The apostle Matthew is a former tax collector who had left everything behind to follow Jesus. One night, Matthew and the other disciples sat with Jesus on Mount Olive and asked Him a follow up question about something He had mentioned earlier that day: the destruction of the temple. Jesus decided to go beyond answering their questions about the future fate of the Jerusalem temple. He began to delve into the end-times. Matthew’s recollections of the nightly conversation on Mount Olive are found in chapter 24 of his gospel. Following are some of the highlights:
Matthew 24:9: “Then people will arrest you, hand you over to be hurt and kill you; They will hate you because you believe in me.”*
Back in the days of the first exodus, the Jews had to slaughter a lamb and apply its blood on their front door to be identified as members of God’s people. Similarly, the future worldwide exodus of believers does not happen without bloodshed. The preceding war on God’s children will serve to separate believers from non-believers.
Matthew 24:14: “The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world to every nation. Then the end will come.”*
Starting point in Israel spreading all throughout the Northern hemisphere, the gospel torch was eventually passed on to the southern hemisphere when the Americas and Australia were discovered and colonized by Western civilizations. Meanwhile, the Good News has made its way all around the globe. Unfortunately, the people of God have not known unity. Jesus mentions divisions among believers as symptomatic for the end times. This gives me pause when I look at current hate speech happening between professed believers.
Matthew 24:11-12: “Many false prophets will ·come and ·cause many people to believe lies. There will be more and more ·evil in the world, so ·most people will stop showing their love for each other.”*
Climate change is not only an environmental topic; there is a distinct climate shift in how people interact with each other. Love grows cold, and it happens everywhere.
Matthew 24:29: “Soon after the trouble of those days, the sun will grow dark, and the moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from the sky. And the celestial bodies will be shaken.”*
Jesus refers to the predictions of the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel [Is. 13:10; 34:4; cf. Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 2:10, 31] announcing what seems to be the destruction of our solar system – at which point Jesus appears in the sky to gather His chosen people from every part of the world. When the world as we know it disappears, we are smart to cling to the Rock. Referring to the future apocalypse, Jesus says something incredibly profound: The matter that we walk on – planet Earth – will pass away. His Word on the other hand stays around forever. In the end it is important to distinguish what truly matters.
*All Bible verses quoted above coming from Expanded Bible (EXB) translation