With the positioning of Russia and China, the tension between Israel and Iran, and a recent worldwide pandemic, people are curious about the End Times. Nearly 2 in 5 Americans, including half of U.S. Christians and a quarter of the religiously unaffiliated, say we’re living in the end times.[i] When I was young, churches had Prophecy Conferences and preachers preached on final events. Today, the devil has successfully gotten Christians so dividedover details of the second coming that the church dodges the subject all together. Since the obvious is true, we are closer than we have ever been, we must be teaching the next generation about the End Times. As we begin to study this topic, we’ll start with the red-letter words of Jesus.
In Matthew 24:3, Jesus’ disciples plainly asked him, “What is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus did not rebuke them but rewarded them with the answer. While faithful, bible-believing preachers disagree on the interpretation of this passage, there is a clear theme: Are You Ready? Are you ready for what will happen in this next season? Are you ready for what will happen in the next chapter? Are you ready for what will happen next week, next year? Jesus is not giving us every detail, but He is preparing us for what the future holds.
A Time of Deception
Jesus begins his answer by saying, “Watch out that no one deceives you,” and then explains that people will claim to be the Messiah and there will be wars and rumors of wars (v. 4-7). This was true leading up to the destruction of the temple in AD 70 and it will be even more true leading up to the return of Christ. Jesus said this is to be expected, and it is not the end, but just the beginning of the end. A time of deception calls for discernment.
A Time of Persecution
In verses 9-13 Jesus warns the disciples that they will be persecuted, killed, and hated because of Him. Persecution will be both governmental and personal. It began with the disciples in the book of Acts and continued throughout church history. The current climate in our country is they don’t just disagree with Christians; they will hate you. They are tolerant of any belief but intolerant toward Jesus. Biblical truth is called hate speech. If they don’t kill you, they will cancel or censor you. The name of Jesus is offensive in our culture. “Lawlessness” describes the evening news. Verse 14 says the “good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” We have a responsibility to take the gospel message to all nations, all people groups. Though persecution will come, we watch, wait, and work!
A Time of Tribulation
As the passage continues, we read about the “abomination of desolation.” The phrase occurs three times in Daniel. It was fulfilled in AD70 when Roman General Titus entered the Temple. It was fulfilled in 167BC when the Syrian Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig on the altar and set up an altar to Zeus which led to the Maccabean Revolt.[ii]These two foreshadow a future event in the End Times before the Second Coming when the “man of lawlessness,” the Anti-Christ, does the same. This has both historical and eschatological meaning (see Dan 7:23-26; 9:25-26; 2 Thess 2:3-4, 8-9; Rev 13:1-10,14-15). We let Scripture interpret Scripture. As horrible as the destruction of the temple was, we have not seen anything yet! It does not compare to the tribulation to come. However, look at God’s compassion for the women and children in verses 19-22. Even in wrath, God extends grace by limiting the tribulation period. We live in a broken world. There will be troubles, trials, and tribulation, but the worst is yet to come.
A Time of Expectation
Verses 29-31 further describe the end. This is more than the simple destruction of the temple. The temple and Jerusalem are not mentioned. “Those days” refers to after the tribulation. Just as sure as the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of the Temple, you can be certain the ultimate fulfillment of these verses will be fulfilled. Jesus is coming again! The Bible teaches the Sudden, Personal, Visible, Bodily return of Christ. Both events Jesus tells us about will happen. One already has happened and the other will most certainly happen. In a world that seems out of control, Holy God is in firm control. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (v. 35).
Are you ready?
___________________________ https://research.lifeway.com/2022/12/08/2-in-5-americans-believe-we-are-in-the-end-times/  Christ Centered Exposition, Akin pg 311