The fourth in a short series of sermons under the general heading of – “Watching and waiting for the return of Christ”
After all the signs of doom and gloom in the WORLD (wars, famines and earthquakes);in the CHURCH (persecution, martyrdom, hatred, shrinkage, and a small but effective remnant that will evangelize the world); in the MIDDLE EAST (the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation); we finally arrive at the “good part” where we look to the SKY and see the 4th and final sign of all signs that will immediately follow the third one, namely the appearance of the returning Christ.
It is appropriate that we look to the sky, which so often played a key role in the life of Jesus – the star at his birth leading important visitors to Bethlehem (Matthew 2 v 2); the three hours of darkness prior to his death on the cross (Matthew 27 v 45); and here once again God turns off every light in the universe so that the sky becomes as black as ink, just as predicted by the OT prophets (Isaiah 13 v 9 – 10.)
Then, having already left planet earth in the clouds (Acts 1 v 9); Jesus will return on the clouds (Revelation 1 v 7) in a magnificent display of power and glory visible to all, although un-believer’s will mourn when they see him, as again predicted by the prophets of old (Zechariah 12 v10.)
Challenge – Are you looking forward to the return of Jesus because you have trusted in him? Or are you dreading and mourning over the very thought of it because you have not believed?
Not only will the returning Christ be seen by all, he will also be heard by all thanks to the sound of a loud trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4 v 16.) Now the blowing of the trumpet announced the arrival of someone important, as well as the gathering of people together (Numbers 10 v 1); both of which will happen at the return of Christ. The most important figure in history will return and will gather his people together, both dead and alive, give them new glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15 v 52) enabling them to meet with him in the air, commonly known as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4 v 17.)
This then is the great final sign, and as if to underscore the importance of these signs Jesus uses:-
A Parable (v 32 – 33.)
In the same way that people look at a budding fig tree and know that summer is just around the corner, so when people see ALL these signs they will know that his return is imminent.
Jesus then went on to say something rather baffling, which causes:-
A Problem (v 34.)
“This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” But who is this generation? Some say the generation alive during the time of Jesus; some the Jewish nation; the most credible explanation would seem to be that those who are alive when the “birth pains” begin, will be the generation who will see the return of Christ.
To enable the disciples to believe this mind blowing teaching, Jesus finished with:-
A Promise (v 35.)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” His words cannot be broken and will never pass away (Isaiah 40 v 8), meaning that his promise to return is true and will not fail – “Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22 v 20.)
Theme: “When God turns off all the lights!”
Reading: Matthew 24 v 29 – 35
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Nathan Gordon