SERIES: What's Next?
MESSAGE: What's Next? from Jerusalem
SPEAKER: Skip Heitzig
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 24:1-8

TRANSCRIPT
Hello, and welcome to this message from Pastor Skip Heitzig tech of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray that God uses these messages to reach people around the world, and we're thankful to hear stories of lives being transformed by his love. If this message impacts you, we'd like to know. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving.

Many biblical prophecies involve the city of Jerusalem. And as we continue our series What's Next, we learn that this city will be the stage for Jesus' return, that leads to the millennial kingdom and the eternal state. In this special message from Jerusalem, Pastor Skip lets us know what we can expect in the future. Now let's turn in our bibles to Matthew 24, as Skip begins the message What's Next from Jerusalem.

Well, a special greeting from Jerusalem. I want to give greeting to all of our campuses at Osuna, Nob Hill, and in Santa Fe. This is special message coming to you from the city of Jerusalem. And we've been on a tour here with our group. We've been through the country, and now we're here in the city of Jerusalem. The Bible says in Psalm 48, "great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His Holiness. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole Earth is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." And here in the shot that you see right now is that city of the great King.

You're looking at the Temple Mount, the Kidron Valley below me, the Hinnom Valley. Off to one side is the Mount of Olives. Off to the other side, beside the Temple Mount, is Mount Zion. So it's a spectacular but rainy day here in the city of Jerusalem. But, you know, rain is always seen as a blessing. God said the land that I'm bringing you into, in Deuteronomy 11, is our land that drinks in rain from the heavens. And one of the sign of God's blessing is that rain would come on the land, especially this time of the year, during the [NON-ENGLISH] the latter rain that brings a beautiful, verdant texture to the land.

So once again, greeting from the city of Jerusalem. And we've been doing a series called What's Next. We're always looking to find out what the future is going to hold. And if we could get a newspaper that was called USA Tomorrow, instead of USA Today, everybody would want it. Everybody would buy it, because we want to know what's going to happen tomorrow.

I distinctly remember when my son Nate and his wife Janae were having their first child, our grandson Seth, we went into the doctor to find out what the gender was. And we were hoping they'd say it was a boy or a girl. And I remember the doctors said, well, it's too early to tell what the gender is.

But I will tell you this that I distinctly remember somebody coming in. We did three ultrasounds over a period of time. And all the ultrasounds revealed it was a girl. And he said, I was happy to deliver a very healthy baby boy. So sometimes the ultrasounds, in making the predictions, aren't always accurate.

When it comes to knowing what's next, what our future holds, we need more than medical ultrasound or a meteorologist telling us what the weather is like. I heard about a couple driving through Texas, and there was a piece of wood with the rope dangling from it, and the sign said, weather forecaster. And so the customer asks the owner, how can you tell the whether by a rope dangling from a peace of wood?

He said in his Texas drawl, well, it's easy; when that rope is swinging back and forth, you know it's windy. He said, when that the rope is soaking wet, that's rain. And when it's frozen stiff, you know you got snow. And he said when that rope is gone, that's a tornado.

But, you know, we need something more accurate than somebody just guessing at what the weather is going to be. One of the great attributes of God is that he knows the end from the beginning. He has omniscience, and he can tell what's going to happen before it even happens. It's one of his calling cards. And the prophet Isaiah Chapter 46, "the Lord said, do not forget the things that I have done throughout history, for I am God, I alone. I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only one can tell you what is going to happen, even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish."

So one of the hallmarks of God is that he does know what's next, and he predicts it throughout the scriptures. If I had 10 pennies in my pocket and I number them 1 through 10, and I made a prediction that I'm going to reach my hand in my pocket and pick out penny marked number one, I would have a 1 in 10 chance that I could pick out that penny. But if I made the prediction that said, I'm going to reach in and pick out penny marked number two, now I have exponentially decreased my odds. I would have 1 in 100 chance of pulling out penny marked number two. And if I made a prediction that I could pick out sequentially all of the pennies marked 1 through 10, the odds that I could do that would be 1 in 10 billion.

Now I say that because what God does throughout the scriptures is he stacks the odds against himself. He makes hundreds of detailed predictions so that when they come to pass, people will look at the fulfillment and look back at the great God who made them and place their faith and trust in him. The most exciting thing about what's next, the most exciting thing about the future is the fact that Jesus Christ is coming. And the Bible says he's coming back to this city when he makes his second coming to the Earth.

He's coming back to the Mount of Olives. And his foot will touch down on the Mount of Olives. But the second coming of Jesus Christ is the culmination of all Christian hope throughout all of the centuries. Our Lord taught us to pray thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. And part of that hope is what we touched on a few weeks ago, when we talk about the Rapture. And I'm going to touch a little bit on that today as well as the second coming.

The Bible says we'll all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. In fact, you might say, when that happens, we're all going to get an extreme makeover. I mean, we're all going to be completely changed, the Bible says, transformed. I heard about two converts from the jungles of the South Pacific, who went to a mission's conference in the United States. They had never been to the United States. They had never been out of their country. They had never seen a large city.

So they were placed in this environment that was foreign to them. And they looked and they saw these tall buildings and all these fabulous lights. And they walked into their hotel room or into their hotel lobby, and they saw these two doors open and they went sideways. And in stepped two large older women. And the door shut behind them. And there was movement above those doors, going back and forth with many lights flashing. And then soon the doors opened once again, and two beautiful young ladies walked out of that little box that they were looking at. And they didn't know what an elevator was.

They couldn't describe it. They just saw doors open and close and two ladies walking and two beautiful ladies walk out of. And one turned to the other and said, oh, man, we've got to bring our wives here to ride in that machine. And the truth is I've been looking in the mirror lately, and I need to write in "dat" machine. And the Bible predicts that we will be transformed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And that's part of it, that transformation.

Jesus, in Matthew 24, gives an outline of what we've been looking at in the Book of Revelation. Let me read just a few verses. This is Matthew 24, beginning in verse one. "Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple. And his disciples came to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, do you not see all these things? Assuredly I say to you, not one stone will be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.

Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately saying, tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them, take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name saying, I am the Christ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass. But the end is not yet.

For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All of these are the beginning of sorrows." Now, in those words the Jesus gave to his disciples, there are three things I want you to make note of, first of all, the place. Jesus was in Jerusalem, in this city that you see behind me. He was on the Mount of Olives. He was dealing with the Jewish things and a Jewish future.

The city of Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible 821 times. It is the most frequently talked about city in the scriptures. And this section of Matthew 24 is called the Olivette Discourse, simply because Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, which you can see in the scene behind me to your right. He was on the Mount of Olives, and the disciples came to him, and they ask him what is going to happen in the future, what is next? And so Jesus predicts the future, the future of the Jews, the future of Jerusalem, the future of the world, and his future coming.

All of these are talked about in this Matthew 24 Olivette Discourse. So the place and the places that are mentioned are very, very important. In fact, Jesus and his disciples were in the very place that is at the center of conflict today. I was with Benjamin Netanyahu just nine months ago. And he said, the whole reason for this conflict, the root of this conflict is they just don't want Israel to exist at all.

Israel is the very center of God's plan for the future, and that's why it's the center of Satan's spiritual attack. There's a great old quote in the Midrash, some of the commentaries about the Torah, the Old Testament law. And it says, "the land of Israel is at the center of the world. And Jerusalem is at the center of the land of Israel. And the temple is at the center of Jerusalem." All of that to say that the temple and the Temple Mount is at the very epicenter of God's plan for the future.

I want you to think of it this way, in sort of four sections. Jerusalem is the geographic center of the Earth biblically. I don't know i if you know that or not, but I grew up in American schools, where the United States was always at the center of the map. We grew up thinking we're the center of the world, but not from God's perspective. And Ezekiel chapter 5, verse 5, God said, "I have set Jerusalem in the midst or in the middle of the nations and the countries. All around her."

Any student has to just simply look at a map and see that Jerusalem is on a land bridge that connects Asia, Africa, and Europe. And when you read the Bible, north in the Bible is always north of Jerusalem. South is always south of Jerusalem. West and east are always taking their reference point from the city of Jerusalem. So Jerusalem is the geographic center of the Earth biblically.

Second, Jerusalem is the salvation center of the Earth spiritually. You may remember that our Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman who was disputing about which temple in some area or Jerusalem is the proper temple, Jesus said, we, the Jews, we know what we worship for salvation is of the Jews. And there's only one place that our Lord ever paid for the sins of the world, and that was outside this city, the city of Jerusalem at a place called all Golgotha.

So Jerusalem is the geographic center of the Earth bibically. It is the salvation center of the Earth spiritually. Third, it's the storm center of the Earth prophetically. If you go to Jerusalem, there's a feeling of tension that is in the air. People have learned to live with it and manage it and cope with it. But it's still here nonetheless. There's just that political and spiritual tension.

Leaders around the world are always aware that Jerusalem is a potential tinderbox, not Asia, not Europe, but always Israel. And there's a reason for that; God said, in the prophecies of Zechariah in the Old Testament, "I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all the peoples around." The Jewish Talmud dad had a saying. The sages said, 10 measures of beauty were given to the world. Jerusalem took nine of them. One was dispersed throughout the rest of the world. But then it also said, 10 measures of suffering were given to the world. Jerusalem took nine of them, and one was distributed to the rest of the world.

Some of you remember back to the movie Fiddler on the Roof, when Tevye, the patriarch of the family, looks up to heaven as if praying to God, and he said, I know we're the chosen people. But couldn't you choose someone else every now and then? Sometimes there's that feeling that I know or at the center of God's plan, but it's very difficult to be there. So it's the storm center of the Earth prophetically.

But then finally, it's the glory center of the Earth ultimately. You see the prophet Isaiah said that all the nations of the world will flow into Jerusalem. And there's coming a time when the law will go forth from Zion. Zion is right behind me in this setting that you are seeing. The law will go forth, and all peoples will flow into the city.

Look at it this way; in Jerusalem, there is a king-less throne. It's the throne of David. It hasn't been occupied in over 2,500 years. In heaven there's a throne-less king. And when the king-less throne and the throne-less king come together, that will be the time of fullness that the Bible speaks about. Now, God's calling is irreversible. The place, Jerusalem, that has always been God's place, God's center, will be God's place and God's center in the future.

In the tribulation period, God will seal a 144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel, Jewish people. He'll protect them during the tribulation period. After that will be 1,000-year reign of Christ on the Earth, the millennial kingdom. He will rule and reigned from Mount Zion, the city of Jerusalem. Then there will be the eternal state. There will be the new Jerusalem that comes out of heaven toward the Earth, and that new Jerusalem has 12 tribes that are inscribed on the 12 gates around the city. So it's very Jewish-centric in God's plan in the past and in the future.

I remember hearing this odd little saying by a guy named Norman Ewer. This is what he said, how odd of God to choose the Jew. But not so odd as those who choose the Jewish God and not the Jew. You see God is always established a covenant with the Jewish people. And the land that is the land of Israel, He has given in covenant to them. So that's the first thing I want you notice about Matthew 24 is it's very Jerusalem, Jewish, Israel-centered. The place is important.

Second, the prediction-- Jesus makes a prediction in verse 2, something that stunned the disciples. Jesus said to them, do you not see all of these things? They were showing them the beautiful stones of the temple and the temple complex and the colonnaded porch of Solomon's porch. And he said, do you not see all of these things assuredly? I say to you, not one stone will be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.

I'm convinced, though I can't prove it, that the disciples dropped their jaws at that moment when Jesus made that prediction that this incredible building, the Temple Mount, the temple complex, which is and was enormous, was one day going down. And the reason that they would be shocked is because the presence of a temple was in the Jewish mind a sign of God's favor to the nation. As long as it stood, it was a proof that God was favorable toward them. And by the way, when Jesus made that prediction, the temple was still under construction.

It took 18,000 workers a total of 80 years to complete. In, fact some say when the temple was destroyed, it wasn't even completely finished yet. It sat on, and you can see the outline of, a 36-acre platform that Herod the Great built a retaining wall around to flatten the area out to 36 acres to take all of the buildings that would be on that enormous foundation. And the building itself was enormous.

The pinnacle of the temple, which is the southeast corner, sits 158 feet above its base. And then beyond the Temple Mount itself stood, at one time, a temple building that was 90 feet high of white marble with a golden cornice, that Josephus said was visible for up to 30 miles away. Just an incredible building, so incredible that the Babylonian Talmud said he that has never seen the Temple of Herod has never seen a beautiful building. So it was magnificent. And yet Jesus makes the prediction that these stones are going to be tumbling down. They'll be unraveled.

When we take you on a little tour of these sites and we see the retaining wall that Herod the Great built for this, some of these stones are enormous. They have found stones, some that are 15 feet high, 15 feet deep, by 40 feet long, that weigh upwards of 400 tons-- 400 tons. And one wonders, how on earth where those things able to be moved?

But then this prediction that these stones are coming down is amazing, and it's a prediction that was fulfilled. 70 AD, the Roman army has circumvented this city and mounted an attack against that city. Originally, the general's order was to keep intact the temple. But because of a fire the broke out, as the history tells us, and the gold was melting in between the cracks of the stones, the greedy soldiers converged on the temple and pushed the stones down to get to the wealth that was between those cracks. So that the prophecy made by Jesus was literally fulfilled, and you can see the remains of some of those predictions, even on a tour today.

Josephus, that Jewish historian that we make reference to so often, even said a person visiting here, after the destruction of Jerusalem, would never believe that anyone ever inhabited that place or where the temple stood. That's interesting, because there is still dispute as to where the original temple stood upon the Temple Mount that is here in our background. But the scripture predicts that the nations will rise against Jerusalem, and the world will come against Israel. Zachariah chapter 12, the prophet says, "all of the nations will send their armies to besiege Jerusalem."

Israel fell in 70 AD. And what happened in 70 AD, there are lots of enemies around this tiny little nation that would love to see that happen to the Jews again. I'll guarantee you the followers of Hamas and Hezbollah and ISIS and all of these groups al-Nusra front, all would love to see what happened in 70 AD happen here again to the Jewish people. In fact, not too long ago, Sheik Nasrallah from Hezbollah, the leader up in Lebanon, said, Hezbollah will sink the final nail into the coffin of greater Israel, made that prediction. And now today we know that Iran, as a country, is funding that terrorist organization, wanting to see that happen.

So we've looked at the place. And you're seeing the place in this beautiful shot that you have before us and then the prediction that Jesus made. But I want to end with a promise. Because throughout Matthew 24, as tough as some of these predictions are of what is coming-- war and famines and pestilence, et cetera-- imbued within this text is also an incredible promise. Jesus speaks about his coming.

The disciples ask him the question, what is the sign of your coming, Matthew 24, verse 3. Jesus also says, watch, for you do not know when the Son of Man is coming, later on down in verse 42. So there's this mention of the coming of the Lord. And that really is the culmination of all prophetic hope, and the glory of the world will be the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus is coming back. You need to know that. That needs to feel your heart with hope.

Jesus Christ, your Savior, is coming back. And even Jesus promised his disciples, I'm going away to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. So you can take heart as you look forward to the coming of the Lord.

Now, from our vantage point, we are actually looking for two future events to happen. Number one, Jesus is coming toward the Earth for his church. We call that the Rapture of the church. After the church age is done, that's when the rapture is going to take place, and we looked at that in the Book of Revelation recently. So Jesus is coming toward the Earth for his church.

The second even we're looking for is Jesus is coming to the Earth with his church. That is the second coming technically. And that will happen after the tribulation period. So at the Rapture of the church, Jesus comes in the air, and we will meet him in the air. It's not really a full coming. It's sort of a flyby. It's a near pass. And he is coming in the air, and we will meet him in the air.

The second coming is when Jesus comes from heaven through the air all the way to the Earth, and that's when every eye shall see him, the Bible predicts. At the Rapture of the church, Jesus claims his bride. At his second coming, Jesus comes with his bride. At the Rapture, the focus is Jesus and his church. At the second coming, the focus is Israel and the kingdom.

The Rapture is sudden. It's unpredictable. It's in a moment. The twinkling of an eye, the Bible calls it. But the second coming is predictable. After a seven-year tribulation period, Jesus will return. And to even be more technical, 3 and 1/2 years after what's called the Abomination of Desolation which will happen on the Temple Mount, Jesus Christ will return.

So the Rapture could happen at any moment. And that's what makes future events so fascinating. And so when we ask the question that we've asked in this series, what's next, that's what we're looking for; what's next for us is the Lord to come back for us. Now, Jesus didn't give a detailed and explained chronologically a roadmap of prophetic events. But if we take what Jesus said in the Gospels, and if we take what Paul wrote about in the Epistles, and what Peter wrote about in the Epistles, and what the Apostle John saw and recorded in the Book of Revelation, we have a little bit of a road map that helps us understand what's next.

So here's how it's going to come down. Jesus Christ, who is currently seated at the right hand of God the Father, will come in bodily form from heaven to the atmosphere above the Earth. Second, Jesus will bring with him the souls of believers who have died, have been with him in heaven. And he will bring them with him to resurrect their bodies at that point. Their bodies are not suited for heaven.

He needs to resurrect their bodies, transform their lowly bodies, as Paul said, into his glorious body, because 1 Corinthians 15 tells us flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. This corruption must put on incorruptible, this mortal must put on immortality. So just like those two guys from the South Pacific said, we've got to bring our wives to ride in that machine, that's all going to happen, that physical transformation, at that Rapture of the church.

Third, once we meet the Lord and them in the air. Then we're going to make a triumphal procession back into heaven. During which time, there will be the judgment seat of Christ. That's a judgment for believers, who will get the rewards during that period while the tribulation is happening on the Earth. There will be given to us, in glory, rewards for faithful service and the use of our talents here.

The Bible plainly says in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things that were done in his body." During all of that period of time, of course that may also include the beautiful, not only judgment seat of Christ, but sitting around the seat in the marriage supper of the lamb in heaven. During that time, what's happening on this Earth will be tribulation. In fact, it's called "great tribulation." In fact, Jesus said there's not a time in history that will be like that time. And after the tribulation period, then Jesus and the saints with him will come back to the Earth for the second coming, the end of that conflagration of the armies marching around Jerusalem.

Then there will be a millennial kingdom of 1,000 years of Christ on the Earth, followed by what is called an eternal state-- brand new heaven, brand new Earth, and the new Jerusalem coming out of heaven toward the new Earth. And the best part of all that, that will be home. It is home. It's what Jesus referred to, "in my Father's house, there are many mansions." He called it his Father's house.

Above anything else, heaven is a relational place. It's a real place, but it's a relational place. You're going to be with the Lord in the Father's house. And you know what makes home home? It's not what's at home; it's who's at home. You know, when I go home in the evening and my wife's there, I'm home. If the house is empty, it might be a beautiful house, but it's not home until the people that you love are there. And the people that you love, who have followed the Lord, will be there with you, and the Lord that you have served will be there with you. You will be home.

That is why Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that great Victorian preacher, used to tell his students when he was teaching them to preach, he said these words, "whenever you talk about heaven, let your face light up with a heavenly glory. When you talk about hell, your everyday face will do." You look at a lot of people, and it's like, they don't have much heaven on their mind. They're joy isn't present, and there's not that exuberance.

But when you talk about heaven and you think about that blessed hope, that ought to fill your heart and my heart with joy, because that really is home. There will be no broken hearts there, no broken homes anymore, no rehab, no hell. And looking today around at all the warnings and the wake-up calls, the most exciting thing is where this is all leading.

So when you think about what's next, also think of what will happen after that next thing. Ultimately, we're going to be with Him in glory. Jesus put it this way, "when all these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, for your redemption is drawing near."

Boy, has it been exciting to be here in Israel and especially in the city of Jerusalem. I just sort of get amped up. It's better than a double espresso, just to walk around the streets of Jerusalem and hear the buzz and see the sights and think of all the scriptures that speak about this incredible place. But the question is for you, are you ready?

You've heard these things. Some of you have heard these things all your life. You've grown up in church. But you haven't received Christ. You haven't asked him to be your lord, your master. My mind goes back to what happened in 1980 with Mount St. Helens, and there was all of the talk about a possible eruption. And there were people who wouldn't leave their homes because they didn't believe in it.

Here's a story that comes from a book called Approaching Hoofbeats. It's a parable. Mount St. Helens belched it's great plumes hundreds of feet into the air. Geologists watched their seismographs growing in wonder, as the earth danced beneath their feet. Rangers and state police, sirens blaring, herded tourists and residents from an ever-widening zone of danger.

Every piece of scientific evidence was being collected in the laboratories and on the field. And it all predicted that the volcano would soon explode with a fury that would leave the forests flattened. Warning, blared the loudspeakers on patrol cars and on helicopters, hovering overhead. Warning, blinked to the battery-powered sirens at every major crossroad. Warning, pleaded radio and television announcers, short wave and citizen band operators.

Warning echoed up and down the mountains and lakeside villages, the tourist camps, the hiking trails, and they all emptied, as people heard the warnings and fled for their lives. Except for Harry. Harry refused to budge. Harry was the caretaker of a recreation lodge on Spirit Lake, just five miles north of Mount St. Helens peak. The rangers warned Harry of the coming blast. Neighbors begged him to join them in their exodus. Even Harry's sister called to talk sense into the old man's head.

But Harry ignored the warnings. From the picture-postcard beauty of his lakeside home, reflecting on the snow-capped peak overhead, Harry just grinned on national television and said, nobody knows more about this mountain than Harry. And it don't blow up on him. But on May 18, 1980, as the boiling gases beneath the mountain surface bulged and buckled the landscape into its final limits, Harry cooked his eggs and bacon, fed his 16 cats scraps, and began to plant petunias around the border of his freshly mowed lawn.

At 8:31 AM, the mountain exploded. Did Harry regret his decision in that millisecond he had before the concussive waves, traveling faster than the speed of sound, flattened him and everything else for a 50 square mile radius? Did he have time in his stubbornness, as millions of tons of bricks disintegrated and disappeared into a cloud, reaching 10 miles into the sky? Did he struggle against the wall of mud and ash 50 feet high that buried his cabin, his cats, and his freshly mowed lawn?

Now Harry is a legend in the Pacific Northwest, where he refused to listen. He smiles down from postcards, posters, t-shirts, and beer mugs. Balladeers sing a song about old Harry, the stubborn man who put his ear to the mountain but would not heed the warnings. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, John throughout the centuries have issued warnings. And in every generation, people are left with the choice to heed and to believe or to reject. And that's a choice you have.

You have that choice right now to place your faith in Jesus Christ, who came to this place and died for your sins and rose bodily from the grave and ascended into glory and one day is coming back. Will you be ready for him? I pray so. It's been great being with you from Jerusalem. I pray that your weekend is blessed. And as you walk with Him, your life is filled with all the fullness of God. God bless you.

As believers, our hearts are filled with joy because we know we'll one day be in heaven with Jesus. Did the message inspire you to share your salvation with others? Let us know. Email us in us at mystory@calvaryabq.org And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.

 


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