OUR CORE TASK DEFINED
Lord, thank You for disclosing to Your people things to come.
Read MATTHEW 24:3–14
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 Messiah,’ 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 the one 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.
New International Version (NIV)
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“The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (Isa. 52:10).
We now begin Matthew’s version of the Olivet Discourse. In Mark’s Gospel, the disciples’ question focuses purely on the fall of Jerusalem. Matthew recalls this discussion with a twofold edge: “Tell us… when will this happen [the temple destruction], and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (3). Hence, for Matthew, what follows encompasses both the fall of Jerusalem and the culmination of the age.
Jesus then discloses a range of things that must happen (6). There will be false Christs and prophets who lead many astray, international conflicts, famines, and earthquakes. Christians will suffer persecution, and many will fall away. Lawlessness will grow. Love will diminish. It is futile to ransack Scripture in a foolish effort to predict the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, for these phenomena have gone on every day across the globe since Jesus uttered these words. Further, as Jesus will soon spell out, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (36).
So what are we to do? One given sign stands out—“this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (14, ESV). This is our task—the great commission—the culmination of the Gospel. We are not to try to decode the Bible to find the date of the second coming; rather, we are to share Christ and make disciples in every nation. We may suffer as we do so, but this must not thwart us (9). We are not to be led astray (4,11) or yield to lawlessness and lovelessness (12). We are to endure to the end and receive our salvation (13). How do we do it? By obeying Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s Gospel.
Pray for our world. Pray for persecuted Christians. Pray that God’s people are protected from deception. Pray for the completion of the great commission. Be part of the solution.
Lord, amidst all the chaos, violence and overall uncertainty that precedes Your return, keep Your people in the palm of Your hand as we trust You for our well-being.