Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Signs of the End of the Age
Sign #1 – False Messiahs (v.5) – Men seek utopia, inward peace and outward security. Unfortunately, too many churches and believers do not demonstrate enough trust in Christ to show that peace and security are found in Him alone. Therefore, they turn to other messiahs.
Sign #2 – World Violence (v.6) – The believer’s hope is not in this world; neither is his real citizenship. His hope and his life are in God and in heaven. Therefore, we are not to fear men and world events. Men and world events can only take our lives, not our souls. Our lives are in God’s hands, even to the end of the world.
Phil 3:20-21 – But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.- who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Sign #3 – Natural Disasters (v.7) –
Indicates there is to be unbearable pain and terrible famine and the accompanying evil that comes with famine and hunger. This is graphically described in Scripture.
Sign #4 – Severe Religious Persecution (v.9) – Affliction and Killing will take place. A few examples of some of the ordeals the early Christians went through are as follows:
Acts 4:1-3 – Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
Acts 7:57-60 – Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 12:2-4 – Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
Acts 13:50 – But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
Acts 14:19 – Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
2 Corinthians 11:23-25 – Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
End-time suffering will be multiplied many times over.
Matthew 24:21-22 – For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Sign #5 – Terrible Apostasy – Betrayal & Division (v.10) –
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Sign #6 – The Rising of Many False Leaders – Offering False Hope (v.11)
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Sign #7 – A Great Falling Away – Sin Increasing, & Love of God Growing Cold (v.12)
Revelation 3:15-16 – I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.
Sign #8 – Some Enduring and Being Saved (v.13)
Romans 8:31 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:35, 37-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sign #9 – World Evangelism (v.14) – Christ says five very distinct things at this point.
- His gospel is of the Kingdom of God…a spiritual and eternal kingdom that will never pass away.
- His gospel is unstoppable. “This gospel shall be preached.”
- His gospel shall be triumphant.
- His gospel is a witness: “this gospel…shall be preached…for a witness unto all nations.” It will proclaim the truth and bear record either for or against man.
- The end will finally come when, and only come when the gospel has been preached throughout the whole world.
- Some very Important Information that is Often Overlooked
- “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (vs. 4)
- The beginning signs (#1, #2, #3)
- “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (v.8)
- The succeeding signs (#4, #5, #6, and #7) are personal threats and sorrows. Note the word “then” in verse 9. After the beginning of sorrows (#1, #2, #3) then the threats & sorrows of the end of the age will begin. Meaning simply that the noticeable increase in persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ will be the first of many additional sorrows that will take place on the earth.
- The promising signs (#8 and #9) are the result of faithfulness of those who serve God. The word “but” in verse thirteen points toward two signs that offer all the promise and hope a believer could ever desire. In fact, his salvation and witness are what he lives for. And the fulfillment of both is promised in the last days.
Luke 21:12 – “But before all these they shall…persecute you…”
Note the words of Jesus: “I say to you” in verse two. What Christ said happens. Therefore all these signs are bound to take place. But note one critical point. The signs happen not because God has determines that they will take place but they happen because of the continual unrepentant sin of mankind.
- Warnings to All
- Emphasis upon being deceived:
- “Take heed that no man deceive you” (v.5)
- “Many shall deceive you” (v.5)
- “False prophets…shall deceive many” (v.11)
Christ gives these signs for a very specific purpose. He is trying to encourage his followers to “endure to the end” and to “keep hope for His return alive”.