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COVID-19: A Sign of the End of Times? (Steve Higginbotham)

(Matthew 24-35)

1. Much is being said about the current pandemic we are experiencing.
a. God would never use natural disasters to discipline.
b. God is using this pandemic to discipline people.
c. This is a sign of the end times.

  1. I don’t know of many passages that are as misapplied as Matthew 24.
  2. From this passage, we get the commonly heard expression that the “signs
    of the time indicate the end is near.”
  3. Let’s examine this passage in its context.
    I. Judgment Is Coming Upon Jerusalem
    A. (Matthew 23:37-39- Matthew 24:2).
    B. Jesus laments the impending destruction of Jerusalem.
    C. This destruction is a judgment of God because of their sin.
    D. This destruction will also include the destruction of the temple.
    II. The Disciples Ask Two Questions
    A. (Matthew 24:3).
  4. They may have thought both events would happen at the same time.
  5. But in his answer, Jesus divides their questions and answers them
    accordingly.
    III. Jesus Answers Two Questions
    A. When will Jerusalem be destroyed (Matthew 24:4-35)?
  6. Gives signs (Matthew 24:5-14).
  7. Tells them what to do (Matthew 24:15-28).
    B. When will he come again (Matthew 24:36-25:46).
    Conclusion: 1. There will be no signs (Matthew 24:26-44).
  8. It will be as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:38-39).
  9. It will be as a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10).
  10. In view of that, what manner of persons ought we to be (2 Peter 3:11)?
  11. While we cannot determine if this pandemic is a judgment of God, we can learn from it (Luke 13:1-5).

Covid-19: A Sign of the End of Time? (Steve Higginbotham) from Karns Church of Christ on Vimeo.

Transcript:

Probably if you’re on social media and most of you are, and probably more now than before because we have more free time, it seems being at home, but there has been a lot said on social media about this virus and the pandemic that we’re experiencing right now. What do we to make of this? Is this an act of God?

Is it a coincidence? Is it the maybe the end of time, the Mark of the end of time? Let me say three things about that and then we’ll get into the lesson. The first thing is, I think it would be naive to say that God would never use a pandemic, a virus, uh, you know, some kind of pestilence to discipline people.

There are people who would say, God would never do that. God’s a God of love. He would never invade, engage in that kind of activity. I think that’s pretty naive when you consider scripture. Go back to Genesis chapter six what do we have there? We have a worldwide flood, a natural calamity. That wasn’t coincidence.

It was God bringing that on as a discipline. And then you can go in Exodus 12 and 13, and you see the plagues that God brought upon Egypt to discipline them so that they would let his people go. And throughout history, God, uh, on a number of occasions used pestilence, uh, to discipline and bring about his purposes.

So I think it would be naive to say it’s outside the realm of possibility. But I also think it would be presumptuous to say, this is the work of God. This is God’s action to discipline the world in 2020. Um, the reason being is we have no idea. There’s no revelation. The only way that I know. That God disciplined and use natural events and pestilences and earthquakes and so forth to discipline people in times past is because he told me, I have revelation.

I have God telling me in his word. I did that. That’s the only way I can know that, but God doesn’t reveal himself that way anymore. So for me to make a statement, I know this is God’s activity. This is God doing this. I’m out on a limb there. It’s presumptuous because we have no revelation. So, and then the third thing that I think is sometimes brought up with this discussion is the belief that this is a sign of the end times.

How many Facebook posts can you read where somebody says, ah, this is taking place. This is Matthew 24 this is what the Bible prophesied about 2000 years ago. I read a Facebook post not long ago that said, Jesus Christ told the disciples 2000 years ago that in the last days before he returns, there will be pestilences.

And famines and earthquakes. And they quoted Matthew 24 and verse seven. So could this be assigned to us that the return of Jesus is imminent? Could this be proof that Jesus is, is just around the corner and we’ll come back and we’re about, uh, for the world and all this about Toto to wind down? Well, I believe the Bible answers that question.

Now, I believe that there are some who would say, absolutely yes. All you have to do is go to Facebook and, and look, and there are people saying, this is it. This is a sign. This is the signs of the times, and maybe you’ve had discussions with people on Facebook or, or people that maybe you work with that had that, uh, uh, belief or opinion.

Then on the other hand, there are those who say, no, this is this, isn’t it? We’re going to be around forever. I’m not even sure Jesus will come again. Well, let’s let the Bible answer this question. Is this pandemic that we are experiencing right now, is it a sign that Jesus is coming back soon? Let’s let the Bible answer that and, and here’s where it’s going to be answered.

And this is where this idea comes from. So if you have your Bible, open it to Matthew chapter 24 and as we deal with this question, and the, the. The positions that are taken by it and the things that you’re hearing on Facebook. It’s all a result of people failing to take into consideration the context of Matthew 24 and I believe that if you get this lesson down today, if we study it and think about it, I think we’ll be equipped to help those who may be have been misunderstood or misguided.

And even. Manipulated by religion. I think that, uh, difficult times bring out the best and the worst in religion. The people of God will shine and they will do things and, and, and overcome the obstacles by their faith in Christ. But I also believe that those who are engaged in deception and maybe false religion and manipulation of people for a number of reasons.

Uh, these difficult times provide for them a platform to, to frighten people and to scare them and manipulate them and, and use them somehow to their advantage. So this is a good question. Are there signs of the end of the world and is a pandemic like we’re experiencing right now evidence that Jesus is coming back soon?

Well, there is a statement made in Matthew chapter 23 and if you will look at a verse seven there are these signs that are given, and this is what you hear all the time for nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and pestilence and earthquakes in various places.

And so people say, see, that’s proof that these things are about to happen whenever Jesus comes back. But let’s, let’s consider the context as a whole and we can do so in three points. The first point is this. If you go back to Matthew chapter 23 and verse 37 we see that judgment is coming upon the city of Jerusalem.

Let’s get the context before we get into chapter 24 and you remember Jesus says this, Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones, those who were sent to her, how often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

See your houses left to you desolate. For I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say bless it, as he who comes in the name of the Lord. So here Jesus says of Jerusalem, man, I have wished and I have hoped, and I was willing to take you in and comfort you and provide protection for you, but you’re the city that kills the prophets and you rejected me.

God’s own son. And as a co. as a result, there’s a price to pay. Your city is going to be left desolate. There’s destruction in your future. And he goes on in verse 24 chapter 24 in verse one Jesus went out and departed from the temple and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple, and he said to them, do you not see all these things or surely?

I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another. That shall not be thrown down. This is the temple complex. This is the center of a Jewish worship, and Jesus has just pronounced that the buildings that they were looking at would someday be destroyed, knocked to the ground, and would crumble.

Well, that’s part of that execution of God’s judgment. He just said in chapter. 13 or 23 because of your disobedience and your rejection of God’s people and profits, you’re going to be left desolate. And he continues that. This temple is going to be destroyed. So the disciples ask, and that brings us to the next point.

Judgment is coming on Jerusalem, but the disciples then ask a question. Well, they asked two questions, and they’re listed in verse three. Now as he sat on the Mount of olives, the disciples came to him privately saying, tell us when will these things be and what we, the sign of your coming to the end of the age now, I don’t doubt for a minute that they probably thought both of those events would happen.

At the same time, when is this going to happen? The destruction of Jerusalem, this temple being torn down and what’s going to be the sign of the end of the age you’re coming. I figured they saw it all was one cataclysmic event. You know, when Jesus comes back, all this is going to be destroyed. And so they’re asking maybe one question in their mind, but really they asked two questions and, and Jesus understands they’re not going to happen.

At the same time, the destruction of Jerusalem was not going to take place when Jesus comes back. And so what’s he do. He takes it up both of their questions and he gives an answer, but he answers in accordance to the questions that they asked. Their first question was, when will these things be? What things?

The destruction of Jerusalem, the tearing down of the temple. That’s what he’s been talking about. And so they asked the question, when’s this going to happen? And so Jesus says, well, here’s when it’s going to happen. Jesus answered verse four and said to them, take heed that no one deceives you. There are many who will come in my name saying I’m the Christ and will deceive many, and you’ll hear of Wars and rumors of Wars.

See that you’re not trouble for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet for nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there’ll be famines and pestilences and earthquakes and various places. What’s Jesus answering? What’s he talking about in the context? He’s not talking about the second coming of Christ, the end of the world.

He’s talking about the question that they raised when Jesus said, this temple, the buildings here, they’re going to be leveled. They’re going to be knocked to the ground. And they said, well, when’s that going to happen? And so Jesus begins to give them. The answer to that question. Let me tell you when this is going to happen, when this temple is going to be destroyed, you see, he’s not talking about the end of time here.

Keep it in its context. Jesus said, I’m going to tell you when this temple, when one stone won’t be left upon another, when this temple is going to be destroyed, when Jerusalem is going to be left desolate, and so he begins to give signs. Oh, I’ll tell you what’s going to lead up to it. There’s going to be Wars and rumors of Wars.

There’s going to be pestilence and earthquakes. Those aren’t signs for the end of time. Those are signs that designated when the destruction of Jerusalem would take place. Consider further. He goes on and says, there’s a final sign. There’s more to come. But when you see those things, you know we’re getting close, but here’s the final sign that he gives.

Verse 15 when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet standing in the Holy place, whoever reads, let them understand. Then let him who reads. Flee or let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let whom who was on the housetop not go down or take anything out of his house and let him who was in the field not go back to his house to get his clothes and woe to those who were pregnant and those who have nursing babies in those days.

And pray that your flight may not be in the winter on the Sabbath. Why would the abomination of desolation? First of all, what does that mean? He said, leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, there will be Wars and rumors of Wars, earthquakes, pestilence, famines. Those were all signs, not at the end, but of the destruction of Jerusalem.

But he says, no, this is the clincher. This is the one. It’s when you see the abomination of desolation. Well, what does that mean. Well, let the Bible be its own best interpreter when you read it the same account, not in Matthew 24 but in Luke 21 in verse 20 Luke gives us a more detailed, or maybe helps us to understand what that expression means.

He said, when you see the Roman army surrounding the city flee, that’s the desolation that he was talking about. So what Jesus said is there’s signs that are going to lead up to the destruction of Jerusalem, and when it happens, I’ll tell you, these are all leading up, but when you see that army start to surround the city, he says, get out of town.

Now, question, if this were talking about the end of time, why would he tell you to run. I mean, why are these instructions given? Because he says, listen, if you are in the field, flee, flee to the mountains, what difference would it make if it were the second coming of Jesus, whether you are in Judea or are you flee to the mountains?

It wouldn’t make any difference. You can’t hide from God. This isn’t a second coming under consideration. And he says, if you’re on the house top, don’t go down into your house. Take anything out of your house, just get out of town. Well, it wouldn’t matter where you were when Jesus comes back, but it would, if we were talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and making haste to get out of that city, and he says, if you’re in the field, don’t go back and get your clothes.

What? What difference would that make if this is the return of Jesus. Yeah. He’s not talking about the return of Jesus. He’s talking about the destruction of Jerusalem. And he says, woe unto those who are pregnant. Why would it be a woe upon a woman to be pregnant when Jesus comes again? Hmm. But I know a reason why a would be if you had to get up and run and leave your home to escape for safety.

Yeah. Yeah. That would be difficult. Travel for a woman who is pregnant. And he said in pray that your flight not be in the winter flights. What difference would it make if we’re talking about the end of time? Because Jesus is coming back and it will all be done. You can’t run from God again, but if you were running from an enemy and you had to flee your home, then it makes sense.

Pray that it not be in the winter that complicates your flight and your, your escape. And pray that it not be on the Sabbath. You see the Jews practice, they close the Gates of the city on the Sabbath. Pray that it not be on the Sabbath because you may not be able to even get out of the city. So all of this that you’re here and that you’re reading on Facebook and social media and Twitter about this could be the end because the Bible foretells there will be signs.

Prior to the coming of Jesus, and those signs are pestilences among thing, other things that doesn’t have anything to do with the return of Jesus. It has everything to do with the question and the context under consideration. Jesus, when will these things be? When will this temple be torn down? When will Jerusalem be left desolate?

And Jesus gives them, uh, clues and says, and when you see this, you better get out of town because it’s going to happen. These were warnings to his disciples to escape Jerusalem and to get away before they faced what eventually happened in 80, 70. By the Roman army that how they surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed the city and tore down the temple just as Jesus said.

But they did probably ask another question, misunderstanding. They said, when will these things be and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age or the end of the world? So Jesus goes ahead and answers that question too. He said, well, here’s what’s going to happen, and here are the signs leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem.

These Wars and rumors of Wars, famine, pestle, and earthquakes. Those are all signs for destruction. But as for my coming and the end of the world, listen to what he says in verse 36 but of that day and hour, no one knows. You see all the way up to verse 35 he’s been answering the question, when’s this going to happen to Jerusalem?

And he answers that question, but now he’s going to look forward and say, let’s talk about my coming now. You did bring that up. Second part of your question, and let me tell you this, uh, of my coming, there are no signs. He says, you will not know the day or the hour. The angels don’t even know that, but my father only, and he described, this is what it’s going to be like.

But as in the days of Noah, so also will be the coming of the son of man frizzen. The days before the flood, they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving them marriage until the day Noah entered the Ark. He said, when I come again, it’s going to be like, it wasn’t the days of Noah. People were just going about life.

They’re married, they’re getting married, they’re, they’re eating, they’re drinking, and then it just happens. Noah got in New York one day and the flood came, no warning whatsoever. And then he says, it’s going to be like two men will be in the field and one will be taken and the other left, two women will be grinding, one will be taken the other left watch.

Therefore, verse 42 for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. So here’s what we have. We have signs that Jesus gave his disciples for the destruction of Jerusalem. I want to give you a heads up so you can get out of town and be safe. You don’t have to go right now, but today’s coming when you will and near here are the signs.

There will be Wars, there will be false Christ. There will be pestilence, earthquakes, famines. But man, when you see that Roman army. Common is time to leave, and when you see that, don’t even waste time going back to your house and getting your things, you just get out of town. Those signs are for the destruction of Jerusalem that don’t really make sense at all.

If you take them in consideration to the return of Jesus, because what difference would it make where you were and what state you were in in life? When Jesus comes again, whether you are pregnant or not. But now after he answers that, he says, now let me tell you about my coming. Cause you did ask about that too, of that day and hour.

No one knows. The angels don’t even know that, but I’ll tell you what, it’ll be like. Is there going to be a sign? Lord, will you have something for? No, it’s just going to be like in the days of Noah. Where everybody was just going about life. And then just one day God told Noah to get in the Ark and the flood came in.

Second Peter chapter three in verse 10 Jesus emphasizes that when he comes again, he’ll come as a thief in the night. The thieves don’t give you signs. They don’t give you a hint. I don’t, you don’t get phone calls and say, Hey, I’m your local neighborhood thief and I’m thinking about coming to your house tomorrow night, sometime between 12 and three.

They don’t do that. A thief comes unexpectedly, and that’s how Jesus describes his second coming. So to answer the question, when people say, is Jesus, is this a sign of Jesus? Soon coming? The answer to that is absolutely not. Because there are no signs to his coming. Now, he might come tomorrow, but he may not come for another thousand years.

We just don’t know. There are no signs given. Were there signs given for the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 80 70 yeah. Jesus gave his disciples signs and you know his history or Josephus says that not a Christian lost their life. In the destruction of Jerusalem. Both thousands did. And the reason is they listened to Jesus, they watch the signs, and they got out of town before the destruction took place.

Those things that you see and you’re hearing your friends and your neighbors, uh, unwittingly misapplying, uh, have nothing to do with the end of time. They have everything to do with the destruction of Jerusalem. But let me close by saying this

and since we don’t know when Jesus is coming again, he asked a question in second Peter chapter three in verse 11 in light of the fact that Jesus is coming as a thief in the night, what manner of persons are we to be. If he could come at any moment. Yes. Don’t you think it would be wise to be right with God?

And he tells us that we should be Holy in our conduct and, and ready to meet him. And, and that’s absolutely the truth. And that’s why we have an invitation, uh, now, and you can text your, uh. A message to me if you need to, but listen, if your life isn’t right with God, if you have sin in your life that you haven’t come clean with yet, do you not understand that Jesus can come back today?

What if he said, I want to give him one more Sunday. One more sermon. One more chance because I’m long suffering. What if, what if that’s what God is thinking and today is our last day. Would it be all right with you? Would you be good throughout all eternity? Or if Jesus came back today, would you be thinking, ah, I blew it.

I knew and I procrastinated. I put off. I wouldn’t humble myself. I was too embarrassed and look at what that got me. Listen, if you need the prayers of your brethren, or if you need a forgiveness of sin, if you need to become a Christian, uh, text us in lieu, assist you in reaching those goals. And let me just say this.

Wow. I can’t say today, the Coronavirus. It’s an act of God. Uh, this COVID-19. It’s an act of God. It’s God’s discipline. I can’t say that. But what I can say is what Jesus said in a similar instance in your Bible. So let’s close with this. Turn with me to Luke chapter 13 just a moment. And Luke chapter 13 Jesus is with the Galileans and they were present.

There was a present. There were present at the seasons, some who told him about the Galileans whose blood pilot had mingled with their sacrifices. Pilot had killed some Jews and mingled their blood in with the sacrifices is an act of defiance, and Jesus answered and said to them, do you suppose that those Galileans were worse sinners than other Galileans?

That’s a horrible fate. The fact that that would be fall, those people, do you think that means that they were worse than the rest of you? He says, I tell you no. But except you repent, you all likewise perish. Or are those 18 on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them? Do you think that they were worse sinners than other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?

There was a tower that toppled over and killed 18 people. What a terrible end. Jesus says, do you think that fell on them because they were worse people than everybody else? He says again, I tell you no, but unless you repent, you’ll all likewise perish. The point is, Jesus is saying those actions didn’t happen because God wanted to punish these people, but certainly can we not learn a lesson from it.

Jesus said, wow, they’re no worse than you. If you don’t repent, you too will befall uncertain tragedy. Uh, you’ll befall, uh, something that is catastrophic in your life. Listen to die, unprepared to meet God. If you were to contract a virus or some terrible thing and thousands of people have died, they were here today and they’re gone tomorrow because of this virus.

Does that mean to God? Did it? No, but I can do what Jesus did. Do you think they were any worse people than us? Because they contracted the virus. Well, of course not, but I’ll tell you what, if we don’t repent and if our life isn’t right with God, we too will have an unexpected fate to face someday. If your life isn’t right, text me and we’ll pray with you or for you if you need to be baptized into Christ.

We will make arrangements to do that. And if you just need the prayers for encouragement and edification, please text me as we sing the song of encouragement.

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