The last days of history – Part 11
The only sure way to keep from being deceived is to focus on Christ and His words. Don’t look for special signs, and don’t spend time looking at other people. Look at Christ.
24:3―25:46 “THE OLIVET DISCOURSE.” Jesus’ prophecy was primarily a reply to the disciples’ question. “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus gave: (1) general signs of the course of the age leading up to the last days (24:4-14); (2) special signs to indicate the final days of the age, the Great Tribulation (24:15-28); (3) spectacular signs to occur at His triumphant coming with power and great glory (24:29-31); (4) an admonition to tribulation saints to be alert to the signs leading up to Christ’s expected coming immediately after the tribulation (24:32-35); (5) an admonition to believers living before the tribulation to be spiritually ready for the unexpected and unknown time of Christ’s coming for His faithful (24:36-51; 25:1-30; see John 14:3 note, above); (6) a description of the judgment of nations after His return to earth (Mat 25:31-46).
Note that many details of Christ coming are not disclosed in Mat 24. Furthermore, no one has so far deciphered all the prophecies concerning the End Time with complete certainty. There remains in Jesus’ discourse an element or mystery requiring humility and a heart fixed on the Lord Jesus Himself. We can expect additional unfolding of revelatory understanding at the time of the end (cf. Dan 12:9).
24:4-51 “Jesus… said unto them.” Jesus’ words in the Olivet discourse are addressed to His disciples and to all of God’s faithful people, until the end of the age and His triumphant return to reign on earth. (1) Concerning believers living before the tribulation period, Christ tells them they cannot calculate or even estimate the time of His return them (vv. 42-44). Therefore, they must be ready at any time, for He will return to take them to heaven (i.e., His “Father’s house,” see John 14:2-3) at a time when they do not think He will (see Mat 24:44). (2) For those converted to Christ during the Great Tribulation, they can know the time of His coming for them with a high degree of certainty, for Christ gives them signs by which to expect and know that His return is very near (vv. 15-29). When they see these signs, they will “know that it is near, even at the doors” (see v. 33).
Signs of the end of this age
In Mat 24:4-14 Jesus gives the signs (cf. v.3) that will characterise the whole course of the last days, and which will intensify as the end draws nearer. (1) False prophets and religious compromisers within the visible church will increase and deceive many (vv.4-5, 11). (2) The increase of wars, famines and earthquakes (vv.6-7) will be “the beginning of sorrows” (v.8) of the new Messianic age. (3) As the end draws nearer, the persecution of God’s people will become more severe (v.9), and many will forsake their loyalty to Christ (vv.9-10). (4) Violence, crime and disregard for God’s law will increase rapidly, and natural love and family affection will decrease (v. 12; cf. Mk 13:12; 2 Tim 3:3). (5) In spite of this intensification of trouble, the gospel will be preached in the whole world (v.14). (6) The saved will be those who stand firm in their faith through all the end-time distress (v.13). (7) The faithful, as they see the intensification of these signs, will know that the day of the Lord’s return for them is “approaching” (Heb 10:25; see John 14:3).
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