by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Summary: Many are fascinated by the study of end times bible prophecy and the signs of the end. Charts, graphs, and timelines by the dozen are produced by bible teachers. However, many are likely to be surprised at the content of some of Jesus' teachings concerning end times prophecy. Come and see in the following message by Pastor Jim Feeney.
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?”
•• Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are parallel chapters, covering Jesus' teachings and prophecies about the end times. We will focus today on Luke 21.
• They asked Jesus about "the sign" of the end times. Likewise today, there is much interest in the bible's teaching on end times prophecy and signs.
• But Jesus replied, not so much by giving them details as by telling them how to be victorious in the end times.
Luke 21:7-8 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”  He replied: “WATCH OUT THAT YOU ARE NOT DECEIVED. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”
•• “Watch out that you are NOT DECEIVED.”
• Paul later warned about end-time doctrines of demons:
• Forbidding to marry, abstaining from foods...
• Jesus here warns about:
• False Christs (Sun Moon, Father Divine...) — “I am He.”
• “The-time-is-near” kind of end-time teaching. Much of the end times bible prophecy teaching heard today focuses on predictions of the imminent Second Coming of Christ. Yet Jesus Himself warned against dwelling on that theme.
•• The solution is simple: “Do not follow them” — that is, the false Christs, whose message often includes the ear-tingling "The time is near!"
Luke 21:9-11 “When you hear of wars and revolutions, do NOT BE FRIGHTENED. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”  Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
•• Do NOT be FRIGHTENED, Jesus said, by awesome events in the end times (or any other times).
• The 9.2 Alaska earthquake in 1964 (“great earthquakes”) did NOT mean it was the end.
• The killer tsunamis in Asia recently do NOT necessarily mean the end is near — “the end will not come right away”, even after numerous cataclysmic events.
•• If “Jesus Christ...the Lord of all” is YOUR Lord, then hear His encouragement: “Do not be frightened.” And yet some teachers of end times bible prophecy today succeed primarily in leaving their audiences or readers scared half to death! Remember — Jesus said, "Do not be frightened!"
Luke 21:12-15 But before all this, they will lay hands on you and PERSECUTE you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.  This will result in your being witnesses to them.  But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.
•• Don’t worry about how to respond to terrible PERSECUTION in the end times.
• Note: no Rapture-escape is even alluded to here — contrary to much of today's end times bible prophecy teaching!
• (13) Persecution becomes an occasion for witness.
• (15) Jesus will give you wise words to speak.
Luke 21:16-19 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  All men will hate you because of me.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  By STANDING FIRM you will gain life.
•• The end times will be HOSTILE times:
• Expect betrayal, even by family and friends.
• Expect the hatred of “all men.”
• “They will put some of you to death ... but not a hair of your head will perish” — suggesting physical martyrdom, but eternal life.
•• The solution: “By STANDING FIRM you will gain life.”
• Endure to the end, another of the Gospels states.
• Don’t give up! Don’t fall away.
Luke 21:25-28 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things BEGIN to take place, stand up and LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, because your redemption is drawing near.”
•• Earth- and heaven-shaking signs will occur. For BELIEVERS, those are NOT times of fear.
• These specific signs of the end times signal the Lord’s soon coming.
• Our proper response? Stand up, look up, rejoice, get ready! Here He comes!
Luke 21:34-36 Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.  For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
•• Jesus closes with some exhortations on proper end-time attitudes and conduct:
• “Be careful” — no room for a casual, nonchalant approach to our faith.
• Avoid harmful conduct like “dissipation, drunkenness.”
• Don’t let the “anxieties of life” bog you down and turn your focus away from Jesus.
• If we don’t heed these charges, the end times will come upon us “unexpectedly like a trap.”
• “Be always on the watch” — including taking your own spiritual pulse often. “How’m I doing?”
• “...and PRAY” — concerning these things, and just pray — period!
•• The goal, the object of our prayers, is that we live in such a way that the Lord allows the believers alive in the end times to “escape all that is about to happen.”
• Conclusion: we will be wise not to focus too much on end times prophecy and the signs of the end times. Our energies will be better expended at efforts to live godly, faith-filled, Christ-centered lives, and thereby to BE READY when Jesus comes.
Preached at South Valley Church, Phoenix, Oregon, November 20, 2005
If you are looking for a more detailed bible study of the end times, I highly recommend bible teacher Elton McMillan's free lessons on the Bride of Christ.
©2005, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.