More Sure than Creation Itself

Matthew 24:32-35

Introduction:  fig tree in 21:18-19  In the morning, as Jesus was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.  —the cursing of Jerusalem in a lived parable with the fig tree

  • Preparing the disciples for what he would say about Jerusalem in the next several days
  • In fact in the disciples’ timeline, that was just yesterday
  • Now in 24:32 the word “lesson” in the ESV is the translation of Gk. Parabolh –parable
    • Great translation to capture the meaning, but because the word is different the English reader may not pick up that this passage has a reference back to 21:18-19

Learn the lesson, understand the parable:  Jesus is saying, “you will be able to see that my words are coming true”

  • Specifically—Jerusalem will wither under my condemnation
  • Be prepared and be faithful to my words

Jesus doesn’t want them to be prepared in a vacuum.  He has told them what to expect.  V.33—“when you see all these things”, similar to v. 25 “see, I have told you beforehand”.   Jesus may not be physically present with us, but His word is true—rely on what he’s said. 

Like the buds on a fig tree predict leaves and the presence of leaves means summer is very close, “all these things” are the trials, persecutions, and sufferings of verses 4-28 means that Jesus’ word of judgment is coming true.

  • Jesus is telling them to believe and be saved.
  • Believers are spared God’s judgment because their savior was punished for them
    • The key component that separates goats and sheep is belief
    • In the context of Matt 24 what constitutes belief?
    • V. 16—fleeing to the mountains…listening to Jesus’ Words and not the culture, or their families’, or their own perceived wisdom,
    • Of course, believers trust Jesus as their sacrifice for sin and for eternal salvation, but believers also have skin in the game in real timeàancient historian Eusebius records the Christian exodus from Jerusalem beginning in 66 AD…

Do you believe Jesus more than your eyes?  More than your own judgment?  Is your faith active and alive, trusting in Jesus’ words over everything else?

Jesus’ Words are more sure than even creation—three points 1. Who’s Near?; 2.  Jesus’ Word is True;  3. Jesus’ Word is more sure than creation

  1. Who’s Near in v. 33?  So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.
    1. Language nerds—it’s your time to shine! 
      1. Some foreign languages can express a complete thought without the subject, because the subject is implied in the verb.
        1. Like Spanish:  Soy Mateo—I am Matthew.  to say the full sentence would be Yo soy Mateo.
      1. Greek is like that.  This sentence is like that.
      1. It doesn’t have a subject. The subject is part of the verb. 
      1. And there aren’t any clues to indicate if it should be read as masculine, i.e. “he is near”, or neuter, i.e. “it is near”. 
      1. In fact, if you have a KJV, you’ll notice it’s translated “it is near”
    1. Three options, then: two operating on the assumption it’s “he is near” and one on “it is near”
    1. If it’s “he is near” it must be referring to the Son of Man, Jesus
      1. Option one:  it is grammatically possible to take this as a reference to Jesus’ second coming at the end of time
        1. But that conflicts with the timing Jesus gave in v. 34:  “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”
        1. GK Beale:  “anything is possible, but not everything is probable”…
      1. Option two:  “he” still refers to the Son of Man, but does so in the same way of v. 27 referring to the judgment of Jerusalem
        1. The Son of Man is coming—not physically, but in prophetic reality through the physical judgment of Jerusalem
        1. And this points ahead to Jesus’ second coming, in that way the arrival of the Son of Man in Jerusalem in AD 70 is a type of the final arrival of the Son of Man at the consummation of redemption
    1. The third option, which I actually prefer:   “it is near” where “it” refers to the Abomination of Desolation v.15
      1. As a reminder:  The pagan sacrifices on the altar of the temple, the ritual desecration that marked its functional end as God’s house
      1. It was the earthly sign that God’s glory had left the temple permanently.
    1. Whatever the case:  V. 33 is a warning,
      1. You don’t want to be here when all this goes down!
  2. Jesus tells his disciples to believe him—his word is true
    1. ESV—”Truly I say to you”
      1. KJV—Verily I say unto you, NET—I Tell you the truth
      1. Greek—the word is “Amen”—true dat!
      1. Jesus used extra words to make a special point—please believe me, no matter what it looks like around you, take me at my word
    1. Jesus’ word is true—Jesus’ word should be our guide, our teacher
      1. Think about their situation:  wars, rumors of war, false prophets, false Christs, betrayals, persecution, the Roman Army on the way into Judea
        1. Everyone has always told them to run to town for protection, but Jesus tells them to run to the hills
        1. The city:  walls, fortifications, weapons, militia, people to help fight, supplies
        1. The hills:  hills and wilderness
      1. In their immediate context, when the disciples were living—as Jesus says in v. 34, “this generation” Jesus wants them to live, his instructions will save their lives if they just listen.
      1. The disciples were going to have to see the world as if the world doesn’t know itself as well Jesus does.  Sounds easy, but it’s a pretty radical thought.
    1. There’s a principle here for all believers
      1. Scripture is our guide, but more than simple “how-to” manual, it changes how we see the world, how we interact with the world, how we minister to each other, and how we are salt and light in the world.
      1. Romans 12:1-2  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
        1. Paul’s outline for a biblical worldview, seeing the world with Jesus’ eyes:
          1. V. 1 Worship and reverence:  God revealed himself in the Bible to be worshiped properly
          1. V. 2 Don’t be conformed to the world:  it will influence you in many ways
            1. Some obvious
            1. Some so subtle you won’t even notice
          1. Don’t be conformed to the sinful world that rages in your soul
            1. Resist the urge of your sinful nature to be like the sinful world
            1. Always remember there’s an old man living in you that has a deep desire to be like the world, and Satan would like nothing better than to see that happen, too.
          1. Be transformed:  What you need, what we need, what I need, is real change, a change that affects all of you, because your natural mind is warped, fallen, and totally depraved in sin
            1. The renewal of the mind comes through Jesus’ work for you
            1. Received by the gift of faith
            1. Applied by the Holy Spirit
          1. “That by testing you may discern what is the will of God”:  test it according to God’s true inspired revelation
            1. Testing your daily life against the truth of God’s will revealed in the Bible—not in your mind! 
            1. John Owen, “If private revelations disagree with the Bible, they are false, and if they agree, they are needless.” 
            1. Don’t lean too hard on the mysterious leading you feel, but you can lean with all your weight upon God’s inspired Word.  No matter how hard you lean, it is strong enough to hold you up.
          1. The truth transforms you by working in your soul:  John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
            1. Focus on the truth, learn the truths in the Bible, and meditate on them
            1. Allow God’s word to shape your actions, your thoughts, and most importantly your affections
  3. More Sure than Creation– Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
    1. Another way of saying “the grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of God endures forever”  (Is. 40:8)
    1. Let me ask you a question:  don’t we often get this backwards?  Don’t we usually look to creation or the world around us to prove the Bible?
      1. The sciences and history can be useful, for sure:
        1. Archaeology
        1. Ancient history
        1. Biology
        1. Microbiology
        1. Astronomy/Astrophysics
      1. But Jesus is saying the opposite of that.  He’s saying that creation doesn’t prove his words, no, His words prove creation.   His word formed the earth, and His word sustains it.
      1. Heb. 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
    1. This is super important to us, especially when the whole world looks like it’s falling apart, because even if it does, Jesus’ word holds true.
  4. Remember Jesus’ escape plan:  “Run to the hills”—salvation
    1. Just like conventional wisdom said run to the city:  Who would have devised a plan where the immortal, infinite God died for creatures who offended him?
    1. His word is true, trust him, not your fallen logic or false sense of fairness
    1. The Romans aren’t marching on the Alle-Kiski Valley any time soon, but our world is falling apart all around us, too, isn’t it?
      1. Sexuality—LGBQTIA+ , it’s real simple and straightforward, God mad us male and female, and one of the purposes for sex is to pro-create, to make children, and there’s only one way that happens.  Sexual relationships are only to happen within the bonds of marriage, and marriage can only be between one man and one woman. 
        1. To our ears this can sound exclusionary and narrow minded, but that’s onlhy because we’ve been conformed to the world’s thinking rather than God’s.
        1. Related to this is what the world calls “family planning”—FDA just approved the Opill as OTC drug
          1. Birth control pill
          1. Elective surgery to prohibit births
          1. Of course, there’s abortion, too
          1. All of them deny God’s inherent blessing of children as the Bible depicts it– Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Ps. 127:3)
            1. It doesn’t say “unless you already have a boy and a girl, then you should stop…”
          1. There are legitimate reasons to limit pregnancies because of health concerns
          1. But elective surgery that changes your ability to reproduce, just because you are denying God’s blessing of children is a little like having surgery because you feel like you were born the wrong sex.
          1. Jesus came to redeem sinners and to make a church for himself, the church which ordinarily grows through the ordinary way of having children.  They are a blessing to all of God’s family.  We should treat them that way.
    1. Within the church, in our relationships with other believers it can feel like the world’s falling apart, too
      1. Sometimes the answer is as simple as person to person repentance
      1. You’ve done something wrong, you acted badly, you said something stupid or hurtful, or passive aggressive, or aggressive-aggressive.
      1. God’s word remains true here, too.  It doesn’t waiver.
      1.  Own your sin, own your wrong-doing and repent of it.  Address the issue as best you can, even if it’s long past, say you’re sorry and do your best to make restitution.  Not monetary restitution, but do your best to repair what’s been damaged.
    1. Sometimes it’s not between people, the relationship that’s damaged is between us and our savior, because of our guilt and shame.
      1. Jesus’ word has an answer:  for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal. 3:27
      1. Yeah, your sins are filthy like Joshua’s high priestly robes in Zech. 3, but God replaced them the perfect robe of Christ. 
      1. Some of us have a hard time believing that.  Do you believe it? 
    1. With so much pain, hurt, and depravity all around us life can feel hopeless and out of control.  Like a the Roman army breathing down Jerusalem’s neck—or maybe like Wagner’s forces marching on Moscow
      1. “heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will never pass away” offers us stability, grace, and HOPE!
      1. Because all the riches of heaven are given to us in the Savior who spoke these words and died for our sins.  And in his death, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit who unites us with Jesus’ strength, fills us with his love, and equips us with his power to trust our savior and believe in his word.  Amen.