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The King Judges Those Left Behind – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 14, 2024 1:00 am

The King Judges Those Left Behind – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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February 14, 2024 1:00 am

While there’s much suffering in our world today, the Great Tribulation will bring unparalleled suffering. When God’s judgment rains down at the end times, people will beg for relief, but still rebel against God. In this message from Matthew 24, Pastor Lutzer points to the signs of the Tribulation. Are the signs of the Tribulation for us today?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The Great Tribulation will bring suffering never before seen on this planet. Jesus and the Old Testament prophets spoke of this time. As God's judgment rains down on the earth, people will beg the mountains to fall on them.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, in your opinion, how long do we have before the Great Tribulation starts? You know Dave, first of all I want to say that when I read those passages of scripture that you referenced, chills go through my body. When I think of the suffering that is still to happen on this planet, it is very difficult for us to even imagine it. But specifically in answer to your question, I'm going to be very cautious. Perhaps those who have listened to the ministry of Running to Win before have heard me say, when it comes to prophecy, it is much better to say much too little than a little too much because so many people have been wrong.

But I will say this, never before have we seen so many events coming together that certainly tend to point to the culmination and the return of Christ. Let me ask you listeners a question. Are you blessed as a result of the ministry of Running to Win? Would you consider connecting with us? Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?

You need more info, go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And no matter when the Lord returns, may we be ready. Today I'm going to speak about a subject that is awesome.

Awesome because of its reality, awesome because it is going to come. It's a message that will lay a huge burden on your soul. It is a message actually of judgment. Of course, we shall end with grace, which is where we always need to end. But before we get to grace, we have to look at the words of the Lord Jesus Christ about the topic of what we call the great tribulation. It's actually what he called it, the great tribulation. There are many people today who downplay the tribulation because either they spiritualize it and simply say that it happens somehow spiritually.

Some even believe that it has already happened. And then there are others who minimize it because as far as they are concerned, the church has always had tribulation. So why the uniqueness of the great tribulation? Today as we shall see that while the church has always had tribulation, it has never had what we're going to be discussing today. You know, in the Old Testament, the great tribulation was predicted.

Let me read a few passages before we get to our text. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord God says that he would scatter Israel, then he would bring them together. And in chapter 4 verse 30, he says, when you are in tribulation and all these things come upon you in the latter days, notice that, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. All that happens in the latter days. And Israel shall turn to God as we shall see in just a moment. Then you have the book of Daniel. Daniel says this in chapter 12.

Please listen carefully. At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble such as never have been since there has been a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, that is the Jews, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake some to everlasting life, some to everlasting shame and contempt. Daniel predicted a time of great tribulation.

And there would be those who would be saved whose names were written in the book. Revelation chapter 7 talks about a great multitude, and we will be mentioning this as we go through this, that came out of the great tribulation. And Jesus spoke of it very clearly. Before we turn to Matthew chapter 24, and I would encourage you to turn to it right now in fact, Matthew chapter 24, I'm going to begin by giving you some purposes of the great tribulation. Why this great tribulation that Jesus speaks about and the New Testament speaks about in various passages? Why the great tribulation? First of all, the great tribulation is a time when God unleashes his wrath on the earth. It says in the book of Revelation that the great day of his wrath has come and who shall be able to stand.

In fact, when it comes to the vials and the bowls that are thrown out on the earth, it says, and the cup was filled with the unmixed wrath of God. You say, why is God so angry? He's angry because during this period of time, as we shall see, the Antichrist arises.

Almost all the world except those who are written in the book, and we'll talk about that, will worship him. It is a time of unparalleled evil and time of unparalleled blasphemy. And God is going to show his indignation to the earth.

You say, well, does the last generation have to be the one to endure this? Well, the fact is that those who have died, if they have not trusted Christ as savior, they will be in a place called Hades, which I'm sure will not be better than being in the great tribulation. So in the end, God's justice will be finely tuned and correctly distributed.

But here we see God's anger and wrath against sin. Second reason is to prepare Israel to enter into the kingdom, to prepare Israel to enter into the kingdom. I said a moment ago, as we're reading from the book of Daniel, that the people shall go through this time and then there will be those who will be resurrected to life. There will also be those who survive the tribulation who go into what we call the millennial kingdom.

In fact, Jeremiah has an interesting prophecy. He says that this period of time, the great tribulation is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. Paul said in Romans, so then all Israel shall be saved. There's going to be a whole generation of Jewish people who are going to see Jesus as the Messiah when he returns and accept him as their own. And they, along with some Gentiles as well, will go into what we call the millennial kingdom. So remember, first of all comes the tribulation. Then all those Old Testament prophecies and New Testament prophecies regarding a kingdom on earth.

Now you might be gratified to know at this point that I will be preaching an entire message just on the millennial kingdom as we go through this series entitled When He Shall Come. So the second reason is to purify Israel, to save Jews who will become a part of the kingdom so that God's promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can finally fully be fulfilled. There's a third reason, and that is during this period of great tribulation the human heart is finally revealed in all of its sinfulness. You read the story in the New Testament book of Revelation and the judgments, and even though there are hailstones coming from heaven, the sky is blackened, rivers are being turned into blood, it says that many people still would not repent of their sorceries and of their immorality. You'd think they'd say, wow, in light of this, I'm going to flee to God's grace. Millions will multiply to millions will not.

The human heart, very interesting and revealed during this period of time. There's a final reason, and that is to show Jesus Christ's total triumph over the devil. When you get to the book of Revelation and you see there the story of the great tribulation, Satan no longer is working undercover.

Now he is spoken of as the red dragon that has been cast out of heaven, and Satan in his fury is going to do all the damage that he possibly can to God and to God's people, and it will appear at times as if he's winning, but in the end he loses and is cast into the lake of fire justly so where he will be tormented day and night forever and ever. The end of the day, the contest is not even close. Jesus wins. Amen.

Jesus wins. Now all that is simply my introduction. Our text for today is the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and today we're going to read the scriptures.

I hope that you have one in front of you there. If you're listening by way of radio or internet, find the Bible. Our pew Bible's here.

I think it's page 829. Follow along. These are the words of Jesus.

Take it from him. Well, he's with the disciples, and they're overlooking the temple area, and Jesus said, all of these stones that you see here, the beautiful temple that was built, not one stone shall be left upon another that shall be torn down. The disciples ask him, verse 3, when will these things be and what will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age? Jesus, in effect, ignores their first question about when these things, the destruction of the temple, will take place, and he launches into this discussion of the signs of his coming and the end of the age.

Now it's true there are some parallels between this and the Gospel of Luke where Jesus does talk about the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But Jesus begins, and he talks about certain signs. So there are two questions we have to answer before we get into the text, namely, where are we as believers during this period of time?

Where do we fit into this? As you know, based on the previous messages that I have given, I believe that we will be raptured up, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, we will be with the Lord because the coming of Jesus is in two stages. First of all, he comes for his church, and then he comes with the church, with his saints, and today we're talking about that second stage of the great revelation of Jesus. When as we shall see as lightning goes from one end of heaven to the other, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

We're talking about stage number two in his return. So if this scenario is correct and you've trusted Jesus as your Savior, you will be in heaven waiting to return with Christ, but we will be exempt from the wrath to come because this is a time when God's wrath falls upon the earth. There's a second question, and that is that the signs that Jesus talks about, are they signs for today?

Well, not really. They are signs during the tribulation period, during the first half of the tribulation period. They are signs, but their root can be seen today.

Every one of these signs in one way or another is happening today as we get into the signs. By the way, as you read this chapter, do you notice how Jewish it is? It talks about Jerusalem. It talks about, oh, pray that your flight will not be on a Sabbath day, et cetera.

Why is it so Jewish? The best way to view the church is as a parenthesis. Old Testament, God dealt with Israel. Church is inserted into this. Now that the church is taken away, God takes up where he left off to fulfill the Old Testament promises. And that's why you don't see the church here. What you see is a message to Jewish people and Gentiles as well, who will be there during the period of the Great Tribulation. Well, very quickly now let's look at the signs.

We must hurry on. Jesus said in verse 4, see that no one leads you astray, for many will come in my name saying I am the Christ, and they will lead many astray. Today we have something like that. We have many different Jesuses. We have a Mormon Jesus. We have a New Age Jesus. We have a do-it-yourself Jesus, a cut-and-paste Jesus. People have different Jesuses. But in that day, many will say I am the Christ.

Huge, worldwide deception. Notice there'll be war. Verse 6, you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place.

Years ago, I preached a message on the little word must, things that must take place. But the end is not yet. Nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There's going to be world war, and in the period of time known as the Great Tribulation, it's going to end with a battle of Armageddon. So kingdom will rise against kingdom. There will be famine.

Certainly we have that today. Earthquakes in various places. The number of earthquakes, I'm told, is increasing. All these are the beginning of birth pangs.

This is just the warm-up. Then they will deliver you up in tribulation and put you to death. You will be hated by all nations for my sake. Widespread persecution that is actually going to result in many people dying and many people being raised as martyrs. And then it says, and many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

This has nothing to do with the issue of eternal personal security. What Jesus is saying is, is that the person who endures to the end of the tribulation period, after so many millions die, the person who endures to that point will be rescued by Jesus, will be given the opportunity of entering into the kingdom. And so if you endure to the end of the age, the end of the tribulation period is what Jesus actually is talking about. And then there's another sign. Verse 14, and this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end shall come. This point in time, we have to say, whoa, stop. Let's think this through. The church is taken away.

The restrainer is taken away. The Holy Spirit is still in the world, but in an Old Testament sense of the word. Antichrist is beginning to mobilize to sign a covenant with Israel, a covenant of peace, evidently. And yet you have all these people saved during the tribulation period.

Where did they come from? If you have your Bibles open, let's turn for a moment to Revelation chapter 7. Revelation chapter 7, where we see here the story of the 144,000. Chapter 7, verse 1 of Revelation, after this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth that no wind might blow on the earth or the sea against any tree. I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun with the seal of the living God. He called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the earth and the sea. Do not harm the earth and the sea or the trees until we've sealed the servants of God and their foreheads. God is saying, I'm going to restrain my wrath while 144,000 Jews are sealed so that they might not be destroyed during the tribulation. Some people read this and they say, this must be the church.

Well, actually it actually lists the tribes. And how does God come up with such a neat number? 12,000, 12,000 to make 144,000. Only God can do that. God evidently has chosen some people and he has chosen them and will in the end time seal them and they will be converted, perhaps miraculously, something like Saul on the way to Damascus. God may just simply come out of heaven and say, believe on Jesus, be saved, and 144,000 are saved. Now, if you believe that the church is going to go through the tribulation, as many fine Christians do, you still have the question of how the church evangelizing ends up exactly with 12,000 from each of the tribes. It is a miracle done of God. You say, well, what if that isn't the correct interpretation that these 144,000 become the evangelists? By the way, last part of Revelation 7, it talks about all those who were saved during the tribulation, the great number, who evidently die and are beheaded and are now in heaven. But you say, well, how do we know that those folks
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-14 03:18:43 / 2024-02-14 03:25:47 / 7

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