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Background Text: Matthew 24:4-15

Devotional Text: Revelation 7:9-17

Last week, in reference to the first coming of Christ, we looked at the words of Scripture that teach us about his Second Coming.

We find the words of Jesus as he told about the future in Matthew 24:4-44. Last week’s background text was Matthew 24:26-31, and this week it is the same chapter with verses 4-15.

Going back to Matthew 24 from last week, we learned that “no one knows the day or time” of his actual coming (verse 36).

We need to be ready “for the Son of Man will come at an hour when you (we) do not expect him” (verse 44). In verses 4-5 he told us to be watchful because “many will come in my name, declaring, ‘I am the Christ’ and deceive many.”

As we continue with Matthew 24 today, it is good to know these words can also be found in Mark 13:1-23 and Luke 21:7-28, 34-36.

Many people today are concerned about our world. We read in the news, and we also see excerpts on television, highlighting all the bad things happening around the world. There is terrorism, war, disease, many kinds of natural disasters. The news keeps us apprised of the number of deaths.

We see these things in Matthew 24:4-7 as well, but verse 8 calls them “the beginning of birth pains.” We are to be aware of what is happening here and around the world. We are to be watchful. And we are to understand these things will get worse before Jesus comes again.

In Matthew 24:9-14, Jesus lets us know what things will be apparent to us as the time grows closer to the end, known as the end times.

These verses speak of many turning away from the faith and even betraying one another, more false prophets will arise, and wickedness will increase. Verse 12 tells us that “the love of most will grow cold.”

Finally, Matthew 24:14 says to us that the gospel of Christ “will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

However, there is one more piece to the return of Christ. In the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, as well as here in Matthew 24, and again in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, we learn of someone referred to as “the abomination that causes desolation.”

There are a number of descriptions of this person’s deeds, found in Daniel 9:27 and 12:11, in Matthew 24:15-25, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4. It is when this “abomination” is found standing in the temple in Jerusalem that tribulation upon the Earth will truly begin.

Jesus tells us to flee, to find a safe place, and we are not to believe any sightings of Christ, even if they perform signs and miracles.

The true Christ will come from heaven on a cloud, followed by an angelic host. There will be a sign of a trumpet call, and all people on Earth will see and hear it. These are the sightings to look for.

Today, there are different interpretations of the end times and the time of tribulation. Some people believe in pre-trib, others are mid-trib and still others are post-trib — meaning they believe Christ will come to save believers before the tribulation starts, or midway through it, or toward the end of it.

In the Scripture I have referred to today, we read Christ’s words to his followers, saying in Matthew 24:29-31, “Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time, the Son of Man will appear in the sky. ... They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. ... He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

A great number of people today, because of the increase in worldwide disasters, lawlessness, terrorism and the current pandemic, believe our time is growing short.

We do need to be watchful of all these things, while also remembering that Christ called them “birth pains.” It is not yet the time of tribulation or the Second Coming.

Philippians 4:20 tells us, “our citizenship is in heaven,” and 1 Peter 5:4 says, “when the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) appears, you will receive the crown of glory that never fades.”

The Scripture we wait for, if we are alive on Earth at the end times, speaks to us in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ will arise first. ... After that, we who are still alive ... will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.”

Remember in these difficult times that Jesus himself told us to be watchful, to live our lives the best we can, be content, love God and love one another. Do good in the world. The Second Coming will arrive at a time that only the Father God knows.

Lancaster Farming

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

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