The Beginning of the End


Matthew 24:1-8
1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” 3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

This passage is a well known one and it seems to be quoted more and more.  I wonder, however, if this passage was quoted just as often during the world wars or even the Vietnam conflict or the Cold War.  Terrible and frightful events have we witnessed and lived through over the past century yet we still refer to this passage.  How easy is it, I wonder, to read verse 8 and let it sink in?  It’s merely the beginning!  Imagine how the church felt and reflected upon this as Jerusalem was burnt to the ground and taken over by Babylon.  How long will we be in the beginning of the birth pangs?

In retrospect, we can certainly see that since Jesus prophesied this, things have gotten worse.  There are constant battles against false prophets in our day.  There are multiple wars being fought on multiple continents.  Nations are rising against each other and the earth is overall more violent.  We see more earthquakes and famines and floods and droughts.  The world is falling apart in chaos around us.  Jesus says, “see that you are not frightened, for these things must take place.”  In reading the scriptures and the promises of what God has in store for us in the end, I wonder if we are really committed to withstanding all that will come before it.  Jesus says it is something necessary, whether we agree with it or not.  One thing is clear: it is worth the struggle.  But are we ready for the struggle?

I’m sure during the holocaust many believers thought it was a sign of everything coming to an end and by now they thought Christ would have returned.  We must remember that our job as the body of believers is not to figure out when that day will be, but remain faithful to His calling until that day comes.  The signs give us hope that we are moving in the right direction.  Things will for sure get worse and amidst the calamity we are called to be the light amidst the darkness and the hope among the hopeless.  Are you fulfilling this calling?

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