When Did The End Times Begin?
With the current pandemic and the plethora of issues that we are facing, as a result, many are asking the age-old question “are we in the end times.” Jesus taught His disciples to watch and be ready for His return. In His teachings, he made many references to how He expected His disciples to live, and what we should be doing. Matthew chapter twenty-four outlines a discussion between Jesus and His disciples regarding this question.
Ever since the cross, and Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, we have been in the ‘end times’ or more commonly referred to as ‘The End of The Age.” With each passing day from the upper room pentecostal outpouring, to Paul’s martyrdom, and John the beloved’s exile and beyond we have moved closer and closer to His return. The early church all watched for Jesus’ return and believed that they were already in the end times but also that certain key events would take place ahead of time.
In Matthew 24 Jesus’ disciples asked three important questions: “Tell us when these things will be and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age? These three questions were in response to Jesus’ statement in verse 2 where he said “Do you not see all of these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (NASB)
Jesus’ disciples linked the events in his statement as all being associated with the end of the age. What was he describing? Of course, He is referring to events that took place in 70 A.D. (C.E.) when the Roman army marched into Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and everything around. The Jews were scattered and Jerusalem was left under Roman occupation until the Muslim conquest, and later the Ottomans. But this event only answered one of the disciple’s questions, “Tell us when will these things be?” What about the other two?
This chapter is known as the Olivet discourse since Jesus was teaching on the Mount of Olives. Jesus goes on to outline the events that will take place marking His Glorious Return and the end of the age. Are they one and the same? Yes, and no since when He returns there will be unfinished business that must occur as the age closes out, including the destruction of the Antichrist and the Babylonian system, as well as the salvation of all Israel.
The list of things that Jesus warns will take place is lengthy and sometimes seem to overlap as to which event He is describing. Perhaps they share some common events. Nevertheless, in verse 8 He tells them that many events like nation rising against nation, false Christs, wars, famines, and earthquakes are just the beginning of birth pangs. Birth pangs are simply defined as another term for labor pains, according to the Oxford dictionary. In other words, many of the events that have taken place over the last two thousand years are merely the beginning of the labor pains.
Many are saying that the current crisis has tipped us over into the end times or the final seven years or so. While I admit we are closer than ever the events themselves are nothing new, but rather what nations, kingdoms, and governments are doing. The Western church has repeatedly yielded more and more freedom and rights and is but a weak shell of what it once was, and should be. We are certainly seeing the Laodicean or lukewarm church active and alive in America.
Matthew 24:13 (NASB) says “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” No one knows what the end will look like exactly. But an individual’s end is when life here in this age ends. Many erroneously believe that we should not waste our time discussing and writing about the End Times. Then why are there 150 chapters in the Bible that deal with it? Why do the Old Testament prophets talk about it and why did Paul write about it? Finally, why did Jesus answered His disciples in several chapters telling them of horrible things that would happen to them, and likewise describing His glorious return.?
Jesus wants His bride to be ready and prepared as mentioned in Revelation 19:7 and 21:9. He also wants us to know that we will be persecuted, and hated and that some will even die for His namesake. We are too busy living our comfortable American dream that we have forgotten that all over the world there are many being persecuted, and losing there lives for the sake of the gospel. Part of bridal preparation is dying to oneself and letting Jesus truly become your master. In order to survive the days ahead, we must truly be like Paul, bondservants of Jesus.
I was taught that we as the Church would avoid all of the unfortunate trials and tribulations of the last days. If that is true then why did Jesus warn of us these events. Yes, the last seven years is known as a time of Jacob’s trouble, and many events relate specifically to Israel and even Jerusalem, but it is not all just for Israel and the nations. These are the days of the Glorious Church that will take the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth and bring the nations before His throne as we see in Revelation 5 and 15. We see many souls under the altar in heaven who had overcome the beast, slain as martyrs.
I challenge you to study Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation and examine what He said He would give them if they ‘overcome.’ These were real churches in real cities under Roman occupation in Southwestern Turkey. They faced many of the same realities that we face and Jesus warned them of what would happen if they didn’t repent, and what would be their glorious rewards for obedience, even unto death.
Many of the events in Matthew twenty-four apply specifically to Israel and until recent times would not have been capable of total fulfillment. When the Romans invaded Jerusalem in 70 AD and destroyed the temple I am sure that many had to flee in haste and were unable to gather up a few things for the journey or perhaps it was on a Sabbath. Yet, these events will soon occur in a massive way as the world continues to line up against Israel.
Where will thee church line up? Despite the vast majority of Jews being non-believers in Jesus as the Messiah and many practicing Kaballah and espousing the return of animal sacrifice, we are still called to pray for Israel’s salvation?
It is time to throw off complacency and compromise and stand up against the Babylonian systems that have run the world for thousands of years. Declare the Kingdom of God is at hand and act like it! Look for His return but be diligent and work hard for the Kingdom, not your kingdom. Let’s not only prepare ourselves for the return of the King of the Nations, but the Church, Israel, and the Nations as well.