Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Beginnings Of The End, According To Jesus

Jesus' words in Matthew 24, about the problems coming to Jerusalem, stirred the disciples into thoughts to which they had not often been drawn. All of this destroyed? How could that be? Would it mean the end of the world? The return of the Master? For, though they still had not fully believed He would die and rise again, as witnessed by the difficulty Jesus had in convincing them of such even after He was raised (Luke 24 et al), they had at least picked up the significance of His "long journey" parables (e.g. Matthew 21:33 ff). Somehow Jesus was going to leave them for awhile, then return. That much they knew.

Their question (24:3) showed they were concerned about "end time" matters. Jesus did not rebuke them for it, but went into significant detail explaining what is surely to come. They asked very clear questions, and Jesus answered them very clearly. Speculation has arisen as to whether they were asking several questions or one question with several parts. But the effect is the same, and Jesus' answer is the same. He tells them when not to look for Him, but also when to know that His coming, and Jerusalem's ultimate fall, and the end of the world, are all very near.

The Holy Spirit has seen to it that this discourse was recorded three times, to be sure we would not be unprepared when it was the time for its fulfillment. Let none of us say that these things don't matter. They do! And we can know when these things will be. We can know the very real sign that will point to the end of all things. We can therefore know also who will be ruling the earth when it is about to go under.

First, Jesus tells us what is not the sign of His coming, and the end of the age (vs. 4-14). Heed the list well, for every so often in your life and mine, someone is going to mention one or more of these signs to you, and glibly add: "Jesus must be coming soon!" No, these are the negatives. " See that you are not troubled...the end is not yet," (v.6) and "All these are the beginning of sorrow," (v. 8). The beginning is not the end.

Here is the list of things that prove nothing, but that will happen down through the years:

1. Many will come saying they are Christ.

2. There will be actual wars.

3. There will be talk about a war starting.

4. Nations and kingdoms will rise against each other.

5. There will be localized food shortages.

6. There will be localized spread of contagious diseases.

7. Earthquakes will multiply.

8. "You" (beginning with the 12 but on to our time in all of this list) will have trouble.

9. "You" will be killed.

10. "You" will be hated by all nations for the sake of Jesus.

11. "You" will be betrayed by members of the church family.

12. False prophets will arise.

13. A growing sense of lawlessness, immorality, will be so pervasive as to cause many believers to love Jesus less. (This trait will be the defining characteristic of Paul's "man of sin," a leader the world will deserve! II Thessalonians 2.)

14. This Gospel will have been preached all over the world

After this final item, the world is ready for the end. Although many see item 14 as the answer of Jesus to the disciples' original query, I suggest that the preaching of the Gospel everywhere is not as specific a sign as is needed to satisfy those disciples or the ones living in the last days, who want something they can see. They want a "no-doubter," something that says, "When you experience this, Jesus will be there very soon! These are not backslidden saints, by the way. These are people in love with Jesus, who want to see His face! And Jesus very kindly gives them an answer that satisfies their longings.

He calls it "the abomination of desolation. is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!

And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.

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