Beginning of the End?
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:3 (ESV)
Given the state of the world – the growing war in eastern Europe, famine in the horn of Africa, the increase in natural disasters, we might wonder: is this the beginning of the end?
The fervent prayer of the Church over the last two millennia has been that Jesus would return quickly. We want the wretchedness and wickedness that we see around us to end, and for God to usher in a time when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9 ESV).
There were many people at the time of Jesus who also wanted to know when the end would come, so they could “get ready” for it. Jesus’ response was that they should stop speculating and always be ready, without being prompted by “signs of the times”.
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” the disciples asked Jesus (Matthew 24:3 ESV). Believers have had the same question ever since. Jesus explained that there would be wars and rumour of wars as well as famines and earthquakes in various places. Has there been, since Christ came, a generation spared any of these things? The prophetic words of our Lord are fulfilled in every age of history: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Jesus explained (Matthew 24:36 ESV).
So how are we to respond when the world seems to grow darker around us? The Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25 is relevant. What was the message of Jesus’ story? Be ready, have your lamps filled with oil so that your light can shine. Be led by the Holy Spirit. Be generous, welcome the stranger, visit the sick, be Jesus in your family and in your community (Matthew 25:31-46). If we do so, that is like giving people food and water in due season, when they need it. “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” (Matthew 24:46 ESV).
Come, Lord Jesus, come. But, until then, give us hearts of compassion for those who are suffering, give us the courage to stand up for what is right, and keep us from growing weary of doing good. Amen.
Study by Gavin Henderson
About the writer: Gavin Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for GCI UK and Ireland
Local congregation: GCI Northampton Ecton Village Hall 78A High Street Ecton NORTHAMPTON NN6 0QB
Meeting time: Saturday 11am
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