1. Compare Jesus’ Behavior before and during End Times
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Before the end times commence, Jesus is filled with love and compassion for the woman who touched his robe in hopes of a healing. He has loving compassion for the woman about to be stoned by the Pharisees. He protects Mary after the disciples criticize her for wasting perfume on Jesus.
Only once did Jesus ever describe his personal character. “For I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29)
Isn’t that a beautiful picture of Jesus?
On the other hand, during His second coming, Jesus comes riding on a white horse with a sword to kill and bronze boots to stamp on those who have warred against him (Revelation 19:11-16, Revelation 1:15). There is nothing heartwarming or attractive that can be said about his activities during the end times. He comes in judgment and vengeance.
It’s interesting to reflect for yourself: which picture of Jesus do you like best? Are you enjoying his love and compassion? Or, are you still choosing to worry that He’s upset and angry with you, far away, or ashamed of you?
2. Jesus Reveals His Weeping Compassion
Do not hurry past this verse:
“Oh Jerusalem, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37-39)
Have you ever thought that perhaps Jesus is praying for you? He is weeping with compassion? We so often see him as angry, upset, disappointed, distant, or inspecting when we sin and disobey.
Maybe it’s more likely that he is brokenhearted and weeping over our sin and behavior.
Ask yourself: do I see the real Jesus? Or an unbiblical made-up version?
3. Not Even Jesus Knows the Secret Timing of His Return
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Many have tried but all have failed. They figure out days and months and timings and hours and all that they come up with are wrong guesses!
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36).
I recall a man who came to our city claiming to know the day and hour of the Lord’s return. Over the next several months he gathered a large contingent of followers. He encouraged his followers to sell all they had because none needed possessions after the second coming. His date came and went and we never heard him again.
As far as I can tell, this is the only secret that the Father ever kept from the Son (Matthew 24:35).
Have you figured out yet what day the second coming will occur? I’m just kidding!
4. Jesus Opposes Deception
Jesus was deeply concerned about his followers being deceived into following a false Christ.
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I’m the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5)
The best way to be undeceived is to know the truth. This is why saturating our minds with the Bible is so critically important. When we know the truth, we can spot the error.
Jesus used the book of Daniel to show that the antichrist would be the best deceiver of all time. (Matthew 24:15)
Jesus spoke often warning his disciples about slipping into deception. If he were so deeply concerned, we are to be as well. Here are some tools Satan might use to deceive:
– Distorting or misinterpreting the Bible
– Denying the divinity of Jesus
– Rejecting the virgin birth
– Promoting teachings of and associating with an individual who gathers a following
– Rejecting the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross for our sin
– Not realizing that following the teachings and principles of a false teacher will lead to hell
False teaching will add to or subtract from the importance of faith. The salvation by faith formula is, “Faith plus absolutely nothing else produces salvation” (is freely given by grace).
False teaching often claims to have secret knowledge known only to the false prophet and to no one else.
Take a moment and evaluate now, how well you know the Scriptures. Do you feel secure in your Bible knowledge that gives you confidence you’re on the right track? Could there be anything in your life that might be construed as deceit? Think about the Christians you know. Are there any that need to be undeceived? Do you feel comfortable approaching them if you feel that they are in error?
5. Jesus Identified the Sign of the Antichrist
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Jesus identified the sign that would herald the coming of the Antichrist to begin the seven years of tribulation.
Jesus quotes from the book of Daniel: “So when you see standing in the holy Place, the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand…” (Matthew 24:15-16).
Let’s be certain that we all understand. I’ll make it as simple.
From Daniel’s time, God’s prophetic time schedule for Israel was 490 years. The prophetic clock stopped seven years early at 483 years when Jesus entered triumphantly into the temple on Palm Sunday (the numbers work out to about 30 A.D.) There is now one seven-year period remaining. The book of Revelation is all about that seventh year (often called the Tribulation or the Great Tribulation) which concludes with the second coming of Christ.
When the Antichrist signs a peace treaty with Israel the seven-year prophetic clock will restart. After the first three and half years he breaks the Israeli peace treaty (Daniel 11:21) and slaughters a pig on the temple altar. He sets up a little image called the Abomination of Desolation.
“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:27)
We are looking forward to the rapture when the Saints are taken up into heaven. However, Jesus makes it clear that the most critical sign is the signing of that peace treaty with the Antichrist.
Now comes the question: just when does the rapture of the church occur when Jesus returns in the clouds to take his children home to Heaven?
6. Jesus Gave Two Clear Pictures of the Rapture and Coming Destruction
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In Luke 17:26-30, we learn:
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
There are countless pictures of the rapture, removing God’s people, before destruction. Noah, Lot, the children of Israel and Red Sea are just a few.
So, for reflection: explore the Old Testament stories and look for pictures as well as prophecies. What do you observe?
Jesus was quite concerned that his followers understand the activities that will ultimately occur in the temple.
The placing of the abomination of desolation is the signal that tells Israel to scatter and run because the greatest wave of anti-Semitism ever known is about to commence (Matthew 24:23).
7. Jesus Said His Second Coming Will Be Quick, Surprising, And Devastating
So be ready!
“That is how will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; while be taken and the other left. Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:39-40)
He could come at any moment.
Few people are anticipating the rapture. Most people never give it a thought. Take a moment and imagine what happens emotionally to those left behind when thousands of Christians rise up to meet the Lord. Are you ready? Consider how embarrassing to be caught in sin when he arrives?
“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
How fast is the twinkling of an eye? It will take the speed of light (183,000 seconds) to move from the front of the eyeball to the back. Blink your eyes! That was too slow.
Now, imagine that you’ve just heard the trumpet call “when the Angels gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:31). Julie and I are planning to hold hands as we ascend.
8. Jesus Spoke Often about How to Handle End Time Persecution
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“Before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, all on account of my name…then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death.” (Matthew 24:9-13)
A number of church leaders declare that more murder or persecution against Christians is happening in this generation than ever before on earth.
This reminds me of Polycarp. He was the beloved 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna. When the time came to pledge allegiance to the Roman Emperor he flatly refused. He was so loved by the people of Smyrna that they begged him to hide away until it was safe. But he refused: “Eighty-six years I have followed Jesus. I have no intention of deserting him now.”
He died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to consume his body.
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:10-13)
Think about whether or not you have decided to follow Christ no matter what the cost.
But do not worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdoms that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (Luke 21:13-15).
9. Jesus Spoke Often about Devastation Before His Second Coming
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“Then, he said to them, nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (Matthew 21:10-11).
Jesus also mentioned war and many other catastrophes. In fact, the cataclysmic events during the second coming will rival the creation of the universe (Matthew 24:21).
Think about how the weapons of war have increased since’ Jesus’ time. In his day, soldiers fought with swords and spears and arrows. Today, the thermonuclear killing zone stretches all the way around the world.
10. Jesus Invites All
Jesus is no respecter of only certain persons. He invites people of all races, cultures, and creeds to open their lives and let Him come in.
“So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
His last words before His ascension in Acts 1:8 compelled His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations.
Perhaps you have seen the picture of Jesus standing before the door a house inviting those inside to open the door and let him come in! If you look carefully, you’ll see there’s no outside doorknob. He will not crash in. He only comes in when we open the door ourselves.
Jesus has much to say to us. It’s all right for us to shout something back to him! Why wait? Take a moment and get down on your knees and join the millions who one day will shout in unison, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
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Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his 35-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.