Jesus talks about the end times, but the sign he emphasized the most wasn’t earthquakes. He mentions wars and famine, he describes something much like an eclipse, but these are only described once as he was discussing the signs with his disciples in Matthew 24. There is something else that Christ thought was so important about the end of the age that he repeats it four times.
Even though Christ didn’t emphasize natural events, they are often our emphasis. Some professing Christians predict that the world will end in August 2017 because there will be a solar eclipse, one that we haven’t experienced in 100 years. Others claiming to be Christians have made similar announcements. Folks such as Herbert Armstrong, Edgar Whisenant, Harold Camping, Ronald Weinland, and John Hagee have tried to predict Christ’s return for the past century. They forget Matthew 24:36, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” NIV
Even atheist secular scientists predict that very soon humans will wipe themselves off the face of the earth. The signs that are most cited are biological and environmental ones, too. They say that famine, disease, overpopulation, natural disasters, global warming, and the advent of drones and biotechnology will destroy us. Maybe that’s why they are so desperate to start a Mars colony.
What does Christ say is the most important sign?
Jesus tells us to watch out for false prophets. In Matthew 24:4, 11, 23, and 26, Jesus warns us not to be deceived by those professing to be Christ, not to be deceived by people doing signs and wonders in His name.
There are many people professing to be Christians who lead others astray. He says, “At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:10-13NIV
Jesus describes them in Matthew 7:15: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them.” NIV
The apostle Paul warns about them in 2 Corinthians 11:13: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” NIV
What does Christ say is the most important thing for us to do?
Jesus says to keep watch because we do not know on what day our Lord will return. (Matt. 24:42)
Keeping watch doesn’t mean keeping track of earthquakes and pestilence. It doesn’t mean waiting for the next eclipse. It means that we are actively doing something. What do we do? First, we watch out for false prophets. Then, we make sure we are busy doing the work of our Master. The work of our Master is to spread the Gospel, spread our knowledge of Him, and make new followers of Jesus. (Matt. 25:14-28, Matt. 28:19).
Please add your comments about end of the world predictions. What advice do you give other Christians when you hear such predictions? How has this post helped you resist the temptation to believe them?