THE WORLD TODAY SERIES #26

A BIBLICAL PICTURE OF THE WORLD AT THE TIME OF THE END

Relevant Scripture

The Church’s understanding of the interplay of people and events that will impact the world at the time of the end of the age, just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, is derived a variety of Scriptural passages from both the Old and New Testaments. But much of the end time scenario is encapsulated in just six primary sources: Jesus’ Olivet and Temple Discourses (Matthew 24 and Luke 21); Daniel (Chapters 2, 7, 9 and 11); Ezekiel (Chapters 4, 36 and 37); the Book of Revelation, (particularly Chapters 2, 3, 6, 8, and 11 – 19); and Paul’s and Peter’s description of the end-time disbeliever (in Romans 1, 2 Timothy 3, and 2 Peter 3).

The nature of the end-time person as foretold by Peter and Paul has already been cited under the topic of humanism and its tenets. The events associated with the time of the end just prior to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming will be described below.

Jesus’ Olivet and Temple Discourses

In His most well-known lecture about the time of the end, Jesus was at the Mount of Olives, sitting and speaking with His disciples. This Olivet Discourse, as it is called among eschatologists, is presented in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Jesus gave another lecture about end times at the temple in Jerusalem. This Temple Discourse is presented in Luke 21. Because the account in Luke 21 contains many of the same elements as the Olivet Discourse, it is often erroneously lumped in with Matthew 24 and Mark 13. But there is a subtle difference between the two lectures. The Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and Mark 13 was directed primarily to the Jews, whom He told to flee Jerusalem at the antichrist’s desolation of the temple, which is an end-time event. The Temple Discourse, by contrast, was directed primarily to the members of the Church, whom He warned to flee Jerusalem before the events that marked the end times.

The members of the Church, heeding the warning in Luke 21, did indeed flee Jerusalem when the Fifteenth Roman legion under General Titus destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. The Jews, however, didn’t heed Jesus’ lecture and remained behind to be slaughtered. This difference in fates angered the Jewish community and stimulated the separation of the Church from its status as a sect of the Jewish faith. Up to that time the Jews were tolerated under Roman law and the Church enjoyed that legal protection. After that event, however, the Church, as a separate religion, was targeted for Roman persecution.

Matthew 24, being the most detailed of Jesus’ prophecies concerning the end times, is noted below:

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

This actually happened in the destruction of 70 A.D. When the temple was set on fire, the gold inlays melted and dropped between the cracks in the rocks. The Roman soldiers, smitten with greed, scrambled to tear apart every vestige of the temple that remained in their search for the gold. To continue the account in Matthew 24,

“And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age?

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; of all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray on another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity will abound, the love of many shall grow cold. But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nation; and then shall the end come.

“When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whosoever readeth, let him understand), then let them who are in Judea flee into the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house; neither let him who is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto those who are with child, and to those who nurse their children in those days! But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wherever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shakened. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When its branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near; so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

A comment is in order here regarding the duration of a generation, for several different durations have been proposed for a generation, including 40, 70, 80 years and beyond. Most of these periods can be justified by direct reference to Scripture; for example, 40 years was the duration of the generation that wandered in the wilderness after departing Egypt, and in Psalm 90 the duration of a lifetime was equated to 70 or 80 years. But then again, Psalm 22:30 indicates that a seed shall serve the Lord, and be accounted for a generation. This may well refer to the entire Church Age, as implied in 1 Peter 2:9:

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;”

Further caution should be exercised in attempting to place the beginning of the generation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24. Several of these attempts have turned out to be false. Modern attempts to establish the beginning of this generation include the birth of Israel in 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem by Israel in 1967. Jesus seems to emphasize that very caution as He continues with His Olivet Discourse:

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you that he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that his is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: