He Will Come with Great Glory

by LA UBF   10/25/2008     0 reads




Matthew 24:1-51

Key Verse 24:30

Read verses 1-3. Why do you think the disciples wanted to call Jesus' attention to the temple's buildings? How did he respond? What, in turn, did they ask him?

Read verses 4-8. What will happen throughout the world as signs of the coming end? How will people respond to these things? How does Jesus view these events? (8)

Read verses 9-14. What will happen specifically to believers? Why? With what result? Yet, who will be saved? What must happen before the end will come? Why is the gospel given "as a testimony" to all nations?

Read verses 15-25. What other event will happen which people will use as an opportunity to try to deceive the elect? How should we respond in such a time?

Read verses 26-35. What will happen to the lights in the sky at the time of Jesus' return? Will there be any doubt that it is him? What does it mean that he will return with "power and great glory"? What will Jesus do upon returning? How will the world respond to his return? What lesson must we learn from the fig tree?

Read verses 36-51. When will Jesus return? Even though Jesus gives so many clear signs of his coming and of the end of the age, will people expect his return and be ready? Why do you think many will not be ready for his return? How can we be ready for his return? What can we learn from the example of the two different types of servants? What has Jesus put us in charge of?





Matthew 24:1-51

Key Verse 24:30 

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” 

Chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew’s gospel are Jesus’ teachings about the end of the age. There are many people, including believers, who love the world and put their whole heart in it. But true believers are those who put their hope in the second coming of Jesus and live their lives on earth as pilgrims. Through today’s passage we want to learn faith in the second coming of Jesus and the Christian view of human history. Today’s passage can be divided into two parts: Part I (1-14), the gospel must be preached to all nations; Part II (15-51), Jesus’ second coming with power and great glory. We live in a confused world. But through today’s passage we want to learn where we are in human history from a Biblical point of view and what should be our true hope. 

I. The gospel must be preached to all nations (1-14) 

In verses 1-2, Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem. King Herod built the temple from 19 B.C. to 63 A.D. in order to show favor to the Jews. The main building of the temple was marvelous. It took another 50 years to build all the other small buildings related to it. The temple was called “Herod’s Temple” or “The Third Temple.” It was built with white marble, and the roof was covered with gold. It was splendid and great. But Jesus abandoned the temple. Why did he do so? It was because the temple had become a den of robbers (Mt 21:13). The temple is the house of prayer for all nations, and it is the place of offering sacrifices for the atonement of sin. But it turned out to be a den of robbers where leaders did business for money in the name of God. 

But Jesus’ disciples did not know how painful this was in Jesus' heart. Rather, they were so amazed at the beauty and greatness of the temple. Look at verse 1. “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.” Jesus’ disciples were Galilean country men. They lost their minds after looking at the beautiful and wonderful temple. The temple was situated on the hill called Mount Zion. It was decorated with marble and coated with gold. When the sun shone the temple was beamed. So Jesus’ disciples exclaimed, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" What they said showed how much they loved the world. However, they should have overcome their love of the world because they had become Jesus’ disciples. 

In what way did they misunderstand the temple? They only saw the outward appearance of the temple. They saw the magnificence of the building and its splendor. But they did not see the wickedness inside of the temple, as Jesus did. They thought that it would last forever. They did not know what would happen to the Jerusalem temple--that it would be destroyed. In the same way, human beings do not know the future or what will happen to their marvelous civilization. 

What did Jesus say to his disciples who marveled at the temple? Look at verse 2. " 'Do you see all these things?' he asked. 'I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.' " Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Jerusalem temple was completely destroyed. It was demolished by the Roman army and not one stone was left on another. It is an historical lesson that those who do not live according to God’s will are doomed to be completely destroyed. What was the response from Jesus’ disciples when Jesus prophesied about the destruction of the Jerusalem temple? Look at verse 3. “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. 'Tell us,' they said, 'when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?' " Jesus’ disciples believed that the end of the world would come after the destruction of the temple. So they became serious after hearing Jesus’ words and wanted to know the time of the end of the age and its signs. 

What kinds of signs did Jesus say would appear at the end of the age? Verses 4-14 answer them. 

First, there will be many false Christs (4,5). Look at verses 4 and 5. "Jesus answered: 'Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, "I am the Christ," and will deceive many.' " When the end of the age comes, people will want to depend on someone else, because they become anxious due to many confusing events. Those who want to live an easy going life are especially vulnerable to becoming victims. When they are deceived they end up having a different idea about Jesus Christ rather than denying the Christ. In Jesus’ day, there were Dotheus, Bar Jesus, Bacokba, Simon and many other false Christs. In our country there are many false Christs who have claimed that they have already come a second time. Interestingly, some of them have already died. There are 50 false Christs and cults in our country. There are hundreds of people who are confused by them. Most of them are those who had already attended churches. 

Second, there will be many wars (6,7a). Look at verses 6 and 7a. “You 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. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Wars and rumors of wars are a sign of the end of the age, and Jesus prophesied that there will be conflicts among nations and kingdoms. Until 70 A.D. there were continuous wars in Judea. When men do not have a right relationship with God, they have conflicts with their neighbors, and there arises conflicts among nations and kingdoms. Wars and conflicts among nations and kingdoms have been increasing steadily throughout human history. If an atomic war happens now people can burn the area of the whole earth 15 times over. The Soviet Union dissipated 17 years ago and the wall of Berlin was demolished. But the number of wars has increased all the more. Around the end of the 1970's, 2 million people were killed by the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia and it was one third of the total population of Cambodia. The fire of wars is continually burning these days in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine. North Korea produced an atomic bomb and is a threat to the peace of Korea. There is a possibility of war in Korea. People may see the Korean peninsula as an explosive warehouse. At the DMZ (de-militarized zone) of Korea there are one million land mines. The U.S. has sent many soldiers to Iraq and we are troubled. There are many people who fear that they might experience such terrible things like 9/11. Many of our businessmen and politicians are confused and they also suffer from fear of an economic depression. But Jesus said that these things will come but the end is still to come (6b). 

Third, there will be famines and earthquakes in various places (7b-8). Look at verses 7b and 8. “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Natural disasters have been increasing continually since the fall of man and are still increasing. Earthquakes are related to volcanic activities and even now there are 250 to 300 active volcanoes in the world. Some time ago, there was volcanic activity on Montserrat Island in the Caribbean Sea and 75% of the city was destroyed. People think that North America is safe from earthquakes, but there is an increasing possibility of earthquakes. People worry about atomic plants which are located in the area of earthquake activity. In addition, there is famine. We think that people are almost free from starvation due to the technological development in our generation. But famine is severe. One third of all the human population on earth is suffering from famine. Every hour 30,000 people in the world die of starvation. In North Korea, 3 million people have died due to extreme drought and famine. 

Fourth, there will be persecution against believers as a sign of the end of age (9-11). Look at verses 9 and 10. "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” It is natural for believers to be persecuted for the name of Jesus as a sign of the end of the age. In the past and present Christians have been hated and persecuted without clear and proper reasons. John 3:20 reads, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” So the people belonging to the world hated Jesus who is the light and persecuted him. Therefore persecution comes to believers as it did to Jesus, in this dark world. Therefore, we who live near the end of the age should regard persecution for the name of Jesus as our glory and endure. We should prepare ourselves to suffer for Jesus because we follow Jesus. It is easy for us to indulge in the world while we live in the world. But if we love the world we cannot become Jesus’ disciples. Persecution increases all the more for our joy of salvation. 

Furthermore, at the end of the age many people will fall into temptation and betray each other. Jesus says in Matthew 10:21-22: "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” At the end of the age Satan tempts many people to sin. They fall into temptation and betray each other and put each other to death. At that time even the family is destroyed and parents and children are against each other. It is the time of losing humanity. At that time there will be many false prophets and deceived people and even families will fall apart. 

Fifth, wickedness increases and the love of most grows cold. Look at verse 12. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” At that time even in the Christian community betrayal and false prophets will destroy the unity and love of the community. They will destroy the essential value of their community and promote immorality. They will ignore moral standards. Secular humanism will be very popular. Little by little they will fall into relativism and circumstantial excuses and will become immoral. Wickedness and love are against each other. When wickedness influences the Christian community, they will be corrupted. Believers lose their love and love grows cold. This love refers to the love of God and love for one’s neighbor. In our country there may be many signs of the end of the age. These days many financial markets are in trouble because of the mortgage industry. People worry that we may have another Great Depression. In addition, the number of AIDS patients has grown to 42 million worldwide. The number of AIDS patients in Far East Asian countries, including Korea, is 1.2 million and the number in South Asian countries, including Thailand and India, is 6 million. Yet, if the current trend continues there will be 33 million AIDS patients in China and India alone. These numbers show how serious the problem of homosexuality and sexual immorality is. The Anglican Church even appointed a gay minister as pastor. It shows how popular wickedness has become. After watching for 50 years, I can see that people are losing their humanity and love is growing cold and wickedness becoming more powerful as times goes by. But Jesus said, “But the end is still to come” (6,7). There are many signs of the end of the age, but the end is still to come. 

What then does God do during those times before Jesus comes again? Look at verse 14. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Jesus said that the end will come after the gospel is preached to the whole world. It teaches the relation between the gospel and Jesus’ second coming. The idea that the end will come after the gospel is preached to all nations was handed down to the apostles (Ro 10:11-11:22). Therefore, the essence of all human histories is the history of redemption through the preaching of the gospel. In this sense we are used by God as history makers. Therefore, we should overcome all hardship and troubles and serve the one-to-one and disciple making ministry for world salvation. We should work hard to raise up disciples and send them out as missionaries. When the end of the world comes, not everyone will perish. Believers will participate in the glory of Jesus who will restore all things. That is the reason why we should pioneer the 7,000 campuses in America and the 233 nations of the world. 

II. Jesus will come with power and great glory (15-51) 

Verses 15-28 explain the destruction of Jerusalem. But it is also about the great tribulation before Jesus’ second coming. What did Jesus teach about these great trials and the life direction of his chosen people? 

Look at verses 15 and 16. "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." "The abomination that causes desolation" is prophesied in Daniel 9:27 (Dan 11:31, 12:11). It refers to the defiling of God’s temple by the king of Syria (during the Seleucid Empire), Antiochus Epiphanes, around 168 B.C.. He demolished the altar of God. Then he built an altar for Zeus over it and offered a sacrifice of pigs. The Ten Commandments were in the temple. But the head of a pig was put on it and it desecrated the temple. “The abomination that causes desolation” is also a symbolic expression of the confused world. “The end” in today’s passage refers to the destruction of the temple by Roman armies in 70 A.D. 

There are many spiritual places like the temple where we should keep absolute purity and holiness. They refer to places which must be holy. However, there are many times when those places are filled with sinful desires and idolatrous things. For example, the Anglican Church is one of the largest religious sects in the world and it has 70 million members worldwide. But last April one minister named John Shepherd denied the Virgin birth of Jesus, the resurrection and ascension, and the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus. He claimed that those are only symbolic stories to reveal God’s authority. Some in the Anglican Church claimed that they should not regard homosexuals as sinners and have appointed a gay minister named Gene Robinson. It is an abomination. 

Jesus said that his people should flee to the mountains in the time of great trials (16). In fact, in 68 A.D., many believers fled to Pella which was at the base of the mountains and survived when a Roman general invaded Jerusalem. In Genesis, two angels advised Lot to flee to the mountains and save his life (Ge 19:17). Here Jesus was saying that his people should flee the sinful city when he destroys it. They should flee as if they are fleeing from Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a warning from Jesus for his people. It is the advice to flee from the place of God’s judgment to the place of God’s salvation. The city we live in is full of wickedness and sin. But the mountain is a remote place and it is a place where we can pray. It is like a sacred place. Jesus’ advice is to leave the sinful world and go to the place of God’s protection. But many people cannot flee to the mountains in the time of dreadful trials because they cannot forget about their luxurious furniture and other possessions (17,18). But Jesus said that they should flee instead of looking back like Lot’s wife. 

In verses 19-26 Jesus said that God will shorten those days for the sake of the elect. Who would suffer the most in those trials? They are pregnant women and nursing mothers (19). In those dreadful days those who had loved the world and enjoyed it have difficulty to flee. Jesus said that they should pray that their flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath (20). What will happen in the day of great distress before Jesus’ second coming? 

Look at verses 21 and 22. "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." At that time there will be great distress that cannot be compared to the Holocaust or the Killing Field in Cambodia. But God will shorten that day for the sake of his people (22). Jesus also warns about false Messiahs once more in verses 23-26. 

Verses 29-31 describe the second coming of Jesus. 

First, there will be trouble in the heavenly bodies. Look at verse 29. "Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' " It was Jewish belief that the heavenly bodies will be shaken when the end of the age comes. 

Second, Jesus comes in full view of men like lightning. Look at verse 27. "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Therefore we should not be deceived by words that Jesus is in a desert or a room or a building. 

Third, Jesus comes again with power and great glory. Look at verse 30. "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." Jesus will come from heaven with power and authority and great glory together with a loud trumpet sound and the shout of an army of angels. He will come again as the Judge and he will restore all things. God says in Revelation 1:7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.” At that time we can know clearly what is right and what is wrong. Yet, it is too late for regrets. At that time all of man’s wisdom, knowledge and glory will crumble and become like ashes. 

What then does Jesus do first when he comes again? Look at verse 31. "And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Jesus will honor his people and take care of them first and gather them. Then they will meet Jesus in the air. They will participate in the glory of Jesus in the air. 

Jesus teaches his people about how they should live in the end of the age in verses 32 through 52.   

First, they should have eyes to see things (32-35). Through the example of a fig tree Jesus told them that they should understand that the end is near when the signs of the end of the age appear. We live in a world that is like Sodom and Gomorrah. It is filled with all kinds of immorality, lust, and violence. Therefore we should pray always so that we would not fall into temptation but discern the time's properly through the word of God. 

Second, they should keep watch (36-44). Look at verse 42. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." The wisdom to live by at the time of Jesus’ second coming is to be ready and keep watch. "To be ready" means to be spiritually alert and to discharge the mission from God faithfully. We need to be ready and alert, and pray and study the word of God, and take up our mission faithfully. 

Third, they should become wise and faithful servants (45-51). Look at verse 45. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?"  The wise and faithful servants are those who distribute food at the proper time for their sheep and take care of them like good shepherds. 

One word: Jesus will come with power and great glory.