This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
There are hundreds of places I could start but after prayer I have chosen to start with Jesus teaching the disciples about those days. In Matthew 24 Jesus is speaking with the twelve. Verses 3-8 read,
“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
So, first Jesus warns “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.”
I pray we won’t be like the Jewish leaders, most of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, lawyers, and priests of Jesus’ day. Though, they had and knew scripture, they missed recognizing Jesus. Though, some knew it was Him, they rejected the idea because of their pride. They worshiped the Law not the God who made the Law. We must know who Jesus is to recognize Him when He returns. We already know that when He returns it will not be as a man wandering the desert, or organizing a group to gather on a mountain as some have done and others believed. No! He will return in the clouds, in glory! He will be unmistakable. In verses 23-27 Jesus explains it,
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Mark 13:24-27 describes it this way,
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
John described Jesus’ return in Revelation 1:4-8
John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the LORD God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
When Jesus returns, there will be no mistaking Him, but it will be too late for those who have not chosen to accept His redemption; payment will be due. Each person will either pay for his sins with his own blood and eternal death where there is, as Jesus described, weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28, Mtt 8:12, Mtt 13:42 and 50, Mtt 22:13,Mtt 24:51, Mtt 25:30) or he will have accepted Jesus blood payment and receive eternal life, where Jesus will wipe every tear and there will be no pain (Revelation 21:4). So it is important that we understand the truth, recognize the signs that will warn us that the End Times are here and that The Day of the LORD, which is the day when Jesus returns and brings judgement to the nations, is near. If we’re afraid, if we’re ignorant of the facts, or we are passive about the truth, we will miss the chance to bring people to Christ, lead them to understanding and ease their fears about what to expect.
In verses 6-8 of Matthew 24 which we are reading today Jesus gave the next signs to watch for. He said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” Wars are increasing, rumors that wars will break out are increasing. Just the other day I heard someone say that the U.S. will have to go to war against North Korea if the president passes the laws he wants to pass. That is a rumor of war. Social media, online news services, radio, and television all contribute to this increase in rumor of wars. There are many wars across the globe and that will only increase. This, Jesus says, is not the end yet, it is the beginning of the end, the birth pains. There are more signs.
Persecution of Christians will be grow, Christians will be turned in for following Christ, for speaking the truth and spreading the Gospel. Matthew 24:9-14 exhorts Christians to be aware.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Many Christians will let the persecution and tribulation cause them to fall away, to give in to false doctrines, follow false prophets, and false teachers. They will betray those who were once considered close friends, brothers, and sisters. Just as Jesus was betrayed by his close friend, Judas before his crucifixion(Psalm 41:9, John 13:18), many Christians will be betrayed and handed over to be imprisoned, tortured, and perhaps killed for their faith. Some will let their love, the demonstration and manifestation of Jesus through His Holy Spirit grow cold because of all the sin in the world. I’ve seen this beginning to happen. The crime, the nearly daily mass shootings such as The Pulse club in Orlando and the Bataclan Theatre in Paris, sex trafficking and drugs cause people to lose their passion for Christ, to look to the world and despair for themselves rather than look to Jesus and cry out for justice for the lost and the victims. When that happens they start considering the doubts the thief puts in their minds, “Why would God do this?” Oh, Dear Mourning Friend, God didn’t do it, broken and sinful man did it. But it’s not all doom and gloom; look at Jesus’ encouragement to us. First, if we persevere, if we do not fall away from faith and give into the pressures of persecution, betrayal, and despair we will be saved. On the Day of the LORD, we will be taken up with Jesus and resurrected if we are sleeping (physically dead but not eternally), and be united with our Bridegroom, Christ Jesus.
What a joy that day will be for us! It is the hope that keeps us able to endure and empowers us to be patient. But my lovely family, we cannot merely consider ourselves, there are so many who are lost, who can’t see the love of God because no one has shown them the love of Christ, helped them hear the call of the Father, or demonstrated to them the beauty of the Holy Spirit. He loves them. And so he also encourages us in Matthew 24:14 as a result of our endurance, salvation, and hope,
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
On the Day of the LORD, every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord. But not everyone will be bent and confessing in awe-filled worship; some will be bent in terror and confessing too late as they realize their fate. Listen to the way that the LORD-God describes it to Isaiah in Isaiah 45:22-25.
“Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
24 “Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
are righteousness and strength;
to him shall come and be ashamed
all who were incensed against him.
25 In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
shall be justified and shall glory.”
In the fourteenth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, verses 7-12 he exhorted them to unity, edification, and support of one another and said,
“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess[to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
You are responsible for the life you lead. You are responsible for living a life worthy of the high price Jesus paid for it. But you aren’t alone in the world. There are lost waiting to hear the good news of Jesus. There are brothers falling away. There are sisters whose love is growing cold. Is your life a testimony to Jesus? Are you collaborating with God and fulfilling His will that none should perish? We will answer for what we did and what we did not do.
There are more warning signs we should learn so that we will recognize the season of the End Times. Though Jesus said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). We are commanded to know the season by the signs we have been told about throughout the Bible. In Matthew 24:32-35 Jesus said,
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
We are starting to see the signs come to pass, though not every one of them has yet, it may be that we are the generation or our children or grandchildren, but people, get ready, Jesus is coming!
Matthew 24 includes more signs we will look at tomorrow. Some of these signs are increasing on the earth, some are coming soon. But it is imperative that we understand without fear of the enemy but fear of the LORD as He so lovingly lets us in on His great plan. And Brothers and Sisters, the end is a happy one. Even if the narrative has its ups and downs, the story one of steady hope and enduring love. Do not be afraid, The LORD your God is with you.