August 24, 2009
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
All three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record what is known as The Olivet Discourse. Before delivering this message Jesus had just been in the Temple berating the religious leaders for their hard unrepentant hearts. He had told them by the Holy Spirit that their beloved Temple would be utterly destroyed with not even one stone left standing upon another that would not be thrown down. He prophesied the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem. His words sent shock waves through the crowd. His disciples were the only ones brave enough it would seem to inquire as to exactly what Jesus meant.
Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 all record the teaching that Jesus gave in response to His disciples questions of 1) When will these things be?, 2) What will be the sign of your return?, and 3) The end of the age. Jesus goes into detail answering these questions and gives a panoramic view and description of the events that would characterize the prophetic time period known as The Last Days.
Jesus spoke of deception, wars and rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes in different places. Certainly all of these things have set apart the past two-thousand years of human history from any other age or time.
I can remember many years ago, when I had not studied the prophetic Word nearly to the degree that I do today hearing the clear, unmistakable voice of the Spirit say on the inside of me, “As the day of my Return draws nearer, the signs prophesied in my Word will grow in frequency and intensity as that Day draws nearer.” I had never heard anything like that at the time. I of course since have heard many prophecy teachers make similar statements. I know now that what the Lord was saying to me is known as the, birth pangs concept. Christ Himself first mentioned this prophetic concept. He said,
Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. [Matt. 24:4b – 8 NIV Emphasis added] The Apostle Paul also used this terminology and this analogy when writing to the Thessalonians. He wrote,
1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. [1 Thess. 5:1 – 3 NIV Emphasis added] What is the thought contained in this “birth pains” concept of prophecy? Simply that just like labor pains of a pregnant woman increase in frequency and intensity as the time of the birth draws nearer, so it is with the signs of the times.
We can expect more frequent appearances of false prophets and pseudo christs drawing many astray. We can expect more frequent and more resilient strains of pestilence and accompanying viruses. We can expect more frequent and more powerful earthquakes and accompanying tsunamis causing billions of dollars of damage and countless loss of life. These are the birth pains. Expect nations to rise against nations and for greater ethnic uprisings in the months and years ahead. These things have been happening for centuries now and will only be on the rise. The unrest in the world is not going away anytime soon. You might say, “These signs are real, they are burgeoning, and they are not going away!”
I would really like to break down all of the signs that the Lord gave in the Olivet Discourse and look at them in depth, and perhaps we will do that in a future edition of THE WEEKLY WORD. However for now, I want to look at a somewhat obscure sign that Jesus gave of His approaching Return. This sign while usually not discussed as much, is no less important than all of the rest. We turn to Dr. Luke’s version of Jesus’ teaching, in Luke 21. Among other things Jesus prophesied,
And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [Luke 21:11, 25, 26 NKJV] What is Jesus saying here? What are the implications of this warning from Messiah?
Please notice the phrase, fearful sights and great signs from Heaven. “Fearful sights” could be translated, “a frightening thing.” It is from the Greek word, phobetron, and we get the word, phobia from it. It is something that causes fright, which can have a long term affect, if you will.
Not only will there be “fearful sights”, but “great signs shall there be from heaven.” First, the word “great” is significant because it is the Greek megas, and could be translated as big, or massive. Big or massive what? Big, massive signs, seimion in the Greek, from heaven. Heaven is the Greek, ouranos, referring to the sky.
So you could translate this, “In the Last Days there will be frightening events occurring that will have long term affects on those who witness them. These frightening events will occur in the sky causing men’s hearts to fail them for fear due to those things coming on the earth because the very powers of the sky will be made to tremble.”
Are there strange, even frightening things occurring in the skies these days? There certainly are. Are there strange happenings, occurring with greater frequency, often defying our sophisticated radars and detection? Again, the answer is yes. What is going on and why is it occurring? Are we being visited by beings from another planet, another world, if you will? If so, what do they want? Have they been here before? The answers may surprise you. What does all of this have to do with Bible prophecy?
The answers to what is coming in the end were revealed in the beginning, and we will examine that and more next time!
The Weekly Word is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 – 12. Here the Bible says,
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. [2 Thess. 2:9 – 12 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson