After a little bible reading and some simple observations of the world we live in, one could assume or surmise that we are living in a pivotal point in history. Matthew chapter 24 is a sort of blueprint for what to look for, or what is to come.
However I must first note that there are those out there who would have us believe that the bible is not to be taken literally. Those who spiritualize scripture and prophecy due to either a poor understanding of such passages or possibly being misled by those who claim to know and understand a particular passage of scripture. I don’t claim to understand all the prophetic pieces of scripture, far from it. However certain passages if looked at plainly and are taken literally, can be understood by any Christian.
Here we will analyze Matthew 24 using New International Version, and it’s implications in our post-modern age.
1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
We know that further reading of the bible and History that the temple Jesus spoke of was destroyed exactly as he said it would be. Not one stone remains on the original site. In verse 3 the disciples asked Jesus how they could know when He was returning. This is a question I think any one of us Christians would ask. Jesus then tells them the signs of the end of the age, or His return.
4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
A simple search of the internet for False Prophets/False Christs reveals a staggering amount of people claiming to be Christ or Old Testament prophets coming to save the world. This trend seems to be increasing, and thousands of people are being deceived on a daily basis.
6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
The escalation of violence and wars over the centuries is plain to see with even a mediocre knowledge of history. The 20th century alone has seen more widespread war, and violent death than any other century before it. In my opinion “rumors of wars”, could mean conflicts not really classified as wars, but involve violence and death. Jesus tells us not to be alarmed by such things, as these are meant to happen. Somehow this is all part of God’s master plan. There also seems to be an alarming trend in the amount of famines in various places throughout the world, despite the wealth and prosperity of many nations. Famine continues to plague much of the world. The deaths due to these famines and the earthquakes all over the globe continue to rise.
9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
There is some dispute as to whether the Church is to endure The Great Tribulation. This may not be talking about a future persecution. As history shows, not long after Jesus’ death the early Church founders endure great persecution, death, and hatred. Thousands of Protestant Christians faced persecution and death by the hands of the Roman Catholic church in the Dark Ages. Thousands of Christians in modern times face persecution and imprisonment by Islamic governments bent on eliminating Christian influence.
10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
As one can see by alarming modern trends within the Church that this has already begun to happen. The Great Apostasy is the perversion of God’s Word, the separation from moral values taught by the Bible and the continuing trend of producing “rice Christians”, false teachings such as the “prosperity gospel”. Another alarming trend that should alarm any bible believing Christian is the Ecumenical Movement. Whose long term goals include merging Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholicism under the Roman Church. The ultimate goal of Ecumenicism is uniting all religions under one faith.
11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
I think it’s important to note that Jesus repeated his warning about false prophets in verse 11. Many times throughout His ministry Jesus repeated things that He wanted us to take special note of, or that He felt were detrimental. This was also a main point that Paul preached about in several of his letters. In verse 12 He talks about the lack of love in those times. Our modern culture is almost devoid of the selfless love that Jesus spoke of. Our culture is the “me” culture, the “self indulgent”, “I want what I want and I want it now” generations, full of selfish desires. In verse 13 Jesus tells the disciples/us that those who stand firm, not betraying or twisting God’s Word and follow it will be saved. Now if one has already placed their faith in Christ and are born again this phrase may be a bit confusing. However if we look at what the passage as a whole is talking about then we can understand he is talking of those believers who truly believe, and who have shown visible “fruit”, those who have withstood the false prophets, and their teachings, those who have shown Christ’s selfless love; will be saved.
1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9” ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11“Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
12“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Only Christ truly knows those who will stand firm to the end, and those who would deceive. Paul mentions this very thing in one of his last letters nearing the end of his life, writing to Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
In verse 14 Jesus then tells us that the Gospel will be preached in all nations and then the end will come. With current trends it’s only a matter of years or a decade or two at most when the gospel will have been spread through out the whole world. Then the end is going to come! What better time is there than now to prepare for His return? All the more reason to bring up our children to be God fearing, bible believing adults. What better time to share our faith with our family, friends, and co-workers.
The remainder of Matthew 24 deals with the end times, which I will save discussion for another post in the near future.
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