Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] We must live in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ. It must be a daily anticipation.
People thought it was the end of the world. Tens of thousands believed that Jesus was about to return. Across New England farmers gave up their land. People actually threw away their money, thousands gathered in churches and homes. They camped out in meadows anticipating the most dramatic event in history.
As night fell the excitement and anxiety was so intense. Believers sang hymns. They prayed, they talked with each other about what is it going to be like in heaven. As midnight approached the feeling of expectation, well you can imagine, it was almost unbearable.
Then midnight passed. Confused and stunned people waited through the early morning until dawn revealed that Jesus hadn’t returned.
The date, October 22, 1844. The event is known as the Great Disappointment and it contains lessons for those today who are waiting for the return of Jesus Christ.
Are you anticipating the return of Jesus Christ? Are you looking forward to that? How do we not make the same mistakes in anticipating the future that they made?
We can learn much from the Great Disappointment. Especially from their misunderstanding of biblical prophecy about the events that lead up to Christ’s second coming.
Today we’re going to talk about some prophetic signs of Christ’s return and how to anticipate those events in your life right now today.
Our topic today is “Are We Living in the Time of the End?” Now to answer that question we have to actually answer another question. The end of what? Are we living in the time of the end? The end of what?
You know today we’re not going to talk about doomsday. I’m not going to talk about the end of the world. We’ve seen the movies where the earth is destroyed and people are just eeking out a living in the darkness. That’s not what we’re going to talk about although we are going to talk about a few bad events the Bible predicts. But this is a message of hope. This is a message about the only hope we really really have. And we are going to begin with the words of Jesus Christ in what is known as the Olivet prophecy.
Jesus was with his disciples on the Mount of Olives and they asked him a very important question. We’re picking this up in Matthew 24. He says, He’s gathered them together and they said to Him tell us, what will be the sign of Your coming? The end of the age. Now Jesus’ disciples wanted to know about His coming. Now he was already there. That’s a strange question except that you realize they knew the Old Testament, what we call the Old Testament, the Bible and they knew that God had predicted that He was going to send His anointed one the Messiah to set up God’s Kingdom on this earth. So their question is, when is the end of this age? They didn’t ask when will the world be destroyed? In 1844 those people thought the earth was going to be destroyed by fire. They thought Jesus was going to come, take them away, and remember this was tens of thousands of people all across the eastern seaboard and it didn’t happen. They thought the earth was going to be destroyed. They asked when is the end of this age?
What age? You know to answer that question we have to go clear back to the beginning. We have to go clear back to the beginning of Genesis. Adam and Eve were created by God and lived in the perfect world. A perfect relationship with God and a perfect relationship with each other. They had the only time in history for a short period of time where there was the perfect marriage. That’s what they experienced. And then Satan was allowed to come into the Garden. Now I said Satan was allowed. Understand Satan didn’t sneak in. God didn’t somehow turn His back, was looking at something else and suddenly Satan sneaks in. That’s not what happens. God allows him to come in because all they’d ever known was good and God was literally going to say there is another way and you are going to have to choose which way you want. And he came in and he convinced them of a different way and Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and they entered a new age. They entered a new time.
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul says that Satan is the “god of this age.” That’s actually a surprise for a lot of people. What do you mean Satan is the god of this age? There’s God, God rules everything and that’s true. God is still on His throne. God hasn’t lost control. God still has total power. God is God. That’s not the issue. The issue is that when Adam and Eve chose Satan’s way God says okay you can live under his rule for a while and then I’m going to fix it, and this is the part we are going to talk about today. How God fixes that.
You and I were born, you and I were born into that evil age. It’s where we showed up. This isn’t what God expected. It’s not what God wanted. In God’s age there’s no war. The way God designed humanity there’s no hatred. There’s no prejudice, there’s no poverty, there’s no deceit. You and I are living in that age and when those disciples came to Jesus what they were asking was, when does this end? When does a better time come? They lived in a bad world where they were under the rule of the Roman Empire.
God has allowed Satan to rule but there is coming a time when He says it’s enough and that was the plan from the beginning. When they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden God didn’t say well I really messed this up. Now I’ve got to think this through. I’ve got to somehow fix this. No, no. Satan’s going to have it for a while and then I’m taking it back and you all are going to learn there’s two ways. One way works and one way doesn’t. And that’s why this isn’t about doomsday. This isn’t about, oh no, the destruction of humanity as the people in 1844 thought.
This is the only hope we have and as we go through here the Olivet Prophecy what we’re going to see is that Jesus Christ said in fact that if He doesn’t come back it is going to be the end of humanity. He doesn’t cause doomsday. He saves us from it. This is the core of the Christian vision of life, our world view, and our hope.
Now all of you received when you came in a Study Guide. I want you to pick up your Study Guide and turn to page 23. Now at home if you would like a free copy of this Study Guide all you have to do is call the number on your screen. Call it right now or you can go to beyondtoday.tv and you can download it, order your free copy, and you can follow along too.
So you have your Study Guide. Now I’m going to show you on page 23 you see the heading of this section Jesus Christ’s Olivet Prophecy, Where Are We Now? Now when you go through this part of the Study Guide what you are going to see is that there are lists of things that Jesus said these things have to happen before I return. Before I come back.