Friday, January 28, 2011

End times: the second question

A few days before Jesus was crucified, His disciples asked Him three questions: When would Jerusalem and the Temple be destroyed, what would be the sign of the end of the age, and what would be the sign of His coming?

Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in AD70. So what will be the sign of the end of the age?

The Jews spoke of "this age," referring to the age in which they were living, and "the age to come," meaning the messianic age. Christians would call the age in which we live the church age, which extends from Christ's resurrection and the the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to Christ's Second Coming.

So what did Jesus say would be the sign of the end of this age?

"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 rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet
(Matt 24:4 - 6).

So there will be false messiahs and there will be wars, but these are not signs that the age is coming to an end.

Then Jesus comes to what is the sign of the end of the age:

"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"
(Matt 24:7, 8).

To the Jews, "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" would signify world war. We had the first world wars - two of them - in the 20th century.

These, along with famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places, are "the beginning of sorrows." The Greek word used for "sorrows" there is the word used to describe labour pains.

These are signs that the world is in travail, preparing for the birth of the messianic age.