Sunday 22nd March 2020
Signs of the End?
Gospel Readings: Luke 21 and Matthew 24
A plague of locusts has ravaged through East Africa and is set to descend on the Middle East in time for Passover. Extreme fires burned through Australia and the Amazon caused by drought and climate change. Corona virus is spreading through the world. So the question on many Christian’s lips is “Are these the end times”?
2 Chronicles 7v13-15 says “Whenever I hold back the rain or send locusts to eat up the crops or send an epidemic on my people, if they pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins, and make their land prosperous again.”
This couldn’t be more relevant. So whatever is happening it should turn us to God and we should be putting ourselves, our house and our nation back in order. By the way crashing stock markets are not a sign of the end! But what does Jesus himself have to say about these things?
We have to go to Luke 21:11: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” In verses 29-30 Jesus talks about how like the fig tree we can tell by the signs that these things are near.
But in v32 he talks about these things he’s describing happening in the generation of the people listening to him and of course he was talking in about AD 33. And they did happen, in AD70, when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. But the Son of Man or Jesus did not return. So in verses 34-36 he’s telling us to be on guard and pray that we escape these things. So it’s both a past and future prophecy.
In Matthew 24 v3 the disciples ask Jesus “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age”? Jesus response in verse 4 is don’t let people deceive you! There will be wars v6, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise against nation v7. There will be famines and earthquakes but Jesus says in v8, “All these are the beginning of birth pains”.
Then he goes on to talk about persecution of Christians in v9. We are not being persecuted (but if this passage refers to the early Christians, they were tortured by the Romans and thrown to the lions.) We are also not being hated by all nations, in fact quite the reverse and we are not seeing many turn from the faith, betray and hate each other. Christianity is growing throughout the world (the UK is not the norm don’t forget!). And what Jesus tells us to do, in verse 13, is to stand firm to the end and we will be saved. And to tell the good news of our faith (verse 14)!
So to summarise Jesus says:
Be on guard
Don’t let people deceive you
Share your story of what God has done for you and how good being a Christian is!
These are the birth pangs of an end, but we do not know what kind of end, or the time or the hour. Stay faithful and wise!