Is excitement about signs of the end of the world healthy for Christians?
Today, we’re studying Matthew 24 and 25, sometimes called Matthew’s Apocalypse or the Olivet Discourse. Here Jesus gives one of His final sermons related to His second coming. Jesus and His disciples have left the temple, and move to the Mount of Olives where, looking across the Kidron Valley, they see the temple. The disciples remark about the beauty and size of the temple beautified by Herod the Great (also known as the “Builder”). Jesus most likely shocks them by informing them that every stone will be torn down, that not one will be left on the other.
How do the final chapters of Matthew, especially Matthew 23:29-39, provide a context for Jesus’ announcement of the Temple’s destruction?
Matthew 24:1-3—Questions about the Temple
The disciples are shocked by Jesus’ Revelation that the temple could be overthrown. That could only mean the end of the world as they knew it, and maybe that coincided with the setting up of Jesus’ new Messianic Kingdom.
What three questions do the disciples ask Jesus? Are they the same or will they have different answers?
Matthew 24:4-31—Signs of Jerusalem’s Destruction and the Parousia
Jesus gives a number of events the disciples could watch for, maybe even ones they already expected to accompany the “Day of the Lord” prophesied in the Old Testament Prophets. He gives warnings about when to leave Jerusalem, and speaks about Daniel’s “Abomination of Desolation.” Matthew uses the important word “Parousia” for Christ’s return, a word used for the visit of Kings to conquered territory.
Many Adventists look at the signs as a list of boxes to check, and feel that only one “sign” remains unfulfilled—the gospel of the Kingdom going to the world. Is this an accurate conclusion to come to from Matthew 24? What is the actual sign of Christ’s “return”?
Matthew 24:32-44—Be Ready!
Jesus tells the disciples that life will get worse for them before it gets better. But maybe most shocking, He tells them that nobody knows the actual day of the Parousia, not prophets, angels, or even Jesus Himself, but only the Father. Thus, the only real preparation to make is to live in a constant state of preparedness.
How involved with “prepping” for doomsday should Christians get? Is there value in stocking physical goods in the event of emergency, or should we focus elsewhere? What does true “readiness” look like according to Jesus’ words here?
Matthew 24:45-25:46—Parables of Readiness
Jesus tells a series of parables following His warnings about future events. Each one has a different lesson for us related to the 2nd Coming.
What does each of these parables tell us about Christ’s return, and what can we know about what Jesus values in relation to His coming?
Jesus hopes we’ll live in daily expectation of His coming, being constantly “ready.” But as history has shown for many people, death comes first. We should seek a balance between being prepared for heaven today because I could die at any moment, and the eager looking forward to the “soon” future when Jesus comes.