Lesson 12

The Days of the End

(Matthew 24, 2 Timothy 3)
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Introduction: Are you looking forward to Jesus coming a second time to take you to heaven? Do you want Him to end the problems in your life and the sin problem in general? Are you beginning to wonder if this will ever happen? Is there some way to know when Jesus will come? Let's jump into our study this week and find out!

  1. Jesus' Uncertain Statements


    1. Read Matthew 24:1-2. What would be the equivalent statement for us in the United States? (Imagine you are walking down the mall in Washington, D.C. and Jesus says "not one stone" of the Capital, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Lincoln memorial, the Smithsonian, etc. will be standing.)


    2. What if you were walking downtown in New York City and were told that the next day the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center would not be standing?


      1. What would you conclude if this prediction were made about Washington, D.C. or New York City? (A catastrophic event was coming to America.)


    3. Read Matthew 24:3-4. The disciples come to Jesus and they have a question that contains an assumption. What did the disciples assume about Jesus' statement? (That the destruction of Jerusalem would be the end of the world.)


      1. Notice Jesus says (v.4) don't let anyone deceive you. Doesn't the disciples' question show they are already confused? We know the destruction of Jerusalem was not the end of the world. Why not start out correcting that error? Why didn't Jesus say, "Well, to begin with, you've got the wrong question?" (The only logical reason I can see is that Jesus did not want them to have a perfectly clear understanding of the end time.)


        1. If you agree with me, why would Jesus want His disciples to be a little unclear?


        2. Is that also true today?


    4. Let's skip down and read Matthew 24:36, 42-44 to answer these questions. What do these verses suggest is Jesus' reason to be a little unclear about the future? (First, Jesus says He doesn't know the exact time! Second, He says that we should be ready all the time.)


      1. Is verse 44 a promise? What is promised to you? (Jesus will come again. But, you will be surprised because you will not expect it.)


      2. If Jesus is right, what does this tell us about all attempts to set a date for Jesus' Second Coming? (Anyone who sets a date does not believe Jesus' words. The rest of that person's theology should be equally suspect!)


  2. Jesus' Certain Statements


    1. Read Matthew 24:31-33. Can you tell time from a fig tree? Is time-telling through the use of trees an exact science? (According to Jesus, you can tell when a season approaches ("summer is near")by the leaves on the tree beginning to come out.)


      1. Since Jesus compares the coming of summer to the end of the world, what lessons about knowing the time of the end can we learn from the fig tree? (This is further proof that God does not reveal the exact time of the Second Coming. He says that He will reveal to us generally when He is coming again.)


    2. Since Jesus has told us that we can only read signs of the general time of His return, let's review those statements. Read Matthew 24:5-6. Were any of you alarmed recently? (My office is close enough to the Pentagon that we could feel the blast of the explosion on September 11.)


      1. Why does Jesus tell us not to be alarmed? Isn't this something about which to be alarmed?


      2. All around the world you hear of trouble and fighting. My father grew up in the Great Depression and was in combat in World War II. I've often thought that I've had such an easy life compared to him. Should we find comfort in trouble? (I don't think Jesus is telling us to enjoy problems, He is just saying consider where all of this is leading. When one of the little girls in my wife's school heard about the terrorist attack on Washington and New York she said, "Good, Jesus is coming soon." Despite terrible things happening around us, Jesus assures us that we should not be alarmed because such things happen as a prelude to His Second Coming where the problems of sin and death are ended.)


    3. Read Matthew 24:7-8. How are war, famine and earthquake like birth pains? (Every mother says, "I know what Jesus is talking about! Seriously, Jesus is making a comparison. Birth pains are very uncomfortable. But, they lead to a joyous event, the birth of your child. Jesus is saying that this hardship is leading to a joyous event -- the return of Jesus!)


      1. Notice that verse 8 says these are the "beginning" of birth pains. Does the pain get worse?


    4. Read Matthew 24:9-12. How do the troubles mentioned in these verses differ from those mentioned in Matthew 24:6-8? (This second group is not the description of general problems, it describes problems involving you! The trouble has now come to your house.)


      1. Obviously, the United States is not the center of the universe, but it can truly be said that serious problems, for the first time, have come to "our house" this week. Never, in any of the wars in which the U.S. had been involved, has such damage be done to the mainland.


    5. Read Matthew 24:13. What is the promise if we remain faithful? If we "stand firm?" (That Jesus will save us from all of the trouble.)


    6. Read Matthew 24:14. What is Jesus saying? That we have to preach the gospel to the entire world before He comes again? Or, that the result of all of this trouble in the world is the preaching of the gospel to the entire world? (This is not clear to me. What is clear is that the gospel is preached and that we should be partners in that task.)


    7. Read Matthew 24:23-24. Before the end of time impersonators of Christ will come. Why is it possible to be deceived by them? (The have the power to perform great signs and miracles.)


      1. Isn't this one way Jesus proved who He was when He was here the first time? (Yes. Look at Matthew 11:2-5.)


      2. If these false christs use the same methods, how can we know the real from the fake? (Read Matthew 24:25-27. This is not going to be a secret event, this is not going to be a private event, this is not going to be something you see on TV, when Jesus comes a Second time you will know it. If you have any doubt, it is not the "real thing.")


        1. I once read an article where the person said, "This 'every eye'[see Revelation 1:7]refers to television." Why is that statement wrong? ( Matthew 24:27 refers to the event, not the reporting of it. My God does not need the power of television to make His power complete!)


    8. Read Matthew 24:30-31. What else is added to our picture of Jesus' Second Coming? (Not only will He be seen from the east to the west, but He will have a loud "trumpet call" and the righteous will be gathered from earth. If "your christ" does not come in this way, he is not Jesus. Jesus tells us in v.25 that He has given us advance warning about this so we will not be deceived about His Second Coming.)


  3. New Views


    1. Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. In addition to warning us about physical signs of the end, we are also warned about the character of the world at the time of the end. Does this list seem to apply to the world today? Does this list apply to those of us who are in the church?


      1. Notice the phrase in verse 5, "having a form of godliness but denying its power." What does that mean? (We see all sorts of "morality" outside of the teachings of the Bible.)


        1. Can you give examples of "morality" that is outside of the Bible? (Some claim a moral right to kill their unborn children. Some claim a moral right to be put in leadership positions of the church even though they have serious sexual problems. Some claim a moral right to be free from hearing the gospel. All of this shows the need to base our morality (v.5) on the power of the true God.)


    2. Read 2 Timothy 3:7. This is a very interesting phrase. Are these people well-educated? What is necessary to our education? (Not just to learn stuff, but to "acknowledge the truth.")


    3. Friend, Jesus tells us He is coming again, but He refuses to be specific about the timing because He wants us always to be ready and waiting for Him to come. Will you agree to be continually faithful? If you see the signs that the season of His coming is soon, I encourage you to commit yourself today to be ready.


  4. Next Week: Behold, He Comes!

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