Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered June 14, 2008 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Is Time Really Short?

Matthew 24:3-8

(RealAudio Version available)

I’ve been a pastor for a good number of years, and I’ve lived a fairly good age and never in my life have I seen the signs of the times, I think, any more prevalent than they are today, and I just want to speak clearly, succinctly and to the point about the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We’re only going to have time today to develop about four of the signs of Jesus’ coming, okay?

The very first one that I would like to focus on is, “Will He find faith when He comes?”  The failure of faith.  And you can look this up in Luke, chapter 18 in your Bible, and verse eight, and we want every sermon and every message in this church to be Bible-based.  Luke, chapter 18 and verse eight.  Jesus says this, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”  Will there be faith on the Earth?  There’s some question about that, isn't there?  

81% of all the churches in North America have reached a plateau or are declining.  81%. 18% are growing because of transfer growth.  I fish from your aquarium and you fish from my aquarium.  Only 1% of non-Hispanic churches in North America are truly growing, and that is shocking.  The percentage of Americans who express their experience of faith through their local church will drop from 70% in the year 2000 to 30 to 35% in the year 2025, which is just 17 years from now. American Church Crisis  And did you know that 60% of Americans age 40 and below have never set foot in a church building.  This is the new mission field, folks.  Church attendance is declining. Church attendance right now is 20.4%.  Church attendance in 2050 is estimated to be about 12%, and at the same time the population of the United States goes from wherever it is today, close to 300 million, something like that, up to 520 million.  Church attendance going like this, population going like this.  Something is happening.  In the past eight years 20 million Americans have left church.  Why?  Not for what you might think. They are leaving the church because they are looking for more meaningful spirituality.  That's shocking, isn’t it?

Too many churches have turned into concert halls, drama festivals, social clubs.  Too many churches do not preach from the Bible anymore.  Too few churches offer a deeper walk with Jesus.  I pray that the McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist church will be a church where you can connect with Jesus Christ.  Amen?  That's what we want, and you connect with Him through the word, through prayer and through a witnessing program in your life.

Sign number two.  Now you may think, “Pastor, this isn’t a sign at all.”  Well, there's a man that wrote this book called Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith.  Have you ever heard of this book.  This is an old time Adventist book and in this book it says that Revelation chapter 9 mentions, and is referring to, and the subject of Revelation chapter 9 is the rise of Islam and Moslems.  Now you may want to check that out, and here the Bible says that they were given power to torment, and in plain English this means that they will bring on a time of terror.  Terrorists.  A time of terrorism, and Revelation, you can read this in chapter 8 verse 13 of Revelation, the last verse before Revelation 9 says that the coming woes, the coming problems will be called woe!  Woe! Woe!  Bad times brought on by the people that are referenced in chapter 9 of Revelation. 

Did you know that by the year 2015, which is just seven years from now, the majority of the Russian army will be Moslems? (America Alone page ix.)    Did you know that?  Does that concern you?  Russia sits on 18,000 nuclear weapons. (Library of Congress figures)   Does it concern you, have you thought of what the future will be like having the majority of the Russian army dominated by Moslems?  If current trends continue more than half of Russia's population will be Moslem by mid century. Toronto Star, 2006 (the star.com)  Paul Goble,  Did you know that?  This situation has alarmed Russians and Western leaders. Mon, 2006-05-22 01:14  By Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury  Should Adventists be alarmed? 

Listen to this statement from the former Speaker of the House, said this in a speech recently.  “We.”  The United States of America.  “We are sleepwalking into a nightmare.  Our situation,” he says, “with terrorists is very stark.  We are in a serious national crisis.  This is 1935 or 1936.”  Just prior to World War II.  “We are not very many mistakes away from a second Holocaust.  Our enemies would like to get nuclear weapons as soon as they can and our enemies promise to use them as soon as they can.” Newt Gingrich to a Jewish National Fund meeting Nov 15, 07  the Selig Center

Did you know that 15 years ago Russia had 300 mosques in the entire country?  Today, they have 8000 mosques, and by the year 2015, which is just seven years from now, they will have 25,000 mosques, in Russia. If this explosive growth continues, continental Europe might look like the Middle East. See Brookings Institute  The Hope Channel, which is our Seventh-day Adventist channel, in May of 2008 newsletter said this.  “The more Islam grows, the fewer opportunities and the more difficult it will be for people to convert to Christianity, especially in the Moslem dominated 10/40 window,” you know what that is?  Moslems could accept Jesus as their personal Savior, I wish they would, that's my personal hope, that they would accept Jesus as their Savior.  I want that, but the facts are, Christianity appears to be going this way and Moslems are growing.  In fact, the Vatican published an earthshaking report stating that for the first time in history Moslems now outnumber Catholics.  The total number is huge.  Over a fifth of the world population, and growing.  They are the fastest-growing religious movement today.  Does this concern you?  Are these things a sign of the soon coming of Jesus? 

Modern terrorism may actually be permitted by God to pay sinners back for the lifestyle that they are choosing.  You know there's a lot of gross sin out there in this world.  We desperately need to get back to God.  We need God to change our hearts, and God wants to give us a new heart.

Sign number three.  Hunger.  Now you're familiar with this one.  It’s in, well, it was in our scripture reading today.  Matthew, chapter 24.  Jesus says, in verse 7, “There will be famines.”  The Today's English Version says, “There will be a food crisis everywhere.”  Now think about that.  Easy, easy times may have gone the way of the dinosaur.  Fuel and food, the costs are going sky-high.  Have you been to the grocery store lately?  Have you filled up your car lately?  Time magazine says, “The global food shortage has become a crisis.”  Wheat, corn, and rice have become double in price.  Oil prices have tripled since early 2004, just four years ago.  We are burning millions of bushels of corn in the form of bio-fuel.  I don't know as you can get gas without bio-fuel in it. And think of the cornfield, the size of the corn field required to make the 7.6 billion gallons of ethanol that are projected to be produced this year, 2008.  It would cover, this cornfield, the size of Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington, DC. Washington Post May, 2008.  That's a big patch of corn.  And while Americans are burning corn for fuel, millions in India are down to one meal a day.  Why!?  Because they can't afford food, and there are food riots beginning in the earth. 

And you may ask, “Well, why is non-corn food so depleted?  Why are we, why are people hungry if they have money?”  Well the answers are multiple.  Millions of affluent Chinese are now able to purchase meat, and a meat-eater, it takes 10 times more grain to sustain a meat-eater.  Another reason is the weather, climate change.  The weather is changing.  Normally we have what, 5 or 600 tornadoes by now here in America and how many have we had this year?  Maybe a thousand.  Food supplies are inadequate.  Every six years we’re adding to the world the equivalent of the whole North American population.  That's a not a lot more mouths to feed, and we also feed a growing livestock herd, and now we are feeding our cars with our crops, all from a static farmland or shrinking farmland base.  Nobody should be surprised if food production cannot keep up. Qualman, National Farmers Union (NFU).     

Look at Revelation, chapter 6 in your Bible.  Revelation 6 talks about food prices, and you may be scared by what it says.  Once it dawns on you what it does say.  Revelation, chapter 6, verse 6 says, “A measure of wheat for a penny.”  Well what is that talking about?  And that is saying that a measure of wheat is one quart. That’s the amount of wheat that it takes to feed one person one day, and that, it says, will cost a penny.  Do you know how much that is?  That's a 10 fold increase in prices.  Famine caused by prices.  The venerable Wall Street Journal said in its April 21 issue, and here’s the headline, “LOAD UP THE PANTRY”  And then the article says, “It may be time for Americans to start stockpiling food.”  Agricultural products are following in the steps of oil.  The prices.  The rationing.  In 1999 we had a hundred and 15 days supply of global grains.  Do you know what that is now?  The food supply, the global grain supply is down to 53 days, and the USDA projects that global grains supplies will drop to their lowest levels on record.  Outside of wartime global supplies have not been this low in one century.  Does that concern you?  This year marks the seventh year out of the last eight years that global grain production has failed to meet global grain demands, NFU and the recent floods in the Midwest, in Iowa and in southwestern Indiana and Illinois and places like that, have further reduced food supplies and you know, it might be time to dig up the pansies and start planting potatoes, or something. 

Here's what is happening.  With global demand for grain and oil seeds at record levels and with a weak U.S. dollar, foreign buyers are outbidding domestic buyers for American grain, and so our bountiful crop is being shipped overseas.  In fact, go get a can of FriChik.  Do you know how much it’s going to cost you?  I saw one, a sign on one little can of FriChik, $4.50.  Did you know that the global soybean supply now is down to 20 days?  We aren't far from starvation.  Does that concern you? 

Look at Matthew 24 again.  Come back to Matthew 24.  There may be something you've missed here in this little statement that Jesus makes.  He said, “There will be famines in the last days.”  Matthew 24, verse 7. Attached to the apron strings of famine comes something else.  Notice in verse nine.  What is the next thing that takes place after these famines and earthquakes and so forth?  Persecution.  Trouble.  Terrorism.  Whatever you want to call it.  Mark 13, verse 8.  Whenever folks get hungry they get mad.  They get upset.  Listen to a fascinating phenomenon observed by Samuel Eddy of Syracuse University. See June 1987 Discover Magazine p. 69-70  He discovered that growth rings in the California Sequoia trees, okay, California Sequoia trees.  The growth rings accurately reflect the climate in the southeastern Mediterranean area.  Comparison with Greek records show that the Sequoia correctly indicates crop conditions 80% of the time.  Now listen to this.  “It is a remarkable fact that nearly all the martyrdoms of the second century can be accurately dated.  They coincide with the years of thin Sequoia rings.”  Think about that.  That is phenomenal.  When people get hungry and times get hard, they get mad and persecution comes. 

Now Syracuse University could've saved a lot of money by reading the Bible.  Isaiah chapter 8, this is very clear, could have saved them thousands of dollars.  When people are famished, they will become enraged.  Right here in the Bible.  They should've known that.  When last day famines come, will violence come?  Are we in those days now?

Today many people are looking for a modern-day Joseph.  Somebody to rescue us from all this mess.  They want to go back to the good old days when we used to have a comfortable life, a low mortgage payment, secure, good paying jobs and we had cheap fuel, cheap food, and our retirement account was growing faster than we could spend it.  But those days are evaporating.  It takes $60 now to fill up your average car, and what little money we have left over is eaten up by food prices.  It could be worse.  Gasoline is nine dollars or more a gallon in Norway, Britain, Belgium and France.  But it could be better.  It’s 12 cents a gallon in Venezuela.  In Turkey it’s $11 a gallon.  In Turkey, a full tank in a midsize car costs $200.  The price of an airline ticket.  You could fly cheaper. 

Jesus said that one characterization of the last days would be hunger.  There will be famines.  And one cause of famine is a shortage of fossil fuels.  You can buy stoves that burn up corn.  You burn up corn in your cars.  Today Americans burn one out of every five ears of corn for fuel.  There is a corn deficit, just like Joseph's day in the Bible.  In fact, come back here to Genesis 47.  As it was in the days of Joseph, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.  Now I know the Bible says Noah.  I know that, but I want you to look at Joseph.  Just look there, you might learn something interesting here.  Come to Genesis, chapter 47.  Think about Joseph. Look at this story.  And while you're looking at this story, think about the last days, OK?  I'm just asking you to do that. 

The people were starving in his day.  The corn, the grain was low.  They didn't have anything to eat and notice now, Genesis 47 and verse 13.  “There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe, both in Egypt and Canaan.  They wasted away because of the famine.”  Now the New Century Version says here, not wasted away, but they became poor.  Economic failure comes with a shortage of food, and that's frightening.  They had little money and little food, but Joseph came to the rescue.  Look at verse 14.  “Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain that they were buying and he brought it to Pharaoh's palace.”  Verse 15.  “When the money and the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone all Egypt came to Joseph and said ‘Give us food.  Why should we die before your eyes?  Our money is used up.’”  Joseph had taken their last dollar. 

Now, I would have thought that at this point, that Joseph would have said, “You know, we've got plenty of food down here, you’re out of money, come and get it.  I'll give it to you.”  That's not what happened.  Listen to what happened, and think about the future now.  Verse 17.  “So they brought their livestock to Joseph and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep, their goats, their cattle and their donkeys.”  Joseph took away their tractors.  He took away their transportation system.  He took away their means of making money.  And after all that was gone and their animals were all gone Joseph said, “Well the only way you can have more food is if you'll give me your land.  Give that to me.”  So he owned all the land in Egypt.  Pharaoh did, and before it was over, he owned the people.  They were slaves, and when the seven years of famine stopped, Joseph issued seed and said, “Anything you raise, I want 20 percent of it as a tax.”  And you can read in verse 26, that tax lasted a long time.  You know, once a tax comes you can’t hardly get rid of the thing.  I heard ‘Amen’. 

The food crisis in Joseph’s time resulted in what?  Poverty and enslavement.  When the people were angry, were they angry at Joseph?  They were mad at him, weren’t they?  No.  Look at verse 25, Genesis 47.  “’You have saved our lives,’ they said. ‘May we find favor in the eyes of our lord, for we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.’”  

Now the Bible indicates that the entire world will do it again.  We’re going to have a replay at the end of the world.  So come from the very first book of the Bible, over here to the very last book of the Bible.  Revelation, chapter 13.  And again, history repeats itself.  In the last days there will be a modern type of potentate acting like Joseph.  People will willingly allow themselves to be economically and financially enslaved to a world dictator.  Where do we see this?  Revelation 13, verse 16.  “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast and the number of his name.”  Almost the whole world is going to submit to this. 

Now why would they do this?  So they can eat.  So they can have spendable money.  Now back 200 years ago this would have been no problem at all because everybody had their own farm, practically, and their own big garden.  They weren't dependent on the system, but today with the computer tracking, the mechanism set up, they are capable of restricting all buying, all selling, only to those who are willing, in verse 15, to worship the image and its beast.  You worship or you starve.  You worship or you die.  Is that what the Bible is saying?  It is.  And this leads me to believe that those who are living in the last days and have a nice size garden might eat like kings and queens.  Don't we recollect a statement like that, some recall that?  So I think that those who are taken care of in the last days are those who trust Jesus, and who are willing to follow what Jesus tells them to do to prepare for the last days. 

You say, well, I'm just trusting in Jesus, everything is going to be fine.  God feeds the sparrows.  How does God feed the sparrows?  Is there a sparrow delivery package that lands in their nest every morning?  You’ve got to get out there and do something, and God tells us what to do in the last days.  Very, very clear.  Very, very clear.

Let's go to the fourth sign.  War.  Matthew 24, verse 6, “You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.”  What kind of a war is going to be next?  How many of you watched your television on nine-one-one, and saw the twin towers go down?  How many saw that?  Almost every hand.  As I sat there in my wife's hospital room after her surgery and almost dying of cancer, we were kind of in a low spot right there, the TV camera was a long way off.  I walked into her hospital room and looked up at her TV.  She said, “Look.”  Twin towers were coming down. Smoke billowing out.  I thought, “There goes New York City. It's gone.”  That's what it looked like.  

It's been seven years now, since that time.  The world has been forever changed, and I believe that the same, now this is just my belief.  I believe that the same targets that were used on September 11 will, possibly, again, be terrorist targets in the near future for a nuclear attack similar to Hiroshima.  

Now why would I think this way?  Just listen.

Other than the cross, what is the dominant topic in Christian churches today?  It's the second coming of Jesus.  We have books.  Left Behind.  We have all kinds of discussion on the second coming of Jesus.  It's the most important, second-most important topic in evangelical Christian churches today.  We believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, and Seventh-day Adventists believe that you can hasten the second coming.  Do we believe that?  We do.  How can we hasten the second coming? Matthew, chapter 24, verse 14 says what?  “And this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to” where?  “To the entire world, as a testimony to all nations, and then” what will happen?  “The end will come.” 

Do you know the Moslems also believe in the second coming?  Not the second coming of Jesus, but the second coming of the Islamic Messiah, and like us, they also believe that this great event can be hastened.  How?  Let me share something interesting with you.  Now listen carefully.  I’m going to read this.  All the references are on the web.  I'm quoting.  “The heart of the battle between darkness and light centers around the Islamic belief that an apocalyptic event will usher in the second coming of the Islamic Messiah.  In other words, the world must experience some type of great cataclysmic, apocalyptic event before he can come.  Now, the president of Iran wants to usher in the second coming of the 12th Imam, through nuclear war.  He feels, and you see his face on the TV screen almost every night, he feels his divine purpose as president of Iran is to prepare the way for the Islamic Messiah to come by a major nuclear attack on America.  This would hasten the second coming of the Moslem Messiah." End quote.  The Final Move by Mike Evans.  

Now do you think they might try to do it?  We don't know, do we?  You might be wishing to live up-wind from some of those major target cities.  The New York Times said this recently.  The New York Times says, “While Iran builds nukes, the world is asleep at the switch.”  I'm standing up here, I think, giving you a warning.  The president of Iran announced that Iran will add 6000 new centrifuges for uranium enrichment. The week, 4-25-08 p. 21.   They're getting ready for something, and it's not nice. 

And I remember a statement that I read in a little book.  It said, “We should not build in the cities.  On these cities God's judgments are soon to fall.  The time is near when the large cities will be swept away,” she says, “and all should be warned.”  That includes you, should be warned by who.  Well.  “All should be warned of these coming judgments.  Oh that God’s people had the sense of impending destruction of thousands of cities that are almost totally given to idolatry.” CL 8 Genesis, chapter 35 and verse 5 says, “The terror of God was upon the cities.”  

Could God allow a nuclear attack to come upon some of the evil, wicked cities today?  Are you spiritually prepared for a harsh future?  Is your heart filled with the Holy Spirit?  Is your family ready?  Are you witnessing to your friends and your neighbors or are we just sitting there doing our normal thing?  We are living in the last days.  Is this really the end?  Is your heart right? 

You know, all the news that I've been telling you, if this is the end, is not bad news.  Do you realize that all I've been telling you is good news, because it tells us, maybe Jesus’ coming isn't too far away.  Is that good news?  That's great news!  You know, we are Seventh-day what?  (audience, ‘Adventists’) What does that mean?  We believe in the soon advent of Who?  Of Jesus, our Savior.  So you would expect to hear a sermon, wouldn't you, if you come to a Seventh-day Adventist church you would expect to hear a sermon on the signs of the times.  That's what you have heard today.

I urge you to do something about it.  I believe His coming is soon, and Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled.”  Should we be troubled about all this?  “Let not your heart be troubled.  You believe in God, believe also in Me.”  If you believe in God, you believe in Jesus and you're sharing Him with your family, you're ready to go home. 

I believe Jesus’ coming is soon.  Let's be ready.  Let’s get others ready, and let's stay ready, personally, in our homes, our hearts, our families.  Let's be what we ought to be, for Jesus’ sake.  He's coming.

Hymn of Praise:  #221 Rejoice, The Lord Is King
Scripture: Matthew 24:3-8
Hymn of Response: #202 Hail Him The King of Glory

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 6/20/08