When is the end?
Matthew 24 begins with Jesus and His disciples in Jerusalem. The disciples stopped to admire the Temple. During this time, Jews found their identification in the Temple—it was the image of who they were, where they came from, and it set them apart from the nations around them. The disciples where honored to be there, and possibly, there was an element of pride for them in that Temple.
Then Jesus dashes their pride and sort of gives them a spiritual slap when he tells them it can be torn down in three days so destructively that not even one stone would be left on another. They didn’t say a word. They were shocked. Jesus just described the unimaginable to them. They walked in silence.
Of course, as they walked, they were certainly doing a lot of thinking. When they reached the Mount of Olives, the place where Jesus would one day return and split Jerusalem Himself, they asked three questions:
1. “When will these things be?”
2. “What will be the sign of your coming?”
3. “What will be the sign of the end of the age?”
Jesus was careful to not set dates, in fact he emphatically states twice in verses 36 and 42 that no man, only the Father, knows the day and the hour, and in verse 44 He states that He is coming at an unexpected hour. But, even with that said, the purpose of this discourse in Matthew 24 was to answer the question, “When?”
Although the exact date is not revealed, the season of the unfolding of these end time events can and should be detected. Take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6:
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness.”
Paul is telling us, if we are Christians who remain until the end time unfolds, we will not be taken by surprise. Jesus says in Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I am coming as a thief,” but He is speaking about His second coming which takes place well after the rapture of the Church.
God in His mercy and love obligates Himself by His very character to warn the world of the imminent return of His son and of the approaching end times. Revelation 19:11 states that Jesus is returning in great wrath to “judge and war,” but God never pours out His wrath without warning. He does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance. Through Noah, He warned the world for 120 years, Sodom and Gomorrah were warned through Abraham, God sent Jonah to warn Nineveh, and then sent Nahum again to Nineveh 150 years later. God’s method of warning as established throughout the Bible is through “signs of the times” and He is using signs to indicate the end of the age as well. Unfortunately, not all heed His warnings.
How is God warning earthlings? What is He doing to warn us? What do you think?