Monday, June 23, 2008

THEN THE END SHALL COME


Last week we started in Matthew 24, and we saw how it ties in with the message the Lord gave in Matthew 23. We saw how the words in Matthew 24:2, “Not one stone upon another” relate to the same words found in Luke 19:44 and that these words refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. We also saw that in the words of Matthew 24:3 are stated three questions:

1) “When shall these things be?”

2, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”

And

3, “What shall be the sign of the end of the world?”

And then we saw that the words of Matthew 24:4-8 indicate that these words do not yet refer to end time events, although most of this chapter does refer to end time events. When the Lord admonished His disciples to “Take heed that no man deceive you”, and when He warned that “many shall come in His name” to deceive them with another gospel, and when they will hear of “wars and rumors of wars”, we need to keep in mind that these things go on all the time throughout the New Testament time period. All these troubles are only
“the beginning of sorrows”.

The Beginning of Sorrows (Matthew 24:5-14)

Matthew 24:5-9
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

Matthew 24:10
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Matthew 24:11-14
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

We must ask ourselves if this passage is strictly answering the first question of the disciples: “When shall these things be?”

When shall these buildings of the temple be destroyed so much that there shall not be left here one stone upon another?

And when we look at these verses we can see that they do not refer to the 27 years between Pentecost and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. “Famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” are not pointing to these 27 years, but to the entire New Testament period of time. The words, “Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” are not pointing to these 27 years, but to the entire New Testament period of time. The words, “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” are not pointing to these 27 years, but to the entire New Testament period of time. And so we see that the Lord Jesus is answering the disciples’ question in a round about way.

Why did He do that?

We can see that the Lord is moving in the direction of end time events. The disciples thought that the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple would be related to the end of the world, but why is the Lord Jesus also moving in this direction?

He knew that the year 70 AD is not the end of the world. We will answer this question later in this article. But first we want to understand the warnings of the Lord beginning in verse 9. Paraphrased He seems to say, “All these are the beginning of sorrows. But then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you. And so on. When your sorrows are increasing, when we approach the end of time, many shall be deceived, and the love of many shall wax cold”. Let us consider verse 9.

"Then Shall They Deliver You Up" (Matthew 24:9, 10:17-22)

Matthew 24:9
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

This refers to religious persecution. We know that religious persecution of the saints has been going on throughout the entire New Testament time. The Lord Jesus warned us of this in Matthew 10 where He sent out the twelve disciples for a practice run of evangelizing the world. Let's now see how closely these words in Matthew 24:9-10 resemble the words we find in Matthew 10:17-22. The Lord gave His disciples many pieces of advice. Then He said in Matthew 10:17-22,

Matthew 10:17-19
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

Matthew 10:20
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

Matthew 10:21-22
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Matthew 10:23
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

The Lord gave His disciples advance warning of the persecution they would have to endure. But notice how the Lord also warned us that religious persecution shall increase over time, for verse 21 is pointing in that direction. “The brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death”.

We know that these dreadful acts existed during the Reformation, but they shall also exist as we approach the end of time. And notice what the Lord is saying in verse 23. Literally He said, “For verily I say unto you: In no way will you have finished the cities of Israel until the Son of man comes”.

In other words, in our evangelism throughout the entire New Testament time period we shall not have completed evangelizing in all the cities of Israel. The only way we can understand this is if the name Israel does not refer to the physical nation of Israel, but to the Israel of God, the Israel that represents all the elect who were and are in Christ from before the foundation of the world. All the elect also need to hear the Gospel so that they can become saved, “For faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.

The number of cities of the nation of Israel is only a tiny fraction of all the cities that evangelists have covered in the past 19 centuries. And so, here we have another proof-text that God’s focus is not so much on the tiny nation of Israel, but it was God’s focus all along to bring this Gospel of salvation into all the world, and throughout the Gospel of Matthew we have seen that this was God’s plan already from the beginning. But look now at the wording of verses 17 and 22. These two verses have been summarized in Matthew 24:9 with the words:

Matthew 24:9
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

Why shall they hate us?

They shall hate us because the true Gospel is an offense to the natural man The true Gospel of grace alone will not be believed unless God the Holy Spirit draws us to believe the true Gospel of the Bible. Therefore most men will be drawn to a false gospel of works, and they will be repelled by the Gospel of grace alone. And therefore they will persecute us as much as this civilized society allows them to do, for we are an offense and a hindrance to their own evangelism efforts. In the religious framework that they have concocted, we are an offense to their gods. And so, they would like to stamp us out, if that were possible. And so, we understand that the words of Matthew 24:9 refer to religious persecution that occurs throughout the New Testament time period. Now I would like us to focus on one single word: “Many”. Look again at Matthew 24:5.

"Many" (Matthew 24:5,10,11,12, Amos 8:11-12, Revelation 13:3,8, John 10:28, Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

Matthew 24:5
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

There shall be many false prophets and false teachers who shall claim that they are coming in the name of Christ, and that they are bringing a message in the name of Christ. But their total number shall be minuscule compared to the number of them that be deceived by them. And thus, we will not focus on the fist “many” in this verse, but on the second “many”. And in these verses we can already see that the Lord is moving us in the direction of end time events. I am not speaking here about many thousands who shall apostatize from the Christian religion and shall join the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am not even speaking of the millions who shall begin to worship man made gods of free will gospels. But I am speaking about billions who shall worship gods that are put before them by their priests and by their pastors; gods that are not like the God of the Bible. In fact, the pure preaching of the Word of God shall be hard to find, like we read in Amos 8:11-12. Let me read these verses to you. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it”.

Who are these “many” who cannot find the “hearing the words of the Lord”?

They are the many who are on the broad way, the easy way that leads to Hell, and who are stuck in their pride of having their own free will, and in their self-esteem, and in their self-worth, and they hate to give all this up.

Who are these “many”?

The Lord speaks about them again in verse 10, where we read, in Matthew 24:10,

Matthew 24:10
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

They shall be offended by the true Gospel. They do not want anything of it, but instead they shall believe the false gospel that their pastor shall preach to them.

But will this give them peace?

No!

They will continue to have hatred in their hearts, for the love of God has not been shed in their hearts by the God the Holy Spirit. They are on their own. Again the Lord addresses these many in Matthew 24:11,

Matthew 24:11
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Why did I say that these “many” represent billions of people on this earth?

I say this because there are several places in the Bible where the majority of the world will be slaves of Satan, even the majority of the churches in the world. Let me read to you from Revelation 13:3, which speaks about Antichrist as the beast, and the great following of Antichrist. We read in Revelation 13:3,

Revelation 13:3
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

Let me repeat this: “All the world wondered after the beast”; that is almost all the world, for only the elect will not wonder after the beast. For in Revelation 13:8 we read that all whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world shall wonder after the beast. And so, the majority of mankind shall worship gods of their own making; gods that cannot save, for they are gods that are impotent. Let me repeat this again: Free-will religions worship gods of their own making; they are gods that cannot save, and so the churches that cling to these free-will religions are filling their churches with baptized pagans, and they are preparing their churches for worse apostasies. And then the Lord continues to speak of these “many” in the next verse, Matthew 24:12,

Matthew 24:12
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

In the “many” iniquity shall abound, for they are still unsaved. And so, the love of many shall wax cold, which refers to their love for God and their love for one another, for they are still unsaved. But God’s elect shall remain faithful to the Bible, for they are kept by the power of God, in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand. The Lord promised this when He said in John 10:28,

John 10:28
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

You see, those whom God chose from before the foundation of the world to be saved cannot lose their salvation. Once they have been saved they cannot fall again into apostacy, for if that were so then Christ died in vain, and that is an impossibility. In this passage God warns us again for false prophets whom He has not sent; false prophets who shall claim something new, something exciting, something they claim out of the Bible. O yes! They claim that their new findings are absolutely true to the Word of God. We read in Deuteronomy 18:20-22,

Deuteronomy 18:20
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

Deuteronomy 18:21
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?

Deuteronomy 18:22
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Let me repeat those last 7 words: “Thou shalt not be afraid of him”.

How shall we know if a prophet is one who was sent by God, or who was not sent by God?

If the thing that he spoke did not come to pass, “That is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken”.

For example, when we heard in the past someone prophesying that the world would come to an end in the year 1994, which did not come to pass for we still exist today in the year 2008, this passage tells us that this prophet is a false prophet. And God’s advice to us is: “Thou shalt not be afraid of him”. Do not be afraid when he again prophesies that the Lord will return twice in the year 2011. Do not believe his doctrine that Hell means incineration. Do not believe his doctrine about the words, “Not one stone upon another”. Do not believe his doctrine that if you stay in the church you are going to be damned for sure. “Thou shalt not be afraid of him”. But many will be led astray by him, for they will not check him out with the Bible in their hand.

Presently we want to investigate if the historical destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC has any future prophetic implications. We can be assured that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD has no future implications, for its destruction is not even recorded in the Bible.

The Destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:3,11-13, Jeremiah 7:32-34, 16:9, 25:10, Revelation 18:4,23, 11:1-2)

Matthew 24:3
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Why did the disciples immediately associate the destruction of Jerusalem with the end of the world?

Where did they get this idea from?

For sure it was taught them by the scribes and Pharisees.

But where did they get this from?

And why did the Lord Jesus go along with that idea?

The words of the Lord Jesus unmistakably go in that direction as we can read here in Matthew 24:11-14,

Matthew 24:11-14
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

These words are definitely referring to end time events. We will now move our attention to Jeremiah 7:32-34. God speaks here, through the mouth of Jeremiah, about the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC, but then God connected this destruction to end time events. We read in Jeremiah 7:

Jeremiah 7:32-34
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate.

These words are definitely referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Moreover, the words “the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride” have been repeated two other times in the prophecy of Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 16:9 and in Jeremiah 25:10, where these words are also spoken in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem. And so, God has solidly bound these words with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. When we read Revelation 17 and Revelation 18 we find that these two chapters deal symbolically with the city the city of Satan, which is called Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. And then we discover that it is the church which has gone so apostate near the end of time that God calls the church Babylon. Anyone who doubts that this refers to the church should read Revelation 18:4, for therein we read:

Revelation 18:4
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

This clearly indicates that some of the saints are still in that apostate church. And so, when a church has become apostate, God calls to the saints to come out of that church. But the condition is that the church must have become apostate. We read in Revelation 18:23,

Revelation 18:23
And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Here we read that the light of a candle, and the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, shall be removed from Babylon, the apostate church, for the destruction of Babylon is at hand in Revelation 19. All three items, the candle, the bridegroom and the bride were mentioned in Jeremiah 7:34, 16:9, 25:10 in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. But here in Revelation 18:23 it is connected with the destruction of the apostate church. And so, what we have discovered is that ancient Jerusalem, before the cross, is a type or a picture of the New Testament apostate church. Now, this fits perfectly the interpretation of Revelation 11:1-2. In Revelation 11:1-2 we read about three objects of real estate, symbolizing three parts of the New Testament church.

Revelation 11:1
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

Revelation 11:2
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

Keep in mind that at the time John received this vision from God Jerusalem and its temple were already destroyed for at least 25 years. Thus the holy city, and the temple must be taken symbolically. The city of Jerusalem is here a picture of the majority of the New Testament church, which has gone apostate even at the time of John, for only two of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were faithful churches. Then God says that the court of the temple area should also not be measured, for it also is given unto the Gentiles. The court of the temple area represents the “Show church”, which is the group of people who pretends that they are saved; they join the people of God in worship, but they never come close to God, they stay in the court outside the temple proper. The third group of people are those who are truly saved, and they are represented by those who are in the temple proper, in the sanctuary, close to God. The question that is now at hand is whether the historical destruction of the temple in 587 BC also has prophetic meaning for the end time. The answer is found in Daniel 8:11-14.

The Destruction of the Temple (Daniel 8:11-14, 2 Thessalonians 2:4)

In Daniel 8 God focuses on a little horn, which represents Antichrist, and how this little horn was able to overcome the saints for a season. The temple is spoken of as “the sanctuary”, for the temple itself was destroyed for many years. But the language is as if the Old Testament temple would be in existence. And thus “the sanctuary” is symbolic for that part of the New Testament church that has not gone apostate. We read in Daniel 8:11-14

Daniel 8:11
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily (sacrifice) was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

Daniel 8:12
And an host was given him against the daily (sacrifice) by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.

Daniel 8:13
Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily (sacrifice), and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?

Daniel 8:14
And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

Verse 11 says, “The place of his sanctuary was cast down”. In other words, the church was cast down. And verse 14 says that both the sanctuary and the host, the army of Christ, are trodden under foot by the army of Antichrist.

How could this come to pass?

Why does Christ allow Satan to do this?

And what is the meaning of “Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”?

The ultimate cleansing of the sanctuary occurs at the time of the rapture when only the saints will be raptured and no one else. And thus what we see here is that the church is symbolized by a temple, which is actually an Old Testament temple. And the reason why the Lord allows Satan to overrun the church with false gospels that feature signs and wonders and dreams and visions and tongues, is that the church is tested during the Final Tribulation Period with all kinds of false gospels. This is the real nature of the Final Tribulation Period that the churches are overrun by these false gospels, so that God will call the church Babylon. The church becomes ripe for judgment, and the last of the elect will be saved in the nick of time, for the true Gospel will have ceased to be preached. We are familiar with this mode of operation by Satan. In the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians we find that Satan would like to be worshipped as god. This is probably Satan’s greatest desire. And when Satan will be loosed during the last end of the Final Tribulation Period he will try to be worshipped as God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (= the son of Hell);

2 Thessalonians 2:4
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

When “He as God sitteth in the temple of God” does not mean that there will be a new physical temple built, but that the local churches will have been so deceived by false gospels that Satan shall be worshipped in the place of God. When people have been deceived by the master deceiver, they will not know that they have been deceived. And so according to 2 Thessalonians 2:3, before the return of Christ there shall be a great falling away from the true Gospel. The true Gospel will have been silenced. This great apostacy is caused by the man of sin, Antichrist, who is Satan in the bodies of many false preachers and teachers, preaching false gospels throughout the world. This then causes the temple of God, or the sanctuary, or the local church, to be so polluted that God will call the local church Babylon, which He shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. This is the meaning of 2 Thessalonians 2, and this is what we must have in view when we continue to develop the following verses in Matthew 24. And so, whether we have an old city of Jerusalem in view, or an Old Temple temple, we must keep in mind that God may be using these as symbols of the church.

"The Love of Many Shall Wax Cold" (Matthew 24:12, 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Matthew 24:14)

What actually does this mean?

It is referring to the love of man toward man, or it can just as well refer to the love of man for God. But when this love waxes cold it means that this love was not genuine in the first place. We read in Matthew 24:12, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold”.

Here is the reason: “Because iniquity shall abound”, or because sin shall exceedingly multiply, the love of many shall not be genuine. Let us face the facts: If a man is truly saved, his love for God will not wax cold. And even though sin is surrounding him his love for God will continually manifest itself that he is saved. For this man Matthew 24:12 does not apply. But if a man is not truly saved, but he pretends to be saved, his response will be like the seed that was sown on rocky ground. First the seed germinates, but since it does not have its root in the ground it will wither and die. And so it is with his love for God. His initial enthusiasm will grow cold, and it is reflected in his spiritual life. This is why Matthew 24:12 says, “Because iniquity shall abound”. In other words, because iniquity shall abound the fraction of people whose love is genuine is very small. This refers to their love for God as well as their love for man. If someone has a genuine love for God, then his love for man is also very great. When a wife abandons her husband when he is old, it reflects that her love for her husband has waxed cold, and thus in turn it reflects that her love for God is also very small. God has commanded her to take care of her husband, but when her love for God as well as for her husband has waxed cold, then her love for herself has replaced all that, and she has become a selfish individual, and she will train up her children to be selfish individuals also.

Another example: When someone visits our church and finds that this is a church where very little love is found, this is a serious accusation, for if we all truly love one another it is not possible to level such an accusation. Now, we can try to hide behind a cloak of orthodoxy, but if we only try to be doctrinally correct we are relishing in cold orthodoxy, and according to 1 Corinthians 13 cold orthodoxy has never saved anyone.

What can we do differently than we have done until now?

Well, we can come to church with the goal not to satisfy our own curiosity; and we can come to church not for our own edification, or for our own increase in knowledge, but we can come to church to glorify the Lord with our presence. We can come to church perhaps to edify someone else, or just to be present in the Bible study to express our love for the teacher, or to express our love for the person who sits next to us. Perhaps we need to learn the first principles of courtesy, and we need to learn how to abstain from criticism, and we need to learn how to replace our criticism with a genuine interest to help building up one another instead of tearing down.

It is not necessary to jump on every mistake that was spoken, for there will be many opportunities to teach and edify one another, and then all these doctrinal imperfections will also go away. Now I am not saying this to give you all a tong lashing. I realize why we have become so critical sometimes. We all have some spiritual baggage. We all have come out of other churches because we did not want to be part of a maintenance ministry, or we did not want to be part of an apostate church, or we have been asked to leave that church because we do not fit in anymore. It has made us critical of other people, for we have experienced their criticism. I think that we should throw all that overboard and start anew, with a clean slate, and with feelings and attitudes that are more in agreement with Christ’s command that we must love one another. Let us first attend to the second half of Matthew 24:12, and let us make sure that our love does not wax cold. Then, when we have learned how to do that, we can pay attention to the first half of that verse. The message of the first half of Matthew 24:12 is that iniquity shall abound.

In 2 Timothy 4:3 the Lord addresses Pastor Timothy through the mouth and through the pen of the apostle Paul . And thus this address is directly to me also. Paul says in the beginning of this chapter, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, …… Preach the Word; be instant (or be ready) in season and out of season”. This is what I am charged to do: I must preach the Gospel. Every time I must weave the true Gospel of grace alone in the message I bring, for this reason:

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

2 Timothy 4:4
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

While there is still time, while the Gospel still goes out on the Internet and reaches to the farthest corners of China and Siberia, I must preach the true Gospel of grace alone. But what a glorious outcome For we read in Matthew 24 of the glorious result of all this preaching.

Matthew 24:14
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Let us hasten to preach this Gospel so that the last of the elect shall be saved. Then we will be with the Lord forever. AMEN.

By Alfred Chompff

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