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Jesus Tells About the Future
Matthew 24:1-13 (Pastor Heo)
Signs of the End of the Age
24:1-51pp — Mk 13:1-37; Lk 21:5-36
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many. 6 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. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
The last verse says, “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Truly, the saved will stand firm to the end.)
Jesus tells about the future –
- the very near future,
- a little farther,
- and the far future.
This was spoken on the Tues, or Wed of the week before his crucifixion.
This was Jesus’ last visit to the temple area. After this, Jesus would do no more preaching or public teaching. At this moment, one disciple pointed out the temple buildings remarking on their incredible beauty (Mark 13:1 “One of the disciples said to Jesus, ‘Look teacher! What massive stones and what magnificent buildings!’”) Actually, we don’t know what this temple looked like at that time, but it was considered one of the architectural wonders of its time (this was not Solomon’s temple – which was destroyed in the 7th century BC by the Babylonians). This temple was Ezra’s – rebuilt after the return from Babylon. It was defiled by … and the cleansed by the Macabbees. Then beautified by Herod the Great. So, this temple was incredibly beautiful – but Herod had no care for the Jewish God – he just wanted to build a lasting monument for his dynasty.
Actually, the Jews hated Herod, but were proud of this building – this temple was actually under construction at this time. It wasn’t just one building – but many (possibly similar to one of the palaces in Seoul?). Not only because of the stability of this construction, but also because this was their “show” of God being with them, the Jews were proud of this. However, Jesus saw this as the emptiness of religion.
John – Jesus cleansed the temple – “Destroy this building and I will rebuild it in 3 days” (he spoke of his body – the Lord of the temple is Christ). However, the people said, “It took 46 years to build this – how can you rebuild it in 3 days?”
Jesus said, “not one stone will be left upon another” – this was a SHOCKING and startling statement. This means the temple would be totally and completely destroyed – just like in the days of Jeremiah, this was to be God’s judgment against their turning away from God. Jeremiah had also spoken a prophecy in this same manner “I will destroy Jerusalem.”
Of course long ago Babylon had attacked and LEVELED Babylon – and now Jesus is prophesying the same kind of thing about the temple.
Actually, this happened just a few years later in 70 AD when the Romans attacked it. The Romans fulfilled his prophecy to the letter. Emperor Titus ordered the leveling of the temple as the fire burned around it. So, no part of it remained. Actually, Titus considered this punishment for the Jewish rebellion from 64 AD – 66 AD.
This word of Jesus was both theological and systematic. The sovereign judgment of God was to fall upon the people of Jerusalem – just as had happened once before. They were very shocked by his prophecy.
The disciples asked him about this privately – their questions had 2 parts:
- When will this happen (destruction of the temple/Jerusalem)? (This part is finished)
- When will the Messiah come and reign?
At that time, the disciples expected the Messiah to inaugurate his kingdom. So they wanted a sign. (Please, don’t ask for, look for, want signs – if we are only looking for signs, this is very dangerous according to Christ’s teaching.)
So, Jesus spoke of some near and far events happening before his coming, – without putting them in chronological order. Some are near events, some are far events. One event (the destruction of the temple) has already been fulfilled, and some are yet to come.
To us, this looks like a very LONG time, but to God “one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day” (2? Peter).
“Watch out” – we are living at the edge of the Last Days.
If we are conscious of this, we must WATCH OUT. – so that no one deceives us (false prophets).
There are 4 “many”s here:
- Many will come in my name claiming “I am the Christ”
- They will deceive many
You know – there is that Scripture in the Bible that says (Acts 1:11: “This same Jesus Christ that has been taken from you will come back in the same way he was taken from you.” Revelation “Jesus will come in the clouds so that every eye will see him.”) – So, actually, we don’t need to wonder “who is the Christ?” because it will be VERY clear at that time.
WATCH OUT that no one deceives you. Remember, whenever we look out for signs, we become susceptible to deception because there are many counterfeit signs around us. When we look, look, look, we eventually find – whether it is truth or not.
Please focus on Christ IN the Bible – not outside the Bible. “Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” (Hebrews)
Do you understand and agree that we are living in the Last Days? What is the sign of the beginning of the end?
Earthquakes, famines, wars, rumors of wars…
When was the beginning of the Last Days?
Remember, living in South Korea, we often hear of rumors of wars – it’s one of the most dangerous places in the world. “See to it that you are not alarmed – the end is still to come.”
Natural disasters in various places – these are the beginnings of the birth pains.
When was the beginning of the end?
Some may say Jesus crucifixion or resurrection was the beginning of the Last Days, but ACTUALLY, Genesis 3 – the Fall of Man – “original sin” was the BEGINNING of the Last Days.
In Genesis 3, “If you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will surely die.” – Yet, he did not die. He lived up to 930 years old. BUT, the moment he ate of that fruit, he started to die… The moment he ate, he was on the way to death…
Immediately after that chapter, there was war, fighting, hatred between 2 brothers – and the first murder, the ground was cursed (Genesis 4~) – after the Fall of Man, the ground has produced thorns and thistles – there have been natural disasters, floods (Noah), earthquakes, famines (Joseph + Abraham).
You see, after the Fall of the first Man, these are the beginnings of the birth pains (also God told the woman her pain would be increased in giving birth). Yet, no matter how chaotic this world may seem, God is in control.
If you hate somebody, you are not a good man. But, if you are a good man, you may be persecuted. Since the Fall of Man, human history is like this. All the time, bad men persecute and kill good men. This is the beginning of human history.
Yes, we know that Jesus, the BEST man of good men, was persecuted severely and crucified on the cross for our sins. Thus, the Bible says, “Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness – blessed are you when people curse you and persecute you because of me – in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5)
Yes, please remember, in this world, there is no easy way for discipleship – it not easy to live holy life in this unholy world. There is no easy way to keep us clean in this unclean, defiled world.
Are you persecuted?
Maybe we are not facing INTENSE, life-threatening persecution, but please remember that on this earth, there are MANY Christians around the world BEING intensely persecuted for the faith in Christ. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ – we must pray for them and ask God what we can do to help them. Why? “when one part suffers, every part suffers with it – but when one part benefits, every part benefits with it” (Corinthians?)
The Bible encourages us to love God, love our brothers and sisters, love our neighbors, love our enemies. But this world tempts us all the time to “love yourself”, love money, love pleasure.
Tribulation – there WILL be. This chapter is all about Great Tribulation at the Last Days. BUT, please remember, in the spiritual world, TRUTH remains TRUTH, Falsehood remains False.
We must remember all the time, TRUE faith cannot be turned into FALSE faith no matter the circumstances.
The faith turning away because of persecution was FALSE faith at the beginning. False faith at the end was false faith at the beginning. Be encouraged! ANY tribulation and suffering cannot change true faith to false – it merely REVEALS what was originally true or false.
From this last part, we can know that salvation and justification is no escape from the trials and sufferings of this world. Instead, trials help us to come CLOSER to our Lord, and to become MORE like Christ in our character and personality.
“Tribulation” as a word = from Latin “tribulun” – this means a heavy piece of timber (wood) with spikes in it used for stretching the grain – it separated the wheat from the chaff (garbage). As we go through tribulation, trials only PURIFY us and get rid of our chaff. This is the literal meaning of “tribulation.” (So, perhaps we shouldn’t fear this – welcome it?)
We are living in the last days, but we need not fear because God is all the time in control, just, faithful, righteous. Romans 5 “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God and we rejoice in our suffering because it produces patience, character (maturity), and we are NOT disappointed – because God pours out his love through the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us.”
This is why we can be joyful in ANY circumstances we face in this world.