In this devotional series, we’re taking a look at Matthew 24 & 25 to see what Jesus teaches us about his return and the end of the current age of history. Today, we’ll consider Matthew 24:3-14.
After prophesying about the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple, Jesus was gathered with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. There, they asked him a series of questions: “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
It would seem in their minds, the destruction of the temple and the return of Jesus were part of the same event, not different events separated by nearly two thousand years of history and counting. This will be important as Jesus’ answer progresses and we look to separate the events of 70AD with events still future.
But before Jesus gets there, he details some things that must happen before the end of the age. On the one hand, it’s not a pretty picture; but on the other hand there is hope woven within. So, what are the marks of the not-yet-end?
- The deception of false messiahs–Jesus says many others will come claiming to be him, the Savior-King of the world, and they will be liars. As Jesus will detail later, his return isn’t going to be to some wilderness compound in secret, but will be loud and visible for the whole world to see.
- Increasing warfare and geopolitical tension
- Increasing natural disasters
- Persecutions, false prophets, and a turning away from the faith
- Growing lawlessness and a growing lack of love
These things are not pretty, and at times when we see such things, we think, “Surely the end is near”; but Jesus calls such things the “beginning of birth pains.” When a woman is pregnant, we look forward to the birth of the child–bringing new life into the world. But that is preceded by pains that tend to get worse as the moment of birth draws near.
We long for the day where eternal joy and hope will spring forth in the birth of a new creation, but until that time there will be growing pain. That is the natural course of sinfulness on the world. We are marching toward a wonderful utopia, but not one built on the plans and actions of humanity. No, ours is built fully on the plan and actions of God.
Yet, even with this warning of things growing worse in a sinful world, there is hope. The faithful will endure and be saved, Jesus says, and the gospel will spread into all the world. In Revelation, John sees a picture of eternity where people from every “tribe, tongue, and nation” are worshiping Jesus. People will only worship Jesus if they know about Jesus, and they will only know about Jesus if they hear the gospel. And people from all over the world will hear and believe.
In short, this is Jesus saying: The darkness will not snuff out the light. People will hear about me, know me, and follow me.
What, then, do we do as we see the darkness in the world that signal birth pangs but isn’t quite the end? We keep shining light. We let the world know about Jesus who will one day return and bring an end to all the darkness.
All scripture references taken from the Christian Standard Bible. For part 1 of this series, click here: https://fbcadrian.com/2018/07/11/the-smashing-of-idols-the-last-days-part-1/