Matthew 24:3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
•• In “Conversations (Part 4)”, we began to look at Jesus’ answers to these questions by His disciples. Here we pick up the rest of His replies from verse 24 onward.
Matthew 24:24-27 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.
• False “anointed ones”, for that is the sense of the Greek word from which “Christ” comes. There is plenty of that today! I heard one famous preacher declare of his ministry that it was the “most anointed ministry” of his day. What arrogance! And not long thereafter, that ministry fell from prominence.
• False prophets — deceivers! (vs. 24)
• And sad to say, many will be deceived by these pretenders and deceivers (see verses 4-5).
•• These deceivers will perform “great signs and miracles to deceive”.
• Satan is fully capable of lying signs and wonders. Likewise the “false prophet” of Revelation 13. Similarly, these false Christs and false prophets in the end times are capable of deceiving the gullible by means of signs and miracles.
• An important point — Not all signs and apparent miracles are from the Lord!
•• We won’t need to be told, “There He is, here He is!” His coming will be about as subtle as a bolt of lightning!
Matthew 24:29-31 Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
•• Many astounding heavenly signs will immediately precede Jesus’ Second Coming.
•• This is the same “loud trumpet call” we read of in 1 Corinthians 15:52 (“the last trumpet”) and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (“the trumpet call of God”).
Matthew 24:32-33 Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
•• “Summer” is a season. We can discern the approximate season of the end times and Christ’s Second Coming, if not the day, date, or hour. We can know when the Second Coming “is near”, even if we cannot pin down the time with precision.
• How? By seeing these signs that Jesus spoke of being fulfilled.
Matthew 24:34-35 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
•• Vs. 34 (“this generation”) is difficult indeed. I can’t resolve it with certainty. Scholars have argued this verse at length, without arriving at a consensus. This may simply be one of those verses that will become clear to us only upon its actual occurrence.
•• “My words will never pass away.” — The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. In a world of ever-changing fashions, values, lifestyles, and so much more, it is comforting to know that we can depend totally on the unchanging certainty of the Word of God.
Matthew 24:36-41No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
•• Can we know the “season” of the Lord’s coming? — perhaps it will be perceived by the spiritually discerning. But Jesus plainly says that we will not be able to figure out the “day or hour". As my pastor once said, far more important than figuring out the timing of the last days is being prepared for them when they do come.
•• “They knew nothing” of what was about to happen. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. So devote yourself to living a godly life and thereby to being ready for His coming.
•• “At [His] coming...” one will be taken, another left. Not seven years earlier, as some teachers of the end times would have us believe.
Matthew 24:42-44 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.... (44) So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
•• The solution — Should we dedicate our lives to learning a lot of end-time doctrinal schemes? NO! Rather, Jesus said, “keep watch! ... be ready!”
•• Remember — “You do not know on what day your Lord will come. ... So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” This was spoken to believers. We believers will not know when Jesus will return. Therefore, “you ... must be ready!”
Matthew 24:45-46 Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
•• In light of all Jesus’ teachings here, we can draw some important conclusions:
(1) Purpose to be a “faithful and wise servant”.
(2) Take seriously whatever the Master has “put [you] in charge” of.
(3) Have a high regard for “His [the Master’s] household” — that is, for His Church and His people.
(4) Feed those you are called to feed.
(5) Do it diligently, so that the “master finds [you] doing so when he returns.”