Scene of Activity
As Jesus and the disciples leave the Temple, the disciples begin to brag....
In response to their gloating, Jesus prophesied the coming destruction of Herod’s Temple.
“Jesus answered and said, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Note: Jesus was speaking both prophetically and literally.
In reaction to Jesus’ prophecy, the disciples ask 2 pressing questions:
1. Mark 13:3, “When will these things be and what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
2. Matthew 24:3, “What will be the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?”
Jesus responds with a sermon known as the “Olivet Discourse.”
Also recorded in Matthew 24-25 and Luke 21.
There are 2 basic ways of interpreting the Olivet Discourse:
1. Preterists believe the events of the Olivet Discourse occurred in 70 AD.
Their Logic: If the Olivet Discourse is a prophetical response to the disciples question about the future destruction of the Temple, then isn’t it only logical to conclude the prophecy was fulfilled when the Temple was destroyed?
2 Fundamental Problems with this Assertion:
- It is impossible to definitively connect the prophetic events Jesus describes in this sermon with the historical events that occurred in 70 AD.
2. It is inappropriate to simply assume that Jesus’ sermon intended to address both of the disciple’s questions.
Though their question desired to know more about the destruction of the temple, Jesus instead focuses on their greater concern: The “sign” of His “coming” in relation to the “end of the age.”
2. Pre-Tribulational / Premillennialists believe the Olivet Discourse would be fulfilled in 5 future events: Rapture of the Church, Abomination of Desolation, Great Tribulation, 2nd Coming of Jesus, and the Millennial Reign.
Biggest Challenge to this position: If the Olivet Discourse finds its ultimate fulfillment in the end times scenario, then shouldn’t we conclude Jesus taught that the church would go through all or at least half of the Great Tribulation?
3 Fundamental Problems with this Assertion:
- The context for the disciple’s question represented a concern for the future of Israel and their Temple, not the church (a concept still foreign).
- You can’t ignore all the other Biblical passages that clearly indicate the Rapture of the Church will occur before the Tribulational Period.
The Olivet Discourse tracks succinctly with the chronological outline laid out in the Book of Revelation beginning with chapter 6.
In Revelation 1:19, Jesus gives John an outline for what he wanted him to write: “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
A. “Write the things you have seen.”
Revelation 1: Describes the Person of Jesus.
B. “Write the things which are.”
Revelation 2-3: Records seven letters Jesus wrote to the church.
C. “Write the things that will take place after this.”
Revelation 4-22: Records future events coming after the Church.
Revelation 4-5: Describes the church in heaven.
Revelation 6-22: Describes future tribulational events on earth.
At this point the church is no longer mentioned in the world and the attention is solely placed on God’s dealings with Israel.
[Mark 13:5-8] “And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.”
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.”
Jesus warns of a great deceiver: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.”
For starters, Jesus warns of deceit by those who “will come in My name.”
Biblically, we refer to these people as “Antichrists” or “replacement christs.”
1 John 2:22, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.”
1 John 4:1-3: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."
2 John 7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ.... This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
With this in mind we can see that Jesus is speaking of 2 Forms of Deceit:
1. Jesus is speaking of a general deceit.
We should be careful not to be deceived by anyone or anything that seeks to replace the given place Jesus should have in our hearts.
2. Jesus is speaking of a specific deceiver.
1 John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”
John (who was there for the Olivet Discourse) affirms “many antichrists” would come, but he also warns of a specific person - “the Antichrist is coming.... by which we know that it is the last hour.”
2 Thessalonians 2:3 the Apostle Paul warns, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition....”
Note: This specific deceiver has many titles is Scripture.
Though there has always been the “spirit of antichrist” at work in our world, in “the last hour” there will rise an ultimate manifestation of this deceit when a single man claims to be the Christ.
Though speaking generally, I also believe Jesus is affirming that in the end of times there will rise a “counterfeit Christ” who will not only dominate the world scene, but whom the Jewish people will embrace as their Messiah.
Orthodox Jews hold to 13 Principles of Faith: #12 states, “I believe with full faith in the coming of the Messiah. And even though he tarries, with all that, I await his arrival with every day.”
1st Seal Judgment: Revelation 6:2, “Behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out.... to conquer.”
Many scholars believe that following a great future conflict between Israel and Russia described in Ezekiel 38-39, the Antichrist will bring peace to the world.
Q: How will the world be deceived?
A: Joel Rosenberg, “There are people in our world today and unfortunately in our political system, they do not believe in evil. They have the modern, western, secular mind set. They don't believe evil exists. They are exactly the ones who are in danger of getting blindsided by evil. Because they're not prepared for it.”
2. Jesus says that following this great deceiver will be a great war. “But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
2nd Seal Judgment: Revelation 6:4, “Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”
War is nothing new to the landscape of human history....
Will Durant, a well-respected historian, “War is the one constants of history, and has not diminished with civilization and democracy. In the last 3,421 years of recorded history, only 268 of those years have seen no war.”
And yet, this future conflict will be unlike anything that has ever come before.
With the invention of thermonuclear weapons, it’s been said that we are only one bomb away from complete and utter world-wide destruction.
Did you know that one American trident submarine cares enough fire power that it eclipses the entirety of the fire power used in all of WW2?
World’s Top 4 Military Spenders in 2013:
USA 682 B 4.4% of GDP 39% of the world total.
China 166 B 2.0 % of GDP 9.5% of the world total.
Up 11.2% from 2012 - projected rise 10.7% for 2014.
Russia 90.7 B 4.4% of GDP 5.2 % of the world total.
UK 60.8 B 2.5% of GDP 3.5% of the world total.
15 countries with the highest spending account for over 81% of the total.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on 2013 military expenditure:
World military expenditures are estimated at 1.765 T or 2.5% of world GDP.
$249 a year per person is spent on military development as compared to the approximately $4 per person for UN peacekeeping efforts.
James Madison in 1795, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes.… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.…”
Jesus continues by saying that following this war would come “earthquakes in various places, famines, troubles” and according to Luke 21 “pestilences.”
3rd Seal Judgment: Revelation 6:5-6, “Behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius.”
Following this global conflict, three things will follow:
Inflation: Imagine the effects of a global inflation that nullifies our current money.
1923 Germany Monthly Inflation rates of 29,500%
Cause: Over-printing money to pay for WW1.
Prices doubled every 3.7 days.
1944 Greece Monthly Inflation rates of 13,800%
Cause: European Economic crisis of WW2.
Prices doubled every 4.3 days.
1994 Yugoslavia Monthly Inflation rate of 313M%
Cause: Regional conflict.
Prices doubled every 34 hours.
2008 Zimbabwe Monthly Inflation rate of 79B%
Cause: Government mismanagement.
Prices doubled every 24.7 hours.
1946 Hungary Monthly Inflation rate of 13.6 Quintillion
Cause: WW1 & WW2, Great Depression
Prices doubled every 15.6 hours.
Famine: In 2012, Dr. Ira Helfand presented a keynote at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Laureates in Chicago on the findings of a report he authored called, “Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk – Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition.”
Report outlines the devastation and decade-long worldwide famine that would follow even a small-scale nuclear incident.
Report estimates the loss of life at more than 1 billion people globally.
Pestilence: In 1343 the Bubonic Plague swept across most of Europe. Over the next 8 years, 2/3 of the population of Europe was afflicted with the plague with 1/2 of those infected dying. The total death tole was 25 million people.
In the 1918 influenza pandemic (first H1N1 virus) over 500 million were infected with somewhere between 50-100 million people dying worldwide (3-5% world).
Harvard scientists have recently projected the next H1N1 flu influenza pandemic could kill an estimated 250 million people.
Scientist warn, “With the rise in densification, disease can spread in a localized environment and evolve to cause greater problems. With travel from the localized area, the pathogen can then move worldwide. This fact is particularly important when one thinks that almost 100 years ago, when we had the 1918 pandemic, it could take months to circumnavigate the globe. Today, it can be accomplished in a day. Moreover, with more individuals traveling than ever before (some 1.4 billion air travelers per year), the opportunity for a pandemic strain to spread is greater than it has ever been.”
Jesus is saying this tribulation will be greater than anything the world has seen.
4th Seal Judgment in Revelation 6:8 explains the cumulative effects of all these things, “Behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”
Think about the ramifications of 1/4 of the world’s population dying.
With today’s population of 7B the death tole would be 1.7B people.
North, Central, South America, Caribbean 942 Million
Northern, Western, Eastern, Southern Europe 740 Million
Grand total 1.68 Billion
What’s even more incredible is that Jesus’ description and the Seal Judgments of Revelation was just the beginning of this Great Tribulation.
The disciples originally asked for a “sign” and Jesus continues by saying that everything He just mentioned “are the beginnings of sorrows.”
This phrase “beginnings of sorrows” was used to describe labor pains.
Jesus’ Point: The progression towards the end of the age will follow the slow progression of labor pains. Things begin slow - speed up - and become more concentrated and intense the closer you get to delivery.
Same idea in Revelation 1:1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.”
[Mark 13:9-13] “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
It’s ease to see these words proving encouraging to generations of Christians who’ve experienced persecution (no doubt it was applicable to that present generation)....
50M Christians have been martyred for Jesus since the birth of the church.
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, “An average of 159,960 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith each year.”
In context, I believe Jesus is speaking to a still future group of believers.
The 5th Seal Judgment in Revelation 6 is referred to at the “Cry of the Martyrs.”
Note: Though the church has been removed from the earth and God’s main focus is on the children of Israel, God’s work of redemption is still active during judgment.
Revelation 7: God ordains and seals 144,000 Jewish males to be evangelists sent to minister specifically to the Nation of Israel.
Revelation 11: God sends 2 witnesses who will evangelize from Jerusalem to the world during the first 3.5 years of the tribulation.
During the Tribulation, people all over the world will be coming to a saving faith.
Understand: Scripture tells us and Jesus seems to affirm that this revival will be met with a persecution unlike the world has ever seen.
Under the authority of the Antichrist everyone will be forced to make a decision to either worship him as God and show allegiance by taking the “Mark of the Beast” or refuse and face immediate execution.
The religious climate will no longer allow ambivalence.
In our first study we mentioned how a study of the end times was important for the believer.... Knowing how things end should clarify what things should be important now.
Our exhortation this week is a bit different....
In today’s climate it is completely permissible and even celebrated to choose religious neutrality, but you should note that it will not always be this way.
All religious systems (beliefs concerning a superhuman controlling power) have as a basis the idea of exclusivity. And though our secular world claims to have evolved beyond absolutes, exclusivity (conforming to our way or being left with no way) is always inevitable with any worldview.
Today, people must make the decision - will I forsake the world and live my life for Jesus? But in the end, people will have to make the decision - will I forsake the world and lay down my life for Jesus?