Matthew 24

When will the End of Days happen, and how does knowing about it change anything?
Well, for one thing, it won’t change when the end will occur, or any of the events leading up to it.  Jesus told us about the end of time so that we would live prepared.  He didn’t know himself when the end would come, so he couldn’t tell us the exact date.   And, even if he had know the exact date I don’t think he would  have told us, because that would lead us into a false sense of security.  For instance “I know that Jesus doesn’t return for another 100 years, so there’s no need for me to be in a hurry to become a Christian.  I think I will live it up a little and then get back on the ‘straight and narrow’ after a few years”.    Here’s the problem with that: You don’t know how much time you have left.  Take if from someone who has had a near death experience or two…you don’t have time to prepare at the  last minute, and you don’t have advance warning.  You have to be ready NOW and stay in that place of preparedness….maybe for your whole life.  Okay, absolutely for your whole life, however long or short that may be.
Let me highlight a few things in this chapter that merit further investigation:
1.  The disciples asked when the end would be, because Jesus told them the temple grounds would be demolished.  But Jesus never said that was a sign of the end.
2. False prophets claiming to be God (The Messiah) will deceive many people.   In fact, in verse 24 it says they will perform signs and wonders that are so compelling that the elect would be deceived if it were possible.   I take it to mean it isn’t possible, but that many who don’t know Jesus will be deceived into accepting them.
3. Wars, famines and earthquakes do not signal the end of days.  They are early warning signs.   This morning I looked out across the church yard and noticed that the buds were forming on the apple trees.   I know that this means there will be apples…but not tomorrow, and not next week.   I won’t even have apples next month, or in two months.   Even though I don’t see any ripe apples in any of that time I will still believe and expect apples to fall from the tree at some time.   The same it true with the second coming.  Wars and earthquakes are the signs that “the tree is budding”.   Having said that, it is fair to mention that we have seen wars and earthquakes, etc. for 2,000 years.   We certainly are a long way down the road toward the harvest…I’m just not sure how far.
4. The end doesn’t come until all the nations have heard the Good News.
5. Verse 12 says “the love of many will grow cold”.  That is a clear statement that proves we can “fall away” from our secure position in Christ.   You have to love Christ in order to “fall away”.   Those who say once you are saved you are always saved must have missed this verse…or they propose you weren’t ever really saved at all.  But this verse seems to tell a different story, right?      Speaking of that, let me ask you a question: “What are you doing to make sure you don’t fall away in your faith?”  and “What are you doing to make sure your children don’t fall away?”
6. Vs 15 speaks about the “sacreligious object that causes desecration”.  This is a form of false worship that takes place on the temple mount…some sort of idol or false altar that people offer sacrifices on, or worship.   But it has to be in the holy place…Daniel saw it in his vision of the End of Days, so it probably isn’t the Dome of the Rock, that gold topped Muslim temple that currently sits where the Jewish Temple used to be.  Maybe something else will be built there, or maybe there will be some sacrifical or worship system set up at that location in the future.   (I’m wondering aloud…in print)  Some people say that the Jews will build the third temple before the end comes….they would certainly offer sacrifices in that temple, and they would be sacrifices for sin..which would be desecrating the blood of  Christ.   I wonder if the Jews themselves will be the ones who set up the sacreligious altar and offer unholy sacrifices on it?
7. Vs 29 says “after the anguish of those days” meaning that the terrible time of the Tribulation will be over (3 1/2 years, shortened so that saints would survive) is the time when Jesus returns for his people.   This chapter, where Jesus is talking….gives no reason to suspect that the rapture takes place before the tribulation.  Everything that describes the rapture here, two working with one left, etc. is described as taking place after the tribulation.
Given these few thoughts about the end of days, what conclusion should we come to?   The very same one that Jesus offerred at the beginning of the discussion: Make sure you are ready, because you don’t know when He will return.   You would think that the tribulation would be a clear point of reference from which we could  determine 3 1/2 years….and be ready at that time…but since no one will be looking for it, it must mean that the tribulation is either localized, or that it will begin without anyone associating end times to it.   In fact, it someone were to announce today “this is a clear sign of the end of days” it wouldn’t get much attention..because people have been saying that for 2,000 years.
Everything is unfolding exactly the way Jesus said that it would.   Get ready and stay ready.   Make a personal confession of your sin to Christ, and ask Him to forgive you.  Pledge to allow Him complete access to your heart and mind…your whole self.  Promise to live your life as His friend and servant.   Only then will you be cleansed from your sins and secure your place in heaven.   And once you’ve done that, stay alert….keep reading and worshiping and studying.    Keep your heart sensitive to God…because you don’t know how much time you have.
I’ll see you in heaven, if not before.   And I’m looking forward to our reunion there!