Billy Graham – Is the End of the World Close?
Now today I want you to turn with me to II Peter the second chapter beginning with verse five. I hope you brought your Bibles because we want to talk about a very important subject today. The judgment of God, the love of God, and the coming again of Jesus Christ, and the end of the age. Not the end of the world. There’s not going to be an end to the world. But there is going to be an end to the age in which we live, that’s dominated by the devil and dominated by evil. That will come to an end and Christ the Messiah is going to come back. We want to talk about that a little bit today. The second chapter of II Peter.
Now, II Peter in your Bibles comes right after I Peter, if you’re having trouble finding it. Beginning with verse 5, “And spared not the old world but saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow making them an example unto all those who would live ungodly in the future. And delivered just lot, vexed with the filthy lifestyle of the wicked. For the righteous man dwelling among them and seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations and trials”.
If you’re going through a serious temptation now or trial now God knows how to deliver you. If you’ll turn to him and pray by faith and believe. “And to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment”. Those that are outside of Christ, those that live wicked lives are being reserved until the Day of Judgment. There is a Judgment Day coming. The biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah comes down to us today as an example of what could happen even in this decade, or in the decades ahead if we don’t turn to God. Now Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities. And they were at the place that now the Dead Sea is in the Middle East. The Dead Sea is ten miles by fifty mile inland lake in the lower Jordan valley. It’s a mineral saturated body of water which is 1,260 feet below sea level. It’s the lowest part of the world.
In Genesis 13 we read about Abraham. And Abraham is going through that part of the world with all of his flocks and all of his family, going to the land that God had promised him. He was a man of God. And he had his nephew with him by the name of lot. And he saw that the servants of lot and his servants were not getting along too well. So he said to lot, “Lot, let’s divide, we’ve gotten too big. There are too many of us. Too many cattle. Your cattle and my cattle are getting mixed up. You choose wherever you wanna live. If you wanna go west”, toward what is now Palestine “Or if you wanna go across the Jordan and go to the Jordan valley which is lush like a Garden of Eden. You take a choice and I’ll take the other way”.
So lot looked all around and he looked down towards Sodom, he looked down toward Gomorrah. And he saw that was a very wealthy part of the world. A very wonderful part to live in. He consulted his wife. She said, “By all means we want to go to Sodom”. She wanted to go where the good times were. And so lot told Abraham, “All right, uncle Abraham. We’re going to go, we’ve chosen to go down to Sodom and Gomorrah. And go down to the lush valley of the Jordan. And we’ll take our cattle and our servants and our people and our family and that’s where we’ll go”. Abraham agreed, said all right. The Dead Sea was surrounded in that time, it was no Dead Sea, of course, but at that time it was a lush, unbelievably lush part of the world. But with their wealth came a lifestyle of hedonism, sexual obsession and perversion. The like of which has hardly ever been equaled in the history of the world.
So that today the word Sodom is used to describe a certain lifestyle that people may adopt. As God had sent a flood to destroy a corrupted humanity in Noah’s day, so upon Sodom and Gomorrah he sent a totally destroying judgment of fire. And that fire of brimstone that fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah not only destroyed it, but sank that part of the world to the lowest part of the earth. Now what were the sins of Sodom? Why did God allow that judgment to fall? The first sin that they had was false security. They were secure. And we today have a security behind our oceans and behind our military power. President Yeltsin has stated that the whole world can be standing unknowingly on the edge of an abyss. And you saw in your papers this morning the problems they are having in Russia right now, in the government. We have a false security.
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt”! Now Egypt in that day did not have much to do with Israeli people. And yet, time after time, the Israelis would go down to Egypt for help. And he said, ” woe to them that go down to Egypt for help and stay on horses and trust in chariots, but they look not to the holy one of Israel neither seek the Lord. Now the Egyptians are men and not God and their horses flesh and not spirit”. Isaiah the prophet is speaking in the 31st chapter when he says that. They had false security. They thought they were absolutely secure. Nobody could ever take Sodom and Gomorrah. Then their second sin that the scripture mentions is pleasure. They lived for pleasure.
In Job 20 the fifth chapter it says, “The joy making of the wicked is short and the joy of the hypocrite but a moment”. You only have a moment to enjoy it. Then you have eternity to regret it. The scripture says there are pleasures in sin for a moment. Then it’s all over and then there’s nothing but the remorse and the guilt. The scripture says, “There’s a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death”. “Even in laughter,” the scripture says, “The heart is sorrowful and the end of mirth is heaviness”. Even when you’re laughing, many people. In Psalm 53:1, it says, “The fool has said in his heart there’s no God”. If you go back to original language in Hebrew here’s what it says: “The fool hath said in his heart no to God”. He’s not saying there’s no God. He’s just saying no to God.
You see you can’t prove scientifically that there is a God and you can’t prove scientifically there’s no God. But everybody knows there must be a God. And then there’s another sin that Sodom and Gomorrah committed. It was overindulgence. The majority of the world, a great part of the world, lives under what we call the poverty level. And in Luke 21 it says, “And take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life so that day comes upon you unaware”. John Eastwood wrote some time ago, “People do not decide to be drunkards or drug addicts or prostitutes or murderers or thieves. But they pitch their tent toward Sodom and the powers of evil overcome them”.
And how many of us are like that? We pitch our tent toward Sodom. We sort of live half in Sodom and half with Abraham. We sort of enjoy Sodom. We long for the things that Sodom has. We’d like to have the fun and the pleasure we imagine that they’re having. We’d like to have all that money. But the powers of evil will overcome you and you will die before your time and be lost from God. In Jude the 12th verse it says, “There are spots in your feast of charity when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear”. How many times we see charitable events, and we thank God for those that are sincerely interested, but they go to have a big time and to be seen. And there’s a spot in their charity and that’s the spot.
And then the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had some new strange Gods. Whenever a man seeks or honors or exalts anything more than God that’s idolatry. And there are many of us that are guilty of idolatry. But we don’t realize it. In Psalm 44 , it says, “If we’ve forgotten the name of our God or stretched out our hand to a strange God, shall not God search this out”? Romans 1 , it says, “We’ve changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator”. We worship our bodies and we worship our good times and we spend more on our cosmetics than we do worshipping God and Christ. That’s modern humanism.
And then they were also guilty of greed. Greed was a plague on the lives of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. And one of the addiction that today has thousands of Americans in its vice is gambling. And part of the gambling motivation is greed. Workers throughout the industrialized world are becoming increasingly traumatized by overwork and their effort to earn more than their needs require. So we neglect our families to get more money so that we can, and we don’t really need it. God has promised to supply all of our needs, but he’s never promised to supply all of our greeds. And then in the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, so bad that God gave them up.
In Romans 1 it says that God just gave them up. Three times, he said he gave them up. Has God given you up? No, the very fact you’re here today shows that God has not given you up. God is still speaking to you. There’s still a chance for you to come to Christ. There’s still an opportunity for you to receive the love of God and the gift of God in Christ. In II Timothy 3 it says, “Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient, unthankful, unholy”. And anyone who believes in high morality today is laughed at. Jeremiah said that they had forgotten how to blush and there’s a lot truth in that.
Now God warns Sodom. He sent some angels to Abraham to tell Abraham what he was going to do. He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. And Abraham said, “Wait a minute, Lord. If I would find some real believers in Sodom, if I found fifty righteous men, would you spare it”? And God said, “Yes”. He couldn’t find fifty so he said to the Lord, “All right, Lord, what about if I found forty”? Then after awhile, he said, “Thirty,” then “Twenty”. Finally he said, “If I find ten, Lord, would you spare them”? And God said, “Yes, if you find ten righteous people in Sodom I’ll spare Sodom”. But he couldn’t find them. And that is a lesson to us. The importance of a dedicated minority. A minority of people who believe and who live it. “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a small remnant, we should have been as Sodom. And we should have been likened unto Gomorrah,” says Isaiah 1:9 to you Christians, Jesus gave a warning.
He said, “Remember lot’s wife”? The angels told you not to look back. If you did look back, you’d be turned to a pillar salt. Well, she did look back. And she was turned to a pillar of salt. And Jesus said, “Remember lot’s wife”. That’s an example for us today, “Remember lot’s wife”. One of the shortest verses in all the Bible. Don’t look back. Many of us look longingly at the world and many are like demas, having forsaken Christ because of the love of this present world.
Now the climax of history is going to be judgment. The Bible warns that the world is in for a gigantic judgment. The only bright spot is the promised return of Jesus Christ. Because the scripture teaches from one end to the other that Christ is going to come back someday. He’s going to set up his kingdom. And evil and the devil are going to be eliminated and this is going to be heaven on earth, when Jesus comes back. You see, Jesus Christ loved us so much that he went to the cross and died for us. He took all the hell and all the judgment on him at the cross. And the scripture says “God so loved the world,” God so loved this present world “That he gave his only begotten son that whosoever,” that includes you, “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”.
You say, well, when is Christ going to come back? Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man. No, not even the angels of heaven, but my father only”. We don’t know the day, don’t speculate. It’s coming, it’s sure. He left us certain signs, I wish we had time to go into all of them today. I believe that every one of those signs is being fulfilled right now. And Christ could come back at any time. How will Christ come? “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the Archangel and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first”! What a glorious time that’s going to be when Christ returns. The voice of the Archangel, I’m looking forward to hearing that voice. I’ve never heard an Archangel. And the trump of God, what trumpets that will be. That will also be a time of personal judgment when you if you’ve really never received Christ, now you may be baptized and you may be confirmed and you may be a church member and all of that.
That’s wonderful. I’m thankful. But that’s not enough. Jesus talked to Nicodemus and said, “Nicodemus, all of your religion is not enough. You must be born again”. The moment you receive Christ, the moment you open your heart and surrender to him as Lord and master and Savior, at that moment, your name is written in the book of life. And if my name were not written in that book of life, you’d never get me out of this stadium until I’d made sure it’s been written there. Because only those who are written in the book of life are going to enter the Kingdom of God.
You see, for those who are written in the book of life, Jesus Christ died on the cross. They put nails in his hands and a spike through his side and a crown of thorns on his brow and he suffered one of the most agonizing physical deaths that a person can suffer. But that wasn’t his real suffering. The real suffering of Jesus Christ was when he said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”. Because in that moment, God took your sins and my sin and laid on Christ. He bore our sins. He went to hell for us. He took the judgment for us. So the cross is a judgment. What do you have to do? Repent of your sins. And you’re not sure that you’ve repented. To surrender totally to Christ. Your heart, your mind, your body, your life so that Christ is first in your life.
I’m going to ask you to make that commitment this afternoon. I’m going to ask you to do what we’ve seen thousands of people do this past week. Get up out of your seat from all over this stadium and come and stand in front. And after you’ve all come I’m going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you and you can get up and go back and join your friends. We’re going to give you some literature, a book that’ll help you in your Christian life. But you get up and come and don’t delay, because he says, “Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation”. You may never have another moment like this as long as you live. When will you ever see another thing like this in Pittsburgh? Maybe another generation or maybe never. And as far as you’re concerned, it may never be. We’re going to wait for you. You come from way up there, wherever you are, God is speaking to you. And back here, where the seats have filled in, you come and join them.
You that have been watching by television here in this great three rivers stadium in Pittsburgh where three rivers come together right here, you’ve heard the message and God has spoken to you and we’ve seen hundreds of people come here. Many more hundreds are on the way. You can make your commitment to Christ where you are. You can say yes to Christ. He loves you. He wants to forgive you. He wants to change you and give you a new life. Let him come into your heart right now. Just say:
Lord, I am a sinner and I’m sorry. I do repent of my sins as best I know how. I’m not sure that I know how, but Lord, help me to repent and help me to believe, Lord. I need your help even in the believing. And help me to follow you and serve you.
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