In this sermon today I would like to share with you the words of Jesus Christ in one of the most well-known prophecies of all – known as the Olivet Prophecy. It’s a discourse…it’s a discussion that He held with His disciples just days before He was crucified, in which He spelled out some very, very important things, some of which I don’t know if we fully appreciate and understand. But they all lead, in this prophecy, to His return to this earth and our inheriting the Kingdom of God, which is what we are celebrating here at the Feast of Tabernacles.
Message presented during the Feast of Tabernacles in Panama City Beach, Florida.
[Victor Kubik] Unbelievable! I feel like I’m riding on air – not even walking on the ground! It’s absolutely wonderful to see all of you. The music was phenomenal. The spirit is great. And I am just very, very happy. This is, by far, the best Feast ever! We keep saying that over and over again, but this has been such a wonderful experience.
First of all, I’d like to greet everyone else who is now listening and watching this around the world. We probably have about thirteen thousand people who are connected or will be seeing this by delay in more than fifty sites around the world. Many sites, of course, we have in the United States, in Canada, Mexico, Central America, in Africa – all the sites we have there – the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines and elsewhere. I may have left out some.
I’m trying to think of one way to connect all of us and, maybe, since we are told to clap our hands with joy – even on a holy day – I think we can clap our hands. (Applause) I just heard a little bit of the Jekyll Island people. (Laughter) They’re close enough to hear live. Anyway, I hope that we are all connected with one in spirit. And this is just absolutely marvelous and wonderful.
I could give a lot of credit to a lot of entities – first of all, to God, for providing this beautiful location that Beverly and I have so thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed. We’ve enjoyed seeing people that we hadn’t seen – in one case, this morning – for forty-four years – going back to Sioux Falls days when I was a ministerial trainee and visited them. And here they are, faithful after all those years, and here at the Feast of Tabernacles. And many, many others I haven’t seen – like our star pianist, who I hadn’t seen probably…I mentioned twenty years, but it’s probably been about thirty years that I haven’t seen her. I want to give credit to all the people that have made this possible. With Jerry Aust, who has been so solicitous, along with his wife, to make us feel so very, very comfortable and everybody else who has have worked so hard to make this a wonderful Feast of Tabernacles.
One area that’s of concern – I just wanted to mention to you – that we’ve had a little trouble with the Feast has been the Feast in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our minister there was not able to go there, because he’s been to Ebola countries. So he was refused entry to go to the Feast. I talked to the Mickelsons the day before they left, and they said they hope they will be keeping the Feast there on their own. But they’re cut off. Maybe you could pray for the people in the Congo – the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’ll be talking more about Ebola and its issues in the sermon.
We do have a new Feast site, though, on the other edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – in the drier side, not the jungle side – in Zambia. We have a new Feast site in Kitwe, where Aaron Dean was there for the opening. I was able to see some pictures that he sent through Facebook. I was just so happy to see sixty-four who are keeping the Feast in one of three Feast sites in Zambia. We have another Feast site in Lusaka with probably a hundred and eighty or so, and then one way to the northeast with a hundred and twenty. But this was just wonderful to see those pictures, and I was just very, very inspired by the banner that they had. They didn’t have a lion and lamb. They had a tiger and a lamb. I thought that was very nice.
We’ve also had a wonderful hashtag campaign – UCG’s hashtag – #ucg.fot. It’s been wonderful to see all the pictures from around the world – from Malaysia to the sites in the United States and in South America for a very, very few.
In this sermon today I would like to share with you the words of Jesus Christ in one of the most well-known prophecies of all – known as the Olivet Prophecy. It’s a discourse…it’s a discussion that He held with His disciples just days before He was crucified, in which He spelled out some very, very important things, some of which I don’t know if we fully appreciate and understand. But they all lead, in this prophecy, to His return to this earth and our inheriting the Kingdom of God, which is what we are celebrating here at the Feast of Tabernacles.
I’ll be staying mostly in Matthew, chapter 24, and also in Matthew 25. Matthew 25 is as important, if not more, as a commentary on chapter 24, because it gives some very definite instruction after Christ lays out what the prophecies…how they’re laid out. But there are some very important things that He brings out in chapter 25, which are not something disconnected from 24. It’s very tied in and is a commentary on chapter 24
Matthew 24 – the Olivet Prophecy – is where I began to study the Bible more than fifty years ago. You might remember – for those of you who have been on the old fifty-eight lesson Bible study course – that was where it began – where Christ’s disciples asked Him, “What is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” That’s the last time that we hear them speaking, because Christ goes on for two chapters and explains and answers their question. But He answers more than they had asked for – more than they had asked Him. I found that study to be very interesting. I found it to be very eye-opening. It was about the return of Jesus Christ, about the establishment of a literal Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God and the subject of the Kingdom of God is one of the most important doctrines and understandings that we have in the church. It is probably something that we are more distinctive in than almost anything else, as to understanding its literalness – understanding that there’s a process of it coming. It’s not here now. In fact, understanding that it’s not here now just makes it more a hope and desire for us to be looking to see it enter into this world.
The Olivet Prophecy ends with these words – toward the end: Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. As I said in my first sermon at the Feast here, it is an answer to the prayer, Thy kingdom come, which is at the very top of the things we pray for. After we ask God and praise His name and thank Him for all the things He gives us, we say, “Thy Kingdom come. Let it come to this earth.”
But the return of the Kingdom is preceded by apocalyptic events of mass religious deceitfulness and deception, war, famine, disease, tribulation, heavenly signs – a lot of terrible things that occur before Christ’s return.
People become naturally very interested in these events and want to know how these things will all play out. And since Christ predicted a series of events, along with what’s written in the book of Revelation, what’s written in writings of the apostle Paul in Thessalonians, what’s written in Isaiah and Jeremiah, and all the prophets about a series of events that all seem to be consistent with a series of things that will happen before His return. And so people get very, very fascinated by this. In fact, if there’s anything that draws people to our message, it’s a doomsday message – the doomsday message about all these things that will take place before Christ has to return. And whenever we have a program or booklet about prophetic events, there are more people that take an interest in us than anything else – because they want to know – they want to know what’s going to happen. They want to be on top of it. They want to know when it’s time to get serious, perhaps, about life. And occasionally, people do get serious as a result of something that happens – some civil war or something happening in the Middle East. People get very, very fascinated and interested.
A doomsday message has captured the imagination of preachers, speculators, numerologists – who feel like there is some hidden message in numbers – astrologers and anybody else who has wanted to predict what the future holds. Many have predicted the rise and fall of nations, exact dates and scenarios, often to be disappointed when they weren’t fulfilled. And, as you know, there are people that have predicted very exact things, and then they don’t come around, and they have a few excuses: “Well, it wasn’t to be this year. It’s the next year.” Then eventually it all peters out and doesn’t happen.
We do have a booklet and part of a Beyond Today program – 7 Prophetic Signs Before Christ Returns – and this is a reprint article – has been one our most requested articles of all. It delves into, of course, Matthew 24 – the Olivet Prophecy – Daniel, Revelation and brings out a great deal of response. People would like to know how things are going to work out. They want to know. And wouldn’t it be nice to have an app that could just tell us all these things? Something like End-Time Buddy or something, you know – on our telephone (laughter) – which would be an aggregate political conditions around the world, the price of oil, you know, what’s happening in the Middle East, and so forth. Wouldn’t it be one of those things that we could just push a button and be able to find out.
Well, in the Olivet prophecy of Matthew 24 and 25 – and I think it’s important to say Matthew 25 should be very much included as part of Olivet Prophecy, even though chapter 25 is two parables and a scenario, but very, very important to understanding what Christ is trying to say to His disciples about time in Matthew 24.
Christ spoke about what would occur, but also what we should be doing to prepare for the end of the age. Let me say that again – what we need to be doing to prepare for the end of the age. There are many people who want to know what’s going to happen, but people don’t really know what to do in order to prepare. Or, if it’s preparation, what should a person be doing to prepare. Some become survivalists. Some develop hidden-away compounds for them to hang out in with food and guns to prepare for the end times. Some are trying to find different places for them to go to and hide. But where in the world are you going to go hide and survive.
Some of the signs that Christ brings out – because He was asked the question, “What is the sign of Your coming?” – in other words, give us more information of what we’re to be looking for as far as Your return – some of them are – I’ll be very honest – a bit unclear as to what exactly they refer to. They refer to “in a glass darkly” about certain events that are to come. And remember, too, that these words of Jesus Christ have been intended by Him, in His great wisdom as God in the flesh, could be read by Christians in His time, in 100 AD, in 500 AD, in 1000 AD, in 1492 AD and in 2014. They’ve all had their application of different things that would take place.
Some events, such as Christ opening the conversation that the temple would be destroyed, is something that did happen. And there are other events that already did take place. Other events have not. But how would you, as a Christian, in 400 AD, take the words that Christ left and apply them to your life?
I’d like to go right to Matthew, chapter 24, if you would. Now, what I’m going to do in this. There’s always a question about turning to scriptures. Some people turn to scriptures, some don’t. But I’d like everybody to turn to Matthew, chapter 24. You brought a Bible here today, so I’d like you to turn to chapter 24, and we’ll be going through selections of 24 and 25. I’ll be referring to a few other scriptures – not very many. Those you can just sit there and hold your Bible open to Matthew 24 and write those down. But stay in Matthew 24 and 25, because this is the core of what I’ll be talking about – with a few ancillary scriptures in the rest of this sermon.
Matthew, chapter 24, and verse 1: Jesus Christ went up to the Mount of Olives, which is across valley of Kidron from the temple. And from the Mount of Olives, you have a phenomenal view of the temple mount. It had to be beautiful, because the temple was in its glory at that time, as He was sitting there – where there’s a hotel now – there at the Mount of Olives – and was overlooking the city of Jerusalem. His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple – verse 1:
Matthew 24:1 Matthew 24:1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.
American King James Version×- His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings of the temple – verse 1.
V-2 – And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all of these things? Assuredly, I say to you, ‘Not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.’” And it just didn’t seem like a very likely thing – the temple was as beautiful as it was. Rome was very much in control and in charge. It seemed like everything was set politically. Oh, there were disruptions here and there, but He would say that there would come a time where the whole temple would be not only burned down, but leveled and every stone pulled apart, which is exactly what happened in the late 60s, when the Romans crushed a Judean revolt.
V-3 – Now, as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will all these things be?” And what will be the sign – or, how are we going to know – of Your coming and of the end of the age?” – the end of society – very interested in the eschatology – the end times study.
Jesus Christ, then, begins His discourse – Matthew 24, and verse 4:
V-4 – Jesus answered and said to them, “Take heed” – warning! – the very first thing is a warning – “Take heed – watch out! – that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
I’d like to read this section first – of these first four warnings – and comment on them.
V-6 – “Then you will hear of wars” – in verse 6 – “and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled, for these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” We’re just getting ready to tell more. This is just the beginning of things that have to take place.
V-7 – “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Christ enumerated the four horsemen of the apocalypse that are spoken of in the book of Revelation. It’s consistent teaching of what Christ said would take place and what John saw in vision in the apocalypse, or the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Let’s go to religious deception first, as the first of the signs that would lead to His coming. Now again, you might say, at least the first four of the apocalyptic events that would take place…haven’t they already occurred? And haven’t they many times before? Yes, they have. They have occurred even in Christ’s time, as He was talking about false prophets – His period. Wars and rumors of wars? Well, when haven’t we had wars and rumors of wars. But He talks about a continuation – an escalation – of all these events that precede His coming. And they certainly do. And they are things for us to watch for, but to watch for in the way that Christ describes.
The warning of deception is spoken of three times in this chapter. It’s not just deception to the world – where the whole world is deceived. We know that. And we look upon the world, and we see all the various religions, we see all the various gods, even in Christianity, all the different understandings of who Jesus was, and we know that they can’t all be right. So somebody is wrong. The whole world is deceived. But also He speaks about deception within the body of believers and that even the very elect could be swayed.
If we think that we are beyond deception, think again. Human beings, including all of us, are subject to being misled by persuasive people’s arguments, emotions, personal self-interest, corrupt leadership and religious argument. Throughout history intelligent societies have been deceived and misled into believing they were superior and could wage genocide on others. In the 20th century, that happened with society after society, where they were led to believe that they either had a very special plan for human beings, or they were a superior group of people, and they inflicted genocide on people in that understanding.
At one time we were assured, in our minds, that we would always be a monolith of believers. Today we’re only a fraction of that. I’m not dissuaded. I get discouraged, but I’m very thankful as I look forward to where we’re going. But I just do know that we have had people who have been misled, people who have quit, and people who have really not lived out what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24. Can you be deceived? What can we possibly believe? What could we believe? Are we protecting ourselves against deception against the truths that God has given us?
The final fulfillment of this particular prophecy – and you don’t have to turn there – you can, if you’d like to, but I just really want you to have your Bible open, at least, to Matthew 24…. If I can get you to turn to 1 Thessalonians 5, that’ll be great. But in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, the apostle Paul says this:
1 Thessalonians 5:1 1 Thessalonians 5:1But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you.
American King James Version×– Now concerning the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. This is talking about the return of Jesus Christ. It’ll come at a time when you don’t think, when you don’t expect it to come, in a manner that you don’t expect it to come. And he says one of the signs is: For when they say, “Peace and safety” – this is a clue – when they say, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.
So, as Christ said, “Take heed, be careful, listen very carefully, be watchful.” There are a couple of things about this. He talks about a lot of violent things that will take place, but when it ultimately takes place, it will be at a time you don’t think it will. And one of the clues is when they say, “Peace and safety.” How will that take place? I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t honestly tell you how that will take place.
V-4 – But you, brethren, are not in darkness…. I’m saying this to all of you who are listening to this sermon. You are not in darkness. We’ve been called to light. We’ve been called to a higher level of understanding. …that that day should overtake you as a thief.
I’m so sad when we have marched through the decades that we have, and seeing all the things that have taken place in the world, seeing all the events that are leading from one millennium to another – to the 2000s and all the things that are possible – to see people quit, to see people go elsewhere, to see people go back to where they were, or to see people develop their new understandings, or to become delusional in what they do, and really miss the whole understanding about God working out a plan and God giving us a way to understand where we’re going.
V-5 – You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober – be serious.
I hope that as we have come to this Feast of Tabernacles – and I know that the Feast of Tabernacles is such a joyful event – such a joyful event to hug one another, and see each other, and just enjoy each other’s company so much – we need to be cautious that we don’t forget the purpose of our being here. It’s to learn to fear the Lord your God always as we rejoice, to be sober minded, to learn more about the Kingdom of God, to learn more about the intricacies, to be watchful, to wake up.
V-7 – For those asleep sleep in the night, and those who get drunk get drunk in the night – people who are really out of touch and really not interested. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. Faith, love and hope. Are you adopting, increasing in and practicing those three great fruits – those three great gifts – of the Spirit of God? Well, I’ll be talking about that, because Jesus Christ encourages us to do certain things – not just know certain things, but do certain things.
V-9 – For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. That’s where we’re going! To live with Jesus Christ and be saved – have eternal life! And that’s possible in the Kingdom of God. That’s what this is all about. This Feast of Tabernacles is a celebration of the gospel of the Kingdom of God – of the gospel itself.
2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, and verse 1 – getting back to this deception:
2 Thessalonians 2:1 2 Thessalonians 2:1Now we beseech you, brothers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together to him,
American King James Version×– Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Here the New Testament church is off to a great start. Thousands of people are baptized. But people already are pulling people away from the understanding they had, and saying, “Well, Christ has already come.” And different people like to introduce new doctrine. And one of them was that Christ had come. Verse 3:
V-3 – Let no one deceive you by any means. For that day will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed – the son of perdition – who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. That’s an event that will take place. Who it is, how it will take place, I don’t know.
You know, in times past we had, pretty much, figured out…it could be this person, it could be that person. We go and interview that person, even. It would be nice to have this person on a Beyond Today program – you know, be interviewed by Steve Myers as “The man of sin coming up - “What do you think about this? What are your plans?” and so forth. You know, we have not been above that. We’ve done all kinds of things before. But there will such an event take place.
Wars and rumors of wars. While there have been wars always, we live in a very dangerous world – fewer borders, but far more danger. Many realize that we are on the verge of another world war. It’s not just us. In fact, we may not even think we are on the verge of another world war, but conditions in the world are extremely dangerous. And we need to realize that. And, if there is a large scale war, involving nations where everything falls apart, it will be the end. There’s no recovery this time.
Wars in the last one hundred years: World War I began one hundred years ago exactly. It was a war that took tens of millions of lives. And it was the first time that the world completely was engulfed in war – a time when soldiers from New Zealand and Australia fought against the Turks in the Battle of Gallipoli – people who had nothing to do with each other – and great casualties were suffered. That war ended and that was to be war to end all wars. But wait. In one generation World War II came along and killed far more people than World War I. That war ended with a nuclear explosion over Hiroshima and Nagasaki – a nuclear detonation that was so horrible that it stopped Japan cold in its tracks. And, to this point, it has been a deterrent. And even though the Russians and the Americans had a Cold War going where each had arsenals that were way overkill aimed at each other, they were at least smart enough to realize that any exchange of nuclear weapons would be the end of society. They knew that. Down deep, they knew it. When the Russians came to Cuba with missiles to shoot at America in 1962, they eventually backed off. They had the deterrent that was at least something that kept them aside. That deterrent is gone.
Right now, more and more nations have had proliferated nuclear weapons about to be able to be used. And they don’t care about any deterrent, because their belief is, if they can send you to hell, they’d go to heaven. And they don’t care. And they will do it, because they know they’ll go to that place that they’ve been promised to. Total destruction of the earth is now possible. The end of the world is possible.
I have worked in Chernobyl since 1996. Shortly after starting the United Church of God, another elder and I – who was a very well-known physician who worked with the pituitary gland – or thyroid, I should say – the thyroid gland. And I had gone to Chernobyl and met with the doctor that treated the first Chernobyl victim children 30 miles due east of Chernobyl. And since that time, we’ve started helping and helped build a center for children’s rehabilitation. The point I’m bringing up here is that we’ve gone out to Chernobyl. and around Chernobyl there’s a thirty mile radius that’s called the Dead Zone. Nobody can go in there. This was an accident. This was not any military action. This was an accident, but the ground was so contaminated that just last year, the half-life of strontium and cesium ceased. That land has been contaminated just from that. A generation of children have been radiated and now this generation past them is carrying on the effects of nuclear activity.
What’s going to happen when nations shoot at one another and tens of millions die? It’s over! Economies collapse. Environment collapses. It’s over! And we need to be realizing that we live with that possibility around the corner with the kinds of people that may get their hands on nuclear weapons.
Right now we have ancient conflicts that are not getting better at all. Israel, Hamas, Palestinians – it’s not getting any better. All it does is just intensify the hatreds, the revenge. The ISIS situation is part of a caliphate that has been planned now for a number of years. It does have a plan that started in 2001 with the twin towers coming down, which has not stopped. It’s been part of a greater plan to bring down the world – done by people who really do know a great deal about how to make things collapse.
We don’t realize that the people in the Middle East…we had a visitor to Ambassador Bible College a few weeks ago. He is a resident in Milford. In fact, from his home, he can almost see the home office of the church. But he has been the outgoing Deputy Ambassador to Iraq. His name is Dave Caudle and he spoke to our Ambassador Bible class for a period and a half – answered a lot of good questions from our students. He said that conditions in the Middle East are beyond any negotiation. There’s no more talk – no more discussion. There’s no more mediation or anything that can be done. It’s over. It’s a matter of these things playing themselves out. And they’re high tech. He said you would not believe how high tech these people are. He said a lot of these people who are terrorists, you think they’re just out there in the desert wearing these black masks and so forth as being ignorant and so forth. No way. The question was asked, “Do they have cell phones?” He said, “Oh yes, not one, but sometimes three cell phones – one cell phone to talk to this group of people and one to talk to another group of people.” They use hashtag campaigns – like we do for the Feast – to mobilize and to encourage one another. I can’t believe this. They use Twitter – an American invention – probably going through a server in San Jose – to create unrest in the Middle East. Unbelievable! But things can change very, very quickly.
Some people are trying to figure how these conditions in the Middle East are going to play themselves out. Who’s going to be who? And who’s going to be the king of the south and how is this going to work itself out? Now, in no way am I downplaying the fact that we should be watching world events. But they are extremely complicated.
A few years ago I was in Jordan and was talking with individuals and talking to people who ran a school for rehabilitation and they were connected with the royal family in Jordan. And we had a few meals with them. On our going away evening, we sat down and we kind of let down and just talked about things in a very personal and open way. We talked about the Palestinians. We talked about the Jews and Israelis. We talked about the Jordanians and so forth. And we talked about what America – the United States – was doing in Iraq and so forth. And she turned to me and said, “You know, I really like you, but you just don’t understand us at all. You don’t understand how deep this thing is. You have no idea all that’s involved in the conflicts in the Middle East. You people are naïve.” I still remember that so well.
This little article appeared in a newspaper in United Kingdom that, to me, summarizes and clarifies the situation in the Middle East right now, as far as what we are to figure out: Are you confused by what is going on in the Middle East?” this author… he writes. “Let me explain. We support the Iraqi government in the fight against the Islamic state. We don’t like ISIS, but ISIS is supported by Saudi Arabia, whom we do like. We don’t like President Assad in Syria. We fight the support the fight against him, but not ISIS, which is also fighting against him. We don’t like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi government against ISIS. So some of our friends support our enemies, and some of enemies are our friends. Some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies, who we want to lose, but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win. If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they might be replaced by people we like even less. And all this was started by us invading a country to drive out terrorists who weren’t actually there until we went in to drive them out. Do you understand now?”
It’s tragic, but that is how convoluted the situation in the Middle East is. And the whole situation with ISIS…. I can’t believe we are trying to become friends with Iran. They’re the ones who want the bomb to destroy Israel, but they are against ISIS. We could go on and on about that, but when Christ said there would be wars and rumors of wars, this could escalate into a horrible ball of string that can’t be destroyed.
Next is Russia and Ukraine. I’m greatly distressed about what’s happening in Ukraine, because I’m of Ukrainian descent – naturally I would have a lot of feelings – and I speak the language and I speak Russian as well. And I’ve gone there many, many times and, really, have been brought to see the Ukrainians more through the Sabbatarian connection, where there are thousands of Sabbatarians in Ukraine, where we’ve been friends since the early 90s. And the reason for that date is because in 1991, the USSR imploded and Ukraine became independent – bloodless. It became an independent country. And I’ve gone over there dozens of times and have been with the Sabbatarians and did a work with LifeNets in the Chernobyl area. And it seemed like this would be something that would last forever. Freedom at last! But now we see an age old, eight hundred year long conflict between the brother to the north – Rosh, Rus – against the Ukrainian people that they have dominated most of the time. Ukraine has not been independent. It’s been under the thumb of Russia for along time. And Russia, for anything, right now feels embarrassed that Ukraine is on its own. Putin wants it back, because it’s a matter of honor. “We’ve always owned them. We’ve always had to have that as part of our land. And even though they are a different people – speak a different language – and don’t like us, we want to have them under our thumb.”
Well, I’ve been involved with conflict in Ukraine, beginning in 1997, when…1991, as you remember – I just said – the USSR collapsed and all the republics that made up the USSR – all of them – became independent, including the Islamic ones, like Tajikistan, Uzbekitstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan – those countries out there in the Islamic areas.
Tajikistan is adjacent to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, there were a few Ukrainian churches that were Sabbatarians. These are people that had been resettled there by Stalin, who wanted to homogenize the USSR. And so he sent lots of people…Ukrainians to Siberia, he would send Tajiks to Ukraine. I mean, he just started to mix things up and homogenize the population. Well, what happened is that when the Islamic people got their freedom, they became very militant. They were suppressed by the Soviets, as much as Christians were suppressed by the Soviets. But now they had their freedom. And now some of those factions rose in these countries where Islam now was freely practiced.
The thing is, with the Islamic peoples, there were various factions of them. And actually, a civil war began between one faction that believed you should pray four times a day and another faction that believed you pray six times a day. This became a point of contention. But whenever the Islamic people settled down, they turned their attention to Christians. And our Ukrainian churches there felt very threatened. As the leaders would say, “Well, if they meet again, I guess one grenade will take care of that church.” They’d throw it through a window and just destroy it. And so, in 1996/1997, these people moved – were relocated – from Tajikistan to Ukraine and settled in the Komoshani (?), which is where the Dnieper River comes into the Black Sea. Their pastor was the very last one to leave. And shortly after he left – and every single of the people – 250 of them – left and not one person was lost and the pastor was the last to leave – that country and the airport fell. It’s really quite a story.
Actually, some of this – that I have just read to you – the previous article and my diary of working with the Tajik relocation is on my Website. And I put this on Twitter and Facebook this morning. But you can go and take a look at my Website, which is kubik.org, and in the right hand column, there’s a black box that says, “Articles that are referred to in the sermon today.” You can download these and read these at will.
Some of these people emigrated to the United States under the Human Rights Accord during the days of President Jimmy Carter and have resettled in Portland, Oregon and Sacramento and in Missouri. Actually, Peter Eddington and I went to visit them again in Missouri this last February. Some of these people in Portland are keeping the holy days and will be coming to our Feast in Bend. That’s one reason we wanted to go to Bend for the Feast, because more and more of these people, as Sabbatarians – as I told you, some of them are slow to come around to the keeping the holy days for the reasons I outlined. But these people, now, are coming to keep the holy days. And a group of them will be singing on the Last Great Day – on the 8th Day of the Feast – in Bend, Oregon.
But the conflicts, the wars, the killing is unspeakable – that have taken place. Ukraine today…I’m in contact with our Sabbatarian friends, as well as our Chernobyl friends with what’s happening with the Russian incursions and trying to use the separatists groups in the east. It’s very disconcerting to me. We don’t realize that thousands of people have died in the last few months – thousands of people have died. I’ve communicated with our Sabbatarian friends that say that they are very careful about holding any kinds of meetings, because the police, the military – the Ukrainian military – can come into a church service and just tell all the young boys, “Okay, come with us.” And they drag them off to Donetsk to fight against the Russian separatists. The people live in a state of fear. In talking with my friends in Chernobyl and in talking to the Sabbatarians, they say there are continual funerals being held for military casualties all over Ukraine from Chernobyl to our Sabbatarians. One of them is a lady who will be at our Feast in Bend in a few days.
I never thought that Ukraine, as an independent country, would collapse – or could collapse – as it did. We still pray that it will not. And I had a very, very plaintiff message from the people we work with in Chernobyl on July 4th. They said, “Congratulations on 238 years on independence! We’ve had 22 years and it looks like it might come to an end.”
One of the cities where there has been a lot of heavy fighting is a place that we have sent a lot of Bible Study Courses to. In fact, the Bible Study Courses have been sent to people on a street with one number after another. It’s like a whole group is being formed. Actually, a few years ago, I was hoping I could go visit with those people, but, with my work now, I really can’t do that kind of work. That’s the city of Lugansk, where there has been heavy fighting. In the city of Donetsk, there’s been heavy fighting. And you might have seen pictures of the airport that was just destroyed. That’s where my aunt used to live. She is deceased now.
LifeNets is helping with children in Chernobyl, where from Donetsk and Lugansk, where children have been injured are being brought for therapy. I’m just saying to myself, “I can’t believe this is all happening in front of me.”
Famines. 21,000 die of hunger every day on this planet. Christ prophesied that famines would take place. Most of these 21,000 are children. 2.6 million children die of hunger every year and, as Brian Hoselton brought out yesterday, 11 million children die of preventable disease every year. We’re very well aware of this in Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, where, if a famine comes, children die very, very quickly.
How close are we to famine? I’ve spoken about this before, but I think we need to realize just on what thin ice we stand. I don’t want to scare you, but really, really are on very thin ice. We don’t have a Joseph in our society, who has food stocks that will take us to year 2021. He had food stocks in Egypt that would sustain a worldwide famine for seven years. We don’t have food enough to take us to the month of November! What if you ran out of water? Out of food? Cosco would be closed. WalMart is closed. It’s winter. No gardens. What would you do? I’m just saying that we need to be thinking in terms of…these were prophecies that were given to us and how do we react to them? Just say, “Oh, I know these things?” Or, “Do I start saving food? What do I do?” I think it’s important for us to ask these questions, and to answer them, and to have an answer since Christ ended this prophecy with, “Come you blessed of My Father. Enter into the Kingdom of God.”
We don’t think about famine because we’ve always had plenty of food. I don’t think we even realize just how bad off some of our brethren are overseas. Our brethren in Zambia…once we talked with our minister there, “What’s the typical diet for our brethren in the Zambian churches?” I know our people want to send more food over there – more money for more food – and so forth, but you know, when it comes down to just living, if you can have enough just to sustain you and keep you healthy, that’s fine. That’s great. But the typical diet all week long is nshima, which is like grits and greens. Maybe once a week, you can have a little chicken, but you won’t get more than an ounce. That’s it. At the Feast of Tabernacles, when we would slaughter – pluck – fifteen chickens for 270 people, that was a big event. Big event. The chickens are boney – tasty, but very boney – not much meat. We don’t realize how much we eat in this country and how much we have.
My mother lived through a famine – an artificially induced famine in Ukraine by Stalin in the year 1933. This was a famine that the Russians hid for years. And it wasn’t until almost the time when the USSR collapsed in 1991, when this famine was really known. 6 million Ukrainians perished in this famine, along with another 2-3 million people in the Volga area. 8-9 million people perished. My mother was an eight-year-old girl in 1933. My mother was a devout member of the church. She was interviewed by the University of Minnesota in an article in the newspaper – the Minnesota Daily – about what had happened. I’d like to share it with you, because this is not some story I read about or something I got on Wikipedia. This is something right from our family, because my mother would talk about these things – not too often, because they didn’t want to scare us as children, but believe me, when my parents – both of them were devout in the faith – they both are deceased – when they saw what the church was talking about, they said, “We know what they’re talking about! We’ve been through the tribulation! We’ve been through this hunger. We’ve been through war.” And I feel like my parents…God has put them away, because they’ve already done their time, as far as this type of thing is concerned.
I’d like to read from the interview in the Minnesota Daily, which was the commemoration of this 50th anniversary. “Many of the survivors of the famine, like Nina Kubik” – my mother – “are coming forward for the first time this year to share their memories of a tragedy that has been all but forgotten by Americans. ‘American GIs saw the dead of Auschwitz firsthand when they liberated the concentration camps, but no one saw, or was permitted to see, the millions who died in Ukraine,’ said Walter Nastis, president of the university’s Ukrainian Students Organization. Kubik said that she was afraid to dredge up memories of the famine for fear of reprisals from the present Soviet government in 1983.” It was still very much the USSR. She’s calls herself a ‘non-important homemaker’” – my mother was a very humble woman – “and added, ‘I don’t know much about politics,’ but she’s afraid of being denied a visa to visit her remaining relatives in Ukraine, so she was very quiet about this, but” – the author writes this – “the need to tell someone about the suffering of millions proved stronger than her fears. She has walked among the dead, through the landscape of death that was her homeland during the year of the famine. She remembers – eight year old girl, ‘The valleys near my house where all you could see were bones and bones of people who had died. In the countryside, where the bulk of people died, food was almost non-existent. Black markets sprang up around the city of Kharkiv’” – she lived in a town just outside of Kharkiv – “‘where people bartered their valuables for meager amounts of food. My mother’” – which would have been my grandmother – “‘traded her wedding ring for three or four loaves of bread that fed all of us – family of five – for a week,’ she said. Some were not that lucky. And old sick dead horse lying in a field was sliced up and cooked by a peasant for food. People who ate it died. During the long cold winter months, flour was added to ground up corn cobs as the only food available to her family. When spring came, people perked up. Why? They could dandelions and the grass. She said chaff, the waste product from wheat, was another substance used to fill growling stomachs. Those who flocked to nearby cities in search of food didn’t fare much better. ‘People who stood in the long bread lines often waited in vain for quickly exhausted state handouts,’ Kubik said. ‘They would die right there in line. Big state trucks would come and dump their bodies outside the city.’” She would talk about people who died…somebody who died inside their home…how would you dispose of that person? Well, you just put them out into the street to be collected by the government truck. This is the kind of life in our lifetimes that has been experienced – that we don’t see, but that has happened. Christ predicted these types of events. Famines, whether artificial or whether through drought, would take place and they would get worse and worse and worse. “The hardships Kubik suffered didn’t end with the famine though. That’s her experience as a child. Eight years later” – in 1941-1942 – “the Germans invaded.” How’s that for your childhood? At eight years old you see thousands of people in your community die of hunger. Eight years later, the Germans invade in Barbarossa – when she was sixteen years old – and taken to Germany to work as a slave laborer.I’ve told this story many times. I’ve told it in sermons, so I won’t go into it now. In fact, I have that sermon on the same spot that I told you about on my website. “She was separated from her family during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine in ’42 and brought to a slave labor camp in Germany. And she remained there until 1949.
My parents married in 1945. I was born in 1947 in a United Nations refugee camp. And you know something? I thank God all the time for the many blessings that I have received. The biggest one is just to be alive. My parents talked about all their friends that would die, one after another – talk about all the things that would take place. And when they came into the church, they said, “We know what can happen. We’ve seen it first hand. We’ve lived through it. We are survivors.”
What I want to tell you, too, right now is that you need to be a survivor, because God has given us the knowledge of where to go with what we know. My father told me that we just don’t really – as a society – can survive – none of us – we will be needing God’s help to get through it. What if water, electricity was shut off? There will come a time when everything will come to a screeching grinding halt. There will be no iTunes. There will be no Cloud. There will be no Internet. It won’t come back. How will you handle it?
Plagues – fourth one. Ebola. Of course, a lot Ebola is a news item right now. And they expect about 20,000 people to die from an incurable disease. It’s, of course, a news item in Africa, but there are also other diseases, such as malaria, which is still the number one killer – neck and neck with AIDS – in Africa, where over a million people each die every year. There’s the mosquito plague that’s going through Central America. And there are all kinds of things that are coming up that, even with all the medical knowledge, with all the drugs, keep popping up. Matthew 24, verse 8 – these are the beginning of sorrows. These are the beginning of sorrows.
Matthew 24, verse – after the beginning of sorrows:
Matthew 24:9 Matthew 24:9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
American King James Version×– Then they shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and you shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake.
This is the beginning of the religious tribulation phase – the fifth seal of Revelation and the fifth item mentioned by Jesus Christ. But then, notice what will happen as well.
V-10 – Many will be offended – verse 10 – and will betray one another and will hate one another.
On top of all those things that we have just talked about, there’s this that will take place. This is not talking about the outside, or just life on the outside. This is talking about internal things that have taken place. This is among people who have been friends, family – the church – who will betray friendships and hate one another. Actually, this is spelled out a little bit, with more detail, in Luke, chapter 21, verse 16.
Luke 21:16 Luke 21:16And you shall be betrayed both by parents, and brothers, and kinfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
American King James Version×– You will be betrayed, even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.
There’s one thing that I have a hard time with, probably more than anything else, as far as relationships are concerned. I’m a very relational person – very relational – those who know me – that I like to be close to people. I like to be a friend. But, if I’m betrayed, or if someone does this type of thing to me, I take it very hard. I take it hard when people that I’ve known for decades come to me and say, “I have to leave you.” Some of you who have gone through divorce know what it’s like to be betrayed and the dagger that it inflicts emotionally. It’s very, very hard. But Christ said that this would be one of the signs of His coming – these betrayals – people walking away from you.
I had a woman come to me – that I’ve known for a long time – for several decades – and said, “I love you, but I’m leaving you. I’m leaving you. I’m leaving the church” – at that point – “Good bye.” I don’t react very well to those things. I get very silent. I can’t manage that very well.
Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas. And I truly believe that it was not an easy event for Him. Jesus was also very relational and He knew His disciples – apostles – very well. He worked with them. And He spoke about the one who would betray Him. It seemed to be more than just, “Well, this is the guy that is just kind of leaving.” One prophecy, in the book of Psalms, to me, kind of says it all as to how Christ felt. Psalm 41, verse 9 – write this down.
Psalms 41:9 Psalms 41:9Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
American King James Version×– Even my own familiar friend, whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
God was in the flesh. And the work that Jesus Christ did was very, very personal and very relational.
Continuing in verse 11 of Matthew 24:
This is the second time that deception is mentioned, and this is a deception, now, within our ranks – to take people away from those who have been believers. The first delusion was to the world. This delusion is to those on the inside – the second time the delusion is brought up. Be careful about being tricked away from what you believe and what you have now, because you can lose it. You can lose it. Yes, you can.
I’ve seen people with whom we used to prepare sermons with and talk deeply about these spiritual things that are so clear to me right now – clear as ever – but now, I might as well be talking Chinese to them! They don’t know these things anymore.
Continuing in verse 12:
V-12 – And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Should we be surprised? Should we really honestly be surprised that there would be some of the activities that we’ve seen in the past years take place? They were prophesied – the love of many grows cold. “I give up. I can’t go on.” They go back to their old sins. We have called to repentance and to loving one another. Verse 13:
V-13 – But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
I hope that’s you – endures to the end. The word endures suggests that it’s not always pleasant. You are not here enduring the Feast. You are enjoying the Feast. Everything about it is wonderful. But to endure a situation to where you are suffering and hurting and wondering how it’s going to work out, and yet you’ve got to continue and go on. And you just feel like quitting, but you need to go on. That’s endurance. And Christ says, “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” So it may be painful. It may be looking up a cliff, but He says, “I’ll be with you. He that endures to the end will be saved.”
Oh, there’s more…verse 14:
V-14 – And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all nations as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. This is our mission – the mission of the church – and also to care for those whom God has called.
But our mission is to continually preach the gospel no matter what the conditions are. The conditions at this point in this particular prophecy are pretty bleak, but we’re not to quit. I’ve had people come to me and say, “You know, we should really not do so much with print or even Beyond Today, because the results are so-so here and so-so there. So maybe it would be better to just back away from those things.” I say, “Nuts!” to that. We are going to continue on with the message that we have and God will bring it to the hearts of people as He sees fit. I truly believe that there will come a tipping point when God is going to bring more people to understanding.
We have see, historically, that there have been times that been slow, stable, but right now the church is growing. The church is increasing in its revenue – in its ability to reach out with the Beyond Today television program with the excitement with the various features that we offering to the world. Don’t ever – anyone – come to me and say, “We’ve got to shut this down so we can do something else or just to sit and prepare for the return of Christ.” We’re not going to do that at all. We’re going to continue preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. That seems to be what will be happening right up until the time that Christ returns. As long as I see that that is what we should be doing…we have the resources, we have the talent, we have the writers, we have the presenters, we have the speakers, that is what the church will do. Some have been deceived that the work is done. Matthew 24, and verse 19 – or verse 15, I should say:
Matthew 24:15 Matthew 24:15When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)
American King James Version×– Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand) – that’s what I read earlier in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 5, and also 2 Thessalonians earlier…about this man of sin who will be delivered. Who this is, we don’t know. It’s going to be some event of this sort that will come up in the world. Then verse 21:
V-21 – Then there shall be great tribulation, such has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. These are words from Jesus Christ. There will come a terrible time before the return of Jesus Christ that has never preceded…never been before and never will afterwards.
Now I have read these words on my knees. I have asked God to help me understand – to cope. These are words where I began my Bible study fifty-two years when I received my first Bible Study Course. We’re closer to these events than we were fifty-two years ago, obviously. And I want to be prepared. Do you want to be prepared as well? Verse 29:
V-29 – And immediately after the tribulation…. Of course, we have the return of Jesus Christ. There will be some saying, “He’s someplace hidden away, whatever….” No, no, no, not at all. Christ’s return will be visible to all. Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Jesus Christ will return. And He will send His angels with the great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
These are heavenly signs preceding Jesus Christ’s return which are spoken of in greater detail in the book of Revelation. Verse 32 – the parable of the fig tree:
V-32 – Learn this parable of the fig tree. When a branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh. And so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near at the doors.
What I’m trying to tell you here in this sermon is that the signs for these things are there. And so we should be prepared. I still haven’t gone to you and said exactly all the things we need to do to prepare.
V-36 – But of that day – verse 36 – and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Only the Father knows when these things will actually take place. So all we’re given is a general understanding that we live in troublesome times. I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be in one year, or five years, because I have two plans with the church. One is a short-term plan, but to be ready for His return anytime. The Middle East falls apart, the world becomes totally chaotic, economies collapse…we should be prepared. But also we’re looking to a time when maybe it won’t come as soon as we think it is. Because in 1962, we thought the end was coming when the Russian ships sailed for Cuba. The Cuban missile crisis seemed to be a possibility of a third world war. It didn’t happen. And so people fell asleep. In 1991 I rejoiced when the Soviet Union collapsed, because I always thought it was going to be an ultimate war between a combination of Soviet and Chinese against the West. It didn’t happen. And so we relaxed. Whew…. What are thinking? We’re just falling asleep. Because something is going to happen, but the way it will happen no one knows. And all the pundits and all the people that think they know are going to be wrong. The day and the hour no one knows. But here’s an indication of what will take place:
V-37 – But as the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man. Verse 38:
V-38 – For in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered the ark.
I read earlier how, when they say, “Peace and safety,” the end will come. There seem to be a lot of contradictory things. We have a lot of things to think about. When ultimately things will take place and come to a head, or when the end will come, it’s at a time when we think not. It may be like the days of Noah, when there will be more pleasure, more cable channels showing more TV shows, the stock market may be at an all-time high. And we say, “What end of the world? It passed over us.”
A true Christian is ready. A true Christian is living his life in a decent manner preparing.
Chapter 25 – it gives us instruction vital for our survival. Matthew, chapter 25 – again, there are two parables and a scenario.
The first of the parables is about the five wise and the five foolish virgins. Now remember that these parables are part of the message that Christ gave in Matthew 24.
Matthew 25:1 Matthew 25:1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
American King James Version×– Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. And those that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. And while the bridegroom was delayed – 1962, 1972, 1975, 1982, 1991 – give me a date when people thought Christ would return…. People thought the bridegroom.... “Well, I guess He’s delayed. Some people peeled off. Some people started something new. Some went back to where they were. Some didn’t believe anything. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. At midnight, a cry was heard – at a time you think not – because that cry will come – “Behold the bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet him!” And all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. These ten virgins all fell asleep, but five had oil in their lamps – for fuel – they had batteries and the others didn’t have batteries. Okay? And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out” – because they had to walk through darkness to meet the bridegroom. But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there not be enough for us. But go rather to those who sell and buy for yourselves.” And while they went out to buy – verse 10 – the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding and the door was shut. Afterward, the other virgins came, saying, “Lord, lord, open to us,” but he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, ‘I do not know you.’” Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Watching. Watching. As Luke writes, in Luke 21, “Watch…that you may be accounted worthy to escape.” The word watch means to be on alert. Watchman – is one who watches out for thieves at night – the night watchman – a person who is accumulating the Holy Spirit – oil that he has. That even though we have all, as a church, fallen asleep – I consider myself, also, as having fallen asleep from the great events leading to the time of Christ’s return – but at least we had oil in our lamps. We can get our lamps going. But there are others who don’t. Very similar to the parable of the wheat and tares.
Wheat cannot be separated from tares, as far as appearance is concerned. “And you don’t want to pull out the tares, because you’ll pull out the good wheat, too,” Christ said in that parable in Matthew 13. But there comes a time when there will be a separation, because wheat has a head of grain. A tare does not. It’s useless. They’re to be cut down. Are you wheat? Or are you a tare? Are you a virgin that has oil in your lamp? Or have you not been accumulating oil in your lamp? Do you live a life of righteousness – being accounted worthy – by the things that we are taught, you practice in your family? In your personal life? In the church? That you are of upstanding character? Or are you living a double life?
There’s probably nothing that hurts me more than to see somebody, who I thought was okay, and then you find out all kinds of bad things about them that they’ve been hiding. They’ve been a virgin without oil. We have people who continually want to find out when the end will come. These are people without oil. They want to find out when the end will come, so they can go to those with oil and find a way of escape.
I hope, brethren, that part of our preparation and what we are doing here at the Feast is learning to “fear the Lord your God always” – learning to fear Him, to respect Him, to obey Him, and to be a person of upstanding and decent character – to be the virgin with the lamp with oil – that even though we may have fallen asleep that we have oil in our lamps – not be as the foolish, which does not.
Okay, the next parable – the Parable of the Talents.
Matthew 25:14 Matthew 25:14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.
American King James Version×– The kingdom of heaven – verse 14 – is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one – each according to their ability. And immediately he went on a journey.
There are times when God gives us things and then He wants to see what we do with them. He went on a journey – He’s not hovering over us.
V-16 – He that received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five talents. And likewise, he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug it into the ground and hid his lord’s money. After a long time, the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five and came and brought five other talents, saying, “Lord, you delivered to me five talents. Look, I have gained five more talents besides them.” Verse 21:
V-21 – His lord said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things. I will make you a ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” – enter into the Kingdom of God. The same was true of the person of two.
We should be doing the Lord’s business. We should be doing our “spiritual trading.” We should be investing – doing things – seeing returns on what we do in our lives – not thinking that things are closing down or just thinking about ourselves, or like Len Martin was mentioning – just being stuck on yourself – but doing things that relate to preaching the gospel – becoming involved in doing the work of the church – improving yourself, dedicating yourself to doing things according to the way that you’ve been trained – in the way that you’re learning to do things – being virtuous. Doing the work…it’s not over. And this trading of various people – we have various people in the church – and our mission and our vision of the church, with everybody doing their part, is a very important aspect of this doing our Father’s business – of trading our talents, of investing, of doing those things that bring return. To whom much is given, much is required. To a widow, who doesn’t have too much resources, maybe her prayers – continuously praying for various people in the church. To others, it might be something in between, as far as the amount of things that they can do. But that’s what responsibility is given.
Christ said that is an important aspect of preparing for His return, because the very end of those first two recipients of the talents…“Enter into the joy of things that have been prepared for you – into the Kingdom of God.” But the person who said, “Ah…I was just given one talent. I wasn’t given very much. I’m nothing,” he’s going to bury it, and has done nothing with his life. Be cautious about being in that position.
And the final scenario is the separation of the sheep and the goats. Verse 31 – this is, again, part of the Olivet Prophecy:
V-31 – When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory, and all the nations will be gathered to Him. He will set the sheep – on the right side – on His right hand – verse 33 – but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!” And isn’t this what we want to hear? Aren’t these the words that we want to be welcomed with? But then, here’s what He says…that leads to that statement:
V-35 – For I was hungry and you gave Me food. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you took Me in. I was naked and you clothed Me. I was sick and you visited Me. I was in prison and you came to Me. And the righteous will say, “When did we see you hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe You? When did we see You in prison? The King – verse 40 – will answer, and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.
Service, caring for the needs of those less fortunate – that’s a requirement! The people that God wants in His Kingdom are people who care about others – people who have their minds off of themselves, people who say, “How can I help? What can I do?” We have brethren around the world who are in great need. I’m not here doing a solicitation for any organization – LifeNets or Good Works or any of that type of thing like that – because it has to be done properly and in order in an organized fashion in order to be done fairly. What I’m saying is that Mr. Myers so well brought out yesterday about the need for the borehole in Brazil – a borehole that’s got to be drilled to a depth of 240 feet to draw the water that’s needed for a community of 700 people. That is something that we can do. The concert – what you saw was a preview – the music today – that you will be hearing. Again, this is not a commercial for that. But I’m just saying, “What are doing to help other people in the various ways that we can serve?” because the people that will be first in the Kingdom of God are going to have to revamp and to rebuild this world from what we have read already in Matthew 24 – from all the catastrophe that’s taken place, from all the environmental damage, from all the emotional damage, from everything that’s taken place. God needs people who care! God needs people who care for others, not about themselves, first.
So this parable is very, very important, because it is one of the preparation steps for entry into the Kingdom of God. “Enter into the Kingdom prepared for you.”
Psalm 41, verse 1:
Psalms 41:1 Psalms 41:1Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
American King James Version×– Blessed is he who considers the poor. The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
So, in summary, when I take a look at Matthew 24, which is a very, very important prophecy about the end times, what’s important is not to just to know what’s going to happen, because even with all the things that are stated there, there is a lot of room for speculation. And you won’t get it right. I promise you, you won’t get it right. And if you did get it right, God’s going to change it. You won’t be right. (Laughter) What’s important is that you be prepared – that you be prepared, because those are the people that qualify for the Kingdom of God. I hate to put it that way, but I’m sorry, you need to qualify for it. You need to be awake! You need to be doing the business of the church – being about our Father’s business. You need to be serving. All these are preparations that you will take.
God will take care of all of us. God will take care of us. I pray for the church continually. I feel a heavy burden on me, frankly, about the times in which we live, the challenges that we have, and a spirit that’s been working in this world – of a Satan who hates me, who hates you – does want you to inherit the Kingdom of God – a Satanic spirit that knows that its days are numbered and will do everything it can to deceive you, to scare you – but you can face what needs to be faced by looking at the words of Jesus Christ Himself. Matthew 24 and 25, if you have a red-letter Bible, is all red. It’s all red. They’re words from our Savior, who spells it all out with the things that you need to know. First and foremost is the preparation. Second of all is to know there will be certain things that happen so we’ll know what season it is. When the fig tree starts to blossom, it’s spring. We know what season it is. We know that the season we live in a very dangerous season, because things can happen very, very quickly. But our job is to be prepared. You cannot prepare at the last second. Let me say that you cannot prepare for salvation at the last second. Death bed repentances don’t work. It’s a lifestyle. It’s the way you treat one another. It’s how you grow in the Spirit of God – in the grace of God, if you will. Let’s be prepared. Let’s be focused on the Kingdom of God and that government.
I pray – and I hope that all of us pray – and we’ll be more attuned to pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” because on Facebook, I have listed in my profile under Political Views, “Thy Kingdom Come,” so people know where I stand. My understanding of politics does not come from Greta, from Hillary, from Rush or any of those people. It comes from Jesus Christ, who has made me an ambassador – a fit ambassador – of His Kingdom and to be a tool in bringing people to salvation. I’m so very, very thankful to all of you and I hope that all of us make this Feast of Tabernacles, which looks to the Kingdom of God, truly as a place to learn to “fear the Lord your God always.”
I don’t normally do this, but I feel very, very moved to this. I would like to conclude this sermon with a prayer for the church. So, if you will just bow your heads, I’d like to ask for God’s blessing upon His church. “Our Father in heaven, we come before you as the United Church of God. We’re so very thankful to You for the calling that we have received, for the things that we do receive, which are very, very simple and very clear to those whose minds are opened. We’re very thankful to You and ask You, Almighty God, to continue to protect Your people, to protect Your church. Thank you for showing us what will befall this earth – this planet – not putting our heads into the sand, but be aware of the things that will take place, but also know that You are going to protect us, that You will be with us, that as we draw close to You, in being awake, in developing the talents that You have given to us and serving Your people, in doing all those things that are fit for the Kingdom of God, that You will be with us. We truly feel that You are with us here at the Feast of Tabernacles, that Your Spirit is residing with us, that we are walking with You, that Your Kingdom is among us, because when we leave, we’re back in the world – a world that is groaning and aching and is needing so badly a restoration and redemption. So our Father in heaven, we are so very thankful to You for this event. We’re very thankful to be here at the Feast of Tabernacles with our friends, with the wonderful attendance and the resurging faith that we see in the church. We do pray for growth. And we pray for growth first and foremost – growth of the Spirit and growth of the character of Your people. We also pray for growth for the church to grow to be able to reach out to more people in doing its work. So we thank You for this. We give You praise and thanksgiving. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen.”