Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark—a traveling companion of the apostle Paul as well as Barnabas. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mark 13:1-8).
“But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, the speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:9-13).
“But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: and let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: and let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! AND PRAY HE THAT YOUR FLIGHT BE NOT IN THE WINTER. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had sthoretned those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things” (Mark 13:14-23).
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he sent hid angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth for leaves, ye know that summer is near: so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass way: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:24-31).
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all. Watch” (Mark 13:32-36).
THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS! WHEN JESUS SPEAKS OF THE LAST DAYS! UNDERSTANDING HOW JESUS UNDERSTOOD THE LAST DAYS! THE CONVERSATION OF THE LAST DAYS TOOK PLACE IN THE SHADOWS OF THE TEMPLE WHICH WOULD STILL STAND IN THE MIDST OF THE CITY OF JERUSALEM! THE CONTEXT AND FRAMEWORK OF THE DIALOGUE CONCERNING THE LAST DAYS WOULD CENTER UPON THE DISCIPLES CALLING TO ATTENTION THE MANNER OF STONES AND BUILDINGS WERE PRESENT WITHIN JERUSALEM—EVEN SURROUNDING THE VERY TEMPLE ITSELF! THE DISCIPLES CALLED THE ATTENTION OF JESUS TO THE GRANDEUR AND SPLENDOR OF THE STONES AND BUILDINGS THERE IN JERUSALEM AND YET JESUS WOULD PROCEED TO SPEAK TO THEM OF A DARK AND DANGEROUS TIME AHEAD IN WHICH ALL THE STONES WOULD BE CAST DOWN AND THE BUILDINGS WOULD BE DESTROYED! THE DISCIPLES SOUGHT TO CALL ATTENTION AND FOCUS TO THE BUILDINGS AND STONES AS MEN STILL CONTINUE TO DO DURING THE DAYS AND TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE IN, AND YET JESUS PROCEEDS TO DECLARE THAT THEY WILL ALL FALL AND BE DESTROYED! IT’S ALL GOING TO BURN! IT’S ALL GOING TO BE CAST DOWN! IT’S ALL GOING TO FALL! IT’S ALL GOING TO BE DESTROYED! WHAT WAS BUILT WILL BE DESTROYED! WHAT HAS RISEN WILL FALL!
“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, LORD God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: For I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee” (Jeremiah 1:11-19).
SAMUEL! ZECHARIAH! JEREMIAH! JESUS! PROPHETS WHO SAW DEVASTATION AND DESTRUCTION COMING UPON HOUSES, UPON HOUSES OF WORSHIP, AND UPON CITIES! (1 Samuel 3:1-18). (Jeremiah 7:1-20). (Jeremiah 25:1-14). (Zechariah 12:1-14). (Zechariah 14:1-21).
When you come to the words found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark you will find the second account of the words Jesus spoke concerning the Last Days which would come upon the earth. As you come to the words which are found here you will be brought face to face with the fact that as Jesus would depart from the Temple—after just sitting over against the treasury and beholding all those who entered in to give their tithes and offerings and beholding a lowly widow who cast in two mites—Jesus would depart from the Temple together with His disciples. It would be as Jesus departed from the Temple that one of His disciples would seek to call and draw His attention to the great stones and buildings which were not only joined to the Temple, but also within the city of Jerusalem. In all reality I am absolutely and completely fascinated with the words found in this particular passage—and not only the words which are found in this passage, but also the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew—for within these chapters we find essentially the same account of a conversation Jesus would have with His disciples concerning the Last Days. What makes the words within this passage so incredibly powerful when you take the time to think about it is that Jesus would not only speak about that which would take place in the upcoming years and within that generation, but also that which would take place in future generations. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that the disciples sought to praise and boast of the magnificent stones and buildings which were present within the city of Jerusalem, and yet Jesus would immediately and emphatically respond to them by declaring that it would all fall and it would all come crashing down. If you read the New Testament gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, John Mark, and the Gentile physician Luke you will find that there would even be a period and point in time when Jesus would approach the city of Jerusalem and would literally weep over it. The underlying reason He would weep over it is not only because they did not know the hour of their visitation, nor that which would bring them peace, but also because of the devastation and destruction that would come upon the city.
As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this particular chapter I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with and by the awesome truth that the Lord Jesus Christ knew, saw and was very much aware of dark and dangerous days ahead for the land of Judaea and for the city of Jerusalem. Jesus knew and understood that just as the city of Jerusalem would experience the Babylonians laying siege to it, surrounding it, building siege works and ramparts against it, and ultimately forcing the city into a place of starvation, famine and pestilence. It would be during the days and times of the prophet Jeremiah and Ezekiel the land of Judah would be invaded by the Babylonians as all the fortified and capital cities would be captured and taken control by the Babylonians. Within the Old Testament you will find that there were essentially two different and distinct enemies and adversaries who would invade the land of Judah and who would attempt to surround and lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. The first enemy and adversary would be the Assyrians under and during the reign of Sennacherib the king, and the second enemy and adversary would be the Babylonians under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. It would be during the days of Isaiah the prophet and Hezekiah the king that the Assyrians would march against the city of Jerusalem and lay siege to it, and it would be during the days of Jeremiah the prophet and the sons of Josiah that the city of Jerusalem would once more experience a foreign enemy and adversary marching against it. What makes this worth thinking about and considering is the fact that although Sennacherib would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem and set his forces and battle array against the city he would not launch a single arrow, nor raise a single sword, spear or shield against it. Not only would the LORD scatter and disburse the army of the Assyrians, but the LORD would also smite one-hundred and eighty-five thousand men within the army in a single night. What’s more is that ultimately Sennacherib’s two sons would assassinate him and would ultimately flee Assyria after doing so.
When we think about the language and dialogue that is found within this passage of Scripture it’s imperative that we recognize and understand that Jerusalem would be one of the only cities—if not the only city to every be captured, defeated and overtaken by foreign enemies, armies and adversaries and then after a period of time would essentially be reborn and born again. The Babylonians during the days and reign of Nebuchadnezzar would indeed and would in fact invade the land of Judah and would lay siege to and surround the city of Jerusalem that they might ultimately take the people captive, and utterly destroy the city. It would be in the days and times of the prophet Jeremiah that the LORD would confirm the words He spoke concerning the utter destruction of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah would not only prophesy concerning that destruction, but he would actually see the destruction. It is quite interesting to think about and consider that Jeremiah could very well have been considered an “end times” and “last days” prophet in his own respect, as he would live in the days leading up to the invasion of Judah, the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the Temple. What’s more, is that if you read the prophetic book of Jeremiah, as well as the books of Second Kings and Second Chronicles you will find that so long as Josiah remained seated upon the throne of David—approximately for a period of twenty plus years—that judgment and destruction would be averted. The LORD had promised Josiah that because of His humility before Him, and because of His response to the words he heard in the book of the Law of Moses the LORD would not unleash the devastation and destruction upon the city of Jerusalem. Despite Josiah essentially being that which would restrain and hold back the devastation and destruction of Jerusalem the prophet Jeremiah would continue to prophesy concerning the judgment and destruction concerning Jerusalem, concerning the Temple of the Lord, and concerning Judah. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth that Jeremiah would be the end times and last days prophet who would both prophesy of the coming judgment and destruction and would see that devastation and destruction, and Josiah would himself be a last days and end times king for so long as he was seated upon the throne of David in the midst of the land of Judah the LORD would not destroy, nor bring upon the city that which He had purposed during the days of Manasseh because of his wickedness.
It is with all of this being said I would like to invite you to consider the words which are found in the Old Testament concerning Josiah king of Judah who sat upon the throne of David, for Josiah would indeed and would in fact be the catalyst that would be used by the living to restrain and hold back the devastation and destruction that would come upon the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. So long as Josiah sat upon the throne of David in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the LORD would not bring about the destruction and devastation which was promised and spoken concerning Jerusalem and the land of Judah. We must needs realize and understand the words which the LORD spoke during the days of Manasseh king of Judah concerning the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and Judah, and how during the days of Josiah he would be that which the LORD would use to restrain the judgment and devastation which was purposed against the city. What we must needs realize and understand is that the LORD would not and could not avert the judgment and devastation which was purposed against the city of Jerusalem, nor against the land of Judah, however, the LORD would postpone and delay that judgment. We have a great need to think about and consider that which the LORD purposed for the city of Jerusalem and the land of Judah as a result of the wickedness, the iniquity, the transgression and the sin of Manasseh, and how Josiah would hear the words which were written in the book of the Law of Moses, and would respond with humility and repentance. It is absolutely remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that not only would Josiah respond with humility upon hearing the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses, but Josiah would also launch a powerful campaign in the land of Judah, as well as in the land of Israel to bring about a wonderful spirit and sense of cleansing and purification. Josiah would do more than simply rend his garments in the sight and presence of the LORD, and would do more than essentially repent in dust and ashes on behalf of the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, for he would actually put actions behind those thoughts, behind those emotions and behind those feelings. We have a great need to recognize and understand this, for it helps us to understand that both Jeremiah and Josiah were in and of themselves and in their own respect living in the last days—living during days leading up to great judgment, devastation and destruction. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the Old Testament concerning the prophetic word the LORD released concerning Manasseh, as well as the activity during the days of Josiah king of Judah:
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he ban to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzi-bah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. For he built up against the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the hose of heaven, and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD< of which the LORD said, IN Jerusalem will I put my name. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD> And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger. And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chose out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: neither will I make the feet of Israe move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abmonations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day. Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (1 Kings 21:1-16).
These words bring us face to face with the tremendous amount of wickedness, evil, iniquity, idolatry and rebellion Manasseh son of Hezekiah produced and introduced in the midst of the land of Judah and in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand how absolutely incredible this truly is. In order to truly understand the significance of the days of Josiah son of Ammon, as well as the days of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah you must first understand the great wickedness and evil which Manasseh had not only committed himself within the land, but also caused the people of the land to commit as well. It was precisely because of the wickedness and evil of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah the LORD would purpose and determine to destroy the city of Jerusalem, and would essentially thrust Josiah and Jeremiah into an intense period of what we would know as the end times and last days. Josiah would be the final righteous king to sit upon the throne of David before his sons would sit upon the throne, and before the wickedness would continue and the LORD would finally raise up and bring against Jerusalem the Babylonians and the army from the north. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it would be during the days of Josiah that he would hear the words which were found in the book of the Law, would humble himself in the sight of the living God, and would rend his garments before unleashing a campaign of holiness and cleansing in the midst of the land. What’s more, is that during those days—not only would the book of the Law of Moses be found in the midst the Temple, not only would the Temple itself be repaired, not only would the prophetic voice of Jeremiah be present in the midst of the land, but there would also be the prophetic witness of the prophetess whom Josiah would consult as a direct result of hearing the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses. Not only this, but we also find that in addition to all of this there was the profound and powerful witness of Josiah’s actions as he would not only launch a campaign to cleanse the land, but would also call the people to renew their covenant relationship with the living and eternal God. It is with this in mind I now invite you to turn and direct your attention to the following words which are found in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings beginning with the first verse:
“Josiah was weight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD< and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people: and let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house, unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully” (2 Kings 22:1-7).
“And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath deliver me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, Asaihah a servant of the king’s, saying, GO ye, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. So Hilkiah the priest, and AHikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrove; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college) and they communed with her. And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD< Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the LORD< thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD< when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again” (2 Kings 22:8-20).
“And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, fomr Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD< did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the ZIdonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men” (2 Kings 23:1-14).
“Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel had made, both the altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchures that were in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, What title is this that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchure of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophets that came out of Samaria. And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israe ha dmade to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:15-20).
“And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the Passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this Passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem. Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:21-25).
“Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there” (2 Kings 23:26-27).
It is absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the words which are found within these passages found in the book of Second Kings, for the words which we find here bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that both Josiah and Jeremiah were essentially living in a last days and end times of their own. It would be during the days of Manasseh the word of the LORD would come unto the prophets emphatically declaring that the LORD would judge both Judah and Jerusalem for the sins, the transgressions, the idolatry and iniquity that was committed by Manasseh. What makes the words concerning Josiah so incredibly powerful is that it would be during the days of his reign when the book of the Law of the Lord was found in the Temple of the Lord. What’s more, is that not only was the book of the Law found in the Temple of the Lord, but the words contained within that book were read in the hearing of Josiah. It would be upon hearing those words Josiah would not only rend his garments as an outward sign of an inner remorse and grief, but he would also immediately send an envoy of some of is closest servants unto Huldah the prophetess to inquire of the LORD concerning the words which were found within the book. That which makes this narrative and account so incredibly powerful is when you think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that the prophetess Huldah would send Josiah’s envy back to him with a powerful declaration that because his heart was tender before the LORD and because he responded with humility he would not see that which the LORD had purposed to bring against Jerusalem and against Judah. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to these words, for they call and draw our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that what the LORD was essentially declaring unto Josiah was that so long as he sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem there would be a period of peace and rest that would be found within the land of Judah and within the city of Jerusalem. SO long as Josiah sat upon the throne of David there would be a period of cleansing, a period of repentance and a period of humility that would be present in the midst of the land, as the LORD was extending one final offer of mercy unto the nation and people before the time of judgment would indeed and would in fact arrive.
I firmly believe that we must needs think about and carefully consider the words found in the Old Testament book of Second Kings, for what takes place during the days of Josiah is not only the book of the Law being found in the Temple, and not only the prophetic word and declaration spoken by Huldah the prophetess, but we also find the prophetic word and ministry of Jeremiah being present and active during those days. What a truly awesome and powerful picture it is to look upon and see those days and see the union of the book of the Law of Moses, thus signifying the Word of God, as well as the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, which would signify the prophetic word of the Lord. It would be during those days we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that at that time—both the Word of God and the word of the LORD would working together in perfect and complete harmony. During those days we find the words which were written and contained within the book of the Law of Moses being read in the hearing of Josiah, and immediately after that Josiah would read the words contained in the book of the Law in the hearing of all those who were present in Judah and Jerusalem at that time. What a truly powerful concept this is—particularly and especially when you consider the fact that it would be during the days of his son Jehoiakim when the book of the prophetic words which Jeremiah would be read in the hearing of the king’s palace, and yet there would be a strong and powerful rejection of the word of the LORD. During the days of Josiah he would respond with tremendous humility, repentance, grief, anguish and remorse upon hearing that which the LORD had spoken concerning that place, and yet during the days of his son the word of the Lord which was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah would not only be cut to pieces one by one, but those pieces would be cast into the fire which was burning before Jehoiakim until there was nothing left of the scroll. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible and tremendous this is, for there is and there was a clear and present dichotomy that existed between the response to the words found in the book of the Law during the days of Josiah, and the response to the words found in the scroll which contained the words which the LORD had commanded Jeremiah to speak during the length and time of his prophetic ministry.
I sit here today thinking about and considering how truly awesome and incredible this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth that during the days of Josiah king of Judah and Jeremiah the prophet—not only was there a righteous king which sat upon the throne, but there was also a prophet of the Lord who would faithfully proclaim the word of the Lord in the land. What a truly awesome and powerful concept it is to think how there would be a righteous king sitting upon the throne and there would be a faithful prophet who would proclaim the word of the LORD during those days and at that time. Not only this, but there would be this perfect and complete union and partnership of the word of the LORD and the word of God, as the LORD would call the nation and people back to Him once more. This message of repentance and return would indeed be that message which would be proclaimed during those days and time, for even when you read and consider the prophetic words which Jeremiah would speak you will find that during the days of Josiah king of Judah the LORD would call the people back to repentance. Time and time again during the days of the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah and the reign of Josiah we find the LORD calling the people to turn themselves again, and to repent before Him with great remorse, anguish, sorrow and lament. You cannot read the words found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah—at least those words which were prophesied during the days and times of Josiah king of Judah—and not see that at the very heart and center of the union between the book of the Law of Moses and the word of the LORD which proceeded forth from the mouth of Jeremiah that the LORD was not calling this nation and its people back to Himself. There is absolutely no denying and no mistaking this particular reality, for that generation and those people would indeed be living during a time of great reprieve and during a time of peace and rest. The LORD had prophesied judgment, devastation and destruction, and yet during those years Josiah sat upon the throne the living and eternal God would call the people back to repentance before and unto Himself. It would be during those days the LORD would make one final plea before and unto the people—not only through the words which were found in the book of the Law of Moses, and not only through the prophetic words and ministry of Jeremiah, but also through the cleansing and campaign for holiness and righteousness Josiah would launch in the midst of the land.
WITHOUT EXCUSE! Oh I can’t help but think about the days and times of Jeremiah and Josiah and how those individuals who would indeed live beyond the days of Josiah’s reign would still live during the days of the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah as he would faithfully proclaim the word of the Lord. Although Josiah would no longer be seated upon the throne Jeremiah would still faithfully proclaim and deliver the prophetic word of the LORD before and among the people. Not only this, but it would be during those days when there would undoubtedly have been a people who would have heard the words which were written in the book of the Law of Moses. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for those who would choose to reject the LORD’s call for repentance and His offer of mercy would essentially be without excuse—especially if they were alive during the days of Josiah king of Judah and during the days of the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah. What a powerful concept and thought it is to think about and consider how there would indeed be a generation that would not only hear the prophetic word of the LORD which was faithfully proclaimed through the LORD’s servant Jeremiah, but they would also hear the words which were contained in the book of the Law of Moses. For twenty-three years the prophetic word of the LORD and what we would know as the Word of God which was manifested in the book of the Law of Moses would be manifested in the midst of the land. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for during the days of Jehoiakim Josiah’s son those who were alive during the days of his father, and those who witnessed Josiah’s righteousness and holiness, and those who heard the words of the book of the Law of Moses and yet chose to turn themselves back unto their wickedness would be without excuse.
I am sitting here today thinking about and consider how absolutely astonishing this truly is, for just as those who were alive and present during the days of Josiah would not only have the prophetic word of the LORD, but would also have the book of the Law of Moses which spoke unto them and called them to repentance, so also would those who lived during the days and times of Jesus of Nazareth have a similar manifestation among them. Stop and think about the fact that for three and a half years the Word which was in the beginning with God and the Word which in the beginning was God would be made flesh and would dwell among them. For three and a half years both the religious system and leaders of that day, as well as the people who lived at that time—publicans, sinners, prostitutes, lepers, the poor, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the rich, the poor, and the like—would hear more than simply the book of the Law of Moses. During those three and a half years those people would hear and listen to the pure and unadulterated word of God as it would be spoken by the person of Jesus Christ. We know that during those days and at that time there would be a people who would reject the words which Jesus would speak. During those days we find the religious system and the religious establishment rejecting the words which Jesus would speak—and not only reject the words which Jesus would speak, but also reject Jesus Himself. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this, for although there would be a people who would receive Jesus and who would receive the words which He would speak there would also be a people who would reject the words Jesus would speak and would thus choose not to receive Him. This would be what the apostle John spoke and wrote of in the opening chapter of the gospel narrative he wrote, for he would emphatically declare that Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not. As many as did receive Him, however—it would be unto them He would give the power to become the sons of God. Oh what a truly powerful picture it is to see and witness this dichotomy that would exist during the days of Jesus between the poor, between the publicans, between the sinners, between the needy, and between all those who were sick, hurting and desperate who would indeed and would in fact receive Jesus and the words which He would speak, and virtually the entire religious system and establishment as well as a large number of the Jews which would reject, despise and choose not to receive Jesus.
I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the tremendous burden and weight that would be placed upon the shoulders of that generation that would exist during the days of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as during the days of His apostles which would continue and carry on the work which He began while He was upon the earth. What we find within the New Testament gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, the Gentile physician Luke, as well as John Mark is during the final week of Jesus’ passion before His suffering and death He would weep over the city of Jerusalem because He knew and understood the coming judgment, the coming devastation and the coming destruction that would come upon the city and its people. Jesus knew that there would be a great judgment that would come upon the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants—not only because men would not and did not receive Him, but also because they crucified the Lord of glory and put Him to death. In fact, when you begin to read the apostle Peter preaching during the days after Pentecost and when the Spirit was released you will find him emphatically and boldly placing the responsibility and the burden of crucifying and killing Jesus upon the shoulders of the Jews and not the Romans. The apostle Peter never placed the blame, nor the responsibility for killing and crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ upon the shoulders of Rome, nor upon the Roman centurions who actually scourged Jesus, nor the Roman centurions who actually nailed Him to the cross. The apostle Peter never placed the blame for the death of Jesus upon Pontius Pilate—even though he was the one who would sentence and condemn Jesus to death. The apostle Peter would place the responsibility and burden of the death and crucifixion of Jesus solely and squarely upon the shoulders of the Jews and those which were present during those days.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for when we come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark we find the disciples seeking to call the attention of Jesus to the stones and the buildings which were present in the city of Jerusalem. What is so incredibly challenging and amazing about the words Jesus would speak in response to them is that He would declare that there would not be left one stone upon another which would not be thrown down. Jesus knew and recognized that the days were coming and were even nigh at hand when the stones and buildings which were present in the city of Jerusalem would be cast and thrown down to the ground. I have previously written concerning the great persecution which broke out in the midst of the city of Jerusalem during the days of the apostles and after the death and martyrdom of Stephen in the midst of the city, and how the persecution which broke out in the city might actually have been a strong and powerful extension of mercy upon those who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus, for as a direct result of that persecution there would be countless disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who would leave the city and would go unto the surrounding cities, towns, villages and regions—even unto and within Samaria. I am convinced that there would be those who would hear the words of Jesus and would take warning when they began seeing the signs of the coming judgment, devastation and destruction, and as a direct result of this they would in fact depart from the city of Jerusalem. There would be others who would be brought forth out of the city as a direct result of the persecution and suffering that would break out in the midst of the city against the Christians and the followers of the way. OH we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it draws and calls our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that persecution might very well have been a greater tool and instrument than simply bringing the gospel beyond Jerusalem and beyond Judaea, but would also bring the gospel unto Samaria, and ultimately unto the Gentiles. We must acknowledge and recognize the incredibly awesome and powerful truth that the great persecution which would break out within the city of Jerusalem would and could very well have been a wonderful extension of mercy given unto the disciples and followers of the way as they would be forced out of the city of Jerusalem and would begin to be scattered throughout the surrounding cities, towns, villages and regions.
What so amazes me about the words found in the thirteenth chapter is that what we see and what we find here is not only a powerful prophetic warning concerning the days which would come after Jesus departed from this earth and returned unto His Father who was in heaven, but also during the days and times in which we are presently living. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is a dual application found within this portion of Scripture, for Jesus would speak and warn the disciples of the great need to take heed unto themselves that no man would deceive them. Jesus would emphatically declare unto them that many would come in His name and would profess and proclaim that they are Christ and would deceive many. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare that it would be during those days when there would be those who would say, “Lo, here is Christ,” or, “Lo, he is there,” and that they ought to believe them not. Jesus would then go on to further declare that there would be many false Christ and false prophets that would arise and would shew great signs and wonders to seduce if it were possible, even the elect. That which I absolutely love about the words which Jesus spoke during these days and at this time is that He would emphatically declare and proclaim unto the disciples the following words, “But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.” Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for what we find here is not only Jesus speaking of the days and generation in which we were living, but Jesus would also speak unto that generation and warn them of what would come in the days after His departure from this earth and His return unto the Father who was in heaven. Oh the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples would be similar to the parting words the apostle Paul would speak and declare unto the Ephesian elders whom he would meet with before his departure and return unto Jerusalem. The apostle Paul knew that he was going bound by the Spirit unto Jerusalem and that great trouble and tribulation awaited him there, and yet he sought to diligently warn the Ephesian elders that they might in turn warn the congregants and people within the congregation—people which would also later be taught by and through an epistle written by the apostle Peter, as well as taught by both Timothy and the apostle John. With that being said, I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the parting words the apostle Paul spoke unto the Ephesian elders:
“And we went before to ship, and sailed to Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Breeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. TAKE HEED THEREFORE UNTO YOURSELVES, AND TO ALL THE FLOCK, OVER THE WHICH THE HOLY GHOST HATH MADE YOU OVERSEERS, TO FEED THE CHURCH OF GOD, WHICH HE HATH PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD. FOR I KNOW THIS, THAT AFTER MY DEPARTING SHALL GRIEVOUS WOLVES ENTER IN AMONG YOU, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK. ALSO OF YOUR OWN SELVES SHALL MEN ARISE, SPEAKING PERVERSE THINGS, TO DRAW AWAY DISICIPLES AFTER THEM. TEHREFORE WATCH, AND REMEMBER, THAT BY THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS. AND NOW, BRETHREN, I COMMEND YOU TO GOD, AND TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, WHICH IS ABLE TO BUILD YOU UP, AND TO GIVE YOU AN INHERITANCE AMONG ALL THEM WHICH ARE SANCTIFIED. I HAVE COVETED NO MAN’S SILVER, OR GOLD, OR APPAREL. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:14-38).
AFTER MY DEPARTING SHALL GRIEVOUS WOLVES ENTER IN AMONG YOU, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK! ALSO OF YOUR OWN SELVES SHALL MEN ARISE, SPEAKING PERVERSE THINGS, TO DRAW AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM! Oh I can’t help but see a strong and powerful link and connection—and if not a link and connection then most certainly a strong and powerful similarity—between the words which the apostle Paul would speak unto the Ephesian elders and the words which Jesus would speak unto His disciples during the final week of His passion. There is a strong and powerful similarity which exists between the words the apostle Paul spoke unto the Ephesian elders and the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples, for prior to the departure of the apostle Paul he would warn and caution them concerning grievious wolves who would enter in among them which would not spare the flock. Moreover, the apostle Paul would also warn and caution them concerning those from among themselves who would arise among them and would speak perverse things that they might draw away disciples after them. The apostle Paul knew and understood that the days and times would come when false teachers, false prophets, false brethren and false apostles would rise up among them, and would even seek to enter in among them that they might deceive and draw away men and women unto themselves. Oh it is important that we recognize and understand this, for prior to Jesus’ departure from this earth and subsequent return unto the Father He Himself would caution and warn His disciples concerning those days and times which would be manifested in the earth. Jesus not only saw the devastation and destruction of Jerusalem, but He also saw the tremendous deception that would arise because of many who would come in His name—those who would not only profess and proclaim that they are Christ, but those who would be false Christs and false apostles. Jesus foresaw that directly linked and connected to the devastation and destruction would indeed and would in fact be a great deception that would sweep through the churches and houses of worship as there would be men and women who would indeed come in His name, and might very well sound holy and righteous, and yet they are nothing more than grievous and savage wolves in sheep’s clothing. Oh with this being said, I invite you to consider the words which Jesus Himself would speak very early on during His public life and ministry when He would not only speak about the narrow and broad ways, and would not only speak about the importance of bearing fruit, but would also speak about false teachers and false prophets who would arise in the midst of the earth. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in therat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. DO men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to the fact that Jesus did indeed and did in fact see dark and dangerous days ahead for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for the inhabitants of Judaea and Galilee, and which would be before His disciples and His apostles. Just as after the apostle Paul’s departure from Ephesus there would be savage and grievous wolves who would enter in among the flock not sparing any, so also after the departure of Jesus would false teachers, false prophets, and false brethren rise up that they might deceive even the very elect. There would be those who would profess and proclaim themselves to be Christ’s and would profess to be Christians and followers of Christ, and yet they would be nothing more than false Christ’s and imposters who would creep in unaware among the brethren. There would be those who would even come in the name of Jesus and would perform great works, great signs, great wonders, and would even proclaim many wonderful things, would prophesy in the name of the LORD, and yet those same individuals are not only such as do not bear any fruit and do not do the will of the Father, but they might also very well hear the Lord Jesus declare unto them that He never knew them and profess them to be workers of iniquity. The Lord Jesus Christ saw the devastation and destruction of Jerusalem, and He saw the days coming when every stone and every building would be cast down. What’s more, is that a precursor and sign of those days and times would not only be rampant deception, but also widespread persecution. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that during those days there would be rampant and blatant deception that would seek to entice and draw away men and women away from walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as widespread persecution. In fact, two of the greatest manifestations during those days would be the deception of false Christs, false apostles, false prophets, and false brethren who would enter in and creep in unawares, as well as persecution. I am convinced that two of the greatest tools and two of the greatest instruments which and which will be used in the Last Days to entice, seduce, and deceive men and women away from walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that if the enemy and adversary is not and cannot be successful in using deception to entice and draw men away during days of devastation, destruction, judgment and wrath then he will absolutely and most certainly use persecution.
I have always believed that while the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed prepared us to love our neighbors as ourselves, as well as loving our enemies, He has also prepared us to be hated. I firmly believe that Jesus has never, nor did He ever prepare us to be loved, to be welcomed, to be embraced, and to even be loved by the world, but rather to be hated, to be despised and rejected. With this being said, we must needs recognize and understand that at the very heart of persecution, suffering, opposition, and affliction of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ is this hatred that is found within the hearts of those who have not received and cannot receive the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that during the Last Days the enemy can and will use persecution as a means of attrition against the saints, and even the prophet Daniel saw a time coming when the antichrist and beast would wage war against the saints and would even—for a period of time—prevail against them. The words which Jesus spoke are truly astonishing when you take the time to consider them, for not only did Jesus speak unto the disciples about a period of tremendous persecution, but Jesus would also declare and describe how there would be those who be offended as a result of such persecution. This takes on a whole different meaning when you also consider it in light of the parable He taught and spoke concerning the sower who sowed the seed and how he would sow seed on the rocky ground. Jesus would describe and declare how this represented those individuals who heard the word of the kingdom and would even receive it with joy and gladness, yet because there was no root or depth within them they would by and large be offended when persecution arose because and on account of the word. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that if there is anything we must needs prepare and make ourselves ready for in the coming days, weeks, and months, it’s not only deception which can and will be rampant and widespread, and it’s not only persecution, but it’s also persecution, suffering and affliction, but it’s also iniquity abounding and the love of many growing cold. Oh that we would diligently guard our hearts and our souls—not only in the midst of persecution, but also in the midst of deception, as well as in the midst of a world in which iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall indeed and shall in fact grow cold.