To Add to the Problem
Text: Matthew 24 : 1 - 51
The “end times” would be tough indeed. Wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes were things that mankind has had to cope with throughout history! These problems would not let up!
As if these problems were not daunting enough, Jesus warned that there would be wicked people who would target believers and persecute them! When natural disasters occurred, some times the blame was laid upon certain groups of people. It was easy to play the blame game. (The emperors of Rome blamed the Christians for all the woes that the empire suffered and persecuted them. Nero was one of the most notorious of these emperors who persecuted the Christians).
Jesus surfaced yet another problem at this point of time. He knew that Satan would take advantage of the situation and he would send his servants to add to the problem.
“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
“Many false prophets”
The Apostle Paul took this thought up in his first epistle to his young protÃ©gÃ©, Timothy. He affirmed that demon activity was involved in the spread of false teachings!
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times
some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits
and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy,
having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.”
1 TIMOTHY 4:1-2
“And deceive many”
How effective would these false prophets be? The answer is “Very”! Those who were not well instructed would be deceived! Once again, we note that painful word “many”.
AN HONEST APPRAISAL
The “end times” would be marked by chaos. What with war, natural disasters, persecution and false prophets! How badly would these tough times affect “believers”?
“And because lawlessness will abound,
the love of many will grow cold.”
It would not be easy to survive the “end times”. When there is so much pain and suffering, when times are so hard, the love of many for the Lord “will grow cold”. It would be hard to maintain a close walk with the Lord. In ordinary circumstances, it is difficult to sustain a relationship of fervent faith and love. In extraordinary circumstances such as the “end times” it would be even more difficult to sustain a heart of love for the Lord. How many would be adversely affected? The solemn answer is ‘MANY’.
THE POINT OF THESE WORDS OF WARNING
Jesus painted a rather bleak picture of what would happen in the end times! (There are some who postulate otherwise). What was the point He was driving at? Let us ponder this word carefully to find the answer.
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
“He who endures”
This was the whole point that Jesus was driving at! “Endurance” was the key to survival in the “end times”. How should we understand this word?
1. If faith in Jesus really mattered
If there was genuine faith in Jesus, the believer would find that extra bit of resilience to bear with the worst of sufferings! Faith enables a person to endure and to persevere.
2. If love for Jesus really mattered
If there was genuine love for Jesus, the believer would find the reason and the strength to bear anything. Such is the power of love for the Saviour!
3. If trust is there
The disciples had come to believe and trust in Jesus. That trust would be put to the test in the most severe way. Their trust in Him must hold out against all odds!
4. The building of Endurance
Each time the believer conquers an obstacle or a setback, he builds endurance. Each trial endured would enable him to become even stronger in his faith.
DON’T LOSE FOCUS!
What should be the focus of the disciples as he grapples with the doctrine of the end times? Jesus offered an important, albeit difficult perspective.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world
as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Some interpret this as yet “another sign”. That might well be a sign. Yet the context would indicate that Jesus wanted His disciples to focus on reaching the world, rather than figuring out “the signs”. The disciples had an important message to bring to the world. It was a message of hope and salvation. The end will come in due course – but first the disciples must be gripped by the need to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Endurance and focus were two vital lessons the disciples must seek to master!