Summary: Jesus gives us a glimpse into the future and the end of time
Early Edition Series: Matthew 24:1-14
January 18, 2009
One of my favorite television shows in the mid nineties was Early Edition. The show was built around the premise that an ordinary guy named Gary Hobson would receive a newspaper each morning. The paper was different because it was tomorrows news today. Gary would get the paper and have all of the news for the day one day ahead. He knew everything that was going to happen and would use his information to prevent tragedies, stop accidents, rescue hurting people and literally save the day.
What would you be able to do, if you got tomorrows news today? You could win the lottery. You could play the stock market. You could avoid disasters, rescue the hurting, or even get ahead in life yourself. The thought of tomorrows news today is more than a little silly because we all know that cannot happen or can it?
I firmly believe that we have been given a glimpse into what the future holds but we do not know when it will happen. It may be today, it may be tomorrow. We have been given timeless truths from the master of time itself. In essence, we have been given an Early Edition by Jesus Himself.
When considering the End Times there are a multitude of theories and schools of thought. There are the pre-tribulation teachers, mid-tribulation teachers and the post-tribulation teachers. There are teachers who focus on aspects of Revelation, others focus on Daniel and still others focus on various minor prophets of the Old Testament. This myriad of theories alone creates and causes confusion. I have seen a great deal of outlandish teaching as I began this study and I find it deeply disturbing. One teacher claimed that car headlights were predicted in the New Testament as a sign of Christ’s return and the end times.
Whenever you read anything about prophecy any Bible teacher, always measure what they claim with scripture. With recent events in Israel and an increasing interest in prophecy I wanted to examine again the message of the end times. Instead of studying a variety of theories, list of prophecies or deciphering a multitude of metaphors, I wanted to get back to the very basics of what we understand with the End of Time. These basics are found in chapter 24 of the gospel of Matthew.
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. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:1-14
As we begin looking at Matthew chapter 24, we need to understand some thing going on in the background.
Jesus is clearly preparing the disciples for His death and resurrection. By sharing some of the events, Jesus is giving the disciples hope while waiting for His return. It is important to remember that the disciples do not understand that Jesus is going to die. When the disciples ask this question, the resurrection was the last thing on their mind. In fact, it was not on their mind at all.
The disciples were concerned about the earthly reign of the Messiah. Why was this such a concern? The disciples were the inner circle of Jesus and when He came to power, they would as well. How can we know this was their thinking?