There have been so many technological advancements in the last few centuries. I think of foam cement, plastic bottle houses, theological ideas, scientific debates, archaeological connections, not to mention electronic technology, etc. The industrial revolution, for instance, changed the way products are made and the mass production of widgets and Spacely Sprockets means that everyone can have one. The internet allows the lightning fast communication of not only news, but also ideas and technology.
Every generation in the past has marveled at how they have noticed the pace of change in their own time, but myself growing up with the internet (late Gen X), I can honestly say that because of the internet, times are changing at a pace the world has never before experienced. The internet has reached the world with new Ideas and has made much of it act as though the world is only made up of first world culture. All this data that I absorb gets me thinking about Matthew 24.
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?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 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. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains (Matthew 24: 3-8).
I’m pretty sure that if you ask anyone in the world what is wrong with the world, it will sound like one or more of these answers. Think of all the nations against each other… I think of “Brexit” and how many discussions there are with countries leaving the EU and the UN and the UK… the fact that Russia and the US seems to have been in a volatile relationship since I was a child; North Korea… I need only mention the names of some countries to spark controversial discussion.
As far as earthquakes and famines are concerned, it is a no-brainer. It is interesting that Jesus says that these are the beginning of birth pains. The first chapter of this "book" on The End seems awfully long, but we know that we are in it for sure. But I think that we make a mistake in thinking and living as if it is somewhere in the vastly distant future.
After the contractions, Jesus then explains that we will have this life to look forward to:
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:9-14; emphasis mine).
It is noteworthy that a necessary condition for the end to come is that the gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world. Think about this for a moment… the internet is in the hands of almost all adults in the modern world, with over half of the world’s population having a smart phone (even in Africa). This all only 25 years after the creation of the internet. But think about what is on the internet: the gospel. So because the gospel is now proclaimed throughout the whole world, the necessary condition for the end is fulfilled (even though I believe this was fulfilled before, it now seems there to be no question whatsoever).
Jesus tells His listeners that they will be delivered up to tribulation and be put to death, and they will be hated by all nations (also see this). From the perspective of a Christian living currently in the Middle East, it seems that they would have to think that this is the end times.
Also, there is a condition where the love of many will grow cold because of lawlessness. This makes me think of abortion and euthanasia. People are causing others to die of literal starvation in hospitals because they are seen as just soaking up resources and not worth the effort. It seems that, ethically speaking, if there is any chance at all that there is conscious life in a body, though it is in what might be perceived as a vegetative state, people should do all they can for them to live. Who knows what may be reversed, or what their internal experience is like. And as far as abortions are concerned, that is straight up violent murder of the most innocent and most helpless part of society. If we treat unborn babies like this, how will we treat others who we believe do not have personhood? Doesn’t it makes sense to look at how we treat the beginnings of a human being? Lawlessness causes cold shoulders. If there are no laws against abortion and euthanasia, then what follows will be carelessness for our fellow human beings.
Jesus says a lot about the end times. Also noteworthy, is that He says His return will be like lightning. Lightning is electricity, and so is the internet propelled by such. Did it ever occur to you that Jesus could be talking about a live stream YouTube video or something of that nature? What a crazy idea, but seriously, with the ancient language descriptions of the future, how is it supposed to sound? How would a 1st century Jew describe the internet? Possibly like this: “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” (Matthew 24:27).
More could be said about what Jesus says in Matthew 24, as it has been, but the point I am trying to make is that we do not “scoff” at the idea of His return. We might think “oh yeah… this stuff has been happening forever…” and we wave it off and dismiss it. But the warning of negligence is not without reason. We expect His return, so why would we act as if we know that it won’t be anytime soon?
Jesus reasons with us:
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:42-44).
The return of Christ is imminent. Be ready, be alert.
“Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” ~Revelation 22:20
Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus