As we begin a new year, let’s take a step back and look at the end. Not the end of 2022, but the end of the world. In Matthew 24, Jesus answered this question from His disciples: “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Much has been made about when the end of the world will be. It seems every year another false prophet claims to know the exact date even though Jesus said, as part of his answer, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” No one is going to know the exact date, but we can examine the signs Jesus gave as a signal of His return and the end of the world.
“Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many…’” (Matthew 24:4-5)
We know that a sign of the end times, a sign of the beginning of the birthing pains, will be false messiahs. There have been many false messiahs since Jesus spoke these words. One false messiah back in the 1970s operated out of England and claimed she would prove her divinity by walking across a lake. Many gathered to watch the miracle but she never showed and history has forgotten her name. Others have claimed to be the Christ but history shows that they were merely cult leaders, instructing their followers to commit all kinds of sins, and they met unceremonious endings themselves. We know Jesus is the only true Messiah based on His words, miracles, and resurrection. There’s a reason we still know His name and not the names of the false messiahs. And don’t be surprised when these false messiahs “deceive many.”
“‘And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.’” (Matthew 24:6-8)
There have been many wars and threats of wars since Jesus spoke these words, and there will continue to be. We must be wise and follow Jesus’ instruction to not panic as a response to these wars and threats.
“‘Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.’” (Matthew 24:9-10)
Have you been arrested or persecuted for being a follower of Jesus? That’s a sign of the end times. We often long for a return to Christ, for a revival in the church, but at the same time we long for Christ’s return. We may not be able to get both. Jesus said that we would be hated all over the world for being His followers, that Christians would turn away from Him, betray other Christians, and hate other Christians. That’s not a revival of the church or a nation turning back to God.
“‘Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.’” (Matthew 24:12)
It certainly seems like sin is rampant everywhere. Where is there a safe space from sin? Not in our libraries during story hour for children. Not in our schools. Not on the internet. Not in the subway station. Not on the city streets. Yes, it seems sin is spreading faster and further these days and that love is growing quite cold as people would rather record a crime or attack than intervene and help someone in need. Drugs are given to addicts instead of help and mental health issues are celebrated instead of treated. Again, these are signs of the end times. With all that has happened and is still yet to happen—wars, false prophets, arrests, persecutions—who will be saved in the end?
“‘But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.’” (Matthew 24:13-14)
If you are to be among those who will be saved, you must endure to the end. We must endure these shifts toward false prophets. We must endure the sin that spreads everywhere. We must endure when Christians turn from Christ and turn on each other and hate each other. The only way we will be able to discern these signs is through the Holy Spirit. Draw near to the Spirit and stay constant in your study of the Word. Work hard to be among those who will endure to the end.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.