Signs and Exhortations
Signs and Exhortations
Words of Faith 1-15-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said,  "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."
 "Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?"
 He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them.  When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."
 Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
 "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.  This will result in your being witnesses to them.  But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.  You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  All men will hate you because of me.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  By standing firm you will gain life.
The disciples began to remark about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God. The Temple was an incredible sight in the time of Jesus. Herod the Great had expanded the area to about 40 acres. It is difficult to imagine a church facility that occupies forty acres. That's not parking lots and playgrounds. The forty acres consisted of were existing buildings and areas including the court of the Gentiles and the court of women, preparation areas, sacrificial areas and the Temple itself.
In a world that had no skyscrapers and no towers to speak of, it was a wonder to behold. It was decorated with beautiful wood and ornate stones. Apparently, there were special gifts dedicated to God from wealthy families. People came from all over the known world to see it.
But Jesus was not on a tourist visit. He was not in Jerusalem to admire the architecture. He did not tarry with the temporary. He was focused on a bigger picture. Rather than admire the building, Jesus predicted its destruction. "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."
The huge message? Don't be impressed with buildings made by man no matter how magnificent. Don't be impressed or distracted by enormous ministries no matter how much good they are doing. They are passing away.
Jesus predicted a time that was near and a time that is far. A time of persecution and destruction that would come within about 40 years and one at a distant future. Jesus clearly predicted and described the destruction of the Temple that took place in 70 AD. But Jesus also talked about the end time and the second coming of the Son of Man. We could be quite confused about such things, but Jesus clearly laid out a big picture and gave us several exhortations about how we are to respond.
Jesus told His disciples about three things that would start to occur before the destruction of the temple, by Titus and the Roman army 70 AD, and one that would occur later. First, Jesus said others would claim to be Messiah. He gave this warning so that the disciples would not be deceived. Second, Jesus said that wars would occur. When these things happened, the disciples were not to be frightened, for the end would not come right away.
Jesus added that tremendous earthquakes would occur, causing famines and pestilences. But these events do not fit our knowledge of the history between Jesus' day and the fall of Jerusalem. These fearful events and great signs from heaven refer to the Great Tribulation which will precede the return of the Lord to the earth. Jesus also taught that persecution of believers would be common and severe. The disciples did undergo persecution by the authorities.
His words refer not only to the situation which would confront the disciples before the fall of Jerusalem but also to what will confront believers during the time of the Great Tribulation. The same kinds of persecution would be present at both times-- imprisonment, betrayal, and hatred. The persecution the original disciples would experience was a precursor to the ultimate persecution which future disciples would undergo.
Jesus' next two statements "But not a hair of your head will perish" and "By standing firm, you will save yourselves" have confused many. Some interpret these phrases as speaking of spiritual realities in a believer's life. Ultimately even though a believer dies, he or she will be protected eternally by God.
However, it appears that Jesus was speaking here of salvation as entering into the kingdom alive. To "save yourselves" by "standing firm" means that believers show that they are members of the believing community in opposition to those who turn away from the faith during times of persecution. The ones who are saved are those who are preserved by God's sovereign power.
Jesus left the disciples with several clear exhortations.
- Do not be deceived. Many will come in the name of Jesus who will either say they are the Messiah, or that they speak for the Messiah and know the time and details of His return. Watch out. Do not be deceived. By those who come saying that they are the Messiah.
- Do not be frightened. Be watchful but not afraid. We can easily see our time as fitting into this text. There is war in the Middle East, the threat of nuclear development in terrorist nations, terror threats around the world, hurricanes, floods, severe droughts, and famine. But this is not our "sign" because many of these things can be seen and have been seen in other times and generations. The key here? Do not be frightened when you see such things. Know that such things will come. This is not necessarily a sign of the end. Jesus said the end will not come right away.
- Do not worry about your defense. The promise Jesus gives has been a powerful reassurance through the ages. I will give you the words. Do not even be surprised if you are betrayed even by blood relatives as well as friends.
- Stand Firm when people turn against you. "All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm, you will gain life."
Father, help me to see the significance of the times in which we live. Keep me from deception, fear, and worry. Help me to stand firm in whatever challenges and difficulties I may confront. Help me to always trust the big picture of Your plan. In Jesus' name.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2007, 2018
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.