Continuing on in our discovery of Matthew, this morning I was reading through Matthew 24 again. Remember, it was a few days ago I brought the idea to "the Journey" that Jesus was actually revealing the end of the age. I didn't get many comments about what the end of the age actually meant, so we'll continue on with a few options. 1.) The end of the age could be the end of Israel as Jesus and the disciples knew it. 2.) The end of the age could be the end of a certain mid-eastern way of thought. 3.) The end of the age could mean the end of a religious ideal, or as my strict eschatalogical conservative friends point out, 4.) It could mean the end of the world.
We'll see if He clears it up in the coming verses.
It was verse 3 where the disciples asked, "What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?"
"Jesus answered: "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. (v. 4-8)
So we can understand Jesus to say there will be people coming to deceive, there will be wars, nations and kingdoms will rise against each other, and there are famines and earthquakes.
Those who are watching closely for the coming of the Christ have tried to point out the severity of these bullet points as THE signs we are living in the last days. I'm not saying we aren't, but as we look throughout the course of history, hasn't this been the case since the beginning?
Scientists point out the severe earthquakes that formed our mountains, continents, and island nations. So earthquakes have been the case for a while.
Famines are noted even back as early as Biblical times. Remember Joseph and the 7 year famine of Egypt? That was between 6 and 10 thousand years ago. So famines have been around.
We know Paul dealt with false Christs as early as his first epistle, Galatians. Remember, "I am astonished that you
are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ
and are turning to a different gospel— which
is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into
confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But
even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than
the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As
we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to
you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally
condemned!" (Galatians 1:6-9)
We can deduce, false prophets have been around since Paul's time, deceiving people away from the gospel.
Wasn't War and nation rising against nation part of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus…well, all the way through?
So what do we do?
What do we do with people who are on the street corner conjuring up the fear of global disaster, apocalyptic demise, and a need to turn from their wicked ways because 'time is running out?' Are they in their right mind?
Well, for the sake of understanding I don't have ANY IDEA when, what, or how Jesus is returning.
I don't know what it really looks like.
I have no idea other than what I read in the BIble, and deduct from the studies of great men who have gone before me.
The important thing to note….
Jesus is coming, and THAT'S HOPE!!
Hope there will be a good King come back to the world.
Hope there will and end to this disease ridden planet.
Hope, we will live in a world where people will finally live at peace
But I'm jumping ahead of myself.
Jesus answers His disciples. The end of the age will begin with signs like birth pains.
Birth pains are the beginning signs a woman is about to give birth to new life.
It's not very pretty.
In fact, for three of our five children, I watched as the birth pains started small and seemed to be bothersome. But, as the day went on, the birth pains effected my wife in such a way…well, let's just say if men were to endure such distraught, there wouldn't be a population problem. That's for sure!!
The point is, it takes birth pains to usher in new life.
It takes a time of intense pain to move on to a new beginning.
And it seems as though Jesus is pointing to a time that will bring about a 'new age.'
It's important we continue to keep our eyes on the end goal. As ages pass, and birth pains consume our attention, it's important to know the point is NEW LIFE!
Therefore, if Jesus refers to the 'new age' as something that's already happened, let us celebrate the pains that ushered Him in.
If He's referring to 'new age' as the end of the world, let us celebrate rather than fear the coming of the newness!
May God bless you today as you seek His heart.
May we know, together; the heart of Jesus.