Matthew 24:15-16 ~ "Let the Reader Understand"
If you would please turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 24. Last weekend we had an unexpected dump of snow which kept a number of us home. Last weekend we were can continuing our way through Matthew chapter 24; the Olivet discourse.
Jesus offered forth the instruction to the disciples that in the last days there would be the increasing tendency to apostasy even within the church. He made the statement that many false prophets will rise and lead many astray. Because lawlessness will be increased the love of many will grow cold. He prefaced both of those comments by making a statement “many will fall away.” Many will apostatize. Many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. We understand that as we enter into these dark days that the incidence and frequency of apostasy within church individuals that you and I would be fully convinced were Christians will actually turn their backs on the faith. They will depart from the faith. It is not that they have lost their salvation, but that they were never truly saved. They hadn’t made a legitimate confession of faith in Christ and they hadn’t fully surrendered their lives to him.
This past week in care groups we look specifically at the example of Judas. On the night that Jesus said “one of you is going to betray me,” not a single disciple, not a single apostle said “oh, I know who that is.” When Jesus said “one of you is going to betray me,” they all asked the question “is it me? Am I the one that is going to do it?” Because they were so sure and so convinced of each others discipleship that when Jesus says “one of you is going to betray me,” the natural reaction that they all had was to be convinced it would be themselves. That’s what we can expect as we enter into these last dark days. The disciples have asked the question in Matthew chapter 24:3, “tell us when will these things be and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus begins to respond to that question. He says there is going to be rumours of war, there’s going to be nation rising against nation, there’s going to be famine and pestilence and disease. He says all of these things are the beginning of birth pains. These are all things that are going to happen in the same way that birth pains will come upon a pregnant woman when her time is due. All this is to indicate to us is that the end is approaching. That we have entered into the last days.
Then he talks about spiritual apostasy within the church in this section right here, verse 15. Jesus is beginning to answer more specifically their question “tell us what will be the sign of your coming.” It isn’t that there’s an incidence of apostasy within the church, it isn’t that that there is earthquakes, it isn’t that there is wars, but here is that sign and an indication that the Lord’s Day of judgment and day of wrath is quickly approaching. Verse 15, “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the profit of Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” To be very specific Jesus says “Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.” When you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place let the reader understand, run.
Let’s bow for prayer. Father, we thank you for this word that you’ve given to us. We thank you so much Lord for this warning. Father we see clearly that your son’s desire from start to finish was always to save lives wherever and however he could. Lord, he demonstrated this perfectly by dying on the cross and for forgiveness of our sins. Even now Lord, he offers this warning preserved for us the book. Given for all future generations that should there ever rise something so evil, so dark, so diabolical that we would know Lord that great danger is waiting for us, but also that your return has drawn very near. Thank you for giving us the sign Lord. As we look at this text this morning I pray God that your spirit will open our minds to understand and open our hearts to believe and to show us what we are looking for and what you mean by this expression “the abomination of desolation.” We pray these things in Christ name, Amen.
Spring is quickly approaching and I imagine that many of you as the snow melts, the sun comes out and the weather turns a little bit warm will go for walks through the park. My family and I like to go for walks in the park. I want you to imagine a very unusual situation. Imagine you find yourself walking through Riverside Park, coming to one of the many picnic tables. Perhaps you happen to encounter a square checkerboard with some unusual pieces on it shaped like a horse or some sort of a castle. One has a crown on it, other figures may look very bizarre with pointy tops and others have little round top, some are tall, some are short. I want you to imagine for a second that you’ve never encountered something like that before in your life. You see this checkerboard with these random pieces arranged seemingly at random on the checkerboard with other pieces off the side. You are not sure what to expect and suddenly someone taps you on the shoulder. You turn to see a man standing there and he says to you “let the chess player understand.” Now, if you played chess you undoubtedly knew already that you are looking at a chess board. You undoubtedly knew already that you’re looking at chess pieces arranged on a chess board. But, if you have never seen chess and you are not familiar with the concept and someone says to you “let the chess player understand,” would be a very unusual comment. But, even from that suggestion you could draw suit certain inferences. “Let the chess player understand” must mean it is a game of some sort. You could turn your attention back to the checkerboard; therefore, you could obviously draw some conclusions that this is a game of some form with multiple players involved perhaps, that are competing against each other as they move these pieces around the table. Supposing you had a very elementary understanding of chess you could even sit down and they could say “it’s your move” and you would look at the chess board and you could even move a piece. But, if you have been playing chess your whole life, if you are thoroughly familiar with the game and you are invited to sit at the table to sit at the chess board and you are invited to move a piece, the way in which you look at that chessboard and the sophistication with which you would approach that game would be totally different than that of a novice. You may be able to look at that chessboard and you may be able to discern your king is one move away from checkmate and you need to do something about moving your king to a position of safety; whereas, a novice might sit down and say okay it’s my move, let’s move this pawn, this looks like a good move, not even realizing that the game was about to be over. When the individual says “let the chess player understand,” there are differing degrees of understanding with regards to what is happening. Is this a game? That is the most fundamental and most basic understanding. How do the pieces move? That is a second level of understanding. What is the actual challenge presented before me, how close is this game to being over? That is the highest level of understanding. The exhortation “let the chess player understand,” means that to the degree to which you are good at playing chess you are able to better understand exactly what is happening with that game.
Jesus has been asked the question “what is the sign of your return?” He talks about things that are not absolutely significant or consequential to his return. He’s talking about things that are just always going to happen such is wars, such as famine, such as diseases, such as earthquakes. He is going to talk about things that will become more common, but have always happened since the earliest days of the church, namely false prophets and false teachings and people falling away from the faith, people who are apostatizing. He mentions all of those, but now he comes to a very crucial point and he wants to draw our attention to it. Having talked about generalities he now says something very specific. In verse 15, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, he’s going to going to say you need to run. Before we understand the significance of the command to run we need to understand the significance of just exactly what it is that the prophet Daniel was saying to us. Before we can even look at what Daniel is saying to us we need to step way back and ask ourselves the question “what are some basic things we need to know about prophecy in general?” Now, most of you understand that prophecy is God’s foretelling of His word. In foretelling, a giving forth of His word, telling what He considers to be right and wrong, true and false, how He desires for us to live His life. Prophecy is at basic level, God’s revelation to us. That’s what it is at its basic level. Most of us don’t understand that one of the ways that God sought to corroborate and to give authority to His word was to offer a foretelling of events that would happen. For example, if you do not obey this command of the Lord here are some of the dangers that will come if you do not repent, if you do not refuse this idolatry that you’re engaging in Assyria is going to come and Babylon is going to come. He gives forth these future events as warnings so that when they do happen, the people who received the revelation would know that this was truly a word from the Lord and they would recognize it for what it is. They would receive it with the authority with which it was given and they would repent of their sins. So, there’s a foretelling and there’s a forth telling. We all get that that there are some other things that we need to understand when we look at prophecy. For example, two things which are crucial to us as we prepare to look at this abomination of desolation the book of Daniel; first, very commonly within prophecy is a delayed fulfilment. An example of this can be found in Luke chapter 4. Jesus is returning to his hometown in Nazareth where he goes to the synagogue on Saturday to engage in worship. They say Jesus it is good to have you home, welcome home our hometown hero. You are out working miracles and this is great, why don’t you read us something from the scroll? They hand him the scroll and in Luke chapter 4:18 it is recorded that Jesus picks up the scroll and looks to a particular place in the book of Isaiah 61:1-2 and he reads this Scripture, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord favor.” Then he rolls the scroll up and he hands it back to the attendant. He makes the statement “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” He is saying, I am the one that the Lord anointed and I have fulfilled this verse. He makes this statement to the synagogue in Nazareth.
The only problem is as if you go and find that verse in Isaiah 61 there’s a lot more to it than just that. The quote from Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” All well and good, right? He says that today this verse has been fulfilled in your hearing. The only problem is mid verse 2 of Isaiah 61; there is some other stuff that is said. You recall it says “the spirit of the Lord God is upon me to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Well verse 2 continues “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to granted to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”
Jesus makes a statement that today this verse, this prophecy has been fulfilled in your hearing. As you look at the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2 the first half of it has absolutely been fulfilled and it is absolutely come true. But if you were to just know that particular prophecy in context and you were to have no understanding of the arrival of the Messiah or that there’s to be a period of time between his first coming in his second coming; if you are to have no knowledge of the those things, as you look at this prophecy in Isaiah 61 there are parts of it that still haven’t come true.
Consider your first assumption would be that all of these things would happen at the same time. Jesus says this section has been fulfilled and as we look at the prophecy we see that other sections have not yet been fulfilled. We understand that with prophecy there can be a delay between fulfilment of various parts of that prophecy, hence a delayed fulfilment.
The second thing that we need to understand with regard to prophecy is that within prophecy you encounter types; that is, you’ll encounter an example of something that you will see later on. We call this the study of this typology. Another way to understand it is that it is sort of a repetition of Scripture. Something might be mentioned in one instance and then mentioned again much later on to describe something else. There’s a correspondence between those ideas, but the same reference in prophecy can point to two different realities. I’ll give you an example of this. In the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus comes back from Egypt you will recall that Herod goes to kill all the children in Bethlehem, so Mary and Joseph take Jesus and they flee to Egypt. In Matthew chapter 2:15 he says they remained there in Egypt until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet “out of Egypt I called my son.” The book of Isaiah records it like this, “when Israel was a child I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” It’s clearly a reference to the Exodus. It’s a reference to coming out of Egypt and being delivered by the Lord. In one instance “out of Egypt I called my son” is being used to describe God’s calling out of Israel in the Exodus, and in another incidence it is talking about Jesus is being called out of Egypt to come back to Israel to be the Messiah. Do you understand that there is a correspondence between these ideas? God calls Israel out of Egypt to be a nation, for from this nation salvation will come. God calls his son out of Egypt, Jesus, because Jesus is the saviour to give us salvation. That’s what we call typology. These are two ideas that you have to have in your mind, delayed fulfilment and typology. So far so good? Just stick with me now. Jesus makes a statement when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel standing in the holy place, let the reader understand.
This last week somebody asked me “what that does that even mean the abomination of desolation?” When you say that you will abominate something, and probably none of you will say this, but when you turn it into a verb, I abominate this, what you’re saying is that you are absolutely horrified; you hold in contempt and with absolute horror something. I abominate this thing; I can’t stand this thing for I am grieved at the idea of this thing. When you use the word desolation, probably most of you have this idea of a desert that comes to mind. It is something that is barren, there is no moisture, there is no water, nothing can grow, there is no vegetation; therefore, nothing can eat and there are no animals that can survive because it is a barren wasteland; a desolate place. It is a place where life does not exist.
Taking these two ideas together, Jesus is referencing the prophet Daniel. When you see this thing of horror, this thing of abject disgust or that which causes barren desolation lifelessness, when you see that thing standing in the temple, let the reader understand. Please get away as fast as you can. That’s what Jesus is saying, let the reader understand.
There are differing degrees in which you might play the game of chess, in the same way that you might understand the basic level of chess as a game with pieces that can be moved across the board, you can also understand chess to a more sophisticated degree in that there’s a strategy involved to try to cut off the other guys king while to protecting your own king. The greatest masters of all have every move 20 to 40 moves in advance mapped out. They are looking at the game of chess at a whole other level of sophistication.
In order to understand what Jesus is saying here in this particular passage regarding abomination of desolation, we have to have a degree of sophistication with regards to Scriptures. We have to know what the book says about this which means that we will continue this in our second part of next week. For today, what we need to do is familiarize ourselves with this abomination of desolation and then we will begin to pick it apart more in depth as we go.
First off, this is not an immaterial force and this is not necessarily a spirit of the age; although, it may include those things. The first thing we need to understand though is that when Jesus makes the statement he has in mind an individual, a man to be precise. A man who as an individual will become an abomination that causes lifelessness and death. That’s what Jesus is saying. In the Gospel of Mark chapter 13:14 is the complementary passage. Mark records Jesus’ words in this way “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” In Mark’s Gospel Jesus is speaking as Mark records him. He makes it very clear that it is a man, “standing where he ought not to be”. Furthermore, this is the idea that was passed down to the apostles. The apostle Paul, writing in 2 Thessalonians, warns the church at Thessalonica. Chapter 2 “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”
So the apostle Paul understands that this is to be a man, an individual, and he goes forward and says “the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, he proclaims himself to be God.” Now the letter written to the churches of Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians is a didactic letter. It’s meant to give very basic and very practical instructions. It is not like the book of Revelation, it is not like the book of Daniel. Those are different types of writings. In terms of the genre we would call those different books apocalyptic literature. The problem with apocalyptic literature is that it is wrought with symbolism and the symbols are not always clear. We have to sort of work our way through it to understand what is being said there. You do not have this issue with regards to 2 Thessalonians. The apostle Paul writing to the church of Thessalonica makes it very clear, don’t worry about whether or not the day of the Lord has already come. It can’t come until the man of lawlessness has been revealed; the one who exalts himself and declares himself to be God. It is not shrouded in any kind of symbolism and it is not wrapped up in any imagery, it is not metaphor, it is very straightforward. With that said, we now need to return to the original source of this expression, this abomination of desolation. I invite you to turn back with me to Daniel chapter 8:11-14. We are going to familiarize ourselves with these passages. We are going to draw some very basic conclusions from this and note that it is first time that this reference is made. I’m jumping straight into the middle of the prophecy a prophecy and I invite you to read it later today at home. Daniel chapter 8:11 “It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper. Then I heard a holy one when speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, - notice this next expression, he says how long is the vision regarding the regular burnt offerings - the transgression that makes desolate.” Now the Hebrew wording there is translated a little differently by the ESV, but essentially it is the same expression as what we find in Matthew 24, the abomination of desolation. Here it is translated “the transgression that is made desolate.” It is the same thing. “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot? And he said to me, for 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state. That is the first reference.
The second reference is in the same book, Daniel chapter 9:24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to the sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and profit, and to anoint the most holy place. Chapter 9:25 “Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of the anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and a moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, and anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.” I’m sure most of you are suspecting that this is a reference to Jesus Christ and you wouldn’t be wrong in suspecting it. “An anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.” That’s not the reference though. It is verse 27 “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate.” That is the same reference. There is the expression put a little differently, but it’s essentially the second reference that we have. “On the wing of abominations comes one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
Third reference – Daniel Chapter 11 verse 29 “At the time appointed, he shall return and come into the South, but it shall not be this time as it was before. For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant.” Verse 31 “Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.”
In all three of these passages we understand that abomination is referencing something that is very sinful and very wicked. Indeed, abomination and transgression are two different English words that are being utilized to describe the actual Hebrew word that is used. It’s a very sinful act or we might understand it as a very sinful person; it is something that is abominable. It is such an abomination that causes desolation. That is, it takes away life. It takes away hope. It takes away the ability for anything to live.
Many years ago I was hunting with some friends of mine in West Texas. The deer there are not like the deer here. The hunting there is not necessarily like the hunting here. Some of you will make fun of me for this in a moment. Here the deer are very large and nomadic and you have to follow them to get at them. In Texas because everything is dry and there’s not much water and the vegetation is pretty much brown 11 ½ months of the year, the deer are very small and they’re very hungry; therefore, you can set up a deer feeder that will spew out corn and you can construct yourself a nice little blind at a safe distance and they will come to you. We don’t have hills and I don’t have to go up and down a hill or crossover ravines. I just sit in my blind and I wait for dinner to show up. At any rate, we were out hunting one day and I had my trustee 7 mm short mag rifle slung over me and I was walking along to get to the deer blind early in the morning. This is the misery of hunting in Texas, not that you have to hike miles and miles and miles to find the deer, but that that you have to get up at four in the morning to get to your deer blind before the sun comes out so that you haven’t disturbed any of the wildlife before the deer come through. At the crack of dawn we get our rifles, holstered of course because we practice gun safety. We don’t have the actual ammo in our rifles. I have my ammo in my pocket. It is cool outside and by cool I mean it’s probably 20°C, cool by Texas standards so I’ve got my jacket on and got my hunting coat on. We are walking along and we come to a part where the trail parts and my friend goes off in one way and I’m going to go off the other way to a separate deer blind. I’m walking along at about 4:30 in the morning through the woods. I come out into the clearing and right then in that moment I heard a mountain lion let out a bloodcurdling scream. It was so absolutely terrifying that my blood ran cold. As this mountain lion screamed at me I felt, very literally, the hatred of Satan. It was pitch dark and I couldn’t see anything. It was overcast there’s no starlight, but in the little light that there was, at a distance of about 10 feet from me, I realized I had stumbled on about an 8 foot long cat weighing somewhere in the ballpark of 250 to 300 pounds who had killed the deer in the night and I had interrupted its breakfast.
I know you’re thinking “but you have your rifle! You’re safe with your rifle.” No. My rifle was slung over my coat with my bullets in my cargo pocket and with the pocket buttons done up and I have a whole bunch of other stuff strapped to me. I’m standing so close to the cat I can see the glint of his eyes. I knew that if I turned to run he would have jumped me and if I tried to un-sling my rifle and use it as a club he would have jumped me and eaten me. I knew that it did not matter what I did, I was powerless. There was only one choice. Prayer. I said “please God help me. I cannot stop this animal. I cannot stop him from jumping on me; I cannot stop him from sinking his claws into me and putting my head in his mouth. I’m going to become second breakfast. That’s what I understand to be the truth. I said “please the Lord save me.”
In that moment at over the little rise some distance away, somebody in a Jeep that was also getting up to go out hunting early in the morning, came up over that rise and had his high beams on. The high beams cast just enough of a light; it was very dim but just enough of the light, that I could really see this animal at its full size for the first time. I could see that he was crouched down and inches away from bringing his full body weight at me. That little flicker of light that this Jeep provided was enough to spook him such that he left the deer that he just killed right there and ran off into the woods.
I knew in that moment that God had saved me. When Jesus says “when you see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place let the reader understand you had better run,” there is no time to think. You’re not prepared. All of the things that you might have, that you might use as a protection or defence you will find in that moment that they are useless, they are not at your easy reach and you have no means of safeguarding yourself against this thing; whatever it is. He has talked about it in multiple places in Scripture and He has said there is this thing coming, this man, this abomination of desolation and the only instruction that you need, the only guidance that is necessary is simply this - when you see it, when you encounter that darkness just go. Just flee. And it is in this moment that all of your powers of reasoning, all of your logical deductions, all of your higher criticisms, all of that will be judged by God. This is what I mean - you will undoubtedly look out the window whenever you hear or see of this thing taking place and you will think “the Bible says that this is going to happen and I need to run,” and you will look out your window and if you’ve not lived a life that is been trained to submit your intellect to the Scriptures and to simply obey whatever it is that Jesus says, if you’ve lived your life to always question, always examine and pick through things and to say “the Bible says this but really what does it mean?” If you’ve lived your life quibbling and arguing and poking and picking apart and standing in judgment over the Scriptures, then this is the moment in which you will reap what you have sown. You will look out the window that moment and you will know clearly what is happening. The abomination of desolation is come and you will think “I’ve still got time. I don’t see an RCMP roadblock set up at the end of the street. There is no militia going door to door investigating and looking for Christians.” You will conclude in your own reasoning and by your own powers of deduction that you still have a precious few moments. What you don’t realize that it is already too late. Let the reader understand. Hear me carefully church, when this event happens, and I say when not if, when this event happens we the church here in the Western world will no longer be able to deny what we have spent centuries denying. The reality of demonic possession, the reality that demons are among us, the reality that Satan is at work in the world and that he is taking slow but steady control over the masses, that he is taking control over the world around us and he is seducing and deceiving everyone; in that moment you’re thinking you’ve got time because you look out the window and you don’t see an RCMP roadblock, you don’t see militias going door to door, you think okay have seen this thing but I’ve still got some time, there still time to get my stuff together. You think that, but what you don’t realize is that your neighbours are not your neighbours any more. Sweet Mrs. Betty who was walking her poodle down the sidewalk and who’s done it every day at 9 o’clock like clockwork, who smiles at you with red lipstick and a sweet smile; she is not sweet little Miss Betty anymore. The world will behold this coming thing, this abomination of desolation; they will regard it with joy. In that moment you have no friends. Those that have been indifferent or apathetic to Jesus Christ are indifferent and apathetic no more. They worship the abomination which means that the only way to escape is if you are a reader who seeks to understand. What that means is this: to stand under the word of God. That means you have to submit your ideas and your notions to the authority of what Jesus says in his word. You read his word and you seek to obey it, you seek to submit to it you seek to yield to it. By the time the abomination of desolation shows up, those individuals who have sought to understand or to stand under the Lord above, they are long gone. For those that have not sought to understand, by the time you do get it will be too late. You say, preacher what about those individuals who go through those days who are Christians? What about those individuals who get it and they obey in faith and have to go quickly? What if they don’t have provisions, they could be in the middle of winter, and it could be a miserable situation for them. We will deal with this more in time, but as we close this morning I want you to understand that in those dark days when they come, the God of all comfort is there to comfort you. In 2 Corinthians 15 Paul makes a statement “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in the comfort too.”
Spurgeon makes a comment “when the dark clouds gather the light is more brightly revealed to us. When night falls and the storm is brewing the heavenly captain is always closest to his crew.” It is a blessed thing that when we are most downcast then we are most lifted up by the consolations of the spirit. One reason is that trials make room for more comfort and more consolations from the Father. Grate hearts are only made by great troubles. As you pass through, my prayer is that none of us would experience that Day of Judgment. But, if we are found to be caught in those dark days, if we will turn to the Lord and trust in him, as difficult as the suffering is we have this promise, that God will use that suffering to widen our hearts to receive more of his grace and his mercy.
We will continue this next week. Let us pray this morning that God will even now begin to open our hearts to receive his grace.
Lord we thank you for your word. We thank you Lord for what you have given to us through the teaching of your son on the Mount of Olives. Father, we pray God that we would be readers who would read your word and who would seek to understand it. Not to stand in judgment over it, not to pick at it or to quibble with it, question it or to doubt. Lord I pray that we would be people here at First Baptist Church who hope totally in what you say, that we would be readers who understand and thereby receive your grace and your mercy. We pray and we ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.
The Gospel of Matthew is a story about a once and coming King. Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David, the long awaited for Messiah. He has come once, and Matthew tells the story of His arrival, ministry, sacrificial atoning work on the cross, and His promise to return soon.