A Moment of Destiny

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(Revelation 14, Matthew 24, Mark 4
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 2

A Moment of Destiny

(Revelation 14, Matthew 24, Mark 4)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: This week I read the results of a survey of over 37,000 American college students taken by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The survey had to do with free speech and violence. Nearly 25% of the students believed that it was right to use violence to stop a controversial speaker. At several prominent women’s colleges the number was nearly 50%. You, friend, are a controversial speaker. Jesus teaches in John 15:19 that if we are “not of the world” it will hate us. This radical change of opinion (in my country) tells me that we are headed for a moment of destiny for the religious choices that we make. Perhaps this moment is coming sooner than we think. Let’s dive into our Bibles and learn more!

  1. The Reapers
    1. Read Revelation 14:14-15. Who holds the sickle? (It is Jesus.)
      1. Who gives Jesus the order to begin the harvest? (The picture of the messenger coming out of the temple indicates that God the Father gives an angel a message for Jesus: the time of the Second Coming is now.)
      2. Why would Jesus not know the hour of His return? (Read Matthew 24:36. It tells us that God the Father alone knows.)
    2. Read Mark 4:26-29. Is the harvest in Revelation 14 that we are discussing for the good or the bad people? (The suggestion from other texts, like this one in Mark, is that it is the good people. This idea is bolstered by the fact that Jesus is personally performing the harvest.)
      1. Is the harvest a good thing? (Yes! Jesus is intervening to take His people home with Him.)
    3. Read Revelation 14:17-19. Is this a harvest of the good or the bad? (The bad. They are thrown into the “winepress of the wrath of God.” That tells us they are the lost. An angel “who has authority over fire” orders another angel to reap these grapes. Contrast this with Jesus performing the harvest.)
    4. Read Revelation 14:20. What does this suggest about the number of the lost? (This is a lot of blood.)
    5. What should we conclude from these texts we have studied? (A time is coming when the final judgment is executed.)
      1. Why do you think the Bible pictures this as a harvest?
  2. The Sign of the Reapers
    1. Read Matthew 24:3. The disciples ask an imprecise question, but it has to do with the “end of the age.” Why would they come “privately” to Jesus? (They believe that this is important inside information.)
    2. In Matthew 24:5-7 Jesus recites events that will lead up to His Second Coming. Read Matthew 24:8-9. We now have a transition in events. How would you characterize this transition? (Jesus tells us that worse things will follow.)
    3. Read Matthew 24:10-12. What are these worse things that are in play when Jesus comes? (People will hate. The love of others “will grow cold.”)
      1. The United States has written into its Constitution and laws the idea that everyone should have freedom of speech even if citizens don’t like hearing what is said. The legally proper response to things you don’t like to hear is to walk away. The remedy for wrong information is more information. What is the reaction reported in Matthew 24? (Verse 9 reports hate that results in your death.)
      2. What does the survey I referred to in the introduction tell us about the next generation? (Many young people have not been taught to love freedom, rather they have been taught to hate. If violence against speech you don’t like is appropriate, you are not showing love. When the majority has an attitude like that you no longer have a free society.)
    4. Read Matthew 24:13. What is our responsibility? (To endure the hostility.)
      1. What, exactly, do you think that means? My natural (lawyer’s) heart is to fight. To resist those who reject freedom.
    5. Read Matthew 24:14. How does this fit the idea that free speech rights are diminished? What does it suggest about how we should resist?(We have two related battles. First, we work to change hearts through the gospel. People who are converted do not hate. Second, to preserve freedom of speech so that we can share the gospel of Jesus we need to fight against oppression through legal means. Let’s explore this in greater detail next.)
  3. What We Should Do
    1. Let’s look again at Mark 4:26-29 but from a different angle. Read Mark 4:26. What does this tell us is the responsibility of the farmer? (To scatter seed.)
    2. Read Mark 4:27. What point is being made when it says the farmer “knows not how” the seed grows? (He is not responsible for the mechanics of growth.)
      1. Let’s apply this to the warning that we will be hated in the future for our gospel message. What strategy does this suggest to minimize the hate? (Our responsibility is sharing the gospel. That responsibility is very narrowly described. It does not seem to include arguing with enemies of the gospel.)
    3. Read Matthew 28:19-20. What is our obligation that extends to “the end of the age?” (Make disciples. Baptize them. Teach them.)
      1. If argument has a place in this sequence, where would it be? (In the teaching part. The teaching part relates to those who have been baptized.)
    4. Read Matthew 10:14-15. What does this teach us about arguing with opponents of the gospel? (We should not, rather we should leave these opponents to their final judgment.)
      1. What would make you want to argue with opponents of the gospel? (Pride?)
      2. Does this mean we should never have debates with unbelievers? (No. The target for our message is the audience, not our debating opponent.)
    5. Read Matthew 10:16. What does this tell us about using our common sense?
    6. Read Matthew 10:21-23. How personal will be the betrayal? (Family members will betray you and your children have you put to death.)
      1. Consider again the survey in the introduction where nearly 25% of college students believe violence is the answer to things they do not want to hear. Does that make Matthew 10:21 more understandable?
      2. What counsel do we find in Matthew 10:23 about standing our ground, fighting, or debating? (When we face actual persecution we should flee.)
    7. Read Matthew 10:26. If these haters want to kill us, if we are told to flee, how can we have no fear?
      1. What is meant by the hidden being revealed? (The truth of who is right and wrong will eventually be known.)
    8. Read Matthew 10:27. What kind of attitude should we have when sharing the gospel? (This is an attitude of boldness. No fear means to share, but we should also be ready to retreat when needed.)
    9. Read Matthew 10:28. I think this is the ultimate answer to the prior question about the way in which we can be fearless. What is it? (We might be killed on earth, but we cannot be denied eternal life. Life everlasting is still our destiny.)
    10. Friend, a wonderful and terrible time is ahead. Will you accept Jesus as your Savior right now so that you will be among the harvest taken to heaven? Will you be fearless in sharing this good news with others even though you are hated for it? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to help you have the courage for this moment of destiny?
  1. Next week: The Everlasting Gospel.