Signs of the Times

Posted on 06/04/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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HIS NAME IS JESUS

He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
 Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

...of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
 Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

His name is Jesus, Jesus,
 sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
 open wide the prizon doors
And he's able, yes he's able
 to deliver evermore

You can heal the broken hearted
 open wide the prizon doors

You can heal the broken hearted
 open wide the prizon doors

Yes, you can heal my broken heart and
 open wide my prizon doors

And you're able, yes you're able
 to deliver evermore


I STAND IN AWE

You are beautiful beyond description
 too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
 like nothing ever seen or heard

Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
 who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
 majesty enthroned above

I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you


WORD OF GOD SPEAK

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


How many of you believe that we are in the last days? Of course we know that May 11th wasn't the last day. But, then, if we just know and believe the Bible and the words of Jesus, we will also know that when someone sets a date for Jesus' return, it's pretty certain Jesus will prove them wrong. After all, He clearly said in Matthew 24:44, "be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." So if we are expecting Him at such-and-such a time, we're already wrong.

After May 11th came and went, the 'net abounded with "I told you so" articles. One of them made the statement that many of the people who said date setting is dangerous, also claim that these are the last days, and that saying such a thing is dangerous as well.

Perhaps it's always been this way, but in just the last few years, it seems as though humanity's ability to grasp even many simple, obvious truths has gone into serious decline.

Let's read what Jesus said about BOTH issues in Matthew chapter 24.

Matthew 24:3-44 (NKJV)

3 Now 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?"
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.
10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
  
15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),
16 "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.
18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it.
24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
25 See, I have told you beforehand.

26 "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it.
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
  
29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
  
32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors!
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
  
36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.


Okay... Jesus just said a mouthful. First He warns that, as the end draws near, there will be many people who say they are the Christ. I've lost track of the number of people in the last few years who have claimed to be Jesus.

And then there is the growing movement, coming out of New Age ideas and sweeping even through parts of the Church, that says WE are the Christ. It goes by various names, including "Christ Consciousness." Edgar Cayce said that Jesus BECAME the Christ, as He became a "full manifestation of the Christ Consciousness." He proposed that this is what the Bible means when it tells us to have the "mind of Christ."

I think we're going to see this teaching continue to expand, regardless of the fact that Jesus said in verse five that "many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." "The Christ," according to Jesus, is a designation which rightfully belongs to Him and Him alone, and anyone else who claims that name in any form or fashion is deceived.


For as long as I can remember, I've heard the term "wars and rumors of wars" connected with signs of the end. But in verse six, He says, "you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."

It's just the beginning. The end is not yet. He goes on to talk about persecution and martyrdom, and promises that those who believe in Him will be hated by every nation.

He says in verse ten, "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another." I've found, especially in the last few years, that I can't say ANYTHING about Jesus or the Bible without offending someone. If I don't quote the Bible enough, someone is offended. If I quote it too much, someone is offended. If I don't explain away the passages that condemn people's pet sins, someone is offended. No matter what I say or don't say, someone is offended. Often, the offended people are in the Church (and I mean the Church as a whole, not necessarily anybody here). Too many of us are puffed up with pride and think we have it all figured out, and when someone sees things differently, we are offended that they should be so deceived. Then, of course, there are the people outside of the Church who are offended that anyone could still be allowed to speak who is stupid enough to believe in a book of myths about a "sky daddy" who's going to send everyone to hell. (Their words, not mine.)

Next, Jesus says that many false prophets will rise up, and they will deceive many. Plenty of people believed Jesus was coming back on May 11th. Many of them quit their jobs. But in verses 45 and 46, Jesus says this: "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing." If you are the provider for your household, then THAT is what God has called you to do. And "blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing."


Then in verses 29 through 31, Jesus says this:

29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.


Jesus almost sounds like He's a post-tribber. I personally hope Jesus will catch us away BEFORE the tribulation. Maybe the "elect" who will be gathered together are gathered from a heavenly realm after having been rescued before the tribulation begins. Of course He also says that for the sake of the elect, the days of the tribulation will be cut short.

Ask me again after everything has happened, and I'll tell you with 100% certainty how this will all play out.

But if it was so important for us to know exactly how everything will happen, don't you think God would have made it abundantly clear? The important things for us to get right, the Bible spells out plainly. True, more and more people seem to get those things wrong, such as how to find Salvation, what God expects of us, whether we play any ongoing part in "working out our Salvation," whether we are expected to turn completely away from sin, and so on... But if we just read the Bible without interjecting what we've been taught or what we want it to say, I think every believer will walk away with the same basic conclusions concerning all those matters.

When the rapture will take place, on the other hand, is quite another story. Jesus doesn't want us to have the time line so figured out that we don't take life seriously until the last minute. But the Bible does give some pretty clear signs of the times, so that we will continue to see compelling evidence that Jesus could return at any moment.


In verses 32 and 33, Jesus says this:

32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors!
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

In other words, when we see the signs that the end is near, we know it is. And in verse 34, Jesus says something very interesting. He says, "this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." What did He mean? He obviously wasn't talking about the generation of the disciples. Rather, it sounds as though He is saying that the generation who sees all the signs of the end, will not pass away until everything is complete.

In 1948, Israel was restored as a nation. This fulfills the prophecies in Ezekiel 36 and 37. Today, more and more of the world is turning against Israel, even the United States, which fulfills the prophecy that right before the end, all the nations around Israel would turn against her. Just take a look at some of the videos circulating on YouTube. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of YouTube channels dedicated solely to supposedly exposing the truth about how horrible Israel is. Even Israel's own self defense is spinned as proof that Israel is a terrorist nation. And this is no accident, and it is not mere chance. The minds of the world are being poisoned against Israel, so that all the nations of the earth will turn against her.

Consider our plunge toward a one-world government. If you have even a passing interest in world events, you've probably noticed that people everywhere are talking about globalization. Everything is lining up, falling into place, for the Antichrist to rise to power. And he will have the support of all the political leaders of the earth.

No, we can't know exactly when Jesus is coming and when the end will be. But we CAN and SHOULD notice the "signs of the times." And as we clearly see that the end is drawing very near, we should be motivated to make sure our master finds us "so doing" when He comes -- doing what He told us to do, both as the Church and as individuals.


Now we could talk for hours about all the things that are happening in the world today which are Biblical prophecy after prophecy, and which prove to us that we are indeed in the last days. But I'll leave that research up to you.

The point I want to make today is that we should treat every single day as though Jesus could come back TODAY.

Do you have something that you believe God wants you to do, but you've left undone? Treat that thing as though Jesus is coming back today.

Do you have someone in your life to whom you know you should preach the Gospel, but you have reasons to let it slide? Treat that person as though Jesus is coming back today.

And I think that's the message Jesus was trying to give us. He said, "you do not know the day or the hour the Son of man is coming." We don't know when Jesus is coming back. But the signs continue to stack up. And we know that He is coming back any day now. It could be before the tribulalation. Whenever He's coming, it's when we least expect Him. And that day could be today.


This weekend, many of you will be celebrating Memorial Day. But all of us have something to remember that is even greater than the sacrifices of the brave, selfless men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedoms; and that is the price Jesus paid to buy our freedom from eternal bondage in hell; and we celebrate something that is yet to come -- His glorious return, after which He will bring all evil to a rapid and everlasting stop; He will wipe every tear from our eyes; and He will forever sit on the throne, as He keeps all heaven and earth within the life-giving protection of righteousness and holiness.

Are you ready?

Are you ready for Jesus' return?

Are you ready to see Him face to face?

Are you ready for the books to be open, and to see whether your name remains written in the Lamb's Book of Life?

God left us questioning even the order in which the major end-time events will take place; so for all we know, Jesus could come back before we leave this place. Are you ready?


Let's close today's service with a time of prayer and ministry. This altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seats and come spend some time seeking after God.

Spend this time to make sure everything is right between you and God. Make sure there is nothing in your life, in your heart, in your mind, that would separate you from Him.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message me, Mariposa, or anyone on the staff or ministry team.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and if you can stay until after this time of ministry, you're invited to make your way to the Fellowship Room to your left, where we'll meet in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.

Come, and let's make sure we're ready, and that our spiritual eyes are tuned to see, recognize, and make changes in our life in response to the Signs of the Times.