As we open to Matthew 24:21-22, we come to the Second Coming of Christ, the 4th of 7 Big Events on God’s Calendar that we are examining from last to first.
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the single greatest visible expression of God’s power to the entire Earth, since the Flood of Noah. But as we look at Christ's Coming, and the Tribulation it follows, we must understand why Jesus comes when He does.
On the side of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, two thousand years ago—Jesus preached a sermon about the End of the World. The end of the world is easier to comprehend when we can compare it to the world around us. That is what Jesus does. He points to things they knew and said amplify that, multiply that—exponentially, then you will understand what is coming.
Basically Jesus describes the Tribulation as a Global Final Holocaust—not merely of Jews and Christians—but of humans! But, the second coming is described as God “cutting short” the extinction of all human life that the Tribulation describes. God allows humanity to be unrestrained, and in the sinful malignancy that has infected all humans, humanity in mass, like Cain of old, rises up to kill and be killed.
For us this evening, Christ's words are a call for us to be ready for the onset of the worst time in history. The Tribulation begins after the Church is raptured, but the climate of the Tribulation is already here.
Are you prepared to survive the storms before the final storm?
Please stand with me and read Matthew 24:21-22.
Auschwitz and the
Three years ago, across the world, dignitaries marked the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of the grisly, World War II era, death camp complex called Auschwitz.
Hitler’s Holocaust, horrible as it was murdering over six million Jews alone—pales when compared to the Final Holocaust. If you ever study the Holocaust, you recognize images of what we most often use to remind us of the Final Solution—Hitler’s genocide. Briefly, here are the facts:
About 1.5 million people died at Auschwitz, of whom about 1.2 million were Jewish. That means that 1/5th of the six million Jews exterminated by Hitler died in this complex
Other groups of people who died included Polish political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies, people with disabilities and prisoners of conscience or religious faith.
The complex contained three camps and at least 36 sub-camps which were built outside this Polish town, on an isolated 40 sq km site, between 1940 and 1942.
When you trace World War II Holocaust history, there are some incredible comparisons that can be drawn between Auschwitz and the Great Tribulation.
• Most scholars see the first half of the seven year final period of the earth’s history to be relatively normal. It is the second half that seems to have the incredible destruction, demon armies and death. So in Bible terms, the Great Tribulation lasts 3 ½ years or 42 months.
• Auschwitz opened its doors to death by gas chamber on September 3rd 1941. The advance of the Soviet Army closed down the camp on January 27th 1945. The death camp of the Holocaust was operating for 3 ½ years or 42 months.
So the death camp at Auschwitz and the Great Tribulation last almost exactly the same length of time. That is where the comparison stops.
The Final Holocaust is so terrifying, so deadly, so inescapable that God personally steps in to stop it lest not one human be left alive!
Tribulation Time Auschwitz
6,726,400,000 world pop 09.03.1941 1st gassed victim
1,260 42 months in days 1,242 days
3,350,000,000 half die 1,500,000 died
2,657,830 daily 1207 daily ave.
In Matthew 24:21-22 we see the end of everyone’s life as it was.
Time stops. Life ends. Nothing is the same again.
Remember, the One who has planned the End from the Beginning has told us what will happen in the days ahead, and this is His Plan for History.
Seven Steps from
Now to Eternity!
RAPTURE I THESS. 4 BE READY – Christ is Coming
JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST 2 CORIN. 5 BE HOLY – Christ will test our lives.
TRIBULATION REV. 6-19 BE THANKFUL – Christ will keep us from the hour.
SECOND COMING REV. 19 BE PATIENT – Christ will right all wrongs.
MILLENNIUM REV. 20 BE FOCUSED – Christ will perfect the earth
GREAT WHITE THRONE REV. 20 BE FAITHFUL – Point people to Christ.
HEAVEN REV. 21-22 BE INVESTING – Lay up treasure in Heaven.
#7: Heaven: Be Investing—By laying up treasure in Heaven. (Revelation 21:1-7; 22:1-5)
#6: Great White Throne: BE FAITHFUL–By pointing people to Christ. (Revelation 20:11-15)
#5: Millennium: Be Focused—because only Christ will perfect the earth. (Revelation 20:1-10)
#4: Christ's Second Coming: Be Patient—for only Christ will right all wrongs. (Revelation 19:1-21)
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! 2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” 3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” 6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
#3: Tribulation: Be Thankful—because Christ has promised to keep us from His time of Great Wrath. (Revelation 6:1-17)
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” 2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. 3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” 4 Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. 5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” 7 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” 8 So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. 9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. 12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
In the Great Tribulation more than 2 ½ million die every day for 42 months.
In Auschwitz just over a thousand died each day.
That means almost 2500 times as many people die every day.
Or to put it in Auschwitz terms—the number of people that died in every 24 hour day at Auschwitz will die every 30 seconds in the Great Tribulation!
Or in other terms living on earth will be like living in an Auschwitz death camp—and in death toll there will be the equivalent of an Auschwitz Holocaust twice a day for 42 months!
A brief look through the pages of Revelation chapters six, eight, nine, and sixteen--describe the living hell you can avoid if you are saved this morning. Here are only a few of the dreadful disasters that take place during the Tribulation:
1. One out of every two people will die (see Rev. 6:8 and onward), some through the ravages of war, others by starvation, and amazingly many others by the ‘beasts of the earth’. So, whether by death that come instantly and thus less dreaded or a slow and painful death that is lingering and agonizing—50 % of all people will die.
• The world's population was 6,726,400 yesterday, so that means at least 3,350,500,000 will die.
• That amounts to just about eleven times the current population of the United States. Can you imagine that?
• And remember that the population of the world is doubling every 39.5 years. So every day the number of people who will die becomes larger and larger.
2. One third of all vegetation will be burned up. All grass, every tree, everything green will be destroyed.
Revelation 8:7 The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
3. The sun and the moon will be darkened as nature goes into revolt.
Revelation 8:12 The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.
4. The gates of hell will open and hordes of locusts, the size of horses, will come upon the earth. Those locusts will be allowed to sting men like scorpions and the pain will last for five months. The Bible says men will beg God to let them die but they will not die.
Revelation 9:3-6 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
5. There will be worldwide famine unlike anything the world has ever seen.
Matthew 24:7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
Revelation 6:5-6 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come and see." So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine."
Revelation 18:8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day--death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
6. There will be a world war so bloody that the blood of those killed in battle will flow for two hundred miles, splashing up to the height of the bridle of a horse in the valley of Jezreel. This will be the Battle of Armageddon.
Revelation 14:20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.
7. All told, during the Great Tribulation, as many as half of all the people on the earth will be killed.
Now do you see why God refers to the Rapture as a ‘blessed hope’? Because the Tribulation to come is so horrible! But that means we are gone and will escape everything, right? Yes, exactly, we will miss every part of the TRIBULATION, but we will probably go through some of the worst days we have ever seen before it starts. And that is what Jesus is pointing out to us in Matthew 24 where we opened in God’s Word this evening.
And that leads us to the 2nd event that looms biggest for all of us who know Jesus.
#2: Christ's Judgment Bema: Be Holy—Christ will test our lives. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
STANDING BEFORE JESUS
At the end of his life the great Reformer and servant of the Lord, Martin Luther shared what kept him going through such lifelong adversity and hardships. He said he lived by this simple truth:
"I have but two dates on my calendar today and the day of the judgment seat of Christ!"
In other words he lived each day like he was on his way to explain what he did with his life to the One who gave him life – Jesus Christ.
Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest minds ever produced in an American had this as his constant plan:
“Resolved, never to do anything I would not want to be found doing--by Christ, at His Return.”
Are you ready this evening to appear before Christ's Throne? The Throne we will appear before was described by the Apostle Paul in several places, none is clearer than 2nd Corinthians 5:10. Turn there with me as we begin this evening.
When we take pilgrims to Greece, the most moving spot of all is in the city of Ancient Corinth. I have seen travelers who were just tourists the whole trip until they reached that spot. And there beneath the raised stone platform called in Greek the bema suddenly the awesomeness of the moment overtakes them and they see themselves at a future day standing at Christ's Throne. Often tears, often deep silence – and always reverence fills each one as the scene unfolds before their eyes.
What will matter when you stand alone right in front of Jesus?
What do you wish to have in your hands to give to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you?
What ever that is – that is what we need to live for TODAY!