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The Most Alarming Signal
The Abomination of Desolation–the moment God’s people must flee
from the gospel of Mark 13:14 to 18
I don’t know if you have heard, but the German Coast Guard is having a terrible time helping ships in distress. Marco was actually telling me about it–it has become serious. The ships call out on the radio, “We are sinking, we are sinking.” And the German Coast Guard radios back, “Yah, what are you sinking about?” That was Marco approved! Okay, I am rethinking Marco being with us.
What are you supposed to do if you’re in danger on a boat? What kind of signal are you to make? What alarm can you raise to tell others you are in danger? You can shoot off red star shells, sound a foghorn, fire a gun every minute, somehow communicate SOS, … — …, communicate MAYDAY on a radio, shoot up a parachute flare, squirt out a dye marker, use the code flag NOVEMBER CHARLIE, wave your arms up and down, or set off a smoke bomb.
Signals are important, alarms are crucial, warnings are essential, sirens are vital, and alerts are imperative. All of you have smoke alarms in your home, and though they’re a hassle, the night they wake you to a fire in your home you will be overjoyed they were present. We have idiot lights on our cars, but are thankful when they alert us to an overheating, or soon-coming engine failure in advance. And alarms are crucial because they’re lifesaving.
And that is true in the end times. Today we discover one of the most important signals which will ever be sounded on this planet. It’s described in Mark 13:14, and will occur right in the middle of the Tribulation. Open your Bibles to Mark 13, and as we continue in our verse by verse study of this great gospel, we find ourselves in the Tribulation.
The Tribulation is a 2,520-day period (that’s seven years) before the Second Coming of Christ, when God will pour out His wrath on this sinful, disobedient world. It begins when the Antichrist and the nation of Israel sign a peace treaty, and ends when Jesus returns as King. But no time on planet Earth will ever be as bad as the Tribulation. The best disaster movies do not even come close to its horrors. This moment will be the worst moment in history. The Tribulation is an unparalleled, unmatched, unequaled, incomparable time.
Mark 13:19, “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.” Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.” Daniel 12:1, “There will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” Joel 2:2, “There has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it.” And today’s passage in Mark 13:14, today’s moment in the future Tribulation is the signal, the sign, the clue that the Tribulation is now moving into full swing–and the danger to believers will now be at its highest peak.
The Tribulation has been building to this point. The birth pangs have been increasing with intensity. And now the Great Tribulation begins–the second half of the Tribulation, the last 3½ years of the 7 has now commenced. After it’s over, Christ will return and establish His Kingdom. But this second half of the Tribulation, this middle point, begins with a sign–a signal, a clue, a clear indicator. It’s so important it must be recognized, acted upon and not missed.
Why? It is more serious than a fire alarm, more important than a policeman drawing his weapon to shoot. Believers must respond to this signal like a starter gun–but the race before them is not to win, but to live. This signal to run is to run for your life. This alarm is directed at God’s children, particularly Israel, who are still living in the land of Israel. It is for those who’ve responded to the Gospel, proclaimed by the two prophets and the protected 144,000 Jewish evangelists. And if Islam is the false religion of the Tribulation, it is for all non-Muslims to flee for their lives.
If you’re new with us at FBC, we’re studying God’s Word verse by verse through the gospel of Mark. We’ve arrived in chapter 13, the Olivet Discourse–a study of the end times. We have already exposited verses 1 to 13, so today as we open up verses 14 to 18, the Lord Jesus Christ is describing the events that occur prior to His Second Coming. He is showing us the 7-year Tribulation period where God pours out His wrath for sin upon the population of the world.
But what brought this discourse about? What caused Christ to talk about the end times, which then has caused us to study the end times? Well this is the last week of the Lord’s earthly life. It is Wednesday evening–on Friday, at 9am, Christ will be crucified. And at 3pm on Friday, He will willingly choose to die.
Monday in Mark 11, Jesus had His triumphal entry, hailed as King. Tuesday, the Lord cleaned out the Temple of its moneychangers, and those buying and selling as if the Temple were an outdoor mall. Now Wednesday, the religious leaders are livid about the costly to them Temple cleaning, and challenge Christ’s authority on every front. They attack Christ with every trick in the book, trying to make the massive population gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover reject Christ, to make it easier for the religious leaders to kill Christ.
Christ answered all their questions so brilliantly He actually made the religious leaders look ridiculous. Then before Jesus leaves the Temple area, to add insult to injury, the Lord actually exposes their hypocrisy, calling them hypocrites–clean on the outside, but rotten on the inside. “You guys are fake.”
As they leave the Temple area, possibly to lighten the mood, one of the disciples comments on the greatness of the Temple in Mark 13:1. Then Jesus prophesies the total destruction of the Temple in the near future in verse 2. This motivates four disciples to ask about the future. So as they stop on the Mount of Olives on the way home to Bethany, Jesus gives a lengthy answer about the end times, the Tribulation and His Second Coming.
Being on the Mount of Olives, it is called the Olivet Discourse, but it is about the future of the world. The coming complete and utter destruction of the Temple is a type, pointing to the coming utter destruction of the Tribulation. Just like the Temple will soon be devastatingly destroyed, so the Tribulation will bring about devastating destruction to Israel and to the entire world.
Verses 1 to 13 described what life will be like in our day–we will battle with religious deception, 5 to 6, and international dissension 7 to 8a, natural disasters 8b and personal distress 9 to 13. We have religious deception today, along with wars, and earthquakes and persecution. Our world will be filled with trouble, and as we get closer to the Tribulation these events will increase with intensity. But they will never be as bad as they’re going to become during the Tribulation.
Verses 5 to 13, birth pangs are a reality in our day, but they’ll grow far worse and more intense during the Tribulation. “Oh Chris, the Lord never intended for us to look for these events–that’s not His goal.” Au contraire, you curmudgeon you—four times in this passage Jesus commands you and me to open our eyes to see. Though it’s translated differently throughout this passage, the command to see clearly, to look intently, to open our eyes, and guardedly watch is repeated with the exact same Greek verb in verses 5, 9, 23 and 33. The Lord wants His men and us to see what will happen.
But something is going to happen that will change everything. As horrible as things are going to get in the Tribulation, once we reach the middle of the Tribulation, a signal is given–a signal alerting God’s people that the Tribulation has turned so bad that all believers must run for their lives, because the Tribulation will now become (as it is called in Scripture) the Great Tribulation. The Tribulation is 3½ years long, and the Great Tribulation is 3½ years long. And in the middle of the Tribulation, at that point when the Tribulation becomes the Great Tribulation, a signal is given called the Abomination of Desolation.
War occurs before the Tribulation begins, because the Tribulation starts with Antichrist bringing peace to the Middle East. But that peace rapidly moves again to war, famine, death and martyrdom for those who turn to Christ as their Messiah. On the chart, most believe the seal judgments will cover the entire 7-year period of the Tribulation, but the trumpet judgments of Christ’s wrath occur toward the second half of the Tribulation. And the bowl judgments are poured out at the end of the seven years, meaning the Tribulation is like a telescope with intensity, starting slowly, growing with intensity, then toward the end overwhelming the earth and its people with absolute destruction and death.
The end of the Tribulation is so awful, look at what Christ says in verse 20. “Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” So the first 3½ years grow from bad to worse, and the second 3½ grow from worse to everyone dies. And that second 3½ years, the Great Tribulation starts with a trigger, a signal, a clear clue, a moment of declaration, an event of clarity called the Abomination of Desolation occurring right in the middle of the Tribulation.
And our Lord Jesus, out of love for the Jewish nation, who are waking up to who He is, and out of love for those who turn to Him during the Tribulation, His elect, warns them what to do when this abomination occurs–not Obama-nation, abomination. When the Abomination of Desolation occurs, Jesus wants His “soon to be restored people of Israel” to run for their lives.
Read verses 14 to 18, “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat.17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter.”
#1 The CRUCIAL CLUE to FLEE Verse 14a
Read verse 14a, “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand).” Here’s the key–look at verse 14, “when you see.” When this occurs, which you actually might personally witness or immediately upon hearing about it–when this event happens, act. This is a definite, real, genuine, observable, verifiable event that will take place in the future.
This event is a clear light that will be seen in darkness. This event is a loud signal that will be heard amongst the noise. This is the starting gun to begin a race that’s run so you live. It’s more important than the tornado siren alerting you to an F5. It’s more alarming than the lifeguard calling you out of the water because of the presence of a great white.
What is it? Verse 14, “the abomination of desolation”–abomination describes an object of disgust, loathsome and detestable, an event that is utterly repulsive to God–it disgusts Him. In the Old Testament, the term abomination was used of immorality, idolatry and false religion which was detestable to God because it pollutes what is truly holy.
In Revelation 17, abomination represents the iniquity of the false religious system known as Babylon the Great. Babylon is part of Islam today, so this system could be speaking of Islam. If you were with us, you know what we learned about Islamic eschatology from their writings, right? In Islamic eschatology, in their religious writings, their coming savior is named Mahdi, and when he comes he will set up his throne and establish world Islamic rule in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. That’s their eschatology.
And Mahdi will be aided by a prophet, and that prophet will be their Jesus. That’s what they say. Their Jesus will come back and say, “You were all wrong about me all along. I didn’t die, I didn’t rise, I didn’t pay for sin. I am actually a radical Muslim.” That’s the Jesus of Islam. And that errant Jesus will correct all the misunderstandings about himself, and he will be the one who massacres, possibly beheads anybody who doesn’t worship the Mahdi. That’s Islamic eschatology.
It is very consistent with our Scripture except a complete reversal. Their Messiah is the Bible’s Antichrist. Their false prophet is a fake Jesus, and their antichrist is actually the true biblical Christ. That’s an abomination, Babylon the Great, a false religious system that denies the biblical Christ and denies what the Bible says Christ did for His children by dying for sins and becoming the only way to God and Heaven.
God hates false religion. He hates it, and right now we are being trained by our culture to tolerate false religion. God does not tolerate false religion. Be gracious, be loving, but do not tolerate false religion or a morality that God hates. If it’s not the Jesus of the Bible, it is not Christ. Do not be gracious about the lies that convince people they’re headed to Heaven, when they’re actually going to Hell.
The Greek word “desolation” describes the affect produced by the Abomination. The Abomination causes desolation. Why does Jesus refer to it here? And what is Jesus referencing? Some say it is describing Pilate’s attempt to have Roman soldiers march into Jerusalem with their standards, which the Jew considered idolatrous. Others say it describes the Roman soldiers of Titus after they destroyed Jerusalem, calling Titus God. But those are not the Abomination of Desolation. Let the Bible interpret the Bible.
It just so happens the phrase, the Abomination of Desolation is also used in the very prophetic book of Daniel a total of three times. And if that is not enough to convince us that Daniel’s reference is exactly what Jesus has in mind here in Mark, let me prove it by quoting the parallel account of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:15, which actually says, “when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand).” No question, Jesus in Mark is referring to Daniel’s use of the Abomination of Desolation. So what does Daniel say?
The prophet Daniel referred to the “Abomination of Desolation” three times, Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week . . . and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate.” Daniel 11:31, “Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.” Daniel 12:11, “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”
What does all that mean? Virtually every Bible scholar, no matter what his views on eschatology, identifies that the Abomination of Daniel 11:31 is first the sacrilege committed by Antiochus IV, the Syrian king who ruled Palestine from 175 to 165 BC, better known as Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus is a type of the Antichrist.
Daniel 11 prophesies about the soon coming Antiochus, then jumps into the far future describing the Antichrist. Just like Jesus did in this passage, where the Lord prophesied about the soon coming destruction of the Temple, which is a type for the far off destruction coming through the Tribulation. So the soon coming Antiochus is a type of the end coming Antichrist. And Daniel gives us a preview of the future Abomination by the Antichrist, by describing the abomination of Antiochus Epiphanes in the 2nd century BC.
The prophecy of Daniel 11:21 to 35 perfectly describes the coming rule of Antiochus, who gained his throne “by intrigue” (verse 21), made incursions into Egypt (verse 24 to 27), broke his covenant with Israel (verse 28), and his desecration of the Temple (verse 31). And it’s his dealings with the Temple which seem to be the focus of the Abomination of Desolation, which then describes this future event by the Antichrist in the Tribulation.
There is a strong connection between the Temple and the Tribulation in the mind of Christ. What did Antiochus do? Antiochus sought to defeat surrounding nations through military conquest, then assimilate them into his kingdom by forcing them to adopt the Greek language and the Hellenistic culture. If he could get conquered nations to speak the Greek language, wear Greek clothing, adopt the Greek philosophy, and worship the Greek gods, he could effectively assimilate them into his empire.
To achieve that end, in 168 BC the troops of Antiochus Epiphanes marched into Israel. History records they sought to turn the Jews from Moses and the Law, from circumcision as an identification of covenant relationship with Jehovah, and from all their religious customs. History tells us Antiochus initially met with success in Hellenizing the Jewish people.
A large segment of the nonreligious Jews willingly capitulated to his demands. But many did not, so in response, 2 Maccabees tells us Antiochus plundered the Temple, slaughtered eighty thousand Jewish men, women, children and infants, sold the wives and children who survived into slavery, and tried to obliterate the Jewish faith. But that was not the Abomination.
In December of 167 BC, Antiochus committed his crowning act of sacrilege by committing his “Abomination of Desolation”. This was done by erecting an altar to Zeus in the Temple and sacrificing a pig on it. He then took the blood of the pig and sprayed it all over the Temple. A pig is the most ceremonially unclean of all animals to a Jew. And not only did he sacrifice it on the altar and spray its blood all over the Temple area. Antiochus actually forced the priests to eat pork by stuffing it down their mouths.
By setting up the idol of Zeus, Antiochus was erecting a deity he fancied himself as manifesting. He was setting up self-worship. His true desire was for the Jews to worship Antiochus, which is why he took to himself the title Theos Epiphanes, which means “manifest god”. But his enemies nicknamed him Epimanes, which means “madman” or “the insane one”. Ironically, when he died in 163 BC, he was totally insane–outraged to the point of madness because of his military defeats to the Jewish rebel, Judas Maccabaeus.
That horrible defilement by Antiochus was a preview of the greater Abomination of Desolation which will be committed by the Antichrist in the middle of the Tribulation. Jesus, in Mark 13:14, is looking towards a yet future Abomination of Desolation. No doubt our Lord’s hearers were familiar with the events surrounding Antiochus and the Book of Maccabees. The abomination that results in the desolation of the city and the Temple takes place more than once in history.
So what does Jesus say? Let the reader of Daniel’s prophecy understand. Just as it happened in the past with Antiochus, the holy place will be desecrated again in the future with the Antichrist. Back to verse 14, Jesus says, “’But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be.’” What is this? Mark leaves the place unidentified.
But Matthew does not. He tell us in 24:15, ”… standing in the holy place.” Acts 21:28 clarifies that the “holy place” is a reference to the Temple. So in the future, the Antichrist will be standing in the Temple and claim to be God–and all will be required to worship him and follow his faith. All others must die. Don’t miss the fact this shows us the Temple will be rebuilt, and the sacrificial system will be reinstated during the Tribulation, probably part of the peace treaty that begins the Tribulation.
Look again at verse 14, the verb ”standing” is in a masculine form, intentionally referring to the Antichrist standing in the Temple. When will this take place? Daniel the prophet tells us at the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week the Antichrist will enter into an agreement with Israel and make an alliance with her.
At the beginning of the Tribulation, described in Daniel 9:27, “He will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but [WHEN] in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” The Abomination takes place in the middle of the Tribulation.
The Abomination of Desolation triggers the last 3½ years of the Great Tribulation. Halfway through the 7-year tribulation, this satanic leader of nations will turn against Israel. The Antichrist will break his peace treaty, demand to be worshiped, demand everyone worship his faith, which is the Abomination of Desolation, and it is this event that begins the second half of this 7-year judgment, turning it into the Great Tribulation.
So now you know, Jesus is talking about Daniel’s description of the Abomination of Desolation–you know that Daniel’s description is first about Antiochus, who’s according to Daniel and Jesus, a type of the coming Antichrist. And the Abomination is about defiling God’s Temple and setting oneself up to be God in the place of the true God. That defilement by Antiochus was a preview of a greater Abomination committed by the Antichrist in the end times.
And we know it is coming in the future, because Paul confirms it in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to 4, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
In the middle of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will move against Jews and Christians who will not embrace his faith, nor worship Him–and as a result, millions will be slaughtered. Revelation 6:10, “and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” Revelation 13:7a, “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.”
Once this abomination is committed by the Antichrist, verse 14, “Let the reader understand,” the atrocity of Mark 13:14 to 23 will be put into effect. And you did catch the fact that Jesus is not talking to His disciples–this is not for the disciples, this is for readers. See it? “Let the reader understand,” Mark wrote this down telling us this is not going to happen until this is written down in Scripture later and read. This is for a future generation of readers, not for those who are listening on the Mount of Olives, but for future readers and followers of the New Testament. Especially for those who live during the Tribulation. What do they need to understand?
#2 The COMMAND to FLEE Verse 14b
“Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” The command is to flee–flee to the mountains. Those who live closest to the Temple, those who live in Judah, in Israel, are exhorted to flee–take refuge “to the mountains”. The Greek verb for “flee” (phoego) is where we get our English word “fugitive”–become a person who is fleeing from danger. Although the whole world will be under the Antichrist’s dominion, those in Judea will be in the greatest jeopardy. They must run for their lives, immediately, instantly, and without hesitation.
The mountains are probably southeast of Jerusalem, particularly the Dead Sea region where there are thousands of caves and places of refuge. David hid from Saul in this area. It could also be across the Jordan River all the way into Petra, the mountains of Moab and Edom, or as far north as Mt. Hermon. But they must run immediately. The holocaust of this future time will be greater than anything in history. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 and the senseless evil of the Nazis in WW2 will pale in comparison.
When the Antichrist commits the Abomination of Desolation, when he sets himself up as God, when he proclaims his faith as the only faith and all other faiths must be destroyed–then the signal is given and they must run for their lives. How serious is it?
#3 THE CONDITIONS for FLIGHT Verses 15 to 18
“The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat.17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter.” Jesus tells believers during the Tribulation . . .
First Do not DELAY
Do you feel the urgency in verse 15? The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house (verse 15a). This is describing anyone who is at home at the time. The housetop, the flat roof of the Oriental house, was generally reached by an outside stairway. It was used for sleeping, keeping a watch, worship, proclaiming tidings and more. If a believer happens to be on His roof and hears that the Antichrist has proclaimed himself God, and it is his faith or die, Jesus says run down and run away. Do not stop to get anything out of your house–any delay may cost you your life.
Second Do not RETURN for anything
Feel the immediacy of verse 16, “and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat.” My bride is amazing–a generous tipper, a giver, a servant. She is so thoughtful, she cleans up hotel rooms before we leave. Some wives might be tempted to tidy up the house, or some husbands might be tempted to get their jacket since it’ll be cold in the mountains where they’re fleeing to.
Jesus says, don’t put your house in order, and don’t get your jacket–don’t stop for food, don’t gather the necessities to live, because if you do, you won’t live. The Lord is protecting His children–He wants them to live so they can enter the Kingdom. He wants them to survive the Tribulation, but to do so they must retreat to safety.
It was very similar when Sodom was about to be destroyed. What did the angels say in Genesis 19:17, “When they had brought them outside, one said, ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.’”
When Pompeii was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius, they discovered skeletons with keys in their hands, others with a bag of gold coins in their hands–they all assumed they had time to go back and get their valuables, but it cost them their lives. Do not delay, do not return for anything but run for your life.
Third Do not allow crucial duties to STOP you from fleeing
Verse 17 is heartbreaking—look. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!” Jesus felt special compassion for expectant and nursing mothers whose condition would hinder their flight. The midpoint of the Tribulation turns the joy of motherhood into a harsh handicap, since being pregnant creates a greater risk of being captured, killed, and especially difficult to bear is to have atrocities done to their unborn child. So Jesus says . . .
Fourth PRAY for CIRCUMSTANCES to work in your favor Verse 18
“But pray that it may not happen in the winter.” Winters in Palestine are relatively mild, but even the slightest variance of the weather could hinder the command to flee. Winter means the rainy season in Palestine, and this is when streams can become impassable and there is less food to glean since fields are barren. So Jesus says, “Pray.” Pray specifically, and at this time, prayer for temporal advantages is clearly a good thing. Pray without ceasing, pray on the run, and pray it is easy to travel. Can you say, “Wow!”? This will be a scary time. What are some truths that should change our lives?
A Have you accepted your RESPONSIBILITY?
God is taking care of His children by telling His own to run. God could stop the persecutors, but He doesn’t at this time. God could stop bad things from happening, but He doesn’t at this time. Are you obeying what God says, or giving excuses, or delaying? Delaying in this future time will mean you die. How important is obedience to you? Is the Word of God genuinely your authority?
If you’re lonely, struggling, battling with sin, experiencing a difficult marriage, a trial with finances, hardship with kids–have you accepted your responsibility to be inter-connected to your local church? Not just for occasional advice from a pastor, but ongoing discipleship. Not merely an appointment, but ongoing relationship. The pastors at FBC are here to equip you so you do the ministry–that means you are to minister to one another and be connected to each other. Are you? The church is not meant to be a Sunday only event, and on Sunday it is not a sermon only event. You were meant to grow with other Christians. The eye can’t survive without the body, and neither can you. Have you accepted your responsibility?
Students, God says to run for your lives in another area of your lives–twice God says flee youthful lusts. What does flee mean? I guarantee you, if you are hanging out with your boyfriend or girlfriend alone in a dark place, really late at night, watching submarine races–you are not fleeing. “Yeah, but we prayed, we’ve memorized Scripture, we have people praying for us.” Super–God still says flee, run in terror. Obey what He says. Will you to listen to the Bible or make excuses? God is the one who made you, and He says flee.
B Are you running from the SELFISHNESS of the Antichrist?
Listen to what the Antichrist is like. Daniel 7:8, “a mouth uttering great boasts.” Daniel 7:20, “had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts.” Daniel 7:25, “he will speak out against the Most High.” Daniel 11:36, “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god.” The antichrist will be the ultimate narcissist. All he does will be done for self-love. He believes he is entitled. He feels he deserves more and better–he will do what he wants.
Daniel 11:36 to 45 says the Antichrist will be consumed by self-exaltation. He “will exalt himself” and take life–which is the very opposite of our Lord, who emptied Himself and gave His life. At home, are you there for others or for you? At school, are you there for others or for you? At work, are you there for others or for you? In ministry, are you there for others or for you? Are you more like Christ, or more like the Antichrist?
Second Corinthians 5:15, “And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
C Will you trust when it appears as if believers are LOSING?
This situation in the future looks bad for Christians. It looks like Christians are losing, are getting whipped, and it appears like they’re not being cared for by a sovereign God. But friends, we know God is accomplishing His will. God is pouring out His wrath on this planet. God is preparing for His Second Coming, when He and we will win. And God is reminding us that eternity is forever.
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Make no mistake–stop thinking merely about this present time. Christ wins, and we win with Him in glory. God is going to fix it all, and it is going to be so good we will be ashamed that we ever doubted our Lord. And even in the midst of His wrath, God is showing mercy and telling His followers to run for their lives–a clear, merciful warning to future believers.
D Only if you’re IN Christ can you LIVE for Christ, and only if you live for Christ are you ready to DIE for Christ
Don’t wonder what you will do if you are persecuted. Only make certain you know Jesus Christ personally. Have you turned from your sin, and do you depend on Christ alone? Is Christ in you? Have you been born again? Then don’t wonder whether you will die for Christ. Only make certain you are living for Christ now. If you are, you are ready for whatever comes. I pray each of you will be ready.
Next week we learn all that happens that leads up to the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ–get ready, friends. He is coming again. Let’s pray.