Lesson 11

Last Day Events

(Matthew 23 & 24)
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Introduction: One of the wonderful advantages of writing this lesson is that it forces me to study the Bible. Major goals in writing these studies are to improve the quality of the Sabbath School and help students better understand God's will. However, when I study the Bible I'm always thinking about the impact of God's word on my life. This week some of Matthew's statements are so connected to my life that I apologize in advance for injecting myself so much in the lesson. Let's dig in and see if you, too, feel a special connection to our Bible study!

  1. Glory Hogs


    1. Read Matthew 23:1-4. When you decide that someone is a hypocrite, how do you treat that person's teaching? (The general attitude is to reject the hypocrite's teaching.)


      1. Why does Jesus say to obey these hypocrites? (They "sit in Moses' seat.")


        1. What does that mean, and why is that so important? (I think it means that they teach the law given by God through Moses.)


      2. I recall several famous religious leaders who had prominent sins. My reaction was that they succumbed to sin - which is true for all of us. How can we distinguish between those religious leaders who "sit in Moses seat" and those who are leading us astray? (A main reason why each of my series of questions starts out with a Bible text is because we cannot (I trust) get too far astray if our point of focus is God's word. The most important question is whether the leader is teaching the Bible or something else.)


    2. Read Matthew 23:5-7. Be honest. Do you love to have the place of honor, the best seat? Do you love to be greeted by people who respect you? (If you say "no," I think you have just broken the Ninth Commandment. We all love to be honored.)


      1. How do we avoid being just like these religious leaders? (Look at verse 5 again, "everything they do is done for men to see." If everything you do is motivated by your own glory, as opposed to giving glory to God or showing love to another person, then you are in trouble.)


    3. Read Matthew 6:2. What does "they have received their reward in full," mean? Does it mean that the "full reward" is personal glory - which would exclude heaven? (I love to preach, I love to teach, and there is no doubt that part of my reason is that I want people to better understand God. But, another part is that I like people to say, "he does a great job." When I read about these religious leaders whose only reward is here, I get concerned. Dr. William H. Shea is one of the most extraordinary Christians I've ever known. He is extremely smart and extremely humble. I asked him, "Do you enjoy the honor of preaching and teaching?" He said, "yes," that is part of it. That put my heart to rest on this issue.)


    4. Read Matthew 23:8-12. One of my former students used to call me "rabbi" and my wife often calls me "the professor." My children call me "Dad." The students in the law school call me "Professor Cameron." Should I tell all of them to stop it?


      1. Read Exodus 20:12. The question is one of honor for the religious leaders. This text tells us to honor our parents - and that would include calling my father "Father" or "Dad." How would you explain the apparent conflict in the Bible?


      2. Remember the context. What honor are the religious leaders improperly stealing? (They are claiming the glory that belongs to God. They do everything for their glory, not God's glory or the love of others. Notice that in Matthew 23:8-10 the point of reference is God. My children, my wife, my students do not think I'm God and I'm not trying to confuse them on that point.)


    5. Let's skip down to Matthew 23:37-39. What was the most fundamental problem with the religious leaders in Jerusalem? (They rejected Jesus. Notice that the "title" discussion is part of rejecting Jesus. Jesus now says that the end has come for them. They are unwilling to accept Him or give Him glory.)


  2. The Destruction


    1. Read Matthew 24:1. Why do you think the disciples asked Jesus to look at the temple buildings? (They were undoubtedly beautiful. I've read Josephus' description of the temple and it was glorious.)


    2. Read Matthew 24:2-3. This is undoubtedly shocking news. Why would the disciples come to Jesus "privately" to learn the details?


      1. How many questions do you find in these verses? How many questions do you think the disciples thought they were asking Jesus? (I think they were asking at least two questions, but I think they thought they were asking just one. No doubt they thought the temple would not be destroyed until Jesus came at the "end of the age.")


  3. The End


    1. Read Matthew 24:4. What is Jesus' first concern? (That we avoid being deceived.)


    2. Read Matthew 24:5-14. Jesus refers three times to "the end" in these verses. What end is He discussing, the end of the temple or the end of the world?


    3. Read Matthew 24:15-20. What do you think is being discussed here? (It is common that prophecy can have more than one fulfillment, but this seems consistent with the destruction of Jerusalem. Many Christians fled the city and were saved before the absolute destruction of the temple by the Romans.)


    4. Read Matthew 24:23-27. What is being described here? (Jesus' Second Coming.)


      1. What is the specific concern about Christians being deceived? (False Christs will appear - and their signs and miracles are extremely persuasive.)


      2. How can we avoid being deceived? (No one will have to tell us about Jesus' Second Coming. All will see it at once. I've avoided some of the more complex issues in Jesus' message because I might be wrong. However, the simple part of the message is very obvious - you will know when Jesus comes!)


        1. Why, then, does Jesus warn us that we should avoid being deceived, and that the deception to come will be powerful? (We have the potential for being deceived by those fakers. If you are involved in a debate about whether someone is Jesus, that is absolute proof that person is a fake and is not Jesus!)


    5. Read Matthew 24:30-31 and Matthew 24:40-41. What other absolute proof will we have about Jesus' Second Coming? (The saved will be taken to heaven!)


      1. What is the "loud trumpet call" about? (Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. Those who died trusting in Jesus are raised in an instant at the sound of the trumpet.)


    6. Let's review all of this so that you cannot be deceived. What will happen when Jesus comes again? (It will be like lightening around the world - everyone will see it at the same time. The dead in Christ will be raised from the grave. The living saved will be gathered to heaven. You will not be confused about this event. If you are not being lifted up to heaven, that is very bad news.)


    7. Read Matthew 24:42-44. Wait a minute, we just learned that Jesus' Second Coming will be obvious to everyone. Why are we warned about keeping "watch" and about problems with an unexpected return? I could be sound asleep and not miss Jesus' Second Coming! (The thief is not breaking into Jesus' house in this parable. The thief is breaking into your house. The warning is not about the ambiguity of Jesus' coming, but rather whether you are ready!)


    8. Read Matthew 24:45-46. What should you be doing in anticipation of Jesus' Second Coming? (Your job - "feeding" Jesus' servants. We need to continue to work to advance the Kingdom of God!)


    9. Friend, what was the problem with the religious leaders that we discussed at the beginning of this lesson? It was that they were working to advance their own glory. What does Jesus call us to do while we await His return? To advance the Kingdom of God. What are you doing these days? Advancing your glory or the Kingdom of God? If you don't like the answer, why not repent right now and ask the Holy Spirit to show you a better way?


  4. Next week: Jesus' Last Days.

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