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A Biblical View Of The End Times - #3

Matthew 24:1-31

THE TIME OF JACOB'S TROUBLE

Intro: Today, we continue our study of what the Bible has to say about the end of time, and the events that will take place as God completes His great plan of the ages. Thus far, we have considered the Rapture of the church and the man who will be known s the Antichrist. Today, we will be looking at a period of time known in the Bible as "The Time Of Jacob's Trouble."

This phrase is found in Jeremiah 30:6-7. In these verses, Jacob, or the nation of Israel, is portrayed like a man who is about to give birth. This man is suffering great pains and is bowed in agony. The Bible tells us that there are no days to compare with those that Israel must endure. However, verse 7 shows us that Israel will be saved out of those days.

By way of introduction this morning, I would like to share two major reasons for this time known as the Tribulation. There are many more reasons that could be stated, but these seem to stand out to me as some of the more crucial.

1. To Punish The Gentile Nations - Rom. 1:18; 2 Thes. 2:12-13; Rev. 19:15. For many thousands of years men have spurned the call of God to repentance and salvation. During the Tribulation Period, God will visit wicked humanity with the fruits of their sin: divine judgment!

2. To Purge The People Of Israel - Eze. 20:37-38; Zech. 13:8-9; Mal. 3:3. The Nation of Israel is guilty of rejecting the Messiah and of having a part in His death. However, God will use the terrors of the Tribulation to prepare Israel for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus returns to the earth in power and glory, He will be met by a believing remnant of the Jewish people.

I want to say that I will be covering some frightening material this morning during the course of this message. However, we need to hear these things because there may be those people here this morning who have never repented of their sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. These people, if Jesus returns in their lifetime, will face many of the things we will discuss during the course of this message.

Those of us who are saved will not be here for even one minute of the Tribulation, but we too need to hear about these things. We need our hearts stirred about what the lost of this world are going to face. We need to realize that the responsibility of reaching this world before the Tribulation is on the shoulders of the redeemed people of God. May the Lord use these truths to stir the hearts of His children to action!

Now, having said all those things, I want us to spend some time this morning in the 24th chapter of Matthew's Gospel as we think together about The Time Of Jacob's Trouble.

I. V. 1-14 HOW TRIBULATION COMMENCES

(Ill. This passage is part of a sermon preached by the Lord Jesus known as the Olivet Discourse. This message came about as Jesus and His disciples were at the Temple. Jesus told His disciples that the Temple would eventually would be destroyed. This intrigued these men and they wanted to know more details about the end of time, vers. 1-4. In this message, Jesus tells them some of the events that will transpire during the course of the Tribulation. Even though these words were spoken to the disciples, they are a message to the nation of Israel. Even though these words are not addressed directly to the church, there are still lessons given here that we can learn from and grow from.) The first half of the Tribulation will be a time of:

A. V. 5, 11 Spiritual Deception - There will be a rise in the appearance of those claiming to be the way of salvation. There will be many false Christ's and false prophets during the Tribulation. However, none power or the fame that will be enjoyed by the Antichrist and the False Prophet, Rev. 13. The two reprobates from Hell will deceive the world into believing that they are literally gods and they will demand and receive the worship of men! The Tribulation will be a spiritual time, but it will be marked by great deception. One of the great tools used by the Antichrist to deceive the world will be his ushering in a time of peace, Rev. 6:2; Daniel 8:25.

(Ill. We are already seeing these things being manifested in our times. Remember men like David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon and many others who claim and have claimed to be the Messiah. False prophets abound. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg. The crazies will crawl out of the woodwork during the Tribulation.)

B. V. 6-13 Social Devastation - The Tribulation period will be marked by an increase in the instability of society. Notice these pictures that are given here.

1. V. 6-7 This Time Will Be Marked By Disruptions

a. There will be an increase in warfare and the hostilities between nations, v. 6-7. The false peace instituted by the Antichrist will not last and will be replaced by the devastation world war! This is made clear in Revelation 6:4. The Rider on the Red Horse is War!

b. There will be an increase in anti-Semitism and persecution aimed at the Jewish people, v. 9. Daniel 7:25 refers to this.

(Ill. Again, many of these things seem to be going on around us this morning. For instance:

1. The world's political scene is becoming increasingly unstable. Now, small nations ruled by unprincipled men have nuclear capability. Economic pressures are forcing countries to seek the resources that belong to neighboring nations for their very survival. The world is poised for war!

2. There is a marked increase of hatred towards the Jewish people in today's society. This is profoundly clear in the attitudes of Israel's neighbors. The Palestinians and the Arabs would love nothing more that the total destruction of the nation of Israel. It is also my conviction that they will attempt this during this first part of the Tribulation. Ezekiel 38-39 seems to indicate that the Russians will be involved in this attempt to destroy Israel, but the plan will fail and Israel will use the weapons of this warfare to provide fuel for their people for seven years, Eze. 39:9.

However, when the actual Tribulation comes to the world, there will be an astronomical increase in this kind of activity. The things that are transpiring in the world today are only the first rumblings of what is yet to appear.)

2. V. 7 This Time Will Be Marked By Desperation - According to this verse, there will be "famine" during the Tribulation. This is again made even clearer by the words of the Revelation, Rev. 6:5-6. A careful look at these verses reveals the following:

a. The black horse speaks of death.

b. The balances refer to a careful rationing of food.

c. A "penny" was a days wages. A Roman penny would purchase 8 measures of wheat or 24 measures of barley. In other words, the food supply will be 1/8th of what it is normally.

d. However, the rider is told not to hurt the "oil or the wine". It appears that luxury items enjoyed by the rich will not be harmed. Sadly, the common man will not be able to buy these things. Therefore, he will starve!

(Ill. Again, we are already seeing these things begin to take shape. We are living in the most prosperous days this world has ever known. However, the world has never been this populated before. Much of the land that was once used to grow food now has been transformed into places for people to work and live. Our world faces genuine food shortages. Think about the following for just a moment.

1. One person dies from starvation or one of its related diseases every second of every day!

2. This translates into 86,400 per day; 2,592,000 per month, or 31,104,000 every year!

3. 75% of those who die and infants and children under that age of 5 years of age. (Ill. That is the grace of God! Imagine that, over 23 million precious, innocent, souls ushered into the presence of God every year. They died a horrible death, but they have everlasting life!)

During the Tribulation, these things will just grow worse and worse. Want to stay here for that?)

3. V. 7 This Time Will Be Marked By Diseases

a. Verse 7 refers to "pestilence". This tells us that the Tribulation Period will be a time when diseases will run rampant among the human family. Again, this is referred to in the book of Revelation, Rev. 6:8. This awful look into the future tells us that 25% of the world's population will die at one point in time. At present, there are over 6 billion people in the world with a new one being added every half-second! Every year, there are over 78 million new births in the world! Imagine a scene where over 1.5 billion people died during the same terrible tragedy. Imagine the disease that would result because of the lack of proper burial sites for the dead.

During World War II, 1 person out of every 40 died. During this terrible plague, 1 out of every 4 persons will die! Just look around and count them off in this building. It will be terrible time!

4. V. 7 This Time Will Be Marked By Disasters - Jesus says that there will be earthquakes and natural disasters during these early years of the Tribulation.

(Ill. Again, the Twentieth Century saw a dramatic increase in the number of earthquakes. These quakes became very intense and began to happen in places that earthquakes usually did take place. These things, again, are simply setting the stage for what will happen in the future.)

5. V. 10, 12 This Time Will Be Marked By Disobedience

(Ill. These verses seem to indicate that the Tribulation will be marked by a total disregard for the sanctity of life, property, or the rights of others. This is clear by two statements.)

a. V. 10 Betrayal and Hated - These verses seem to indicate that men in that day will have no respect for one another. Certainly violent crime will increase and many will die at the hands of their fallow human.

(Ill. Of course, the population of the world is already being trained to disregard the life and rights of their fellow man.

  • When we live in a world that allows the murder of over 55 million unborn children every year it sends the message that life is without value.
  • When we see an increase in euthanasia and other forms of mercy killing become accepted by the people of the world, we know that have lost our respect for human life. It seems that we are not too many days removed from seeing the elderly, the mentally handicapped and others being exterminated to prevent them from being a drain on society.
  • When the world accepts the foolish notion that man evolved from lower life forms, that when he dies, he is like a dog that merely goes to the grave, it becomes easy to take lives. If men saw one another as what they are: unique creations, each made in the image of God, it would prevent some men from taking the life of another.)

b. V. 12 Wickedness and the love of sin - The Tribulation will also see an increase in man's attraction to and indulgence in sin. After the church is removed at the rapture, all restraints on society will be removed as well. No longer will there be the presence of a people who are filled with the Holy Ghost. No longer will there be people on the earth who pray for society and their neighbors. The world will continue its slide into Hell by following sin with all the power it possesses.

(Ill. Again, we can already see these things happening all around us. A quick look at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 proves this beyond all dispute! We live in a nation where 85% of the population of the United States claims to be Christian. Look at people live and tell me how this can be!
  • How can that be when 62% of all Americans believe that Bible is not totally true?
  • How can that be when 75% of Americans do not believe in the existence of a personal, real devil?
  • How can that be when pornography earns an estimated 14 billion dollars per year in the US alone?
  • How can that be when 4 million men, every day, visit porn sites on the Internet?
  • How can that be when 1.5 million unborn babies are aborted in the country in the name of convenience?
  • How can that be when the rate of pre-marital sexual activity in the church is the same as that of the world?
  • The world looks around and declares with joy that the divorce rate is dropping. They are right, but the reason is that the marriage rate is dropping. People are just shacking up and living in sin!
  • How can that be when 32% of professed Christians and 64% of non-Christians say that they consume alcohol every month?

I could go on and on with that same kind of depressing mess, but I think the truth is evident! Our world is going to Hell in handbasket! While it does, it thinks all is well and good. It has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. This means people claim to be godly, but they refuse to repent of their sins and receive Jesus into their hearts. They refuse to allow the Lord God Almighty to be the Lord of their lives! Our world is already manifesting signs of the way things will be during the Tribulation Period. However, things will be far, far worse than this.

C. V. 14 Special Declaration - Thankfully, not all the events of the Tribulation will be bad. During these years, God will raise up some men who will carry His message to the farthest ends of the globe. This great mission will be accomplished by two separate groups of preachers.

a. The 144,000 - Rev. 7:1-8 - God will raise up an army of Jewish preachers that He will seal, protect and send out to tell the world about the Lord Jesus Christ. The world system, the devil and the Antichrist will be powerless to stop these men from their appointed task.

b. The Two Witnesses - Rev. 11:1-12 - These two mystery preachers will stand at the Wailing Wall outside the newly constructed third temple and they will preach the Word of God. All attempts to stop them will fail until the Lord allows them to be slain. Their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 days while the world celebrates their deaths. Then, they will rise from the dead and ascend into Heaven.

(Il. Even in this dark hour that will come upon the earth, God will have His men proclaiming His truth to a world that desperately needs to hear it. By the way, million will be saved by the preaching during this period, Rev. 7:9-17. Now, if you are not saved this morning, don't think you will wait until these fellow start ministering to be saved. What if you are part of that crowd that dies from war, starvation and disease? What if you are deceived by the devil and worship the Antichrist, 2 Thes. 2:12-13? The time for you to be saved is right now, 2 Cor. 6:2; Isa. 55:6. Where do you stand with God?)

I. How Tribulation Commences

II. V. 15-29 HOW TRIBULATION CONTINUES

A. V. 15a They Are Treacherous Days - This verse refers to the Antichrist breaking his covenant with the nation of Israel. This was prophesied by the prophet Daniel, Daniel 9:27, and will be fulfilled during the Tribulation Period. The Antichrist's sin will amount to him entering the Holy of Holies in the newly constructed Temple in Jerusalem. He will declare himself to be God and will demand that the world fall before him in worship. The Bible tells us that this will most assuredly happen, Rev. 13:1-8.

(Ill. What is it that motivates the world to give their worship to this mad man? The Antichrist will be assassinated, Rev. 13:3, 14. Then, before the wondering gaze of a watching world, he will arise from the dead. When this happens, the world will fall at his feet in worship. It is ironic that sinners will refuse to bow before a risen Jesus, but they will bow before a risen devil. The reason? One promises then everlasting life. The other prosperity! It will be at this time that the Antichrist institutes some sort of a marking system that must be possessed before a person can either buy or sell.)

(Ill. Before this prophecy can be fulfilled, the Temple must first be constructed in Jerusalem. For many years this seemed to be an absolute impossibility. However, recent years have seen the rebirth of the nation of Israel, and have brought about the real possibility of this happening in the very near future. Friends, you can count on it!)

B. V. 16-29 They Are Terrifying Days

(Ill. These verses bring us into the second 3 years of the Tribulation. They will be days of such a horrible nature that they are almost unbelievable. However, the things we will encounter as we study this section of the text are as sure to happen as anything else contained in the Word of God. Let's take some time to look into the truth behind the awful days.)

1. V. 16-20 Days Of Intense Persecution - Jesus reveals to the Jews that when they see the Antichrist claiming to be God, they are to flee. It seems that this will usher in a period of persecution against the nation of Israel like nothing the world has ever seen. In fact, it will be the goal of this mad man from hell to totally destroy the people of God from off the earth, Rev. 12:1-17. (Ill. The woman in this passage is Israel, and the dragon is the devil. He has tried for centuries to destroy the Jewish people. He has failed! This will be his last great effort.) Of course, the 144,000 Jewish preachers will be unable to die. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the rest of the human race that falls under the Antichrist's murderous gaze.

(Ill. Jews will find themselves traveling one of three possible roads at this point.

1. Many Israelites will die - Zech 13:8.

2. Some will follow the Antichrist - Matt. 24:10-12; Rev. 2:9; Rev. 3:9.

3. A Remnant will be saved - Rev. 12:14; Zech. 13:9.)

2. V. 21 Days Of Intense Pain - In this one verse, the Lord Jesus capsulizes one of the most horrible times in human experience into one verse. I would like to spend a few minutes looking at this time in a little detail. It seems that the tragedies I mentioned that would occur during the first portion of the Tribulation are going to intensify and be far worse during this period. A little glimpse of some of these things may be helpful to our understanding.

There will be two sets of intense judgments that will take place during the latter half of the Tribulation. These judgments are known respectively as Trumpet Judgments and Vial Judgments. Let's take a moment to look at these terrible events.

a. The Trumpet Judgments

1. The First Trumpet - Rev. 8:7 - 1/3 of the green vegetation on the face of the earth is destroyed.

(Ill. This will have an impact on oxygen levels around the world. In fact, in the US, we have denuded our nation to the point that we only produce about 60% of the oxygen we consume!)

2. The Second Trumpet - Rev. 8:8-9 - 1/3 of the oceans become blood and 1/3 of the life in the sea is destroyed. 1/3 of the world's shipping is also destroyed.

(Ill. Imagine the impact this will have on world food supplies. No doubt this will bring about even more death by starvation.)

3. The Third Trumpet - Rev. 8:10-11 - Perhaps this refers to a meteor that falls into the water supplies and pollute 1/3 of the freshwater of the world. This poison the water and many more people perish in this plague.

4. The Fourth Trumpet - Rev. 8:12 - Some even takes place in the heavens and the sun's light is diminished by one-third. Also, one-third of the light of the other heavenly bodies is destroyed.

(Ill. Before the Fifth Trumpet sounds, an angel flies through Heaven and pronounces three woes upon the earth. The reason? Things are about to take a turn for the worse. Rev. 8:13.)

5. The Fifth Trumpet - Rev. 9:1-12 - The earth is invaded by an army of demons from the pits of Hell. The demons have the power to torment men for 5 months. They won't kill men, but the pain will be so intense that men will want to die, but they will be unable to achieve death! Hell will literally visit the earth!

6. The Sixth Trumpet - Rev. 9:13-21 - A demonic invasion of an army that numbers 200,000,000. The results of this invasion will be that 1/3 of the human population will be destroyed. Note: when this event is coupled with the 4th Seal, it means that over the population of earth has been killed. But, what is the reaction of humanity? Rev. 9:20-21, they remain unrepentant!

(Ill. Notice that before these 6 judgments are poured out on the earth, there is a time of silence in Heaven, Rev. 8:1. It appears that what is about to happen is so severe that calls for a time of silence and of mourning. All of God's judgment is performed out of holiness and not a desire to make men suffer! God does not like to destroy the wicked. But, His righteousness demands it!)

7. The Seventh Trumpet - Rev. 11:15-19 - This trumpet announces the soon return of the Lord Jesus. It also introduces the seven Vial or Bowl Judgments.

b. The Vial Judgments

1. The First Vial - Rev. 16:2 - Some kind of vile cancerous sore in poured out on mankind.

2. The Second Vial - Rev. 16:3 - The waters of the sea are turned to blood and every creature in the sea dies.

3. The Third Vial - Rev. 16:4-7 - The fresh waters of the earth are turned to blood.

4. The Fourth Vial - Rev. 16:8-9 - The sun's heat is intensified and men's bodies are burned by the heat of the sun. Yet, with all these torments, they do not repent!

5. The Fifth Vial - Rev. 16:10 - This plague brings darkness and intense pain to the inhabitant of the earth. Again so intense that they gnaw their tongues in their pain, yet they still refuse to repent.

6. The Sixth Vial - Rev. 16:12-14 - The Euphrates River is dried up preparing a pathway for the nations of the earth to descend upon Israel for the final conflict.

7. The Seventh Vial - Rev. 16:17-21 - This vial brings with it a terrible cataclysm in the earth. There is an earthquake of such magnitude that the islands of the sea sink and all the mountains of the earth fall down flat. On top of this, all the major cities of the earth will be destroyed! Then, hailstones fall from the heavens that weigh in at around 125 pounds each.

(Ill. This is just a portion of the events that will take place during the Tribulation. It will be a time of unspeakable horrors and trials. However, no one in this room should ever have to worry about this. If you are not saved, I challenge you to come to Jesus and be born again!)

3. V. 23-28 Days Of Intense Personalities - During the Tribulation, there will be many personalities involved in the devil's work. It will be a time of great deception. Surely, some will be looking for a means of escape. However, no false Christ can offer humanity the peace and salvation that comes only through the Lord Jesus Christ, John 14:6.

4. V. 29 Days Of Intense Presentations - These events have already been touched on previously. However, suffice it to say that there will come a day when the moon will turn to blood, the sun will be darkened and the stars will fall from their sockets. There will be signs in Heaven surrounding the return of the Lord Jesus.

(Ill. I remember that as a child I would hear adults speak of these things. I remember being terrified by them. I remember seeing that big, red, harvest moon as it hung on top of the hills. I remember thinking that the end had arrived. I knew that I was lost, but I never tried to do anything about it. Then, when I got saved, I learned the truth. Now when I see that red moon, I rejoice! It just reminds me that Jesus is coming soon!)

C. V. 22 They Are Temporary Days - The Bible tells us that, even in the midst of His wrath, God remembers mercy. Hab. 3:2. He will accomplish His purposes, but He will preserve the remnant of them that love Him to the end. Even while He judges the world, He still deals with His people in love!

I. How Tribulation Commences

II. How Tribulation Continues

III. V. 30-31 HOW TRIBULATION CONCLUDES

(Ill. These truths will be covered in far more detail in later messages, but for now, I will just say a word about each of these three things.)

A. V. 30a The Triumphant Savior's Appearing - Verse 30 tells us that Jesus will return in great power and glory at the end of the Tribulation Period. When He returns, He will destroy the Antichrist and all his followers in one moment of time. Jesus will rule the world in an instant! These things will be covered in more detail in just a few weeks, but for now, you can read about them in Rev. 19:11-14.

B. V. 30b The Terrified Sinner's Agonizing - When the world experiences the return of Christ in glory, they will react in terror. They have gathered their armies together at Jerusalem to fight what is known as the battle of Armageddon. It is at this battle that the blood will run "to the horses bridles", Rev. 14:20! However, the armies of the Antichrist and of all the other armies of the world will be destroyed with the Word of the Lord Jesus! These people had refused to bow before Him under grace, they refused to bow under judgment. Now it is too late for them to bow. The time has come for them to reap what they have sowed. They will be judged and they will be destroyed with the word of the Lord Jesus Christ, Rev. 19:15-21. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will be cast alive in the Lake of Fire and all their followers will be obliterated in an instant of time! Jesus will return, not as a meek Lamb, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!

C. V. 31 The Tribulation Saints Assembling - After Jesus has returned and defeated the armies of His enemies, He will gather together those people who believed the preaching of the 2 witnesses and the 144,000 Jewish preachers. They will be gathered together and they will enter alive into the Millennium. Again, there will be more about this later!

Conc: My friends, we have just touched the surface of the events of that terrible seven year period that is to come upon the earth. It will a time more terrible than men can imagine. I just praise the Lord that the people of God do not have to fear these things. Now, the question that must be answered: Are you ready for the return of the Lord Jesus? Are you saved and sure that you will not be here for these terrible days? If not, you can be, all you need to do is to come to Jesus by faith and He will save you. If you are saved, praise the Lord! Now, go out and share Him with a world that needs to hear about Him and what He can do for their souls!

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