Run for Your Lives! (Matthew Sermon 124 of 151)
May 16, 2010 | Andrew Davis
Warnings, Second Coming of Christ, Satan, Return of Christ
I can hardly imagine in life a more terrifying scenario than running for your life with some powerful and violent men chasing you, seeking to capture you, to bring you in, to interrogate you, to imprison you, to torture you, perhaps ultimately to kill you. That is a scene that has been played out again and again in history, but we saw it especially in the dark days of World War II. Nazi troops would win battles and conquer territory in Europe. On their heels would come the SS and the Gestapo, who would seek to weed out every Jew and every perceived threat to the Nazi state, including Christian leaders.
Refugees would flee in the middle of the night, breathlessly waiting perhaps under a bridge while their Nazi pursuers would travel over them so close they could hear their conversations maybe as they lingered on the bridge. Others fled by train using falsified travel permits. They had to endure the suspense of Gestapo agents moving from railcar to railcar asking to see the papers. Others fled through the mountain passes into Switzerland, avoiding Nazi roadblocks only by going through forbidding mountain passes at night and in the winter. Some hid among the baggage and crates on freight ships who were sailing to neutral countries like Sweden. Their hearts are beating wildly, beads of sweat forming on their brows as Nazi guards with German shepherds inspected the cargo holds and got closer and closer to where they were hiding.
Now, all of these refugees were fleeing because of terror. They were fleeing the might of the most powerful and most sinister force for evil the world had ever seen up to that point. But just take those pictures that are in your mind, perhaps from movies, perhaps from books, from history books, and multiply it in intensity and in number a hundredfold and then multiply it again, and picture what the days will be like when antichrist rules on the earth.
What will it be like when he is ruling by the power of the indwelling prince of darkness, Satan himself? When he is able to do signs and wonders to deceive even the elect, if that were possible, Jesus says? Seeking to draw from every human being on the face of the earth open worship as God, and seeking to exterminate anyone who will not do so.
Brothers and sisters, I don't know if that day will come in our lifetime, but the press of this text is to get ready for it, to get ready for that test, to get ready for that trial, to not love your life so much in this world that you shrink from death for our Savior Jesus Christ. And I think even if it doesn't come in our lifetime, you will live a different kind of life if you do that, you'll just live a different kind of life. And so by the scripture here, by this passage, we are commanded to get ready for what is coming. That's precisely why Jesus gave us Matthew 24 and 25, to get us ready for the second coming of Christ and the events that will follow.
Now, you know the context here. Jesus has predicted at the beginning of this chapter the total destruction of the temple, not one stone would be left on another. The disciples, all of them Jews, very troubled by this, did not expect it. Jesus frequently unsettled them by his teachings. I've often said before the “what would Jesus do?” thing only goes so far 'cause sometimes you're never sure what he was gonna do next. And so they would be shocked, even stunned, that the temple was going to be destroyed, and they came to him privately on the Mount of Olives and said, “Tell us, when will this happen, the destruction of the temple? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
And so Matthew 24 is Jesus's answer to that intricate question. We've already seen in Matthew 24:4-14, I believe, Jesus tracing out in general terms what life will be like between the first and second coming of Christ. Wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes in various places. The agonies of a sin-cursed world. And an unfolding of redemptive history. The gospel of the kingdom being preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come. So that just covers that whole long stretch that's been almost 2,000 years now.
And then we spent two weeks looking at 24:15. This phrase, “the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel,” trying to understand it. In a nutshell, I think there are two things going on here. One is a clear description of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70, AD 70, by the Romans and Jesus therefore simply answering their question, “When will it be that not one stone will be left on another, everyone thrown down?” He was describing the circumstances then of the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century. More on that in this sermon.
But I also believe that as it was, so it will be, all of those things just dress rehearsals for the final desolation of the temple by the antichrist and events that are going to bring in the second coming of Christ. Last week, we saw how four times God gave his holy place over to Gentiles to trample on. In the time of Eli under the Philistines, when the Ark of the Covenant was captured. In the time of Jeremiah and other prophets when the Babylonians destroyed the temple of Solomon. In the time of Antiochus IV, called Epiphanes, the manifest one, that Greek king that lived in the second century BC, as he desecrated the temple of Haggai. And then in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 AD. All of these things have happened.
But I think that there's a final act of that drama yet to come. And so “When you see,” Jesus says, “standing in the Holy Place the abomination that causes desolation” - the antichrist setting himself up as God in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God, demanding worship, and abominating the place with this idolatry. When you see that - “spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand.”
Then what should you do? Well, the answer is, run for your lives, and that's the title of this morning's sermon, “Run For Your Lives.” And so we're going to look at this passage and try to understand the flight, we're going to try to understand the circumstances surrounding it, the theology of it, and we're gonna try to see how it applies to our lives today, and I think we'll find a very powerful application to us as well.
The Desolation Leading to the Flight
The Spiritual Desolation of Israel: Rejection of Christ
First, let's talk about the desolation leading to the flight, this is just by way of review. The desolation of Israel consisted primarily and first and foremost in their spiritual desolation. They were empty in their relationship with God. They were spiritually a desert, had been for centuries. Time and again they struggled. Not to say there wasn't in every generation a remnant of true Jews who really loved God and followed him. But again and again, they were declared to be a stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears who would not listen to the prophets of God.
And the culmination of that spirit of hardness came in their rejection of Christ, and so Jesus rejects them in Matthew 23. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” Seven times he says it. And then reaches out to Jerusalem and says, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For you will not see me again until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in name of the Lord.’” And then Jesus leaves.
There's the desolation. It's a spiritual desolation. It then leads to a physical desolation of destruction by Gentile forces. Gentile forces come in and they destroy. I believe there's a demonic side to it. Jesus in Matthew 12 says, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest but does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ So it goes and finds a house unoccupied.” What would be another word for unoccupied? Perhaps desolate. “Swept clean and put in order” - Yes, a little more orderly through the ministry of Jesus, but desolate. “And it goes and takes seven other spirits and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it'll be,” said Jesus, “with this generation.” He's not just talking about a single individual, he's talking about Israel. In effect, Jesus just banished the demons from Israel for a short, short period of time by his sovereign power, put them to flight.
But they're coming back, Jesus said they're coming back. And they're gonna come back not just spiritually, but they're gonna come back in the form of a Gentile army that cares nothing for God, a pagan army incited by demonic power, the Romans.
“As it was, so it will be…”
And so they're coming back. And so as it was, so it will be. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” In Luke 17:28 it says, “As it was in the days of Lot, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” History will repeat itself, dress rehearsals.
A.D. 70 a Dress Rehearsal for Final Desolation
And so the antichrist is going to come. 70 AD, a dress rehearsal for the final desolation. “When you see,” in Luke 21:20-22, “Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, and you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out and let those in the country not enter the city, for this is the time of punishment and fulfillment of all that has been written.” This is clearly in Luke 21 speaking specifically of the destruction of Jerusalem, no doubt about it. When you see armies surrounding the city of Jerusalem, then get out.
Now, Josephus gives us all kinds of historical details about the war between the Jews and the Romans, and I've got the details here but we don't have time. Bottom line is, the Romans were tired of the rebellion by the zealots, led by the zealots. The zealots had managed to gain control of the sacrificial system and to stop the priests, Jewish priests from offering sacrifices for the Roman emperor. This was an act of sedition and rebellion by the Jews against the Romans. They didn't like it, and so they invaded in 66 AD, but for some reason they turned back and left the city and left behind a lot of equipment. And the Jews took that stuff over and thought, “These are the days of Hezekiah all over again.” Same thing happened again in 67. They're getting a false sense of security. “We can defeat the Romans,” they thought. No, they can't. Especially since God was giving them over to the Romans.
And so in 70 AD, the Romans came. Titus, the son of Vespasian, the emperor, came and arrived at Jerusalem with his legions in the northern outskirts and he starts to destroy the city. They breached the outer wall little by little, then they built an embankment as Jesus said they literally would do in Luke 19, an embankment around the wall. They get over it. The Romans knew how to conquer a walled fortress. They know how to do it very well, better than anyone there had ever been.
Little by little then, they get closer and closer to the inner area where the temple is, and contrary to the command of Titus, some guy throws, some Roman soldier throws a firebrand into the window of the temple and it ignites. Some others follow and then the whole thing burns to the ground. It was accidental as far as the Romans were concerned, but it was intentional as far as God was concerned.
It is theologically significant that the temple was destroyed, just like it was theologically significant that the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. God intended the temple to be destroyed. And by the way, there is no command from God for it to be rebuilt. That's very important. When it's rebuilt, it will not be in obedience to God, keep that in mind. It will just be in prophecy by God, but not in obedience. He's not commanding the dishonor done to his son and to his finished work on the cross, going backwards to animal sacrifice, you'll read about it in the book of Hebrews. We don't go backwards, dear friends. That's finished, never to be re-enacted again or re-established again to please the Lord.
And so when you see these things, these horrors, Jesus is giving practical advice to his own church that would be living in Jerusalem in the days when the Romans were coming. Get out of the city. When you see these things starting to assemble around Jerusalem, get out of the city. It's counterintuitive, because the walled cities were built because that was the safe place. Before gunpowder, it was the safest place to be. Romans are all over the land. But Jesus says, “No, get out of the city. Run for your lives.” That's what he's telling them to do.
And we have no record of whether the Church heeded these instructions, but it's the implication Jesus gave them for his people who could read this or understand it and take it to heart and run. And so these would be Jewish Christians who lived in Jerusalem, who believed in Jesus, who understood the Olivet discourse and they got out of town, saved their lives. And that's already happened, been fulfilled, it's already been done.
The End of the World: The Final Desolation
But I believe that as it was in those days, so it's going to be again. And there's going to be a need to get out of the city again. The end of the world, the rebuilding of the temple, as I discussed last time. Evidence of the desolation of the Jews, they wanna go back to the law of Moses, back to animal sacrifice. They do not believe that Jesus is the final sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. They don't believe that and so they wanna build the temple, and I believe that the antichrist will make an arrangement with them so that it will be rebuilt.
It says in Daniel 9:27, “He,” the leader, I believe the Antichrist, “will confirm a covenant with many for one seven.” The interpretation of that is seven years. “And in the middle of that, he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” So that's the desolation that causes the flight.
The Danger that Causes the Flight
Basic Concept: We Must Run Because We Can’t Handle the Temptation
What is the danger? Well, we have to run. The Church will have to run for a simple reason, we cannot handle the temptation of a face-to-face encounter with the antichrist. That's the simple truth. Run because you can't handle it. You're not strong enough. You've got to run for your lives.
And this is the consistent biblical instruction when it comes to temptation. 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality.” Flee. 1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” More on that verse later. 1 Timothy 6:11, “But you, man of God, flee from the love of money.” 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee the evil desires of youth.” And then in the Lord's Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” And notice, the Greek really is, “Deliver us from Satan,” not merely from evil generally, but deliver us from Satan's evil plans and schemes, deliver us from temptation. And so again and again, we are counseled by scripture, “Get out of there. You can't handle it.”
And that's going to come to a peak in the days of the antichrist. Do not think so highly of yourself that you can handle an interview with the antichrist. You are such a strong believer in Jesus, you have memorized so much scripture, you've lived such a godly life, you'd like to sit down at table with the antichrist and go head-to-head in a debate with him. You can't handle him. Get out of there. Run. That's the advice, I think, being given here.
Key Parallel: The Night Jesus was Arrested
And there's a parallel the night that Jesus was arrested, a very significant parallel. You don't have to turn there, but it's in John 18, and do you remember the occasion there? Jesus is being arrested, Judas is coming, leading a detachment of soldiers, maybe as many 600 Roman soldiers. They're coming to arrest Jesus. They've got torches, lanterns and weapons, they're there to get Jesus. They think they're gonna have to search for him. They've got Judas there ready to give the kiss and all that, and they're there and they're coming near to Gethsemane and boom, there's Jesus right there.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and met them. That's our Savior. Isn't that awesome? The power of Christ, going out there to meet those that are coming to arrest him. What courage. Goes out there and he says, “Who are you looking for?” Who are you looking for? “Jesus of Nazareth.” They've got their orders. And Jesus says in the Greek, “Ego eimi. I am.” And they all fall down on the ground in front of him. And it says Judas the traitor was standing there with them. He was filled with Satan at that moment. When he had taken that bread from Jesus, Satan entered into him. He's on the ground before Jesus. Praise God for the power of Christ.
But then it goes on. Jesus asks them a second time, “Who is it you're looking for?” They pick themselves up off the ground. Oh, the density of human beings. They just fell in front of the sovereignty of Christ, but they don't really know what happened. And so they get up off the ground and Jesus asks them again, “Who are you looking for?” “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said, “I have told you that I am. If you're looking for me, then let these men go.”
Now, what is Jesus doing there? He is orchestrating a way of escape for his disciples. Why is he doing it? Because they can't handle being arrested that night. And because in God's sovereign plan, it's not time for them to be arrested that night. What is their job then? The 11 apostles left, what is their job? Run for your lives, dear friends, run for your lives. And so they did. Every one of them deserted Jesus and fled. Now, John tells us why Jesus did it. He gives us this editorial theological comment on why he did this. “These things happened that the words Jesus had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost any of all of those you have given me.’” Oh, is that powerful? Brings goosebumps to me.
In effect, what Jesus is saying is, there is a physical threat, arrest, torture, inquisition and death, a physical threat that can come to you that can cause you to lose your faith. And then I will lose you spiritually. Jesus had prayed there in the high priestly prayer, one chapter before, “Father, I have not lost any of those you have given me.” You know how he doesn't lose you? By orchestrating the circumstances of your life so that you're not tempted beyond what you can bear. That's how he doesn't lose you. And by, we'll get into this more, but making a way of escape so that you can run.
And so they all ran. All of them, but one of them made a U-turn. Do you remember who it was that after running said, “Wait a minute, wait. What am I doing?” It was Peter, remember? He said, “No, I already made some promises. I said I could handle it. Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will. I am ready not only to be arrested, but I'm ready to die for you.”
Really? Jesus said, “I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Jesus told him the truth, but Peter wouldn't believe it. Peter didn't believe it. And what did he do? He does a U-turn and he follows Jesus at a distance, right? You remember what happened? You know what happened. Within a short time, I don't know how long, but a couple of hours at most, he had gone from that kind of bravado and courage to then a little servant girl at the door saying, “You're not one of his disciples, are you?” “Oh, no, no, no, I'm not.” Then he goes, then he's warming his hands with Jesus's enemies. And they're like, “Wait a minute. You look familiar. Weren't you with him in the garden?” “No, no, I don't know him.” And then by the end of the evening, in Matthew 27, it says, Peter was calling down curses on himself, if he even knew Jesus at all. “May I be eternally condemned if I even heard of this person.” And you think you'd be able to handle an interview with the antichrist?
“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and after you have turned back, then strengthen your brothers.” It was the worst night of Peter's life, and all because of arrogance, because he didn't run when it was time to run, he thought he could handle the temptation and he couldn't, he wasn't ready for it.
Antichrist: Indwelt and Empowered by Satan
And how much more, then, in the final days when the beast of Revelation 13 is on the earth, the dragon, Satan, indwelling the beast by his power, giving him power and a throne in great authority, Revelation 13:2, to “perform great signs and miracles, to deceive even the elect - if that were possible,” Jesus says. 2 Thessalonians 2:11, “God sends them a powerful delusion, so that they will believe a lie.”
And he will, in Revelation 13, rule the earth and conquer the saints. It says, “the beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for 42 months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven,” listen to this, “He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.” There's not gonna be any miraculous deliverance, you'll die, you'll die.
Antichrist’s Specific Enemies: Jews and Christians
So run, run. Not just for your lives, run for your souls, because you can't handle him and his specific enemies, Jews and Christians, he's gonna be going after them in particular, because he wants worship.
Deception Leads to Eternal Destruction… so We Must Run!
And I don't have time to get into the mark of the beast, but it's very plain. It says, “If anyone receives the mark of the beast on his forehead or on his hand,” Revelation 14, “he too will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever, there is no rest, day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”
Listen to the next verse, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Just remain faithful to Jesus in those days. And take as little temptation as you can get. Isn't that just good advice, good, sound advice? Take as little temptation as you can get. Run. Get out.
The Desperation that Characterizes the Flight
Immense Urgency… Breathless Pace
So they're running, and it's going to be a desperate flight. Look at verses 17-21, “Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in the winter on the Sabbath. For then there will be a great distress or tribulation unequaled from the beginning of the world until now, never to be equaled again.” There's an immense urgency in these verses, you see a breathless pace.
No Earthly Possession Worth Your Souls
No earthly possession is worth your soul. So you're up on the roof of a house there in the Near East, you know they've got these flat roofs, you go up there in the cool of the day, maybe for prayer or just to rest. I've been in houses like that in Pakistan, flat roofs and you're just up there. But there comes a moment here, in redemptive history, when the danger is encroaching. You see the moment, you don't have time to go back downstairs to get anything out of the house. Run. Do you see the urgency there? You're out in the field, you don't have time to go back and get your cloak. It's all about speed now, it's all about staying ahead of your captors now, you don't even have time to go back and get a cloak.
Dreadful for those Who Can’t Run Fast
And it's gonna be very, very tough for people who can't run fast, pregnant women, nursing mothers, what a little vignette that is, Jesus having compassion on them, but it's just hard for them because they can't keep the pace.
Pray for an Easement of the Circumstances
Run for your lives and pray that there might be an easement of the circumstances, that your flight won't take place in the winter, on the Sabbath, anything that would slow you down and make it harder for you. The word Sabbath I think implies it'll be a general kind of re-establishment of the laws of Moses in the land. At that point it makes sense with the rebuilding of the temple. And so it'd just be harder, harder to get going, harder to move.
Unequalled Distress… and Thankfully Unrepeated
Unequal distress. Tribulation, the great tribulation. This is the, verse 21, is the great tribulation verse. The King James Version, ESV, NRSV, NASB, all of them use the same expression, “the Great Tribulation.
The Destination of the Flight
The Mountains… Perhaps the Caves and Crags and Hiding Places
Well, what is the destination of that? Well look at verse 16, “Let those in Judea flee to the mountains.” The mountains, just a place for hiding, a place where there are caves, a place to go hide. Some people picking up out of Revelation 12 talk about a place out in the desert and they look at Petra as well.
The Purpose: To Wait Upon the Lord and Count the Days
But this verse, we'll just stick with Matthew, it's go to the mountains, go to the mountains and go up into the caves and look for a place of refuge, a place to hide out and count the days.
I've always envisioned, since memorizing the book of Daniel and going through it, a group of haggard people in a cave somewhere, just counting with those hash marks, 5, 10, 15, 20. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive. They're counting the days until it's all over.
The Duration of the Flight
The Shortening of those Days
And so what is the duration of the flight? Well, look at verse 22. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. And so there they are in the caves and the mountains, counting the days.
Fuller Understanding of Daniel 12
And here comes, I believe, a fuller understanding of the book of Daniel, Daniel 12. I've mentioned this, let the reader understand, they will more than just understand in those days, they'll be in the caves, and some learned, some wise person will be there with them and say, “Let's look again at Daniel 12.”
In verse 11 and 12, “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up there'll be 1,290 days.” Daniel 12:12, “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” Now listen, if you have a study Bible with a little footnote, you can go down and find out what that means, and the commentator will tell you exactly what that means. He doesn't know, dear friends, and neither do I for sure. You know why? Because it's not the last days like that. The antichrist isn't ruling in the temple demanding worship yet.
So what do I think is gonna happen? Well, we all get to have our theories, this is my theory. I believe that the book of Daniel is very clear on the second coming of Christ, read about it in Daniel 7, “He's coming with the clouds of heaven to be worshiped by people all over the earth.” Daniel 7 is the second coming of Christ. So it's not like Daniel didn't know about the second coming.
And not only that, but Daniel 12, the very same chapter, talks about the general resurrection. Daniel 12:2-3, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” That's the general resurrection and the eternal state.
So what then are the 1,290 days and the 1,335 days? I don't know, period. Next paragraph. I have a theory, alright. My theory is that they will be able to track the events better than we can, and they will know how many days it's been from one to the other, and they will be able to say, “We have 45 more days to go until such and such, we have 41 more days to go. We have 37 more days to go. We have 32 more days to go.” Now, why will there be a need for that kind of counting of days? Oh, what a time. Unequaled from the beginning of the world until then, if those kind of days hadn't been cut short, no one would make it. We need as few of those days as possible.
Who are the Elect Christ had in mind?
And so they're counting the days, and so those days would be cut short, and Jesus says specifically for the sake of the elect. Now, who are the elect? Well, this is fascinating. The elect are those that God foreknew before the foundation of the world would be saved.
But I think there's a specific category of elect here that are fascinating to me, it has to do with Jewish elect, the Jewish elect. Up to this point, the Jews as a nation had been hoping in the Old Covenant and the re-establishment of the temple. That has been dashed, that hope has been destroyed. You understand the spiritual significance of all that from Romans 9-11.
The idea is Israel has experienced a hardening from God on their hearts, so that they cannot turn and believe in Jesus, it's clearly taught there, there's this hardening and they're responsible for it too. There's this hardening, but at the right time, when the whole, the full number of the Gentiles has been saved, he will remove the hardening from Israel, and he will transform their hearts. He will take out at last the heart of stone from the Jewish nation, and he will give them a heart of flesh, and they will at last see Jesus for who he really is.
Romans 11:25-28, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced the hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.’ And ‘This is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”
Oh, how sweet that is. “As far as the gospel is concerned,” says Paul, Romans 11:28, “they are enemies on your account. But as far as election is concerned, they're loved on account of the patriarchs.” Now, I believe in a national election for Israel generally and an individual election for Jews so that they don't go to hell, but rather to heaven. And so the national election doesn't save any Jew, and so Jews have to repent and believe in Jesus now, or if they don't, when they die, they go to hell. That's why Paul has unceasing sorrow and anguish in his heart for Jews that are going to hell.
But the national election and the individual election really come together right before Jesus returns, I believe, and he takes that hardness away and it's going to be, as he says in Romans 11, life from the dead, the end of the world. The final act of human history, how exciting is that? So for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. Zechariah 12:10, listen to this, what a great verse, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. And they will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they will grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” That's the salvation of the Jews, when God pours out grace on them, and they finally look to Jesus for salvation.
The Destiny Beyond the Flight
The Lord Returns in Glory
Well, what is their destiny beyond the flight? They're counting down the days. And Jesus said, those days are gonna be what? Cut short. Well, what do you think is gonna cut them short? How about the greatest divine interference there has ever been in human history? I mean, it makes the Red Sea crossing look like nothing. It is the end of all things. The end of this age, the second coming of Christ.
Look at it in verses 27-31, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass there, the vultures will gather. Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.”
Here it is, “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”
The Second Coming of Christ Will Occur… More Next Week
That's how the days get cut short, Jesus comes back. “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other.” That's the rapture. We'll talk about that in due time. Exciting moments coming. Now, I've already tipped my hand so you can come and argue with me for the next two weeks if you want, but at any rate, that's where we're heading. That's where we're heading. The Lord returns in glory. The second coming of Christ will occur. And we'll talk more about that next week.
Come to Christ!
What application can we come from this? Can I just begin by telling you there is a far greater danger than having antichrist's forces chasing you, and that is that on Judgment Day, the Lord will say to you, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” There will be no rescue from that. There is only one rescue from that, and that's now by faith. Look to Jesus. We may not be the last generation, we may be, but we may not be. I know this, though. If we are not the final generation, you will die someday. You will die. And you will stand before God and give him an account for your life. There is a savior for you, there is a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed his blood on the cross for you. Look to Christ now to escape the greatest danger there could ever be. What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? So flee to Christ crucified.
Secondly, though, I just want to urge you to flee temptations. Take a minute, please, if you would, and look to 1:10. 1 Corinthians 10:13-14. I have two or three other applications but I'm going to pitch them right now, I just want to focus on this one. We'll close with this. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:13-14.
“No temptation has seized you, except what is common to man, and God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way of escape so that you can stand up under it.” Please keep reading. Look at verse 14. “Therefore, dear friends, flee from idolatry.” You gotta put those two together.
Idolatry is the love of any created thing more than the Creator, more than God, it is the struggle we all have in our daily Christian lives, it's the thing that kills non-Christians, it's the issue of worshipping anything more than you worship God. And so basically, when idolatry is coming to pull on you, look for the way of escape that Jesus has made for you.
Well, what kind of idolatries? Well, there's only a handful of those that always afflict us. Lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life. You know, materialism? Love of food too much, love of money. Love of pleasure. Love of sex. These things are idols. They are lusts. And we need help, friends.
Here's the beauty of it. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is helping you today. He has already filtered your temptations and he will go on doing so, and he won't let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He's going to open up a door. Can I urge you to run for your lives? Run for your lives. Look, temptation is sure to find you. Jesus said temptations are sure to come. And in that day, Ephesians 6 tells you to put on the full armor of God and stand your ground.
But there's a dynamic between running and standing, and you kinda have to do both in the Christian life. So flee temptation, ask the Lord to minimize your temptations in the Lord's Prayer, and when you are tempted, look for the way of escape, say, “God, I don't wanna sin. I hate sin, it's damaging my life, I've got to get out. Please deliver me, Lord.” And he will make that way of escape obvious to you and you'll take it.
Brothers and sisters, can I urge you, get ready for the days to come. Get your children ready. Tell them about the antichrist. No, it's not the most important doctrinal point in the Bible. I hope you've already saturated their minds with what is, the gospel of Jesus Christ, but you need to teach them, they may well be the final generation. Get them ready to be courageous and saturate your minds with the word of God, so that when the day comes, you may be able to stand your ground. Close with me in prayer.