Saturday, January 24, 2015



Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  (Matthew 24:3)

As Jesus taught His disciples with the magnificent Temple as a backdrop, they were impressed with the massive stones that made up its construction.  Jesus shocks them when He tells them that judgment is coming and the utter destruction of the Temple is near.  They assume that He means the end of the age was coming and the Messianic Kingdom would be established—for what else might explain such?  Jesus tells them, in effect, “Not yet.  Some other things will happen first.”  None will know the day or the hour (Matt.24:36).  The downfall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, when the Roman legions would quell a Jewish uprising, would not be the end of the age—but would foreshadow it.  On a greater scale, what happened then previews a future time when Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by Gentile powers, the Jews will face extreme persecution, and a new Roman Caesar—the Antichrist—will dominate the world.

The period that Scripture calls, “the last days,” began when Christ was rejected.  It encompasses the time from when the world refused to bow to Him until He seizes dominion at His second coming.  The signs in Matthew 24:4-8 are characteristic of every generation from the first to now the twenty-first century.  “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (v.8) The analogy Jesus uses is of a woman giving birth.  Labor begins and intensifies until the baby arrives amid the peak of the contractions and pain, but the result is new life.  So that the wars, famines, earthquakes—all these sorrows—will intensify in frequency and severity until they reach the end.  That is when a New World is born in which Christ reigns and righteousness resides.  The climax of these contractions is in the seven year Tribulation Period.  You can read Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 as a seamless narrative.  Jesus is describing the opening of the seven-sealed scroll, which John would later see in his vision.  The last three and one-half years are so horrific as to be termed the Great Tribulation (Matt.24:21-28).  When the Jews on are the verge of annihilation, they will cry out for Messiah to deliver them, and Christ returns, accompanied by His angel army (v.30-31).  The church—His Bride—will likewise be at His side.

While it is true that none can know with complete precision when the final chapter of human history will be completed, we can sense the season approaching.  As a cool morning in September, with dogwoods and sourwoods turning crimson, tell us fall and then winter are coming, so we can see the events building on the world scene and believe the end is near.  The event that will trigger the end times will be the rapture of the church—Christ’s taking of His Bride to Heaven to escape the wrath to fall on a Christ-rejecting world—along with the preparing of the nation of Israel to receive Him at His return.  As a church we are not so much looking at the signs, but looking for the Savior!  In light of the end, we are called to watch with expectancy (v.42-44) and to work with urgency (v.45-51).  Today might be the day the trumpet sounds to summon us home!

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