture of the church, when God gathers together all believers, that will mean it is time for that final seven year period. And I think you can see how the two coincide with one another. How will the antichrist rise to power?
As we'll see next week, when he rises to power, he does so without any force. People willingly follow his leadership. He has a bow but no arrows with it. Have you ever thought what is it in America that would willingly give up our democratic system to follow a dictator who says no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom of commerce, why will America, why will the entire world agree to that? It could be in part because of the chaos that ensues at the rapture. Can you imagine what it's going to be like when millions of people around the world disappear suddenly? I mean, you can just see the chaos in the world that is going to occur after the rapture of the church.
I believe it is that chaos that will make people so desperate for order that they will willingly follow anybody who says they can bring peace out of chaos. And that's why in verse 7 you see the antichrist rising to power without any opposition whatsoever. What is the purpose of the tribulation? Let me just mention to very briefly, why does God have to do this? Is he just a cosmic killjoy who loves punishing people? No, there are two very important reasons for the tribulation. First of all, the salvation of the elect, even in the tribulation, you see God's love and mercy. He's giving earth one more chance to repent. This is called Daniel 70th week, the time of Jacob's distress in order that Israel especially might have one last chance to accept Jesus as their Messiah before the final judgment of God.
Verse 7 of Jeremiah 30, "Alas! For that day is great. There is none like it for it's the time of Jacob's distress, but he will be saved from it". During the tribulation, you'll see many gentiles saved, Revelation 7:9, but you'll also see a multitude of Jews who will be saved. It's a redemptive purpose for the tribulation. It is a time for the salvation of the elect. And secondly, it's a time for the condemnation of the lost. A holy God cannot allow evil to go unpunished. And this is a time for God to pour out his wrath on unbelievers, Isaiah 26:21, "For behold, the Lord is about to come out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her stain". Let me just say this, about an overview of the tribulation judgments. As we're going to see in the weeks ahead, these judgments are actually a series of three different judgments.
There are the seven seals that are mentioned in Revelation 6, and then in Revelation 8-11, the trumpet judgments. And then finally, the blows judgments in Revelation 16. Each of these three series of judgments increases in severity. The first seals, judgments happen in the first three and a half years. The final set of judgments, the trumpet and the bowl judgments take place in the last three and a half years. You have the first seven seal judgments in Revelation 6, but the seventh seal judgment contains all of the trumpet judgments, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and the seventh trumpet judgment contains all of the bowl judgments as well.
So really when we talk about these series of three judgments, all of them are contained in the seven seals. And that's why that picture is so powerful that we saw last time. That is, when God the Father on the throne hands that seven sealed book scroll to Jesus, the Son of God, when Jesus takes possession of that seven sealed scroll, he is holding in his hands, all of the judgments against the earth that will culminate with his return to earth to reclaim that which belongs to him. That's why that is such a dramatic, dramatic picture. How do we prepare for this coming storm? This certainty of God's judgment? I don't want you to fold up anything right now.
I want you to look at me and I want you to listen to these words very carefully, comes from the living translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10. And there's somebody I believe listening to me right now, who needs to take seriously these words about the only way to prepare for the coming storm. "But let us who live in the light, be clear headed, protected by the armor of faith and love and wearing is our helmet, the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that whether we're dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever". Trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior today is the only way to escape the coming and certain storm of God's judgment.