Reading the Word
Matthew 24:3–8 (ESV)
3 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?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Parallel Texts: Mark 13:3-8; Luke 21:7-11
Understanding and Applying the Word
Matthew 24 begins what is commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. The discourse runs to the end of Matthew 25 and gets its name from the location of Jesus’ teaching, the Mount of Olives. In these chapters, Jesus’ instruction is in response to his disciples’ questions regarding the coming of the last days (cf. Matthew 24:3). The topic of the end times is one that raises much interest and much speculation still today. It is important for us to read the words of Jesus and understand what Scripture says on this subject.
Jesus told his disciples that there would be those who would come and claim to be the Christ (or “Messiah” in Hebrew). Jesus’ followers must not be fooled by counterfeits. There will also be much conflict (“wars and rumors of wars”) and many natural disasters in the days leading up to the time of the end. However, those things do not mean that the end has dawned. They are simply the beginnings of birth pains that will later lead to the birth of the last days. Wars and disasters, as we see throughout history, are a common theme in our world and remind us that something is very very wrong with this world.
Scripture’s description of the last days fascinates many, but we must keep in mind the primary points that we can know about it. It will be a terrible time. It will be a time unlike any other in history. God’s people will face severe persecution under the rule of one who makes himself as a god. However, as bad as it will be, it will come to an end. Jesus Christ will return and will defeat his enemies and also gather his people. The Lord has promised that sin and evil will be judged and that the people of God will find rest in his presence for eternity. We can find strength and encouragement today knowing that the trials we face are temporary and that our God’s plans are in place, even if we have not been given all the details we would like. Let us find our hope in the words and promises of our Savior who is risen and coming again!
**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!