Good News for Bad Times
The disciples asked Jesus, “When will we know we’re in the end times? What will be the signs?”
Jesus answered, “Watch out! Wake up! Stay alert that no one deceives you! Many will come in My name, pretending to be for Me and even pretending to be Me, and there will be confusion, conflict, famine, disease, epidemics, earthquakes, wars, falling away from faith and unGodly behaviors even in church sanctuaries. These are some of the signs that the end is near. I am telling you now so you are not surprised when the end is near. I am telling you what to expect before the end. Just remember these signs are events leading to the end; and they will be like birthing pains that increase in frequency and intensity as birth approaches. You will know it is coming. You will know I am coming.”
Then Jesus went on to detail the signs and events that are coming with increasing frequency and intensity before the end of time, permanent defeat of the unholy trinity of satanos, Antichrist and false prophecy and establishment of the eternal Kingdom of God.
It’s called the Olivet Discourse because Jesus provided these prophecies while on the Mount of Olives.
The most detailed Biblical account is Matthew 24-25 with complementary texts in Mark 13 and Luke 21 along with important background in the Hebrew Scriptures, especially Ezekiel and Daniel, Paul’s epistles and, of course, Revelation.
Let’s start with Matthew’s account as an outline for the Word on what’s coming before Jesus comes back for us.
Before we do that, let’s turn to Isaiah to set the stage.
Isaiah 5 warned humanity is on a downward spiral into increasing depravity and distancing from God: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who consider themselves wise and judge themselves clever. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are champions at pouring beer…”
Bob Hecox comes to mind.
He went to heaven a few years back; but as his days in time were drawing to a close, God gave a rhetorical question to him that he kept repeating over and over and over again before, in and after worship and Bible studies, “Do you know what time it is?”
Starkly, “Can’t you see the end is near?”
It’s so bizarre.
Isaiah was right on target back then and especially now; for when it comes to increasing intensity and frequency, the shamelessness of depravity and distancing from God is the real pandemic of modernity.
Again, this time using Peterson’s translation/paraphrase of Isaiah: “Doom to you who use lies to sell evil, who haul sin to the market by the truckload…Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness…who hold such a high opinion of yourselves! All you’re good at is drinking – champion boozers…And then line your pockets with bribes from the guilty while you violate the rights of the innocent.”
Pretty prophetic, huh?
It’s no longer a fictional planet of comic books back in the early 60s.
We have become Bizarro World!
See if the Godless American socialists and communists in sheep’s clothing polluting Springfield and DC along with their “useful idiots” on college campuses and in entertainment, media and marketplace aren’t warped mirror images of the Bizarro World credo: “Us do opposite of all Earthly things. Us hate beauty. Us love ugliness. Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World…[No capitalists or Free enterprise on Bizarro Word]…Us guarantee losing money for you!”
Bizarro is the world where everything is opposite of truth. Up is down, first is last, good is bad, wrong is right, logic is illogical, giving is taking, insanity is sane, liberty is tyranny, sky is green, trees are blue, greeting is goodbye, leaving is hello, vice versa and…
Wait a second!
Are we talking about a comic book or not so comical bizarro America right now?
Isaiah was right.
Jesus was right.
Of course, they were/are right.
One was inspired by God and One is God!
So let’s take a closer look at the recording of our Lord’s prepper while on the Mount of Olives.
Jesus said we’ll know the end is near as preface to His return, the ultimate defeat of all darkness and eternal victory and establishment of the Kingdom of God when we see the increased frequency and intensity of confusion, conflict, famine, disease, epidemics, earthquakes, wars, apostasy and wolves in sheep’s clothing or the accomplices of Antichrist wearing masks of decency to conceal their evil intentions.
These will be tribulating times for Christians: “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many…Lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.”
We don’t need more exposition because America has become a leader among the losers for illustrating the depravity and distancing from God that’s the real pandemic of our time.
All we have to do is turn on the news and read the papers and look around and check our closets to know bad is becoming worse: “They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry My name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in” (Peterson’s translation/paraphrase).
No wonder Biblical prophecy is called history written in advance.
Let’s keep going because it’s coming.
Jesus tells us to watch for something especially unholy and horrific: “When you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, then it’s very close.”
The “abomination of desolation” referred to the profaning of the Temple by bringing unholiness into that sacred place in the 1st century.
The “abomination of desolation” refers to the profaning of churches by bringing unholiness into sanctuaries ever since with increasing frequency and intensity.
Some people think our Lord’s Olivet Discourse was prophecy for His time alone and some people think our Lord’s Olivet Discourse was prophecy for our time and the end times.
Another quick parenthesis before getting back to that parenthesis.
I’m just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit who never contradicts Jesus by the book but I am scratching! Or as I like to say, “I’d like to tell you everything that I know but I don’t have five more minutes. What I’m saying is dig for yourself if what I’m learning has alerted you to the times. I’ll get back to digging deeper a little later.
Anyway, I am convinced the Olivet Discourse was for the 1st century and this century and whatever times are left.
The Romans destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple in A.D. 70 and sacrificed a pig in the Temple which anyone remotely aware of Jewish law and sensitivities knows absolutely horrified believers in the God of Abraham and Hebrew Scriptures.
So Jesus was talking about the 1st century.
We also know Jesus was talking about this century and the end times because the apocalypse to John that most of us call Revelation was given to John about 30 years after that and Revelation is the most vivid charting of what is to come in harmony with the Olivet Discourse.
So when someone asks if Jesus was speaking about what was going to happen in the 1st century or in the future, the answer is a resounding yes.
Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Getting back to the Olivet Discourse, here’s the good news for bad times: “The one who endures to the end will be delivered.”
Again, Peterson: “Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved.”
There it/He is!
Hang with God and we won’t get hung up in the hassles of life and the end times that are going to be tribulating.
There is good news for bad times if we stay stuck to Jesus.
Things are going to be tough for those left behind.
Yes, a rapture or snatching away or lifting up to heaven when Jesus comes back to take His Church will mean believers will avoid the really and undesirably awful times that are coming. Yes, it’s going to get worse as those birth pains increase in frequency and intensity. So for those like those in our government, news media, entertainment, education and even some churches pretending to be for God who can’t wait to get rid of us, we will be glad to be gone by rapture.
Some texts to read up on that are John 14, 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.
Yes, there will be time for those left behind who will be given another chance to receive Jesus into the head, heart and gut to overcome tribulating times in the assurance of eternal life in heaven.
I remember reading the old Scot William Barclay, among the greatest tradition-historical Biblical scholars of all time, who said the Olivet Discourse teaches history is going somewhere because history is His story.
We cannot mess up the victory that’s coming for Jesus and everyone who loves Jesus and loves Jesus by loving like Jesus to prove they love Jesus.
Or something like that.
There is good news for bad times if Jesus is in our heads, hearts and guts.
Paul wrote about it in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10: “The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore. You’re the message!...You deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. People marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of His Son, who He raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.”
There it/He is!
He rescued us from existential depression.
He rescued us for eternal life in heaven/paradise which generates the strong, calm and serene sanity to overcome the mean times.
In short, the message of the Olivet Discourse within the entire context of Biblical and Christological revelation is Jesus saves!
I’ve often confessed I should have spent more time reading the Bible than reading books about the Bible.
I am convinced I would have been a better man, husband, father, son, brother, pastor and patriot if I had spent more time reading the Bible than reading books about the Bible.
That’s because reading the Bible, like worship and anything we do to increase our intimacy with God, always yields existential relief in the certainty of eternal salvation.
When I am asked how someone – anyone because Jesus loves everyone and invites, “Come to Me, all of you!” – can “get” saved or have that personal relationship by grace through faith in Jesus that guarantees existential relief and eternal salvation, I say, “Confess, repent, believe, be baptized, be saved!”
Confess or admit your rejections of God, repent or turn to God, believe or trust God as your Sovereign and Savior, mark yourself for God in worship and immersion into Him and you will know you are saved and feel like you are saved and always overcome and rise above the unholy trinity of satanos, Antichrist and false prophecy that are damned yet determined to destroy your soul.
I tell anyone who is serious about a saving relationship with Jesus to read those red letters over and over and over again.
Those red letters in the Bible are the direct quotes of Jesus.
If you don’t have a red letters Bible, get one.
Read the red letters if you want to know what Jesus is all about.
You’ll find out He’s all about loving you and wanting the best for you and enabling you to live victoriously through tribulations to eternal triumph.
Read the red letters if you want to know what you are supposed to be all about as a Christian or follower of Jesus.
You’ll find out it’s about loving Him by loving like Him with grace, mercy and forgiveness.
If you want to know what it means to be a Christian, read the red letters.
You can read all of the red letters in an evening without CNN, Fox and all of the other dope box merchants of bad news.
Think about it.
Spend at least one night without the lies and hyperbole that are lies and deceptions that are lies and lies covering lies to cover lies in a spiral of never ending lies that betray the spirit of Antichrist because that’s one of its trademarks.
Leave the lies for the truth – Jesus by the book! – that sets you free for life, liberty, happiness and heaven.
Read the red letters over and over and over again.
Jesus defines Christianity.
No one else.
Not Joel or Pope or President or China or Antifa or BLM or MLB or NFL or CNN or Fox or Bob or the Catholics or Protestants or Jews or Mormons or Muslims or anyone else.
Let Jesus love you.
Let Jesus define Himself for you.
Don’t imagine or reimagine Jesus.
Just read the red letters and let Jesus speak for Himself on your behalf; for remember, ultimately, that is what He is all about.
Jesus loves you!
This I know!
For the Bible tells me so!
When we read the red letters of Jesus, we’re not worried about what’s coming because we know He’s going to carry us away to be with Him in the end.
Blessings and Love!
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