We often hear people talk about the signs of the end of the age. Even when we take the time to read Matthew 24, where this question was asked, we notice there are many signs mentioned. So which one is “the” one?
Many of these signs look as if they come straight out of today’s newspaper. Take these, for example:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matt 24:7 NIV)
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matt 24:12 NIV)
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.” (Matt 24:14 NIV)
So have we arrived at the end of time?
Notice what Jesus says about these signs: “All these are (just) the beginning of birth pains.” (Matt 24:8 NIV)
There is no doubt, we are in the end times, but still the question the disciples posed in Matt 24:3b doesn’t ask for “signs” of the end of time, it asks for “the sign” of Jesus’ coming and the end of the age!
So what is “the” sign of the end of the age?
One thing I have learned as a Bible scholar is that when God brings something to our consideration twice, He is trying to catch our attention. If He does it three times, He is warning us with urgency to take heed.
In Matthew 24 there are two topics that are mentioned twice, and as a result, attention should be given to both of them:
1. We are to be ready for Jesus’ coming:
a. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matt 24:42 NIV)
b. “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matt 24:44 NIV)
2. We don’t know the exact day Jesus is coming back:
a. “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt 24:36 NIV)
b. “You do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matt 24:42 NIV)
We may try to predict when the time is ripe, but we can’t tell for certain the day history will come to a closure. If we are not ready when the time arrives, we will be like the foolish virgins who missed the opportunity to be with the bride (See Mat 25: 1 – 13).
In addition to these two repeated signs, there is one more sign in Matthew 24 that is mentioned not twice, but three times. And the consequences of that sign are then mentioned twice. This sign is obviously of urgent importance, for it will be “the” sign of the end!
What is “the” sign?
a. “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.” (Matt 24:4-5 NIV)
b. “Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Matt 24:11 NIV)
c. “At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' Or, 'There he is!' Do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matt 24:23-27 NIV)
Who is behind all this deception?
“Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth…” (Rev 20:7-8 NIV)
Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow
deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." ( 1 Tim 4:1-2
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." ( 1 Tim 4:1-2 NIV)
And the consequences of this deception, according to Matthew 24, will be huge:
a. “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” (Matt 24:10 NIV)
b. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt 24:12-13 NIV)
There are some religions on this planet that predict the coming of their own Messiah. What if this “Messiah” is the anti-Christ? How easy it would be for people to fall for such a lie! After all, wasn’t it predicted in their religion?
How can you be certain that it is a deception?
1. If the coming of the Messiah is not as the real Messiah predicted, it is deception: “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matt 24:23-27 NIV)
2. If the message is not about getting closer to our God and His son, it is a ruse: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (2. John 17:3-4 NIV)
3. If its actions are not done out of love, it is un utter lie: “Do everything in love.” (1 Cor 16:14 NIV)
May we stand firm till the end! (See Matt 24:13) God redeemed us through Jesus and He is coming back for us! “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3 NIV)
Those following the car could tell that the driver was drunk. The vehicle wobbled from one side of the road to the other, and speed was at a maximum. Even over the roar of the engine, the hysterical laughter could be heard. The wise thing would have been for the driver to pull over to the side of the road, but the laughter in this car full of teens must have been his motivation to continue on.
The small roads near Cape Reinga in New Zealand are built on the sides of steep hills, and as such, they are far from being straight. The inevitable happened at the next curve: The car full of teenagers flew off the road and crashed into the valley below. Though this happened years ago, you can still see the scars of the accident, for the land around this particular curve is still black from the flames caused by the accident.
We too are on a steep, curvy road. We are now aware of “the” sign. What will we do about it?
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