If you are traveling down a road, what do you use to determine exactly where you are?
Ok, I know a lot of you will say GPS, but what do you use to confirm exactly where you are?
Signs! Landmarks! Addresses!
While GPS may tell you what direction to take, nothing can replace the comfort that we feel be having our GPS direction confirmed by highway signs telling us the “GPS lady” is giving us accurate instructions! Then, when you arrive at your destination, it always brings comfort to be able to see that the street you are on and the address you are sitting in front of confirms the directions.
Jesus gave His disciples direction as to what was going to happen at the end of the age. He told them what signs to look for so that they would know when they were getting close to His return. I believe He even gave them the “address” for some signs that would prove that they were standing at the door of the redemption of national Israel and the arrival of the Millennial reign of Christ.
We are in an interesting time. Many (at least those willing to admit it) feel that we are in the end times; even those who don’t follow Christ. The Internet is full of stories that I call Extinction Level Events – comets striking the Earth, the burnout of the sun, new diseases for which there are no cure, and other events that signal the end of life as we know it. It seems as if apocalyptic movies are the new vogue; either telling stories of apocalyptic events or telling stories of post apocolyptic life.
Even those who don’t know the Lord know that the end is near!
The “world” believes that we are approaching the end. Are they right about the timing? Are we approaching the end of this age?
Jesus gave a few signs to His disciples that I’m calling “references.” Jesus told us that when we see these signs appearing, we will know that the end is approaching. Many of these signs we can easily see because they happen primarily to or in the Body of Christ.
So, let’s take a look at these signs and see if they have happened or are occurring.
MATTHEW 24:1-33 tells of a prophetic conversation Jesus had with His disciples about the end.
To help us understand the times, Jesus gives a reference for when some events will happen. When I speak of a “reference”, I’m saying that Jesus gives a beginning event to note and an ending event to note. The beginning event will happen in the apostle’s lifetime to give them an understanding that Jesus is the Prophet of the ages and that what He says will certainly come to pass and to give them a reference point from which to look for the unfolding of other events He would speak of.
The disciples pointed out to Jesus the beauty of the temple; the center of Jewish religious worship. Jesus states that there will come a time in which one stone will not be left upon another.
God has sent His Son to His people Israel. They have not recognized Him and made Him the center of their worship and life. Therefore, the center of religious worship without Jesus as the High Priest will be destroyed. This sign was fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans came to Jerusalem and destroyed the temple.
You can take a tour of Israel today and see the actual stones that the Romans took from the wall surrounding the temple lying in the same place in which they were broken from the wall.
Jesus told His disciples that this was the beginning event that they should look for to determine the timing of the end.
Then, Jesus spoke of a final event; a sign that would signal that believers in Jesus were arriving at their destination – the restoration of all things, the judgment of evil and the world, and the ultimate reign of Christ upon His final appearance. This sign also had to do with the temple in Israel and God’s people after the flesh, the nation of Israel.
Jesus said that when you see the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by the prophet Daniel standing in the holy place, that the appearance of Jesus to rule the world is eminent.
Daniel spoke of the appearance of a man of evil who would appear and fulfill exactly what Jesus told His disciples:
Daniel 9:27 NIV: “He (the man of evil) will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’ (seven years). 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.”
So, in answer to His disciple’s question concerning the end, Jesus gives them the event that they should be looking for that signals the commencement of what I’m calling “reference points” of the end and He gives them the event at the end that we should look for to signal the eminent return of Jesus to judge evil.
There are many prophetic events occurring between these two “reference points” and we, for a period of time will take a look at some of these signs beginning with the signs that occur in or to the Body of Christ; the church.
Next week, we will begin our look at these “reference points” to see if we can determine where we are in relation to the end.