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Great Week 6: T-To the End of the Age | Matthew 24:14

Mary Ellen Ermis February 25, 2024 sermons, cityrise, Great, houston, Matthew, Roger Patterson, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, February 25, 2024 at our West U Baptist campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

If you have your bibles, let’s open to Matthew 24 today.

One of the things that Andy just said that struck me was the last few words of his interview.

“… and we need to be faithful to pray and to share to make sure that is a reality, and not just a dream.”

  • Andy said, “We need to be faithful…”

Are you faithful with the gospel in an ever-changing world?

As we wrap up this series today, my prayer is that you will build the sharing of your faith into your life.

T — We come to the letter T in Great…And T speaks to TIME as we see it in the great commission.

Notice this with me in Matthew 28:18-20.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Notice that last phrase, “…to the end of the age.”

It reminds me of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:13-14, where he speaks of the “end” coming.

Matthew 24:13-14

13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

In both verses 13 and 14 here, we see the word, “end.” Jesus ties the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations or people groups to the end of the age.

God has obligated himself to give a testimony of his saving grace through Jesus to all the people’s groups of the world before this age closes, and the restoration of all things begins.

Transition: So, what is it about “Time” and more specifically, the “end of the age,” that we are to understand, and secondly, why does it matter to our lives? ( this is a note to myself about the call to faithfulness…to endure…)

Matthew 24:13-14 is set within what is called the Olivet Discourse. It is the final weeks of Jesus’ life and he is responding to questions that his disciples ask him about the end of the age, and when he would establish his kingdom. I want to read it to you, and then we will allow it to help answer some of our questions about the end of age, so that we can know how we must live.

Matthew 24:1-14

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Wow, that is intense. As the disciples are admiring the beautiful, majestic temple, Jesus proclaims that the temple will be torn down completely.

As they make their way to the Mount of Olives, we see that the disciples ask Jesus three questions.

3 Questions…

·      When will this (destruction of the temple) happen?

·      What will be the sign of Your coming?

·      What will be the sign of the end of the age?

Throughout history, mankind has predicted the end of history.

From Nostradamus to Hal Lindsay to the Mayan Calendar that said December 21, 2012 was the end of history, man has predicted and proclaimed the end.

Here is a billboard from 2011.

Now, what’s really important for us is that we believe that Jesus’ teaching on this, along with the rest of the New Testament, are enough to inform our way. We don’t need specific dates.

You see, the disciples asked Jesus 3 questions – similar questions that are being asked today – and he got specific in some ways and was very ambiguous in other ways.

Many people are looking at all that is taking place in the world today and they are asking similar questions…is this the end? What’s happening across the world?

  • As a matter of fact, in 2022, a Pew Foundation Research Poll found that 39% of Americans believe that we are living in the “last days.” This was taken among the general population.

People are curious about the Time in which we live.

So, how did Jesus Answer these questions and what are we to conclude about our times? 

As we sometimes do when multiple questions are asked, Jesus didn’t necessarily answer the questions in the order in which they were asked.

In verses 4-14, we see the answers to the question, “What will be the sign of the end of the age?”

Question 1:  What will be the sign of the End of the Age?  Vs. 4-14

Here are a few bullet points…

The Environment of the End of the Age

  • Many claim – “I am the Christ”
  • Wars and rumors of wars
  • Nation vs. Nation/ Kingdom vs. Kingdom
  • Famines
  • Earthquakes

The beginning of birth pains . . .

  • Deception (vs. 5) “Come in my name…I am the Christ.” – So, it is a time of deception and the emergence of False Messiahs.
  • Wars/Rumors of Wars (vs. 6) – Violence is a part of every day life.

WW1- 39 million killed; WW2- 51 million, etc.

Currently, the war in Ukraine has just past the two year mark. This week, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that Ukraine could use its Nato Supplied weapons to strike targets inside of Russia.

A Newsweek report said…

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned against Ukraine using its Western-supplied equipment to launch attacks on Russian territory, saying that doing so could risk escalating the conflict. The warnings had originally made allies like the United States hold off on supplying Kyiv with long-range weapons capable of reaching Russia, but NATO allies have since given Ukraine such arms.

The conflict in Gaza still rages on.

We have lived and will continue to live in a time of wars and rumors of wars.

Another descriptor of this environment is Famine.

  • Famine (vs. 7) 20th Century worst for famine on record. Death of over 70 million victims.
  • Earthquakes (vs. 7) National Earthquake Information Center. The ten worst earthquakes of 20th century left 1.1 million dead.

(vs. 8) Only the beginning. THEN

  • Severe Persecution (vs. 9)

Ref.—Mark 13:9—turned over to religious leaders (synagogue) and civil leaders (rulers and kings)

Mark 13:9

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 

45 million Christians died for their faith in the 20th century alone.

  • False Prophets (vs. 11)  Not pretending to be the Messiah, but leading others away from Him (IE. Mohammad, Buddha, etc.) The rise of false religions.
  • Love Growing Cold (vs. 12) Hunger and thirst for God is waning. Rebellion against God in increasing

Now, what’s amazing to me is that in this environment of the “end of the age” the gospel is going out.

Matthew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

  • Gospel being preached (vs. 14) With the rise of technology this is happening at a much faster rate than generations past.

So, in an environment of…

  • Persecution, martyrdom, hatred of Christians
  • Many turning away from their faith in Christ.
  • Many betraying and hating one another
  • Many false prophets appearing and deceiving many people.
  • And the Increase of wickedness such that the love of most will grow cold.

Some will stand firm and see their salvation.

Some will take the gospel to the whole world as a testimony to the nations.

These are signs or indicators of what Jesus says lies ahead.

Wow!  This is Amazing!  Now, you may say…

 “Have all of these Signs Been Fulfilled Already?”

To help answer this question, The sign of the end of the age, Jesus Answers the first question and prophecies about the Temple and the destruction of Jerusalem.  – When will this (the destruction of the temple) happen?

Let’s focus in on verses 15-22 and see what we can learn about the fulfillment of signs and how Jesus answered this question.

Matthew 24:15-22

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.         

It is approximately 32-33 AD when Jesus prophecies the destruction of Jerusalem.  History tells us of a terrible siege on Jerusalem that lasted nearly four years that involved unimaginable hardship. (66-70 AD)

                  Jerusalem  was hard to capture and was defended with fanatical zeal.

The Roman’s led by Titus, made a sustained attempt to starve the inhabitants into submission.

After their children died from starvation, parents were reduced to cannibalism.

Michael Green states,

“In AD 70 – the troops determined as a last resort to storm the city and the temple . . . The temple, one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of antiquity . . . was smashed to pieces and the city was reduced to rubble.  More than a million Jews died in the operation, and Josephus, who was there, tells us that more than 97,000 Jews were taken captive.”

  • Titus desolated the holy site by razing it to the ground.
  • Pregnant women and mothers with young children faced severe traumas.
  • On an international front, in the years from 68-70, the Roman World was tottering on the edge of total ruin.
  • After Nero’s death in AD 68, “4 kings” or rulers, rose up against one another and sought to be the next emperor.

The chaos was so bad that some Roman writers were predicting and expecting the end of the world.

Back in Jerusalem, the siege and capture of Jerusalem, accompanied by false Messiahs, horrors and devastation shows us at least three things.

  1. 6 – Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Matthew 24:6

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 

  1. The fall of Jerusalem shows us that all nine of the preliminary events of v.9-14 did in fact occur before Ad 70.

Dr. Craig L. Blomberg, a New Testament scholar at Denver Seminary states in his commentary on Matthew…

“This fulfillment  . . . demonstrates that everything necessary for Christ’s return was accomplished within the first generation of Christianity, so that every subsequent generation has been able to believe that Jesus could come back in their times.”

As a matter of fact, Martin Luther, in 1530 stated,

“For it is certain from the Holy Scriptures that we have no more temporal things to expect. All is fulfilled.  The Roman Empire is at an end, the Turk has reached his highest point, the pomp of the papacy is falling away, and the world is cracking on every side, as if it would fall apart.”

Luther believed in his day, that Christ’s return was imminent.

  1. The third thing we see because of the siege and capture of Jerusalem is:the cluster of events around the fall of Jerusalem form a cameo of what will happen at the end of all things.

In other words:

The near-term event gives us a picture of the far-term event.

Another way to say it is,

“The coming of Titus in retribution on Jerusalem will be a miniature of the coming of Christ in judgment at the final hour of human history.”

Michael Green states,

“Prophecy is not intended to give us a detailed picture of the future, but to lift up our hearts in expectancy so that we make ourselves ready for what is to come.  And that is what the fall of Jerusalem should do for the followers of Jesus.  It is an anticipation of the End.”

What then is to come?

Remember, the disciples asked 3 questions…

What will be the sign of your coming?

Look very quickly at Matthew 24:27-31.

Matthew 24:27

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 

Here is what I am going to tell you…there is more here that we don’t have time to cover, but here is the main point…

When Jesus comes, it will be SUDDEN and UNMISTAKEABLE!

So, a few things:

  1. Endure to the end.

Matthew 24:13

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 

  1. Stay on Mission – because it is in an environment of great disruption and chaos that the gospel is going to go to the ends of the earth.

Matthew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

It’s the Greatest Vision ever cast…the Greatest Mission ever launched…the Greatest Growth Catalyst for our lives…And the Mission is the Mission until we are told to stand down!