Jesus taught about the end of times. And as I write this the world is in the middle of the corona virus pandemic. As usual there are some that are saying that this is the beginning of the end. Matthew chapter 24 is the most prominent place in the Gospel where Jesus talks about the end times, so I am going skip to the end of Matthew 24 to read this:
But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Mat 24:36 WEB)
Now, this verse says that no one, not even the Son, knows the day and hour. So no one knows that the coronavirus is the beginning of the end, the middle of the end or the end of the end. Now we do know from the day of Pentecost the Apostles were saying that we are in the last days:
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke out to them, “You men of Judea, and all you who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words. For these aren’t drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘It will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. (Act 2:14-17 WEB)
So, it is the last days, but it has been thousands of years since the apostles and it may be thousands until Jesus comes back. After all. God promised Eve that her offspring would be the redeemer, and she thought that when Seth was born, that Seth was the redeemer, but it was about four thousand years after that Jesus was born. And in that four thousand years you have the covenant with Abraham, and the period of the Patriarchs, and and the tribes of Israel, and the period of the Judges, and then the Kings. Interspersed in there were prophets and mighty men of God who acted on God’s behalf. It was a couple of thousand years before Abraham came along and God formed a covenant with him. There was a lot of work to do, and there may still be a lot of work to do before Jesus comes back. Now, that’s not to say that we have all the time in the world and can dawdle. He could come right now! And no matter when he comes. we have to walk carefully.
As Paul wrote:
Therefore he says, “Awake, sleeping ones! And arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:14-16 MKJV)
Not only that but this race we run isn’t a sprint, its a marathon. It’s not a quick game, it’s a long game. Notwithstanding that any one of us could be gone in an instant, we must run our race with patience:
Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2 MKJV)
Having said all that, Jesus spoke of signs of the end:
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren’t troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are the beginning of birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to oppression, and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake. Then many will stumble, and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. Because iniquity will be multiplied, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved. This Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Mat 24:3-14 WEB)
Remember Jesus was sent to Israel and here Jesus is telling Israel of their future and how things will end. (Remember the mystery that gentiles would be joint heirs was not yet revealed.) Jesus says that there will be all kinds of bad things happening; wars, rumors of wars, famines, and earthquakes, but that is not the end. There will be persecutions and many false prophets. And, he warns, that all that bad stuff is just the beginning of the birth pains!
Now, at this point, we’re talking about false prophets. Now, what is a false prophet? Good old Wikipedia says “a false prophet is one who falsely claims the gift of prophecy or divine inspiration, or to speak for God, or who makes such claims for evil ends.“ We discussed in The Definition of Prophecy in the Bible that prophecy is speaking for God. Whether they are false or not depends on whether what they say is in alignment with the prophets of old and now the apostles doctrine. If they are in aligmenment they are true. If prophets after Jesus contradict the old testament prophets or the apostles doctrine, they are false.
Remember how when we talked about the manifestations in Jesus and the Manifestations of the Spirit we said that sometimes more than one manifestation would be manifested in an event? Well, Let’s look at Paul in that light. Look at these declarations about Paul and notice that he is attributed more than one of the gift ministries which include apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, and teachers:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (Rom 1:1 ESV) (Paul is called an apostle here.)
For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1Ti 2:7 ESV) (Paul is called an apostle and preacher here.)
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Act 13:1-2 ESV) (Saul (Pauls’s earlier name) is listed among the prophets and teachers.
Paul is called an apostle in the first example. He is called a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher in the second. And he is in the list of prophets and teachers in the third. There are prophecies in his writings. So, while his strong suit appears to be apostleship as he is stated as an apostle most, he had more than one gift ministry.
This is just to say that people can have multiple ministries. Likewise, on the other side, you can have someone who is a false prophet, a false teacher, and/or a false miracle worker. Just beware.
Paul reveals what is revealed to him here:
For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles, if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you; how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words, by which, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News, of which I was made a servant, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power. To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, (Eph 3:1-10 WEB)
Paul writes here that he received the revelation that the Gentiles were joint heirs of the promise in Christ; “how the mystery was made known to me by revelation”. We also read that Paul was given the job of declaring this new revelation from God to people. Besides being an Apostle (one sent, set apart for a mission) that makes Paul a spokesman for God which is the office of a prophet. As an apostle he was sent to the Gentiles with the message of Christ the Savior that they too were partakers. (We can’t assume when it says apostles and prophets that the term refers to separate people in every case.)
Now, just as we see that Paul speaks for God in the right way, Matthew chapter 24 says that there will be many who speak for God in the wrong way. That is, they will say that God has said things that he did not say. There is going to be a lot of those guys.
A key element in the end times is in verse 14: “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Before the end, the gospel will be proclaimed in every nation as a testimony to all nations.
Next, Jesus taught on the abomination of desolation which is first mentioned in the book of Daniel:
And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. (Dan 12:11 ESV)“When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house. Let him who is in the field not return back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are with child and to nursing mothers in those days! Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, nor on a Sabbath, for then there will be great oppression, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be. Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved. But for the sake of the chosen ones, those days will be shortened. “Then if any man tells you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There,’ don’t believe it. For there will arise false christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones. “Behold, I have told you beforehand. If therefore they tell you, ‘Behold, he is in the wilderness,’ don’t go out; ‘Behold, he is in the inner rooms,’ don’t believe it. For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For wherever the carcass is, that is where the vultures gather together. (Mat 24:15-28 WEB)
With the abomination of Desolation will come the greatest tribulation. Many false Christs and prophets will arise and there will all kinds of false signs and wonders. Christ is saying to not be fooled and follow them.
Then here he comes to collect his people:
But immediately after the oppression of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. He will send out his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
(Mat 24:29-31 WEB)
This is a glorious time when Jesus comes back! But Jesus warns that no one but the Father knows the timing of this. He warns that he doesn’t know it, the angels don’t know it, only the Father knows. So we must always be ready:
But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. “As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one will be left. Watch therefore, for you don’t know in what hour your Lord comes. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don’t expect, the Son of Man will come. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord finds doing so when he comes. Most certainly I tell you that he will set him over all that he has. But if that evil servant should say in his heart, ‘My lord is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with the drunkards, the lord of that servant will come in a day when he doesn’t expect it, and in an hour when he doesn’t know it, and will cut him in pieces, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. That is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be. (Mat 24:36-51 WEB)
Remember, that Jesus gave some key things to watch for, some warnings for how challenging it will be, and how he will gloriously return, but the biggest points include no one but the Father knows when it will happen, and consequently, we need to be ready all the time.