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TWO INCREDIBLE PROPHECIES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, September 14, 2008
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles


The Atheist’s Handbook was first published in 1961 by Moscow’s Academy of Science. The primary purpose of this Communist book is to show that there is no God. The Atheist’s Handbook says, “Numerous biblical prophecies have been made only after the predicted events happened.” Strangely, that is exactly what I was taught in the early 1970s at a liberal Southern Baptist seminary. We were taught the same thing that the Communists taught in The Atheist’s Handbook. We were taught that the prophecies in the Bible were added after the events occurred. But tonight we are going to see two incredible prophecies that were made by Jesus Christ before they could possibly have happened.

I. First, the dispersion and return of the Jews, Luke 21:20-24.

Please open your Bible to Luke 21:20-24. Let us stand for the reading of God’s Word.

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24).

You may be seated.

Now I want you to notice three things in this passage of Scripture. First, Christ prophesied what would happen in the immediate future. He said,

“Ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies” (Luke 21:20).

That happened in the immediate future. About forty years after Christ gave this prediction the Roman general Vespasian surrounded Jerusalem with his army. But he was called back to Rome to become the Emperor when Nero died in 68 A.D. Vespasian’s son Titus returned and overthrew Jerusalem two years later, in 70 A.D. In the two years between the siege of Vespasian and the siege of Titus those who believed Christ’s warning fled from Jerusalem to the wilderness city of Pella, where they were protected and escaped being deported by the Romans. But the rest of the city was taken captive by Titus in 70 A.D. “According to the historian Josephus, the Romans took over 100,000 Jewish captives to Egypt and sold them as slaves to the merchants of the world” (The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 2000, note on Luke 21:24).

Now, the second thing to notice is in Luke 21:24. It says,

“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations…” (Luke 21:24).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

The Jews were scattered. Titus put them in slavery. They built the great Colosseum in Rome (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 342).

That’s the second thing to notice in this prophecy, “they… shall be led away captive into all nations” (Luke 21:24). That happened literally in the year 70 A.D. The Jewish people were scattered throughout the nations of the world. Dr. Cagan’s grandfather came from Ukraine. Melissa Sanders’ ancestors came from Russia. Our friend Dr. David Stern’s ancestors came from Germany. The Jews were scattered into Africa, the Arab nations, and even into China, Japan and other Far Eastern countries. Virtually every nation on earth has Jewish people living in it today. 

But there is a third part of Christ’s prophecy. It is at the end of verse 24,

“…until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled…” (Luke 21:24).

Commentators usually focus on the words “the times of the Gentiles,” but they often neglect the more important aspect of this prophecy, which is truly incredible – that the Jews would return to Jerusalem in the distant future, after “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). In this prophecy Christ made it clear that the Jewish people would be scattered into “all nations” until a distant, future, time when they would return. And that is exactly what happened.

On May 14, 1948, in accordance with the United Nations partition plan, the nation of Israel was proclaimed in the city of Tel Aviv.

After the creation of the new state of Israel [in 1948], the number of immigrants rose to a rate of several thousand every week. The government reiterated its determination to permit immigration of all Jews who wish to come to Israel (The American People’s Encyclopedia, The Spencer Press, 1954, volume 11, p. 409).

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, himself a Jewish believer in Jesus, wrote,

The Jews are unique in that they have remained apart, while scattered throughout the whole world. Wherever the Jew is found, he is a Jew…The Jews remain Jews, although they have no concentrating force and no worldwide government. They are the only people who could not be destroyed through unique sufferings. Egyptian Pharaohs, Assyrian kings, Roman Emperors, the Crusaders, the Inquisitors, and the Nazis have used against them expatriation, exile, captivity, confiscation, torture, the massacre of millions – but the Jews remain. God promised that He would assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth (Richard Wurmbrand, Th.D., The Answer to the Atheist’s Handbook, Living Sacrifice Book Company, 2002 edition, pp. 137-138).

And that is exactly what has happened! No one could have guessed it. No one would have expected that the Roman Empire would fall, but the Jews would return! No one would have expected that the torturers of the Catholic Inquisition would rise and fall, but the Jews would return! No one would have thought that Hitler would conquer Europe and pass off the scene, but the Jews would return! Certainly, no one would have guessed that Communism would conquer a third of the world and then begin to fall apart like a “paper tiger,” but the Jews would return!

“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).

That prophecy could not have been inserted into the Bible “after the predicted events happened” as The Atheist’s Handbook and the liberal theological professors said. The return of the Jews to Israel did not begin until 1948, about 1,900 years after Christ's prediction!

II. Second, apostasy and revival happening at the same time,
Matthew 24:3, 11-12, 14.

Please turn to Matthew 24:3. Christ went with His Disciples to the Mount of Olives. They were alone with Him when they asked,

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Instead of giving them one sign, which was all they asked for, He gave them many signs. But I want you to notice two of these prophecies that could not possibly have occurred until the present time, prophecies which seem to contradict each other, which are a seeming paradox that many old writers could not reconcile.

First, Christ said that apostasy would be a sign of His coming and of the end of the world. Notice verses 11 and 12. Please stand and read Matthew 24:11-12 aloud.

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:11-12).

You may be seated.

Dr. James O. Combs is a wise man and has a good understanding of Bible prophecy. He is the provost of Louisiana Baptist University, and an associate editor of The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible. Dr. Combs wrote the constitution of our church and spoke at the first meeting, when our church was organized 23 years ago. I prize his knowledge of the prophetic Scriptures. Regarding Matthew 24:12, Dr. Combs said,

The Olivet Discourse may be outlined as follows: (1) signs of the latter days…(Matthew 24:4-14) (The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 2000, p. 1039).

That’s exactly right. Verses 4 through 14 of Matthew 24 are predicted signs of Christ’s coming and the events that will lead to the end of this age.

That places verses 11 and 12 in the very interesting position of prophesying today’s apostasy and lack of life in the major churches of the West, including Europe and the United States. I can’t think of a better description of Christianity here in the West. Even through I am deeply saddened by Christ’s prediction, I know it is true by first hand experience studying liberalism in the liberal Southern Baptist seminary I attended in the early 1970s, and through the apostasy of many in the four major church splits I witnessed in four churches in the past fifty years. Jesus is clearly predicting apostasy, so-called Christians turning away from the Bible because they believe “false prophets” that “deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). I don’t know what could be clearer. Christ makes it plain enough for a twelve-year-old boy to understand what He is saying, “The churches are going to go bad!” “The churches are going to reject much of the truth in the Bible.” That is very plain in Matthew 24:11-12.

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:11-12).

I believe, with Dr. James O. Combs, that these two verses largely explain what has happened in the churches of Europe and the United States over the last several generations. False, unconverted preachers and theologians have brought into the churches abominable heresies, not taught by the Holy Scriptures, especially heresies concerning the person of Christ, heresies that reject the full authority of the Scriptures, and especially heresies concerning the atonement of Christ on the Cross for our sins, and many other heresies, such as the false teaching that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) does not command all Christians to evangelize. Dr. Harold Lindsell’s book titled, The Battle for the Bible (Zondervan, 1976) is a good book that describes many of these end-time heresies.  

Back in 1887 great Spurgeon saw that this was coming, and spoke on it in his sermon “The Blood Shed for Many.” Spurgeon said that Christ’s atonement for sin on the Cross was already being attacked in 1887. He gave a strong rebuke against those who had given up the atonement. Spurgeon said,

I stand for the truth of the atonement though the church is being buried beneath the boiling mud showers of modern heresy (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Blood Shed for Many,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974, volume XXXIII, p. 374).

“The church is being buried beneath the boiling mud showers of modern heresy.” That’s what Spurgeon said in 1887. It was the first war-cry of what became known as Christian Fundamentalism 25 years later. And Spurgeon was right. Theological liberalism was on the rise. The great Baptist and Protestant denominations would indeed be “buried beneath the boiling mud showers of modern heresy” in the twentieth century. Leonard Ravenhill gave these “horrifying statistics” in 1983, almost one hundred years after Spurgeon gave that warning.

Was Jesus born of a virgin?
60% of Methodists said “No.”
49% of Presbyterians said “No.”
44% of Episcopalians said “No.”

Was Jesus the Son of God?
82% of Methodists said “No.”
81% of Presbyterians said “No.”
89% of Episcopalians said “No.”
57% of American Lutherans said “No.”

Is the Bible the inspired Word of God?
82% of Methodists said “No.”
81% of Presbyterians said “No.”
89% of Episcopalians said “No.”
57% of American Lutherans said “No.”

Does Satan exist?
82% of Methodists said “No.”
81% of Presbyterians said “No.”
89% of Episcopalians said “No.”
57% of American Lutherans said “No.”

Did Jesus rise bodily from the dead?
51% of Methodists said “No.”
35% of Presbyterians said “No.”
30% of Episcopalians said “No.”
33% of all Baptists said “No.”
   (Leonard Ravenhill, Revival God’s Way: A Message for the Church,
   Bethany House Publishers, 1983, pp. 145-146).

These figures show that Spurgeon was exactly right back in 1887, when he said, “The church is being buried beneath the boiling mud showers of modern heresy.”

As a result of theological liberalism, the Protestant and Baptist churches began to die out in America and Europe. If it seems that my conclusion is too strong, consider the following statistics, given by Dr. Woodrow Kroll, the director of Back to the Bible, in his book, The Vanishing Ministry:

      Many American churches are not healthy. It is estimated that 80-85 percent of American churches have plateaued [stopped growing] or are declining.
       The number of churches in America is not growing. In 1900 there were 27 churches for every 10,000 Americans. In 1985 this figure had declined so drastically that it is painful to report. There are now only 12 churches for every 10,000 Americans; less than half the former amount…
       Add to this the number of churches that are now closing. There are over 66,000 closed churches in America. Another 62,000 are presently without pastors. Between 3,500 and 4,000 churches close their doors each year in the USA.
       In 1900, 66 percent of the American population belonged to Bible-believing, soul-winning churches…yet it is predicted that by the year 2000 there will be only 33 percent of the American population who belong to a church [He was right. And most of the churches that still exist do little or no soul winning, and even in the conservative churches there is very little evangelistic preaching, centered on the Gospel, today. Most of them teach the “Christians” in every service. Gospel preaching is quickly becoming a thing of the past!] (Woodrow Kroll, Ph.D., The Vanishing Ministry, Kregel Publications, 1991, pp. 31-33).

Spurgeon’s warning has come true in a horrible way: “The church is being buried beneath the mud showers of modern heresy.” Thus, Christ’s prophecy has been literally fulfilled in our time. The Disciples asked Him,

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Christ gave them many signs, but one of them was a definite prediction of apostasy in the churches at the end of time. He said,

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax [grow] cold” (Matthew 24:11-12).

That is exactly what has happened in America and Europe. Who can deny that Christ’s prediction of apostasy in the churches has literally been fulfilled? And who could have guessed that such a horrible thing could happen in the twentieth century, nearly two thousand years after Christ gave that prophecy? And yet it happened, exactly as He prophesied, in the twentieth century. 

But here in this same chapter is an even more amazing prophecy. Please stand and read Matthew 24:14.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

You may be seated.

Who could ever have guessed that this world-wide preaching of the Gospel would occur at the same time apostasy had eaten the heart out of the churches of America and Europe? No one but Christ could have given such an incredible prophecy! Christ said that at the very same time the main body of Christians (here in the West) was being led astray by false teachers, and falling apart as a result – at the very same time – the Gospel would be preached “in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). Only Christ, by divine revelation, could have given such an incredible prophecy!

And yet it has come true literally in our time. By the hand of God alone, with no help from the Christians of America and Europe, the churches of China have exploded in revival, so that many reports say that there are a thousand conversions to Christ every hour, night and day, 24,000 a day, in the People’s Republic of China!

This is also happening in Southeast Asia, in Vietnam and Cambodia among the Hmong people; in parts of Indonesia, and in other lands in that region; among the Untouchables in India, thousands are converting to Christ; and the same thing is happening in several parts of Africa. And I heard a report on television a few nights ago that more Muslims in Arab lands are converting to Christ than at any other time in history. Think of that! This is truly a miracle! And it is an exact fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24:14.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

No one but Christ could have prophesied the world-wide preaching of the Gospel at the same time the churches in America and Europe are dying! But that is exactly what is happening today! This prophecy was not written down afterwards and inserted in the Bible later, as the Communist Atheist’s Handbook said. It couldn’t have been. These prophecies have only been fulfilled in our time, and never before in human history!

Here is my conclusion: Jesus was right about the Jews returning to Israel at the end of time. Jesus was right when He predicted apostasy in the West at the same time God would shower the Third World countries with miraculous revival. You can therefore believe the prophecies of the Bible, for they are God-given words, showing what would happen at the end of history, in our time!

But there is a second application, and it is this. We, in our church, must take for our example the Third World churches, who are evangelizing their nations in spite of persecution and hardship. I believe that we in America and Europe, where the churches are dying, must look to the Third World as our spiritual example. If we are to succeed in growing a strong church here in Los Angeles, we must follow their example, not the example of the American and European churches and their leaders. We need the leadership and example of the often persecuted Third World churches, or our church in Los Angeles will fail. We must pray, as they pray in the Third World. We must fast as they fast in the Third World. We must depend on God, not on ourselves, as they depend on God in the Third World. And most of all, we must evangelize the lost and bring them into our church, the way they evangelize the lost and bring them into their churches in the Third World. And that is exactly what we intend to do at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles. We intend, with all our hearts and souls, to be the kind of soul-winners they are. We intend to evangelize the lost as they evangelize the lost, and we intend to put our effort and strength wholeheartedly into evangelism as they do. And we intend to obey the Great Commission Christ gave us as they do, and never draw back into the formalism and deadness of the churches of America and Europe. Christ said,

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).

God, help our church to obey Thy Great Commission. God, help us to be as zealous in evangelism and soul winning as our brothers and sisters are in the Third World, where Thou art pouring forth Thy Spirit in revival. God, help us to get ahold of their vision and obey the Great Commission in our part of the world, as they do in theirs. God, grant our prayer in the name of Thy Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Please stand and sing the hymn of that great missionary-hearted pastor, Dr. Oswald J. Smith.

Give us a watchword for the hour, A thrilling word, a word of power,
A battle cry, a flaming breath That calls to conquest or to death.
A word to rouse the church from rest, To heed the Master’s strong request.
The call is given, Ye hosts, arise, Our watchword is, evangelize!

The glad evangel now proclaim, Through all the earth, in Jesus’ name;
This word is ringing through the skies: Evangelize! Evangelize!
To dying men, a fallen race, Make known the gift of Gospel grace;
The world that now in darkness lies, Evangelize! Evangelize!
   (“Evangelize! Evangelize!” by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, 1889-1986;
      to the tune of “And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

May God help us to zealously evangelize lost young people in this great and wicked city with the same courage and steadfastness as those in the Third World. May He help us to bring the lost into our church to hear the preaching of Christ crucified to pay for man’s sin; to hear the preaching of His glorious physical resurrection from the dead; to hear that He has ascended back to Heaven and is ready to save any sinner who comes to Him, ready to wash away their sins in His precious Blood. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Prayer Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).


THE OUTLINE OF

TWO INCREDIBLE PROPHECIES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

I.   First, the dispersion and return of the Jews, Luke 21:20-24.

II.  Second, apostasy and revival happening at the same time,
Matthew 24:3, 11-12, 14; 28:19-20.