Daily Reading: Exodus 33, 34; Matthew 24:15-31
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24, NASB95)
The disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). The disciples are not asking something trivial, but regarding the great hope of the church. How will they know when He returns? They don’t want to miss it! Jesus knows that being led astray by signs will be a major problem for His disciples. He twice rebukes those who are seeking a sign from Him, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign…” (Matt. 12:39; Matt. 16:4). The first thing that Jesus says is, “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matt. 24:4). Considering there will be many false signs to lead people astray, what advice does Jesus give them?
- There is one constant during this time: difficulties and tribulation. There will be wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, betrayal, lawlessness, and many people’s love growing cold (Matt. 24:6-10).
- The disciple is not to be looking for signs, but to preach the gospel to all the nations, “and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). Nolland (2005) explains, “It is precisely universal mission that prepares for the universal scope and significance of the end” (p. 967). It’s as if to say that the end will not come by signs, but by the completion of the mission.
- At the same time, Jesus is emphatic that the end cannot be missed: “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:27).
The point of Jesus’ teaching is to prepare His disciples to not stumble (Matt. 24:10, 24), to be about the work to which He has called them (Matt. 24:45-46), and to endure until the end (Matt. 24:13). Are you looking for signs of Jesus’ return? Are you ready for Him to return, whether it’s today or a long time away? Is Jesus’ mission, to seek and save the lost, your mission?