One topic that always draws a lot of attention in Christian circles is the end times. In general, all followers of Jesus believe the same basic truth: History has a time limit. God in his plan has set boundaries on the beginning and the end of present age of humanity. Jesus will come back, and when he does he will right all wrongs and make all things news and glorious for his people.
As for the timing, order, and specifics of certain events related to that basic truth, Christians throughout history have diverged with various interpretations. That can be a good things as long as we humbly realize that we have much to learn from different perspectives and don’t become too heatedly dogmatic on debated aspects beyond the basic core truth.
With that in mind, in this devotional series, we’ll be taking a look at Matthew 24 & 25 and see some of what we learn concerning the end of the age and the return of Jesus.
We’ll start today with Matthew 24:1-2:
As Jesus left and was going out of the temple, his disciples came up and called his attention to its buildings. He replied to them, “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down.”
In Matthew 23, Jesus blasted the Pharisees and other religious leaders for their hypocrisy. Through their rules and regulations, they would lay heavy burdens on people they were not willing to bear themselves. Further, Jesus said that even though they gave the appearance of righteousness and zeal for God, their hearts were far from him. Then Jesus concluded with a lament over Jerusalem, speaking to how he longed to gather the people to himself but they were largely unwilling to follow him.
It’s in response to these scathing statements that the disciples seemed eager to find something about the city and religious culture of the day that would impress Jesus. So they pointed out the buildings of the temple.
But Jesus was not impressed. In fact, his reply was that the whole complex would soon be a pile of rubble. This sets the stage to follow, after Jesus and his followers go to the Mount of Olives in 24:3, for the discussion on the end of the age and the return of Jesus.
While the temple and Jerusalem of that day were largely destroyed in the year 70AD, fulfilling Jesus’ words, this speaks a truth to current history and the end of the age: God is not impressed with our idols.
You see, for the religious leaders of that day, the temple had become and idol of sorts. Jesus at one point even drove out persons and animals with whips while overturning tables because the outer courts had been turned into a market to make a profit off people’s sacrifices to God. The religious practices of that day had become corrupted so that a place of worship became a place for exalting man. The temple itself had become a status symbol for the supposed caretakers over the Jews.
Likewise, when Jesus returns, our idols will not stand. Paul wrote of this truth in 1 Corinthians 3 when he talked about how our works to help build God’s kingdom will be judged. Those who build with “gold, silver, and costly stones” or good works that exalt God and show love for others, will find their deeds refined and rewarded. Those who build with “wood, hay, or straw” or works that mainly exalt self, even though they appear good–motive still matters–will find their works in ruins.
This reminds us that as we wait for the return of Jesus, the point of life and faith isn’t to try to impress God and others. Rather, the point is to be faithful, God-glorifying, and others-serving. Thus, as Jesus said elsewhere: The last shall be first and the first shall be last.
So, let us keep watch on our motives, abandon our self-exalting idols, and live fully for the glory of God.
Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.