Are we alarmed when we hear about wars or pandemics? With destruction intensifying even more as the return of Christ draws near, Pastor Lutzer reflects on the role of believers during the Great Tribulation. The evil all around us echoes the evil within all our hearts.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today for this study of biblical prophecy. Of course, we can only touch the high points and there are many details we are passing by. You can read these in many books on prophecy that have been written. But I want to motivate you to live for God because someday these events will happen and they will culminate in the glorious return of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, we’re going to be speaking about His glorious return next time. Today I’m speaking to you about the Great Tribulation.
If you have a Bible with you or a cellphone and you have the scriptures on the cellphone turn to the 24th chapter of the book of Matthew. Jesus is seated on the Mount of Olives. He’s overlooking the temple area. He’s predicting, of course, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. But clearly, in addition to that, He is looking beyond to the future because He tells us that there are certain signs that are going to happen before the Lord returns. Now I want to clarify that nowhere in Matthew 24 is there any reference to the church. And many of us believe that the reason for that is because we will already be raptured. And so there are signs that people within the tribulation period can see that the coming of Jesus Christ is getting nearer and nearer.
This is what He says. He says, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying ‘I am the Christ’ and they will deceive many.”—Now that of course has been happening all throughout history.—”And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed.” By the way, are we alarmed when we hear about wars? Jesus is saying to his followers, “Don’t be alarmed.” Actually elsewhere He says these things must come to pass. One day here at the Moody Church I preached an entire message on the little word “must.” But we go on and we read that these things must take place. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and there will be famines, earthquakes—” We’ve all seen these things already happen. But they will be intensified as the return of Jesus Christ, the glorious return of Christ becomes nearer. “For My Name’s sake they will deliver you onto death.”—You can read all this for yourself.—”False prophets will arise and will lead many people astray. The abomination of desolation…”—Verse nineteen. I believe that that’s a reference to antichrist who goes into the temple and proclaims himself to be God. Now this also has to be connected with 2 Thessalonians 2 where it speaks about the audacity of the antichrist, going into the temple, proclaiming himself to be God. And I believe that that’s one of the reasons that it has generally been accepted by many that there is going to still be a temple built in Jerusalem.
But we go on and must indeed hurry—”In those days there will be great tribulation such as has not been seen from the beginning of the world until now and never will be.” Wow. Many people look at this passage and they say it was entirely fulfilled when the Romans came and destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. I don’t think so. Because even though there was death and starvation and horrible violence. It does not compare to the Holocaust. And Jesus said that in those days there’s going to be such tribulation the likes of which has never happened and the likes of which will never happen again—the period of the Great Tribulation.
Now in the midst of this there are believers. Jesus talks about them. Where did they come from? Well if the church was raptured during the time of the Rapture and then the Great Tribulation begins, there are some hints in the Book of Revelation. One is that, in the 14th chapter I believe it is, an angel flies through the earth preaching the eternal gospel. Also in chapter 7 you have a 144,000 Jews that have been sealed. As a matter of fact the text tells us that the judgments are stayed until they are sealed with the seal of God. So God has His ways. After all He converted the Apostle Paul without anyone present. Jesus came out of heaven and did it directly. We don’t know exactly how but clearly there are believers in the tribulation.
You say well Pastor Lutzer what are you going to leave us with today? I want you to just grasp the evil of the human heart. Because the Book of Revelation talks about one judgment after another coming upon the earth, it says also in Revelation (and perhaps I can find it here quickly) that despite all this people do not repent. And by the way in chapter 6 they say, “Mountains and rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb.” You don’t often think of Jesus as a Jesus of wrath but He will be. But here’s the passage I was looking for. “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver, bronze, stone, wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.” I just want to say from my heart to yours today that if you’re a believer it’s because God has graciously overcome in your heart, the natural darkness that we as human beings have. And He has shown the light of the gospel into your soul. Thank Him for that. Because there are many people such as this who simply will not repent. If you have, you are most blessed.
Well, next time: the glorious return of Christ, the most spectacular event in history. Be sure to subscribe and follow us. Let your friends know about it because this worldwide event is going to be seen by everyone, believe it or not. If you are a believer, well, you’re going to be there and you might be surprised as to what you are going to be doing. So, we pray that God will grant us grace and as for today, you just go with God.