This week I have been preparing to teach on Matthew 24. When I came across the words of D.A. Carson, a leading New Testament scholar, it brought me a measure of comfort. He says:
“Few chapters of the Bible have called forth more disagreement among interpreters than Matthew 24 and its parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21. The history of the interpretation of this chapter is immensely complex."
Within this chapter alone you will find Jewish history, Jewish archaeology, and Jewish geography. In addition to those elements, though, there are also parables, prophecy, and eschatology (end times prophecy). I don’t know if I have ever studied a more complex and intricate chapter. And yet, in the midst of all the storm of this chapter, Jesus is careful to reiterate a point to His disciples over and over again.
When they find out the Temple is going to be destroyed (which it was in 70 AD by the Romans), I imagine they are a little confused. Jesus says, in verse six, “see that you are not troubled.” He then tells them that they will be delivered up to tribulation, killed, and even hated. But, in verse thirteen, He reassures them that if they “endure to the end” they “will be saved.”
After telling them of the Great Tribulation that is to come, and all of the terrible occurrences that accompany that time, He reassures them again, saying in verse thirty-one, “He will send His angels…and they will gather together His elect…from one end of Heaven to the other.”
When we read of this future time which will precede the second coming of Christ, we can sure get worried. In fact, we ourselves – though Christ clearly tells us that we will never be able to discern the hour of His coming – can get caught up in the hype and sensationalism of trying to fit world events into our timeline of His expected return. It can absolutely consume us to the point where we are no longer engaged in the lives of others around us, and it can cripple our trust in the Lord in the midst of life’s circumstances.
Even in the midst of describing these circumstances to His disciples, Christ makes sure to remind them that He is always and forever in control of this world. He created it, after all! Remember the beautiful words of Christ to His disciples when He was sending them out in Matthew 10? He told them:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
No matter how many terrorist organizations rise up, no matter how many plane crashes we have, no matter how bleak the economy gets, God is still in control and He still knows, loves, and takes care of His own. He always has and He always will. Give Him your fears, worries, and concerns and let Him use you today to impact your life and the lives of others with this hope.
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.