Theme: Do Not Be AlarmedGod is in control of the world now and until the end of time
SCRIPTUREMatthew 24: 23-28
“Then if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
As we noted yesterday, Josephus describes the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and it was indeed a time of distress unequalled in any previous destruction (The Jewish War, V, VI).
Terrible? Yes, but this would still not be the end, which is why verses 23-28 revert to the original point and summarize it. The meaning of these verses goes something like this: So if anyone says to you, “Christ is here now,” even then don’t be taken in by it; for that one will not be the Christ. Nor will these or any other signs be actual signs of the end. How will you know they are not? It is because the Son of Man will come suddenly, like lightning that is visible in an instant from east to west, and there will be no adequate warning signs of that decisive final coming.
All right, you say. But what should my attitude be in the midst of the terrible things I see occurring now? How should I live between the first coming of Jesus and his second coming, whenever that may be?
Let me answer that by a powerful story. In the summer of 1939, Donald Grey Barnhouse, a former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, was in Scotland where he had been preaching. His family had been staying at a small resort on the coast of Normandy in France. He was to be in Belfast, Ireland, the first week in September for meetings. But there was a week between the close of the meetings in Scotland and the beginning of the meetings in Ireland, and Barnhouse decided to join his family in France for the interval.
When he handed his passport to the official at the airport at Croyden to fly to France he was questioned about his travel plans. He answered that he planned to go over that day and return toward the end of the week to be in Belfast by Saturday night. The official said, “If you want to be in Belfast on Saturday, I strongly urge you not to go to France today.” Barnhouse knew that Europe was in turmoil at the time. Hitler had just signed a treaty with Russia and was threatening to march into Danzig. Still the possibility of actual war seemed remote. Barnhouse decided to go, but the official who stamped his passport did so grimly, saying, “Don’t forget that I warned you.”
There were soldiers everywhere in France. The airport buildings had been turned into military barracks. When he stopped at the desk to check on his return accommodations for Friday, he was told that no one was sure there would even be a flight on Friday. The flights might be cancelled. But the threat seemed unreal with the joy of reunion in his mind.
Leaving the airport, the family drove down the coast for a few miles to a peaceful little village. There were hundreds of families there, for this was the height of the French vacation season. From time to time an airplane would appear in the distance and the beach would suddenly become still as it drew closer. But when they saw that the plane was French the motion began again and things appeared normal. Monday went by. Tuesday. Wednesday. Finally, on Thursday morning word came that there would be no more flights to England. If Barnhouse wanted to return to England, he would have to go all the way to Paris and then travel back across France to the coast and London. Barnhouse left on the next train.
We continue this story tomorrow.
How does this story remind you of the signs mentioned in Matthew 24?
When have you felt the end was near? How did you respond?
Pray that you will be ready when Jesus comes.