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THE END OF THE WORLD
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached on the Lord's Day Morning, June 13, 2004
"What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3).
The disciples of Christ wanted to know when the world would end. They asked Christ to give them a sign. He gave them many signs, recorded here in Matthew 24, and in the parallel passage, in Luke 21. Matthew 24 gives part of Christ's answer; it gives many of the signs. And Luke 21 gives the rest of Christ's teaching on this important subject. "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Christ gave many of those signs in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.
The Apostle Peter said,
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts" (II Peter 3:3).
I believe that we are living in the last days right now. The time is short.
Think of that expression in II Peter 3:3, "there shall come in the last days." Pay attention to the words "the last days." You'll find that expression over and over in the Bible.
The Bible teaches that there is a point in history known as "the last days." Many theologians and Bible scholars think we're in that period now. The Bible warns against setting dates. But there is a period of time known as "the last days." Every sign seems to indicate that we are in that general period right now. Leonard Ravenhill said, "These are the last days."
The Apostle Peter said, "There shall come in the last days scoffers" (II Peter 3:3). These people mock the idea of the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. They mock and scoff and laugh. They are cynics and unbelievers. They say, "We don't think God is going to end the world. We're not even sure there is a God." They mock and laugh at the idea of a future judgment. They laugh at the whole idea of the end of the world in fiery judgment.
Why do they scoff and laugh? Peter tells us that they are "walking after their own lusts." They are living in sin. That's why they don't want Christ to come and interfere with their sinful way of living. They love their sin so much that they don't want Christ to come, and they will not acknowledge the fact that the Bible teaches that God is a God of judgment. These scoffers won't examine the evidence. They don't want to read the Bible. They don't want to know the truth. They are scoffers, walking after their own lusts. They don't want to think about the end of the world.
But the disciples were asking about that coming day. They said, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3). Christ gave them many signs, and I want to list a few of them.
I. First, there are ecological signs.
Jesus said there will be
"great earthquakes…in divers places, and famines and pestilences; and fearful sights…and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:11, 25-26).
Think of it! Jesus said that people's hearts would faint and fail when they see what's happening "on the earth." He said there will be distress and dismay and anguish and great fear because of what they see happening on earth.
Did you read what the newspapers said about the ozone layer? Scientists found a hole in the ozone layer at the North Pole as large as the State of Maine. Time magazine had a news story - featured on the cover - "The Big Meltdown. As the temperature rises in the Arctic, it sends a chill around the planet." (Time magazine, September 4, 2000, pages 52-56). Time said, "Even a partial melting could devastate the northern hemisphere's climate." Many scientists fear we may be entering a new ice age. In the Time article, Dr. Richard Alley, a geophysicist at Penn State University, spoke of "dropping temperatures far [greater] than the changes that have affected humans in recorded history."
Scientists like Dr. Alley are literally filled with fear
"and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26).
When you look at the meltdown of the North Pole and a possible ice-age which they now say could come abruptly, in the next 25 to 50 years, it's frightening. When you realize that the AIDS epidemic is devastating Africa, with no end in sight - it is frightening. When you look at the resurgence of antibiotic resistant tuberculosis and other new "monster" diseases that don't respond to any known drugs - it is frightening.
No wonder so many young people wonder about the future. A recent poll shows that 80 percent of today's teenagers do not think they have a good future. It showed, particularly, that these teenagers often worry about problems in ecology, like the meltdown of the North Pole and the ice age or waterworld it could produce.
Young people seem to know instinctively that our world is getting worse. And it frightens them. There's even a movie about it called "The Day After Tomorrow."
"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26).
My wife and I stood in our front yard a few years ago. I asked her, "When was the last time you saw a monarch butterfly? When was the last time you saw a toad or a frog? They're gone - or very nearly so." She said to me, "Yes, we've really messed up the environment." A man at my gym said to me, "We've fouled our nest and we're ruining the world." Sadly, I had to agree.
And the frightening problems we see in ecology, reported every day in the newspapers, are signs that the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ seem very near. You don't have much time left to prepare!
That's why you need to get into this church and find Christ now! Time is running out for our world. You ought to find Christ, get converted, and get deeply into this church before judgment falls. When you are in Christ, God promises to protect you, and save you.
II. But secondly, there are racial signs.
"Then he said to them, Nation [Greek ethnos or ethnic group] shall
rise against nation [ethnic group], and kingdom
[Basilean = national group] against
kingdom [national group]"
That's what we're seeing today. With all of our technology and science we don't seem to be able to stop ethnic strife between races and wars between the nations. President Bush is trying to bring peace to the Middle East. But I believe he will fail. No human being can do that. Only Jesus Christ can bring peace between the various races and ethnic groups and nations - when He comes back to earth!
And we are preparing for His coming in this church. That's why every ethnic group and every race is welcome here. We love you and we want you here no matter what racial group or ethnic group you belong to. You are welcome here. We love you and we want you to come back. We are preparing for a day when all races and kingdoms will be at peace together in the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Come and be with us now - whoever you are!
III. Then, thirdly, there are antisemitic signs all around us.
Many people hate the Jews, God's chosen people on earth. Jesus said,
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed [or circled around] with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh [it is near]" (Luke 21:20).
Antisemitism, hatred of the Jews, will grow so strong in the last days, that great armies of Gentiles will come against the Jewish people in Jerusalem and seek to destroy them, like Hitler did in World War II. But they will not succeed. Why? Because the Jews are God's chosen people on earth. The Bible says,
"They are beloved for the fathers' sakes" (Romans 11:28).
And that's why Bible-believing Baptists are the greatest supporters of
But the Bible teaches that the world will turn against the Jews in the last days. God says:
"I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people"
That is happening right now. It is a sign that we are now living in the last days.
IV. And then, fourthly, there are religious signs -
signs of deception in false religion.
"Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name...go ye not therefore after them" (Luke 21:8).
Again Jesus said,
"There shall arise false...prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24).
What you see on many religious TV programs is a deception.
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (II Timothy 4:3).
V. Fifthly, there are signs of religious persecution.
The persecution of Christians is going on throughout the world at an unprecedented rate. For instance, Christians have to meet in secret in Communist China. The Los Angeles Times (August 29, 2000, page A-11) gave this report of three soul-winners who were deported from China for sharing the gospel:
China has deported three U.S. evangelists [soul-winners] after detaining them in a round up of underground Protestant worshippers in central China, a rights group reported. The report...was accompanied by news that dozens of Chinese worshippers detained along with them have been sent to jail. An additional fifty followers of secret Protestant fellowships were arrested in three provinces, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.
Jesus predicted the worldwide persecution of Christians we see going on today. He said,
"They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up...into prisons" (Luke 21:12).
Then He said that even the parents and relatives of those who become real Christians will persecute them. We have often seen that happen right here in Los Angeles. Christ said,
"And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends...and ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake" (Luke 21:16-17).
Christ said that parents and friends will often hate those who become real Christians.
Count the cost! Somebody won't like it if you become a real Christian! Somebody will come against you! It costs something to become a real Christian in these dark days! I believe that it is a sign that we are in the last days.
VI. And finally, Christ gave us a sixth sign to show us that we are near
I call it the psychological sign.
"Take heed [pay attention] to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged [weighed down, or weighted down] with...[the] cares [anxieties] of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:34-35).
You can get past drugs and sex, but later get weighed down with family problems that suck you under. I have seen that happen to many couples across the years.
And then Jesus said:
"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21:36).
And that's what you need to do to be ready for the end of the world and the Judgment to come. There are three things you need to do:
(1) Come to church. Nothing else will help you if you don't do that. Be in church every time the door is open.
(2) Come to Christ. He died for your sins. He rose literally and physically from the dead. He is alive at the right hand of God right now. He is there for you now. Come to Him.
(3) Not only do you need to come into this church, not only do you need to
come to Christ, but you also need to pray. Jesus said that prayer is the key to
living a successful Christian life in these dark days.
And may God help you to be prepared for the Judgment!
Scripture Read Before the Sermon: Matthew 24:1-3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "In Times Like These"
(by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).
THE OUTLINE OF
THE END OF THE WORLD
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
"What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3).
(II Peter 3:3)
I. Ecological signs, Luke 21:11, 25-26.
II. Racial signs, Luke 21:10.
III. Antisemitic signs, Luke 21:20; Zechariah 12:3.
IV. Religious signs, Luke 21:8; II Timothy 4:2-3.
V. Persecution signs, Luke 21:12, 16-17.
VI. Psychological signs, Luke 21:34-36.
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