Signs of Christ’s Return
Matthew 24:1-28 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Signs of Christ’s Return
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
There are several words or phrases that stand out in today’s text, which make Jesus discription of the signs of His return seem like they are taken directly from much of what we see around the world and in our culture and society. First He says: “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” It is important to note that Jesus says they will say He is the Christ, not that they will themselves claim to be the Christ. How then will they mislead many? The deception is that they come in His name; they say that He is the Christ, but they misrepresent who Jesus is. They speculate that if Jesus were here today He would have a different opinion about the things that are considered sin. They say that He would change to conform to the whims of our society and culture; that He would embrace immorality so as not to offend or not include anyone. He says: “See to it that no one misleads you.”
The text continues: “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” There is seemingly no time that there is not a war somewhere in the world. Because of the media and social media we have instant access to both the facts and the speculations; the rumors of these wars. How often have we heard over the last few years that surely this will cause the start of the next great war? Time and time again the media has set off the alarm. They spread rumor after rumor of the wars that are imminent. That it says: nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, is not repetitive or redundant. The word which is translated nation is the Greek word “Ethnos” from which the English word ethnic is derived. These nations rising against nations are then racial and ethnic conflicts. Certainly the world today is experiencing the nation against nation conflicts Jesus spoke about. There are ethnic divisions and conflicts within our country, our states and in our cities. There are ethnic conflicts in every continent of the world. The news media and the political arena incite rather than trying to quell these tensions and conflicts. Additionally we do of course also see the kingdom against kingdom tensions and wars. These too affect nearly every continent of the world. We see famines, earthquakes and other natural disasters which affect millions of people world wide. These birth pangs have been going on for some time and we can expect that they will increase.
The text continues with Jesus saying: “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Again, we see a time when around the world there is an unprecedented hatred and persecution of those who are called by the name of Christ. There are all sorts of reasons that are given to hate Christians, but perhaps Jesus explains it best when He says: Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. What Jesus calls lawlessness is everything that is opposed to the commandments of God. It is immorality and disobedience. It is having no limitation to what is acceptable regarding the behavior of people. It is what our society calls personal choice. Surely we are experiencing a time when our society is becoming more and more lawless in regards to morality as defined by God. We are also becoming a lawless society with regards to human laws, even as there are many who want to continue to make more laws. Society glorifies those who break the law and vilifies those who enforce it. We blame society rather than holding law breakers accountable for their actions. The end result of lawlessness is that most people’s love grows cold. Immorality and disobedience to the law, both God’s law and human law, results in a self centered; self absorbed society which doesn’t truly love. What could exemplify cold love more than a culture which embraces the killing of millions of unborn babies every year? What could exemplify cold love more than a society that experiences murders and senseless killings every day in its neighborhoods, work places and schools?
Jesus says: “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” One of the greatest blessings that comes through the advancements in technology is that the gospel of the kingdom can truly be preached to the whole world. The end that will come is not the end of all things. It is not the end of the world. It is only the end of the world as we know it now. When Jesus does return, He will usher in a new age, a new beginning, a new heaven and earth. Those who endure this lawless, Godless and immoral society with Him and for Him, will be saved. They will see the new heaven and earth. Revelation 21:1-4 says: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 22:17-21 says: The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost… He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.