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SIGNS OF THE LAST DAYS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, September 2, 2000

"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 sermon. And we’ll be listening mostly to Luke 21 tonight. "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Christ gave many of the answers in Luke 21.

        Now turn with me to II Peter, chapter three, verse 3. Everyone please turn there. It’s II Peter 3:3. And it says,

 

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts" (II Peter 3:3).

        Tonight I want to speak on the subject, "Signs of the Last Days," because I believe that we are living in the last days right now. The time is short.

        Notice that expression in II Peter 3:3, "there shall come in the last days." Notice 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. They are probably right. It seems they are. 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 next word in verse three is "scoffers." 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 can’t find God anywhere. 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 scoff at the idea of Jesus Christ coming back to this earth from the sky, from another dimension. They laugh at the whole idea of the end of the world in the fiery wrath of God.

        Why do they scoff and laugh? The next few words tell us, "Walking after their own lusts" or "following 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 lust, 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. He is a God of love, but He’s also a God of wrath. He’s a God of anger against sin and evil. These scoffing hypocrites won’t examine the evidence. They don’t want to read the Bible. They don’t want to know the truth - because they are hypocrites. They are scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

        Then, the next verse says, "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old…" (Look at verse 7). "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Peter 3:3-7).

        Now look at verse ten:

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up."

        This passage of Scripture says that a day of judgment is going to come. The whole world is going to have to stand someday before the judgment of God. You will stand before Him as an individual in that day. You will be judged for your sins if you are not saved.

        And 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).

        Now Christ gave them many signs, and I want to list a few of them, from the passage in Luke which we read before the sermon.

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 see the newspaper story last week? Scientists found a hole in the ice at the North Pole as large as the State of Maine. Time magazine has 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, pp. 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." Would this be the end of humanity? Dr. Alley says, "No, but it will be an uncomfortable time for humanity. Very uncomfortable."

        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. What are you going to do when it’s freezing cold all year in California?

"Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26).

        Ralph Nader is actually taking 6 or 7 percent of Al Gore’s votes. Those who support Ralph Nader are young people who are deeply afraid that mankind is ruining our planet. And I share their concern - completely!

        My wife and I stood in our yard the other day. 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 on Friday, "We’ve fouled our nest and we’re ruining the world." Sadly, I had to agree. He was dead right.

        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 probably 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 be in a great hurry 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 keep you safe from harm.

II. But secondly, there are racial signs.

        The passage in Luke 21 says:

"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)" (Luke 21:10).

        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 Clinton brought Arafat and Barak to Camp David near Washington a few weeks ago. But he couldn’t bring peace. When those men left Washington a few days later there was just as much tension between ethnic groups (Jews and Arabs) as ever. Clinton failed to bring peace to the Middle East. Only Christ can do that. And for all his political posturing, Bill Clinton is not Jesus Christ! Only when Christ returns will He bring peace between all nations and ethnic groups. Clinton can’t do that. No other human being can do that - not even the coming Antichrist will be completely successful. Only Jesus Christ can bring peace between the various races and ethnic groups and nations - when He comes back to earth (and only then) will there be real peace on earth and good will toward all men!

        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 come together in the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ on this planet. 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. The passage in Luke 21 says:

"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.

        Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t vote for somebody like Joseph Lieberman (Al Gore’s running mate) just because he’s Jewish. I want to know where he stands on the issues. Abortion is the number one issue to God, and Lieberman is in favor of baby-murder. So, I look at the issues. I wouldn’t vote for Lieberman just because he’s Jewish any more than I’d vote for Gore just because he’s a Baptist (so-called). But the Jews are God’s chosen people on earth, according to the Bible. The Bible says,

"They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes" (Romans 11:28).

        And Bible-believing Baptists are the greatest supporters of Israel.

        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" (Zechariah 12:3).

        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.

"And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name...go ye not therefore after them" (Luke 21:8).

        Again Christ 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 TBN - what you see on channel 40 in this area - is a deception. Benny Hinn is a deceiver. Most evangelical radio 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 your parents and relatives will persecute you if you become a real Christian. We have seen that happen over and over 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 your parents and your friends will actually hate you if you become a real Christian.

        First, they will try their best to get you not to come back to this church and get saved. But if you do keep coming here to church and if you do get saved, they will turn on you and even hate you - for a time. They usually get over it after several months, when they see that they can’t stop you.

        But count the cost! Somebody won’t like it if you become a real Christian! Somebody will come against you! It costs to become a real Christian in these dark days! It’s 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 the end. I call it the psychological signs.

        Christ said:

"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).

        One young man who came to church here said, "I can’t come next Sunday. I have to help my aunt move." He had six days to do it, but it "had" to happen Sunday morning. He is weighed down with the problems of life. Others miss church for light and foolish reasons. They are weighed down with the cares of this life. And that day will come upon them unawares.

        You can get past drugs and sex, but get weighed down with family problems that suck you under. I have seen that happen to many young 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 this church. Nothing else will help you if you don’t do that.

(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 the last days.

        And may God bless you as you do it!

        Scripture Read Before Sermon: Luke 21:7-12, 16-19, 20, 25-28, 34-36

        Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "What If It Were Today?"

The outline of

SIGNS OF THE LAST DAYS

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 3:3-10; Luke 21:7

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.