Summary: As we approach the chaos of the end of the age, stay true to the Lord, stay calm in the crisis, and stay strong in the faith.
To start a discussion on core values, a youth pastor in Saskatchewan, Canada, asked his youth group: “What would you do if your doctor told you that you had only 24 hours to live?” The students talked about being with friends and family, and the discussion seemed headed in the right direction. But then, Jason, a 13-year-old student said, “I'd get a second opinion” (Donna Spratt, Melfort, Saskatchewan, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader).
As we look at our world, it seems that we are coming to the end of an age: Covid has changed our world. There is a lot more unrest and political turmoil these days. People are protesting everywhere, and prices continue to soar, along with the violent crime rate in many of our major cities.
Amidst all the crisis, people have various responses. Some panic, some rebel, and some just want a second opinion, hoping the bad news will go away.
How does Jesus want you to respond to all this? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Matthew 24, Matthew 24, where Jesus talks about the end of the age and how He wants His followers to respond.
Matthew 24:1-2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (ESV)
Those stones were so massive, that this seemed impossible! They were taller than I am and nearly 10-12 feet wide. Master stone masons had polished them smooth and generously decorated them with gold (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 15.11.3-7).
The Temple itself was huge, covering about 1/6th of the city of Jerusalem. And its builders built it to last forever, because Herod intended it to be a permanent monument to himself.
The building certainly impressed Jesus’ disciples. They were Galileans, men of the country, fishermen who knew the lakeside far better than they knew the city. William Barclay suggests that some of them “would be like people from the country coming... to... New York” for the first time (Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew). If you can remember your first trip to the big city, you have a sense of what Jesus’ disciples felt looking at that massive Temple.
The sight staggered them, but Jesus tells them something even more staggering: One day, someone or something would completely destroy that temple. Jesus’ disciples couldn’t believe it, so when they climb the hill opposite the Temple, they ask Him about it.
Matthew 24:3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (ESV)
They ask Jesus three questions: When will these things be? What will be the sign of your coming? And what will be the sign of the end of the age? In the rest of the chapter, Jesus answers all three questions in reverse order. This morning we’ll look at Jesus’ answer to the last question: What will be the sign of the end of the age? It starts in verse 4. Take a look!
Matthew 24:4-5 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. (ESV)
During every time of crisis, people arise, who promise to save the world, but Jesus warns His followers to disregard them. Ensure that no one leads you astray, He says. And...
Look only to Jesus for deliverance, because Jesus is the world’s only Messiah; Jesus is the world’s only Savior and King. Ignore any other so-called “savior.” For during the end of the age, false christs will multiply.
Jesus identifies them as the first of several signs marking the end of the age. So does the book of Revelation. When the angel opens the first seal in Revelation 6, John sees a crowned conqueror, riding on a white horse (Revelation 6:1-2). He is the Antichrist (1 John 2:18), a world ruler, who will promise peace to Israel when he confirms a 7-year peace treaty with them (Daniel 9:27). That marks the beginning of 7-years of tribulation, the first 3½ of which are relatively peaceful. Then, halfway into his 7-year treaty with Israel, the Antichrist will break that treaty, desecrate their temple, and institute a reign of terror over the whole world (Daniel 9:27; Revelation 12:6; 13:5).
He will be the ultimate deceiver, promising peace and salvation in a time of crisis, but ultimately bringing in war, famine, and death. At that time, believers will have to resist his lies. But at any time, you must resist the lies of anyone who claims to be your savior. Trust only Jesus for deliverance. Trust only Jesus to get you through the crisis, whatever it is.