Almost Midnight - Part 1

Scripture: Matthew 24:1-51
Christ's coming is soon. Matthew 24 gives clear indicators of both signs of Jesus' soon coming and the preparation we should each make before His return. Major signs are mentioned such as the major destruction of Jerusalem, a great tribulation (persecution), and signs in the heavens.
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For several days we have been studying about the end of the world and the coming of Jesus to this earth again. There is no question about it, Jesus is coming back the second time. Three hundred prophecies in the New Testament make that unmistakably plain and clear. Most people believe that. But the question that most folk cannot answer is, When is Jesus coming back? That is the all-important question that we shall consider for a little while today. How soon will it be? Will the Lord Jesus return in our day? Will you listen very carefully while I read a Scripture passage from Matthew 24? I am going to read quite a number of verses here because this chapter furnishes the setting for today's broadcast.

Beginning with verse three: "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

Then, between verses 15 and 20, there is a little dissertation on the destruction of Jerusalem: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place,...Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes...But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.

Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be....Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Matthew 24:3-36.

I am sure that most of you are familiar with this chapter. If you are not, you should be, because we are on the brink of eternity. This is the answer that Jesus gave the disciples when they said, "Look, Master, tell us, when are you coming back and what will be the signs that we may know?" Matthew 24 is Christ's own answer.

I want to back up now and review this chapter briefly before we go on further today. In this chapter Jesus placed signs along the way. Starting at His ascension He placed signs here and here and here, and all along the way, right up to the last great sign, the sign of the cloud on which the Son of man sits when He comes in His glory. He said to His disciples in effect, "Now, look! I'm placing these signboards along the road from My ascension to My second coming. Watch for those signs. When you have passed them all, then look, because I will be coming back." Now what major signs were mentioned in this chapter?

First of all, the destruction of Jerusalem was mentioned as a major sign. He said, in essence, "That is coming. That is a signboard you will pass." History shows that in A.D. 70 that signboard was passed. Jerusalem was destroyed.

Signboard number two was the great tribulation mentioned in verses 21 and 22. He said, "After you pass the destruction of Jerusalem you will go along until you find a big signboard, a great period of persecution." Once again we go to history and discover that it is the truth. There was a great period of persecution. The Bible says it would be the worst ever known and if it were not shortened there would be no flesh saved. But for the sake of God's people, His elect, it would be shortened. We go to history and discover that from 530 A.D. to 1798 A.D. there was such a period of persecution.

Then we look toward signboard number three in verse 29: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened." In essence, the Lord said, "After you pass this big, long signboard of tribulation, the sun will be darkened." Once again we go to history and we discover it is a historical fact , the sun was darkened at midday, May 19, 1780. Look it up. Please do not take my word for this. But you can look it up and discover that it is true that this signboard was passed May 19, 1780. Also, the moon turned to blood. The passage we read a moment ago said, "The moon shall not give her light." You ask, When did that happen? Was that a signboard passed? Yes, it was. It was the night of May 19, 1780. The moon was first dark, and when it did appear it was as red as blood.

REPERTORY OF FACTS, edited by Robert Sears, page 428, published in New York in 1845 makes this statement: "On May 19, 1780, an uncommon darkness took place over New England, and extended to Canada. It continued about fourteen hours, or from ten o'clock in the morning till midnight. The darkness was so great that the people were unable to read common print, or tell the time of day by their watches, or to dine, or to transact their ordinary business without the light of candles. They became dull and gloomy and some were excessively frightened. The fowls retired to their roosts. Everything bore the appearance and gloom of night. The causes of these phenomena are unknown. They certainly were not the result of eclipses."

I will give just one more of the hundreds of historical statements made concerning the dark day, May 19, 1780. I quote: "The dark day, May 19, 1780 , so-called on account of a remarkable darkness on that day, extended all over New England. In some places people could not see to read common print in the open air, for several hours together. Birds sang their evening songs, disappeared, and became silent; fowls went to roost; cattle sought the barnyard; and candles were lighted in the houses....The true cause of this remarkable phenomenon is not known." , From Noah Webster's Dictionary, 1869 edition.

This distinguished authority said "the cause of this dark day is not known." But Jesus said it meant the end of the world is drawing on. Jesus also said, "And the moon shall not give her light." Matthew 24:29. Again, we read from history: "Nor was the darkness of the night less uncommon and terrifying than that of the day; notwithstanding there was almost a full moon. No object was discernible but by the help of some artificial light." , From the INDEPENDENT CHRONICLE, Boston, June 8, 1780.

Again I quote: "The darkness of the following evening was probably as gross as has ever been observed since the Almighty fiat gave birth to light." , From COLLECTIONS OF MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Volume 1, 1792.

Then signboard number five, He said, "The stars will fall from heaven." They were to pass that signboard. Did that take place? Yes! Once again we have a historical fact. It was November 13, 1833. Look it up. It is right there. That signboard was passed.

I quote: "The morning of November 13, 1833 was rendered memorable by an exhibition of the phenomenon called shooting stars, which was probably more extensive and magnificent than any similar one hitherto recorded....Probably no celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country since its settlement, which was viewed with so much admiration and delight by one class of spectators, and so much astonishment and fear by another class." , From the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND ARTS, Volume 25 (1834), pp. 363 and 364.

"THE BOSTON OBSERVER, Olmstead, compared them (the falling stars) at the moment of maximum, to half the number of flakes which we perceive in the air during an ordinary shower of snow." , From POPULAR ASTRONOMY, Flammarion and Gore, p. 536.

"On the night of November 12-13, 1833, a tempest of falling stars broke over the earth. North America bore the brunt of its pelting. From the Gulf of Mexico to Halifax, until daybreak with some difficulty put an end to the display, the sky was scored in every direction with shining tracks, and illuminated with majestic fireballs." , From HISTORY OF ASTRONOMY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, Agnes M. Clarke, p. 328 (London).

Then we come to the sixth sign in verse 30. And this is what it is: "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." This is the point I want to emphasize before we go any further. From the dark day and the night the moon turned to blood until the next signboard, the falling of the stars, was only 53 years. But it has already been nearly 150 years since the falling of the stars and the next sign has not yet appeared, the sign of the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven. May I tell you with all assurance and positiveness, Jesus is already overdue! We who are here are living on borrowed time.

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