September 4

Matthew 23-24, Psalm 92

The topic of "end times" lends itself to extremes. The more prominent view is a complete lack of care as described would be the case in 2 Peter 3:3-4, "knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation"." The other extreme is the individual with the sandwich board and bullhorn, who looks like he hasn't changed his clothes in 6 months, standing on the street corner screaming doom to all those passing by. In Matthew 24:3 we read, "...the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?" We see Jesus will present a balanced view, continually telling them and us, to take heed and stay alert.
 
Much of what Jesus discusses involves the period of the Tribulation, but He begins by warning them what to expect before this time. We read in Matthew 24:4-8, "...Take heed that no one deceives you. for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ', and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." The last phrase is also rendered the beginning of birth pangs, which is so applicable if you have ever been in or witnessed a woman in labor. It's easy to look at this and see it as relatively generic, almost applying to every generation. But if we look at the facts surrounding some of these issues they are eye opening. Concerning earthquakes, in 1976 a geological survey team noted a change in the tectonic plates resulting in a greater frequency of earthquakes. To be specific, the number of earthquakes in 1973: 4539, in 2000: 19,131. in 2010: 23,040, in 2013: 89,622 and in the first 9 months of 2014: 82,324. The strength of earthquakes have also been increasing. Concerning the following of false Messiahs, the setting is ripe since we live in the most Biblically illiterate generation ever. Matthew 24:9-14, goes on to discuss worsening persecution. It is estimated that 70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith since the time of Jesus. Interestingly, 65% of that number have been martyred in the last century. There is much more, such as Israel becoming a nation after nearly 1900 years. Israel had to be a Jewish nation again for the Tribulation to occur as written the book of Revelation.
 
We don't know the time or hour as Jesus says in 24:26, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." So, we don't know the time, but we are to stay alert for nothing is really left on the timetable which is far from being fulfilled. We must remember that we are never to fear, for we are ambassadors of earth, but citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). But Jesus concludes the subject with multiple examples: like the days of Noah (24:37-39), the faithful and evil servant in 24:45-51) and the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. The point is what will we be doing when He comes, since we know He is indeed coming. There are no vacations from our walk with God. Knowing this, and knowing how many we know who are not saved, we should be vigilant in spreading the message with all our heart while there is still time.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster