The Signs Of His Coming

The Signs Of His Coming

March 30th, 1988 @ 12:00 PM

Matthew 24:29-33

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
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THE SIGNS OF HIS COMING

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 24:29-33

3-30-88    12:00 p.m.

 

Remember this is a busy lunch hour for you, and any time you have to leave you feel free to do so.  We all understand.

The theme for this year has been, isThe Second Coming of Christ”:  on Monday, The Glory of the Pre-Millennial Faith; yesterday, Why I Became a Pre-Millennialist; today, The Signs of His Coming; tomorrow, The Time on God’s Clock; and on Friday, Christ the King of Forever.  The sermon today:  The Signs of His Coming.

I could as easily have kept newspapers and delivered this message out of our daily newspapers as I can out of the Bible.  Reading as a background text in the twenty-fourth—the apocalyptic discourse of the Lord in Matthew, Matthew 24:29:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven . . . and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

[Matthew 24:29-30, 32-33]

The signs of His coming.  Out of a multitude I have chosen nine.

The first, in Revelation chapter 16, beginning at verse 13:

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

They are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth. . . to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Har Megiddo, Armageddon.

[Revelation 16:13-14, 16]

The battle of Armageddon in southern Galilee, in Palestine: God says the denouement of the world will be in the Near East.  It will be in Canaan; it will be in the land of Israel. There God will gather together from the great nations of the earth the ultimate and final confrontation [Revelation 16:16].  I read that in every newspaper of every day. The little state of Israel is no larger than Maine, but no matter what else, the eyes of the world are always centered in Israel.  The denouement of the age is there.

 In these days past, under the course of several presidents, I used to be invited frequently to the White House.  President Gerald Ford came here to the church and sat right there.  In the cabinet room, which is just next to the Oval Office, I was seated there with some of the nation’s leaders.  We were in the midst of the conclusion of the Vietnam War, and I asked Henry Kissinger, then secretary of state, I said, “Mr. Kissinger, do you think that out of this conflict in Malaysia will come a great world conflagration?”  He said, “No, not at all.  The war will not go beyond what you see in Vietnam.”  I then asked him, “Where do you think that the ultimate confrontation of the nations of the world will be?”  And he said, “It will be in the Near East, in Israel.”  The American Mediterranean fleet is there.  The American naval power is in the Persian Gulf.  Russia is coming down from the north, through Afghanistan. And however we may find ourselves embroiled in Africa or in South America, or in Central America, God says the denouement of the age will be in Canaan, in Palestine.  And the whole world is increasingly drawn to those congregate nations that gather around Israel in the Near East.

A second sign of the soon coming of the Lord: in Ezekiel 36, beginning at verse 24, and in Ezekiel 22, verses 19 to 22, God says to the Jew:

I will take you from among the heathen, from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

And there, then, after you are gathered in Israel, I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.

[Ezekiel 36:24-25]

Or as He says:

Therefore saith the Lord God, Because ye are all become dross . . . and tin, and iron, and lead in the midst of the furnace . . .

Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because you are become dross, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem . . .

And there I will blow fire upon you as in a furnace.  I will gather you in Mine anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you.

 [Ezekiel 22:19-22]

 

And so continuously

            In May 1948, for the first time in one thousand nine hundred seventy years, God’s people were gathered together into a nation.  And to the amazement of all of us who watched it, they are there in unbelief, just as God says, and because they are there in unbelief, they are in the fire and the fury and the heat of a furnace [Ezekiel 22:21-22].

A man said to me yesterday, “Do you think there will be peace in the Near East, in Israel?”  I said, “According to the Word of God, not until Jesus comes again” [Matthew 24:6].  His people are gathered there, miraculously in unbelief [Ezekiel 36:24-28].  My impression of Israel—and I’ve been there seven times—my impression of Israel is they are a nation of atheists, of unbelievers.  You will rarely find one that is a devotee and a servant of the Lord God—one of the strangest providences in human history; but this is what God said.  And they will not be converted until Jesus appears to them, according to Zechariah, from the sky [Zechariah 14:1-21].

A third:  in Jeremiah 31:23, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I bring them again from their dispersion,” their Diaspora.  God says a sign of the coming of the end will be, in this land the Jew will be speaking Hebrew [Jeremiah 31:23].

When the Jew was taken into Babylonian captivity in 586 BC, before Christ, 586 BC, when they were taken into captivity in the land of Babylon, they ceased speaking Hebrew [Nehemiah 8:5-8].  They spoke the land’s language, Aramaic.  When they came back from the captivity, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah [Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10], seventy years later, when Ezra sought to teach the Word of God to the people he had to have a translator: they had forgotten their mother tongue and they were speaking the land of their captivity [Nehemiah 8:5-8].  But Jeremiah said the day is coming when God shall gather His people; and when He does, this language, Hebrew, will once again be spoken in the land of God’s promise [Jeremiah 31:23].  Between 586 BC and 1948, in May, Hebrew was not spoken; it was a dead language in the land of Palestine.  But today it’s a living speech; it’s the living word.  All Israel today is speaking biblical Hebrew.

The signs of His coming in Ezekiel 38 and 39:

The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, in the land of Magog, Rosh, the prince of Meshech, Moscow, and Tubal, Tobolsk and prophesy against him and say, Thus saith the Lord God, I am against thee, O Gog, and Rosh, the prince of Moscow and Tobolsk

[Ezekiel 38:1-3]

And then the following prophecy: God says at the end of the age, Russia will come down from the north into Palestine [Ezekiel 38:4-8].  That is the precipitation of Armageddon [Revelation 19:11-21].  That’s the strangest thing, Russia.  Always in the prophecies, the great enemy of Israel comes down from the north; Gog is the name of the ruler, Magog is the name of the country.  It’s the land north of the Black Sea.

President Reagan called Russia an evil empire.  What we forget is that in our hatred and contumacious bitterness toward Hitler, we forget that it was Russia in a conspiracy with Hitler that divided Poland and invaded it.  And we forget that while we are bitterly contemptuous of Hitler, the greatest blot upon mankind, at the same time that Hitler was ravaging the nations of northern Europe, Russia was raping Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania, and destroyed them from the face of the earth, taking part of Poland, taking part of Romania, adding to a Warsaw Pact the entire earth in Eastern Europe.  Russia, God says, is an enemy.  And in the great battle of Armageddon, the final confrontation will be fought, and Russia will be destroyed [Ezekiel 39:1-5].

Again, an amazing confirmation of the Word of God regarding the end time:  “And Persia”—Iran—“and Ethiopia, and Libya, with Russia, will I judge” [Ezekiel 38:5].  Did you know, I have preached in those nations?  In Iran, we had the finest ally that America could ever think for.  In Ethiopia, we had a marvelous adjunct.  In Libya we had one of the dearest friends America could ever have.  They were so when I have been and preached in all three of those countries.  Today, Iran is a bitter enemy of the West and of America. Today, Ethiopia is a communist land; and Libya is as contemptuous of all we believe in as any demonic personality in the lowest regions of hell.  Who would ever have thought that a few months ago?

And once again, an amazing thing in the prophecy of God, the friendship of Israel and Egypt:

In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord.

It will be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt:  for they shall cry unto the Lord because of their oppressors, and [He] shall send them a Savior, and a Great One, and God will deliver them. . .

In that day there shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, to Iraq, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.

And in that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:

Whom the Lord God of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria, Iraq, the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance.

[Isaiah 19:19-20, 23-25]

They were bitter enemies, Egypt and Israel.  They fought that War of 1967.  They fought the Yom Kippur war.  And then out of the blue of the sky, the headlines of the paper said, “Sadat has signed a concordant with Israel.”  And however vicious the Arab neighbors of Israel today may be, Egypt increasingly is her friend.  Egypt and Russia had a compact; and Russia was using the great port of Alexandria for the home of its Mediterranean fleet.  Egypt said, “Out!” and there’s no Russian today in Egypt.  And according to the Word of God, toward the end Egypt and Israel are going to be friends.  “God bless My people Egypt . . . and God bless Mine inheritance Israel” [Isaiah 19:25].  What an amazing thing!

Dear people, bear with me as I try to finish in a moment.  The end time:  Daniel says at the end time God will have an end to these prophecies:  “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” [Daniel 12:4].  And then he avows that war and desolations are determined unto the end [Daniel 9:26].  The most amazing picture of the end time is in the Word of God.  Nahum says, “The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one another in the broad ways:  they shall seem like torches, they shall run like lightnings” [Nahum 2:4].  What a description of modern tank warfare.  And Zechariah in his last chapter says, describing the kind of war that will distinguish the end of the world, “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongues shall consume away in their mouth” [Zechariah 14:12].   What an amazing description of atomic warfare!

I was in Hiroshima, Hiroshima, not long after the bomb was dropped.  I visited those who remained alive in the hospital.  The bomb was detonated right above the city hall.  And they took me there, and said, “Look at this. There is the shadow, the perfect shadow of a man seated on the steps against the wall of that city center of government.”  And his shadow is as distinctly seen there as if he were there under the sun.  He was vaporized.  When that bomb exploded, he melted away—just as Zechariah has described.  Our very eyes melt in their sockets—a sign of the end time:  the ultimate battle that will be fought.

A sign of the end, Matthew 24, “This gospel shall be preached in all the world, unto all the nations, and then shall the end come” [Matthew 24:14].  At no time in human history could such a prophecy have been fulfilled except today.  I was in Monaco, that little principality in southern France; there is a radio station there of five hundred thousand watts power—the biggest radio station in America has one hundred thousand—five hundred thousand watts power; and they broadcast the Word of God on forty different languages all through the communist world.  I was in the Fiji Islands, so long under the British; and just meandering around I saw a Fijian lying with his ear to the ground.  It enticed me. I went over there and looked at him.  He had a little radio about two inches by three inches, the tiniest little radio you ever saw.  He had placed it flat on the ground, and he was lying there with his ear on that radio.  You know what I did?  I had the temerity to get down there by his side, and I put my ear to that little radio to listen to what he was listening to.  You know what it was?  It was a wonderful sermon from a Methodist preacher.  Amen!

That’s a sign of the end time:  when the entire world shall hear the gospel of Christ.  And it’s only today such a thing could be possible:  by radio, by television, the whole earth hearing the message of our living Lord.

And the last one is a tragedy, the great apostasy, 2 Thessalonians 2:3:  “There shall come a falling away first, then shall be revealed that Antichrist, whom the Lord shall destroy with the presence of His coming” [2 Thessalonians 2:8].  What a tragedy: our age ends in a great apostasy, a falling away.

I have gone through nations like Sweden, asked people after people after people, “Come to the house of the Lord,” and have no other reply except, “I’m not interested.”  There are not more than one and one-half percent of the Britishers, where my folks came from, England, there are not one and one-half percent that go to church.  While I was in England a summer ago, I saw an advertisement of the government in the daily newspaper, saying, “There are seven thousand churches in England for sale.”  Seven thousand of them for sale:  you can buy them for practically nothing, churches, empty churches.  And in America, one of the great historic Baptist churches in New York City—beautiful, far more beautiful and ornate than this; most beautiful stained-glass windows.  Dear Lord, what a glorious monument to Thee!  Counted the people: there were thirty-five present in a city of seven million; the falling away.

O, for the floods on the thirsting land!

O, for a mighty revival!

O, for a fearless, sanctified band,

Ready to hail its arrival!

[“Under the Burdens of Guilt and Care,” W. Leslie]

The need of the land is revival,

A freshen of grace from above;

Repentance toward God and forgiveness,

More trusting in Christ and His love.

[“Abundant Life,” William Leslie]

God grant our eyes may see it before the great judgment day comes.

Now may we stand together?  And Charles Shelby, the vice president of our preachers’ school, will lead us in our benedictory prayer; Charles Shelby.

THE SIGNS OF HIS COMING

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 24:29-33

3-30-88

I.          The denouement of history in the Middle East(Revelation 16:13-16)

A.  White House cabinet room – Henry Kissinger

B.  Whole world is increasingly drawn to the nations that gather around Israel in the Near East

II.         The return of the Jews in unbelief to Israel(Ezekiel 22:19-22, 36:24-28)

A.  May 15, 1948, God’s people gathered together into a nation

B.  A nation of atheists(Zechariah 14:1-21)

III.        The revival of the Hebrew language(Jeremiah 31:23)

A.  When the Jews were taken into Babylonian captivity in 586 BC they ceased speaking Hebrew

B.  From 586 BC and 1948 it was a dead language – Israel today is speaking biblical Hebrew

IV.       From the north, the appearance of the overwhelming enemy(Ezekiel 38:1-3)

A.  Russia will come down from the north into Palestine

1. Gog the ruler, Magog the country

B.  We forget that at the same time Hitler was ravaging nations of northern Europe, Russia was destroying Eastern Europe

V.        The confederation (Ezekiel 38:5)

A.  Persia, Iran, Ethiopia, Libya – I have preached in these countries

B.  Today Iran is a bitter enemy, Ethiopia is communist and Libya contemptuous

VI.       Friendship of Israel and Egypt(Isaiah 19:19-20, 23-25)

A.  Strangest of all developments – they had been bitter enemies

VII.      Daniel’s description of the end times(Daniel 9:26, 12:4)

A. Description of modern warfare(Nahum 2:4)

B.  Zechariah describes the kind of war that will distinguish the end of the world – atomic warfare (Zechariah 14:12)

1. Visiting Hiroshima

VIII.     Gospel preached to all nations(Matthew 24:14)

A.  Radio station in Monaco

B.  Fiji islander with his ear to the ground, listening to preaching on radio

IX.       The great apostasy(2 Thessalonians 2:3)

A.  Our age ends in a great falling away

1.  Hymn, “Under the Burdens of Guilt and Care”

2. Hymn, “Abundant Life”