Jesus first cautions us not to be deceived. He says that many false Christs will arise and lead many astray. And Paul also warns us in 2 Timothy 3:13, "But evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." If someone declares they are the Christ on this earth, be secure in the truth that they are not. Even if they perform great signs and wonders, they are not. Why? According to the Word in Titus 2:13, He will not appear to us on the earth, but He will appear to us in the clouds, and be caught up with Him, along with our fellow believers. "as we await the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). Again, Revelation 1:7 confirms the way He will come to us on that great and glorious day, "Look! He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." And we who are alive will shed this earth suit and be supernaturally changed. 1 Cor. 15: 50-53 explains it like this, "Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible will put on incorruption, and this mortal will put on immortality."
Next, our Lord encourages us not to be afraid because there will be wars and rumors of wars, and explains that these things must take place, but the end is not yet. Wars and rumors of wars are frightful events, but God promises us in Isaiah 41:10, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
He continues to speak to us about the political arena and says that nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. He reveals to us that there will be disasters in various places such as famines and earthquakes. And makes it plain that these are not the final signs, but the beginning of birth pangs.
The world will be in chaos, and its inhabitants will be insecure, not knowing how to meet their daily needs, but we have security in God's Word that promises us that if we seek first His kingdom and all of His righteousness then all these things that we have need of will be met. Matthew 6:31-33 says, "Therefore, take no thought, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' (For the Gentiles seek after all these things.) For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you."
Did He not provide for the Israelites when they wandered in the desert for 40 years? According to the Scriptures, God graciously provided for their daily needs. He supplied His people with water from the rock (see Ex. 17:5-7), it rained down manna daily (Ex. 16:4), they had fresh meat (see Ex. 16:13) and their shoes and clothes did not wear out (see Deut. 29:5).
He then discusses with them about the individual who calls him or herself a follower of Jesus Christ: "Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake" (Matt. 24:9).
Let's face it: This is a very serious matter that will take every ounce of faith to overcome the temptation to recant. Jesus understands this temptation all too well. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He is so afraid of the torture that He is to endure for you and for me that He starts to sweat great drops of blood. He cries out to His heavenly Father to come up with another plan, to remove Him from this situation. Hebrews 4:15 confirms this point, it says "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was in every sense tempted like we are, yet without sin." He overcomes the power of the human will to run away from His destiny, to be selfish and to turn away from our need, to allow fear, doubt and unbelief to control His actions, and finally surrenders to His Father's will and lays down His life for us. Matthew 26:39 in the New King James Version of the Bible reads, "He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
He tells us that many false prophets will rise and lead many people away from God. And Peter also warns us in 2 Peter 2:1-3 (MEV), "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their judgment, made long ago, does not linger, and their destruction does not slumber."
Women especially tend to be led astray by their emotions. The Bible warns us not to be gullible in 2 Timothy 3:5-7, "having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people. Those of this nature creep into houses and captivate silly women who are burdened with sins and led away with various desires, always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Women, we are not to be naÃ¯ve, but wise. No matter how godly, how charismatic, how charming or how appealing the one with the message may seem, we are responsible to try the spirits and judge the message against the Word of God.
Not everyone will have to confront the possibility of being martyred for their faith, but we will all face some sort of tribulation and be hated because of our faith in Jesus. He says that during this stage of the last days that many will fall away, and they will betray and hate one another. And because of the increase in lawlessness that most people's love will grow cold. But He makes it clear: "But he who endures to the end shall be save" (Matt. 24:13).
And this portion of Scripture closes with Jesus declaring, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).
And just to clear up a matter of confusion, can the date of Jesus' return be predicted? According to the Scriptures the answer is no. It states in Matthew 24:36, ""concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." So the next time you hear someone has figured out the exact date of Jesus' return, you know not to listen to them. Only the Father knows the exact date and time, but as we read in Matt. 24:3-15, God does want us to be aware of the season and clearly gives us the signs to look for.
I encourage you to open up the Word of God, start with Matthew 24 and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the basic teachings concerning the end times. He is faithful and true and wants you to know and recognize the basic signs of the last days.
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