A little history: Jesus' disciples knew Jesus was the Christ, but there was one thing they could not comprehend. There are 3 instances in the Bible where Jesus prophecies about His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:17) and every time it is either responded with the disciples rebuking Him or just simply thinking He was a little crazy. They assumed that because He was the Christ, then He was going to go to Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government with force.
Now we pick up in Matthew 24:
The chapter begins with the disciples asking Jesus 3 questions and Jesus then spending the rest of the chapter answering their questions. Their questions:
a) When will these things be? (speaking of the buildings of the temple being destroyed so that "not one stone will be left on another."
b) What are the signs of Your coming?
c) What are the signs of the end of the age?
I will go over their last question tonight and cover the others later. Otherwise, this post will be super long!
Jesus does something interesting here and answers their questions in reverse order. He starts with explaining the signs of the end of the age. Jesus says, "For MANY will come in my name, claiming 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." As discussed in my previous post, there has been an huge rise in "new religions" this century (Branch Davidians, Jim Jones and that nutty guy in Miami who actually claims He is the Christ!). Many have been deceived by these people, some so much so that many have killed themselves for their false claims. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda has 100,000's of followers believing every word he says, including his claim that he is the man Christ Jesus. Again I will say that a lot of his followers are getting the numbers "666" tattooed on their bodies!
Jesus then mentions "wars and rumors of wars" and that "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." If you look through history over the past 100 years or so, you will see that this has been one of the most bloodiest centuries in human history. Over 150 million people have died in wars in this century alone! The Greek word for "nation" is ethnos. The word ethnos specifically refers to those of different racial groups and ethnicities rising against one another. Ever heard of the word genocide? This term describes the destruction of an ethnic, racial or religious groups. There have been close to 50 million people that have been killed in genocide during this past century. The Nazi Holocaust alone saw 6 million Jews killed by Hitler's regime. "Kingdom against kingdom" not only refers to earthly kingdoms, but also the opposition of spiritual forces (ie. kingdom of darkness versus the kingdom of light). The degree of spiritual activity (ie. spiritual warfare) I believe has increased exponentially in the past 10-20 years.
Jesus says, "There will be famines and earthquakes...". Other translations include pestilences, or incurable diseases. The Greek word for earthquakes is "seismos," which can also be translated into "tempests" or storms. Scientists believe that there has been a dramatic increase in seismic activity in the past century, but this can also be attributed to the development on better detection devices, but still, the fact still remains that there has been an increase. Also on the increase is the amount and severity of storms that pummel the shores of many nations (ie. Katrina, tsunamis, etc). The AIDS virus has killed over 25 million people in 25 years, and over 40 million people are infected. Researchers say that in Africa ALONE, the AIDS-related death toll could reach 100 million by the year 2025! And now we have this "super bug" (MRSA) that is claiming more and more lives.
Jesus then goes back to the subject of false prophets saying that they are going to deceive many. He also says that the level of wickedness is going to increase so much, that "the love of most will grow cold." To me, this is scary. This basically means that many "believers" are going to fall away and follow Satan. These "believers" will be those who do not seek after the heart of God and His truth, and their love of Jesus will fade away.
Finally, Jesus concludes his answer of the disciples' 3rd question with this: "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." A few weeks ago there was a conference called "The Call2All", and it involved hundreds of missions oganizations and prayer ministries. They got together to come up with a strategy to fulfill the Great Commission. During the conference, the president of Campus Crusade for Christ made this very bold statement:
"Absolutely, the Great Commission can be fulfilled in our lifetimes; from the way God is moving today, even without some terrific eye of faith, I have been persuaded it will be fulfilled in our lifetimes and I personally think in the next decade."
Jesus is saying, "Get ready for I am coming soon!" Don't just take what I am writing as the ultimate truth. Research, study, pray, get into the word, and see if the Lord confirms it in your spirit. But the point still remains, we need to fall in love with Jesus. All of the signs are pointing to this generation being THE generation that is going to see and play a vital role in the second coming of Jesus Christ. We must "stand firm to the end" and to do so, we need to understand the Father's heart and the blue prints He has laid out for us.
I'll say it again, we must fall in love with Jesus! Jesus has to be the life-blood of our very being. We cannot stand for the mediocre any more. The soon-to-be Revelation of Jesus MUST alter how we live our lives!
Next up: The disciples 2nd question...until then...
Grace and peace.