I have to admit to you this morning, as I have contemplated the Bible’s prophecies of the last days that I am scared to death. I am literally terrified. Not for me, mind you, or my family. I praise God that our eternal destiny is signed, sealed, and according to the apostle Paul, we have already been delivered where we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. No, I am terrified for some of you who will hear this message this morning, either in this room or over the Internet, and will leave unchanged. I am terrified that when the rapture takes place, you are going to be left behind to endure the horrors that I outlined for you last week. My prayer is that one second after you realize that the rapture has taken place and you have been left behind that you will remember these messages, find them online, and listen to them again. And here is why I want you to do that: because even then there will be hope. Even though the judgment of God has begun to fall on planet earth, as long as you have life, you have the opportunity to confess to God that you have sinned, repent of those sins, and commit your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will still live through the horrors of the Tribulation, and you may even die for your faith, but through it all, God will give you supernatural grace to endure, and He will show you that He is a God who loves you.
Would you take the time to read a few verses of Scripture this morning? In Matthew 24:1-9, Jesus doesn’t refer to the rapture of the church. That wasn’t His purpose. Instead, He was answering a series of three questions posed by His disciples. Picture the story. Jesus had just concluded His teachings in the Temple. Remember, Jesus has just come out of the Temple where He really gave it to the Pharisees condemning them for their hypocrisy. Telling the people not to be like these blind leaders of the blind who would make them twice the sons of hell as they are. He had talked about His death and His Second Coming, and He told them that God had sent them prophets and wise men to call them to repentance because He longed to gather His people together like a bird gathers its young under its wings, but they had refused. They had rejected God’s grace, and now judgment was going to fall. They had played church long enough, and now they were going to suffer the consequences. I sort of imagine that the disciples were so overwhelmed that they said the first thing that came to mind. “Wow, Jesus, look at this Temple!” As they walked outside the Temple, the disciples were bragging on the beauty of the structure, and it was beautiful. It was one of the most awesome buildings in the world of their day. It was built of massive stones, some measuring 40’x12’x12′. No mortar was used. Instead, the rocks were expertly cut so that they fit perfectly together. The buildings were made of gleaming white marble and the entire eastern wall of the main structure was covered with gold plates so that it would brilliantly reflect the rising sun. It was one of the most spectacular, breathtaking structures imaginable. And Jesus said, “Boys, it’s coming down. There is coming a day when not one stone will be left upon another.” And listen to me. He was talking about what would happen in A.D. 70 when the Romans came to town. And the disciples wanted Jesus to tell them when that would happen, but He didn’t. Then they asked Him the right question: What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? And that is the question we are going to talk about over the next several days.
Imagine the horror of the disciples. This beautiful Temple, once again destroyed. Certainly that must happen only at the end of the age. So they asked Jesus three questions: “When will these things be?” “What will be the sign of your coming?” and “What will be the signs of the end of the age?” Even though Jesus never indicated the destruction of the Temple was to be associated with His coming or the end of the age, they did. In their minds the Temple was necessary for Jesus to set up His kingdom on Earth which according to Luke 19, they thought would happen immediately. You see, still they were listening to Jesus with their preconceived theology which did not fit with what Jesus was teaching.
But in A.D. 70, the Temple was destroyed by a Roman general named Titus whose soldiers burned the stones until they crumbled, sifted through the rubble to remove the gold, literally turning every stone over, and then pushed all that remained into the Kidron Valley. Do you know what I think Jesus was saying to the disciples? No temple built by the hands of men would either hasten or delay His coming again. Then in vv. 4-8, Jesus began the answer to their questions by giving them three signs of His coming to watch for. More on that tomorrow.