Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Matthew 24

Last week we learn the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.  The 2nd greatest commandment was to love others as ourselves.

Matthew 21-28 are the events of Jesus' last days.  We call this week Passion Week.  It was the week leading up to Jesus' arrest, death, and His resurrection in Matt. 28.

This chapter is about the end of this age.  He wants us to know the signs of the end of the age and not be alarmed when they happen.  He wants us to know these things must happen, but that the end is still to come.  Then He will return as promised.  Jesus' teachings are mainly for Christians, especially those who will come to believe in Him during the tribulation period. 

Matthew 24:1-35 - Signs of the End of the Age

Jesus finished His teaching in the temple and was walking away when the disciples came to Jesus to call His attention to the temple buildings.  They found it hard to believe that the temple would be destroyed as Jesus had told them in Matt. 23.  It was bigger and stronger that any they had seen.  The temple mount was a collection of large carved rocks and nothing compared with its beauty.  The temple was the symbol of the Jewish nation and religion.  If Jesus was to be the king of Israel and the temple was gone, how could this happen?  Jesus said to them,  "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down". - Matt. 24:2.  The disciples said, "When will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" - Matt. 24:3.  Jesus was continually teaching and reminding what would happen to Jerusalem and the temple.  It was His warning to repent.

The temple was used for sacrifices, but would no longer be needed.  Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.  God is everywhere.  The temple was only a meeting place for the people to come for worship and prayer.  Now the Holy Spirit is in us and our bodies are His temple.

The "end of the age" means when Jesus' returns to earth.  He will then set up His 1,000 year reign called the "Millennium".  This is mentioned in Revelation where a new heaven and a new earth will be created.

The disciples ask for a sign when this will happen.  Jesus told them, "Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, I am the Christ, and will deceive many.  You 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.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains." - Matt. 24:4-9. 

These things are happening now.  

False Teachers and Prophets - They are people who don't know Jesus.  Some are very evil.  They teach things that go against the Bible and Jesus' teachings.  There are and have been many false prophets.  Some of them are: Jim Jones, David Koresh, Muhammad, Marx and Marxism, Hitler, Humanism, Hinduism, New Age, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.  They call themselves Christians, but don't teach God's Word and don't believe Jesus is the Messiah.  They can be very convincing.  There doctrines are usually a little bit of truth to suck you in.  Our only defense is to know and continue to study the Bible, listen to the Holy Spirit, don't be discouraged, stand firm in our faith and trust God and His Word. 

Wars and Rumors of Wars and Nations against Nations - There are wars and conflicts arising daily, especially in the Middle East, and against Israel.  More and more countries are working to develop weapons of mass destruction.  Terrorism is expanding and the outbreak of was exists in many nations across the globe.

Famines - Usually famine is caused by man's wars and greed.  Famine is spreading across the African continent.  A large portion of the worlds 5 billion people suffer from a shortage of food.

Earthquakes - We have been seeing many more earthquakes these days than any other time in history.  Remember the great Tsunami in 2004?

Persecution - Many of the Prophets have been persecuted and even the disciples were persecuted as well as other Christians.  Christians are under attack throughout the world today.  Christian suffer greater persecution and often times death for their faith in countries like China, Sudan, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Russia, and many Muslim nations. 

These are just birth pains of what is about to come.  Jesus said there will be many who turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.  There will be an increase of wickedness and people's hearts will become cold.  Jesus said we are not to be alarmed or troubled.  Jesus said, "But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." - Matt. 24:14.  Jesus talks about these terrible times to warn believers to not be afraid and not be deceived by false prophets and the Anti-Christ.  He wants us to stand firm and keep the faith.  We should give thanks to God and keep our hope and faith in Him.  He said "stand firm to the end" which is repeated several times in the New Testament.  The end will not happen until all the world has heard the gospel.

"So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand - then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." - Matt.  24:15-16. (Also see Daniel 9 and 11)  The abomination of desolation is speaking of the desecration of the temple with the Anti-Christ who will set himself up as God.  He will put his idolatrous image in the temple and stop the sacrifices and worship, which will bring the judgment of God.  Daniel 12:11 - "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes the desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days." (until the end).  When this sign is set up, there will be 3 1/2 years to go (called the Great Tribulation) until the end when Christ returns. 

The Jews in Judea are then to flee to the mountains or to Pella, because the desolation will first be poured out at Judea.  The church will not be a factor, because it has already been raptured. (1 Thess. 4:16-17).  This abomination of desolation will take place in the middle of the tribulation call the Great Tribulation.  "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equaled again." - Matt. 24:21.

After the Great Tribulation Jesus will return.  "Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." - Matt. 24:29-31.

All the nations of the earth will mourn at His coming, because of the judgment that is coming upon them.  The wicked will mourn, because of their upcoming doom and because they have rejected the Savior.  Who are the elect the His angels will gather?  They are all that have endured to the end in the faith.

Matthew 24:36-51 - The Day and the Hour Unknown

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." - Matt. 24:36.   If Jesus didn't know the hour or day He would return, how can men today predict when He will return?  He said we will be doing everything as usual like eating, drinking, marrying, etc. just like in the days of Noah.  He will come suddenly and unexpectedly.  Jesus tells us to keep watch meaning the believer must remain alert and prepared for His coming, because we don't know when He will come.  We need to be ready.  and on guard.  We must be faithful through to the end.

Are you ready for Jesus' return?
If not, what must you do to be ready?
How can you be faithful until His return?

The signs of the end are all around us.  We see them more and more each day.  If you have not repented and trusted Jesus as you Savior, do it now before it's too late.  He loves you and wants you to be in heaven with Him.  Why worry about this today?  "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." - 2 Peter 3:8-9.  Do not lose hope, keep the faith and be ready.

If you knew for sure He was coming tomorrow, what would you do?

Jesus tells about the faithful and unfaithful servants in Matt. 24:45-51.  We Christians are like the faithful servant who expected his master to return at any minute.  Christians have the responsible to hear and act on Jesus' words.  We are to believe and do what He says so He will be pleased with us when He returns.  We are to use every opportunity to bring others to Jesus.  The unfaithful and wicked servant does not believe his master will return and does not believe his words.  He lives only for himself and this life.  He cares  nothing about others.  Jesus promised to reveal all.

To know more about end of the age, the Anti-Christ, the Great Tribulation, etc. as in Daniel, Zechariah, John, Romans, Thessalonians, Revelation, and other books of the Bible, see my posts:

"Order of the End Times" - http://devotionsbylv.blogspot.com/2011/03/order-of-end-times.html

This chapter gives us lots to think about.  Jesus is real.  He will return.  The end is real and it will come.  See you next week for Matthew 25.

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