Matthew 24- Does Anyone Know What Time It Is?
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
In Matthew 24 and 25 we see Jesus speaking about the future, about his second coming, about the tribulation that will precede his second coming, about the persecution against his disciples and how false prophets will arise, and many signs concerning the second coming. We can see these chapters, deal with prophecy. Chapter 25 deals with how we can be prepared for that coming. It is very interesting to see where Matthew 24 comes. Matthew 24 comes between Chapter 23 and chapter 25.
And that's the right place it should come in. In other words, if we don't understand Matthew 23 to be free from hypocrisy and Phariseeism, then there is no use studying prophecy, in Matthew 24 if you're not interested in the truths of Matthew 25. because Matthew 25 deals with how we can be spiritually prepared for the second coming of Christ. Now the reason I mentioned this is that many people are interested in Matthew 24 who are not so interested in Matthew 23 or 25, and that's very unhealthy spiritually. It's very dangerous because you can have an interest, an unhealthy interest, in prophecy. And because of this I want to warn you against an unhealthy interest in prophecy. How does it become unhealthy? When you are not sufficiently interested in freedom from hypocrisy. When you're not interested in purity and goodness and humility and love and in following Jesus in your daily life. If you have know interests in these things and you're still interested in prophecy, then your interest in prophecy is unhealthy.
Matthew 24 comes between Matthew 23 and Matthew 25 and if you want to understand it and it's correct perspective, read it as a chapter in the middle of Matthew 23 and 25.
It's exactly the same when it comes to spiritual gifts. When you read I Corinthians chapter 12,13 and 14 you can have an unhealthy interest in spiritual gifts. For example, when you read I Corinthians 12 and I Corinthians 14 and forget about the fact that I Corinthians 13 comes in the middle. I Corinthians 13 is all about love. And if you have gifts without love your gifts are worthless. It could be the other way around. You could have such an interest in love that you despise spiritual gifts. Well that's equally wrong because I Corinthians 13 comes in between I Corinthians 12 and I Corinthians 14 which deals with gifts. It is very wonderful to see the balance in scripture. And to take verses out of context, and chapters out of context is the surest way to go astray.
Whenever you read the scriptures read it in the context.
Whenever you read a verse, read it in its context. Whenever you read a chapter, read it in its context, read what goes before and what goes afterwards. Particularly when you come to the Epistles. Remember that an epistle is like a letter. Say you get a letter from your father, you don't suddenly turn to page 12 and read that. You understand page 12 only if you have read the pages before page 12 and the pages after page 12. It's only in the context of the whole letter that you can understand the chapter or a verse. That's a fundamental principle of understanding scripture. And if you neglect this principal, you're going to go astray. And so Matthew 24 must never be taken by itself. It's preceded by this tremendous warning in Matthew 23, many warnings against hypocrisy, Pharisee-ism and spiritual pride.
When we have taken those warning seriously, when we have allowed Jesus who desires to gather us like a hen gathers her chicks, as we read in Matthew 21:37, we submit to that and come to him. Then we are prepared to understand something about prophecy.
Now let us look at verse 3 of Matthew 24:"The disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.”
When is the temple going to be destroyed? When will these things be?
Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple and the disciples asked him three questions. First, “When will these things be? That is the destruction of this temple, this temple which I see here now in front of me.”
That's what the disciples was asking. And secondly, what would be the sign of your second coming and what will be the sign of the end of the world? You see, these are three different times altogether. The temple was destroyed 40 years after Jesus' ascension in the 70th year, 80 AD. His second coming is still in the future, I believe very close now, but I believe that at the end of the age is going to be at the end of the millennium and the end of the thousand years when eternity begins, which we read of in Revelation chapter 21 and 22. So these are three different periods altogether and they asked him concerning all three and Jesus gave an answer and we need to understand that these are answers that Jesus gave to these questions. The very first thing that he said concerning his second coming and prophecy in relation to the future, is very interesting. This is the very first thing that he said in verse four. "Take heed that no man deceive you." The first warning he gave was against deception. There's going to be a tremendous amount of deception in the last days.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Imagine, that there are going to be people who are going to come and say, I am the Messiah. They're going to get people to follow after them. They're not going to lead people to be joined to the true Pope, Gods Prime Minister on earth, and to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church. They're going to get people to be joined to them.
Another warning he gave was "ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."
What do we read on the news sites these days? Exactly what Jesus refers to.
"Wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom”
Those things are happening all around us. And there is no use praying that these things won't happen because Jesus said these things will happen. But he did say, don't be afraid. If you're a child of God, the hairs on your head are numbered. You are of more value than many sparrows. Nothing can touch you until God permits it. We need to be established in that faith in these last days. And further he said, in verse seven, "there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." That's another thing we read online these days. There are famines in different parts of the world. People dying of famine, not just in tens and hundreds, but in thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands, shortage of food, earthquakes with tens of thousands people being buried alive. These are all going to take place and it's going to increase. As we approach the end and we see these things happen, the word of God says "don't be frightened, don't be afraid. The hairs on your head are numbered”
And he said about these things that “All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
When you see these things, that's not the end, that's just the beginning, it's the beginning of the end let's say. And what excites us is that these things are an indication that our bridegroom is coming. And if we are ready, we shall be taken up for that marriage.
And here is something else that's going to happen during the last days. Christians are going to be delivered up to tribulation.
Verses 9 and 10 say:
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Many people think we shall escape tribulation, and that Jesus will take us out of it.
But that's not what he taught here. He said, they will deliver you to afflictions, not deliver you out of it. You shall go into the tribulation being afflicted. They will kill you. You will be hated by all nations on account of my name. Now, some people say that's referring to the Jews. It cannot be, because the Jews are not hated on account of the name of Jesus. No, they may be hated for other reasons, but here it says you will be hated by all nations on account of my name. That's referring to all those who are disciples of Jesus. he says that all nations, not just some. Their are Christians, hated in some nations today, but not in all yet. But you will be hated by every nation if you're a true disciple of Jesus. Of course, if you're a compromiser, nobody will hate you, but if you're a true disciple of Jesus, you will be hated by all nations and they will kill you.
Jesus never promised that we shall escape tribulation and escape persecution. But he did promise that he would give us peace and grace in the midst of tribulation. John 16:33 says, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer...” Don't get discouraged when these things happen. Verse ten says, "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another."
They will betray one another and they will hate one another, And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. This is the main warning that Jesus kept on repeating. You will be deceived. Be careful. Those are the days in which you are living.
Now we're coming up to those days more and more and deception is rampant. Be careful to be rooted in the word of God. And don't forsake the Church. As the book of Hebrews says, “Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” Be careful to be established in love. And be careful to be prepared for persecution so that when it comes, we shall not be surprised. And understand we shall receive grace from God in that time to stand true for the Lord.