Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 24:5 (Holman) “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am
the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many.”
Jesus the true Messiah brings truth to us. Refusing His message makes us susceptible to false messiahs. One punishment for not following Jesus’ lead is; we are in danger of following the lead of quacks. Satan counterfeits every aspect of Christianity, including even the proper leadership to follow.
For love, Satan offers lust; for marriage, cohabitation; for peace, presumption; for good parental discipline, abuse or neglect. Listening to anyone other than Jesus carries within itself its own terrible penalties.
In our country, atheists, secularists, and skeptics theorized if we would cast off Judeo-Christian adherence to the Bible we would dispense with childishness and cockamamy notions. Instead, rather than being more rational and reasonable, people have become more superstitious and silly.
As our culture slips farther away from Bible values, are any of us seeing improvements in our social environments? Do we see any betterment yet in the status of marriage, or is the divorce rate still at the astronomical heights it sadly reached over the last several years? Are we seeing less mental illness, or are our counselors’ case loads still so large that they are booked up so far in advance that many who need help cannot access it?
How well are we doing in convincing our youth of the dangers of drug abuse; are we getting better or worse at this? Is the plight of single moms still abysmal and worsening? Is the role of men now better defined, or is macho still the new norm, along with absent dads? How about road rage, and anger management—are these getting better? Did forsaking the Bible help us in parenting skills, family life, manners, and kindness? I don’t think so.
Bible opponents said, “If we take Jesus out of the equation, things will get better”. Well, we for sure sidelined the Bible and Christ. I submit that the result has been that our social interactions have generally grown unhealthier.
Matt. 24:6 You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that
you are not alarmed, because these things must take place,
but the end is not yet.
Obviously, since the end has not come, we are in the “not yet”. We do not know how evil Earth will have to become for God to finally destroy it.
In the meantime, wars will rage nearby and faraway, a reminder the world is not going to improve. The Jimmy Carter Center for World Peace tracks all wars being fought in the world. At least 25 are being waged now.
Till Jesus comes, no groups of people will ever be exempt from war or the threat of fighting. Wars will rage for racial, ethnic, and political reasons. Nations will use war to gain revenge, more land, water, food, oil, and power.
The evils of war continue to increase in scope and intensity, and will keep doing so till Jesus returns. Technology has made humans the masters of mass destruction. Armies now number tens of millions of soldiers. We have for seventy years lived under the shadow of the Mushroom Cloud.
The Wright Brothers thought inventing a flying machine would end all wars. They lived long enough to see they were dead wrong. How ironic–what they meant for peace actually delivered the atomic bomb. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite. As it began to be used in war, his conscience so smote him that he left his estate to establish the Peace Prize named in his honor.
World War I was fought to end all wars, but instead set the stage for the worst war ever, World War II. The world more and more sounds like it is coming unglued. Jesus warned us this would happen. Sin will grind on in dissonant discord until the world’s final conclusion, whenever that happens.
But remember, even as things grow worse, we are not to be alarmed. No hysteria. Dear believer, don’t get too distraught over any news we hear.
Expect ISIS and persecution of Christ-followers. Don’t be caught off guard. “A very crescendo of evil must not discourage us” (Barclay).
Fix our hearts on God. Don’t think for one second God has abandoned Earth. This domain has been temporarily usurped, but is still ultimately His territory. Jesus is our only hope of fixing what has gone haywire.
He is not abandoning His people or the rest of humanity. He intervenes. What He did at Bethlehem in flesh, He continues to do in spirit.
Trust Him. Though all perdition break loose, trust Him. Even if Jerusalem and the temple fall to ashes–which they did–the world will not end with this. Even if the USA falls, the world will not necessarily end.
Matt. 24:7a For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against
At Babel, God divided the world into languages. This led to the beginning of distinct people groups and governments. God felt a scattered world, divided into separate governments, was the best way to limit and slow down evil. This system helps contain evil–it can break out in one place, yet be subdued in another. People have a chance to be protected by a government in their current setting, or to flee its jurisdiction. Jesus said, “When they persecute you in one town, escape to another” (MT 10:23a). Life is not a throwaway item. Every life is precious. Preserve it any way we can without denying Christ. Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt. John Calvin fled France twice. The Pilgrims fled, and we are beneficiaries of their flight. Evil often is not self-contained in a nation, and does spill over the borders, but the “government concept” is our best hope. God gave this system to bless us.
Christianity teaches one spiritual bond among believers, but does not seek a citizenry gathered under one political government. Christianity tries to help make Earth better, but realizes how messed up the world really is.
Believers ought not be Pollyannaish. For instance, should we press for peace in the Middle East? Yes but maybe we should not be overly optimistic that anyone will soon be able to overcome 4000 years of inbred hate.
Matt. 24:7b There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
In addition to wars, terrible natural calamities will happen. Famines, which often precede, accompany, and follow wars, always have been with us, and evermore shall be. People are now starving in the Ukraine, Africa, and Refugee Camps caused by ISIS. I am grateful we have a church member helping in the latter. Terrible things are going to keep happening, but . . . .
Matt. 24:8 All these events are the beginning of birth pains.
Huh? “The beginning”? Yes, births are not an end, but a start. Many predictors have seen certain events as endings, but proved to be beginnings.
To decide to connect for sure the end of the world with any event on Earth is a dangerous assumption. Spiritual giants in all ages have erred by saying a specific event presaged the end. Thus far, they have all been wrong.
Napoleon, Kaiser, Communism, and others have been interpreted as being the Beast of Revelation. My Grandpa believed if Germany were reunited, it would be the deadly wound that healed, and would take over the world. Remember, we fought two wars against Germany in his lifetime.
This constant, flamboyant, repeated failure of predictions to come true has undermined Scripture for many. We know our own interpretations are what is wrong, but our critics often construe our errors as being Bible errors.
When I was 23, one of my elderly, Godly deacons, W. D. Tucker, told me, “Pastor, all my life preachers have been saying Jesus was coming back any minute. He hasn’t come yet. Don’t make their mistake.” That one stuck.