Today's Bible Reading: Matthew 24
Selected Biblical Text
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:1-13 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
This chapter and the next are the fifth and final great discourse (teaching section) in Matthew's Gospel. Life lived in the kingdom is a life of expectant sojourning. The kingdom in the here and now points to a future reality -- the kingdom in the there and then. In this chapter, Jesus speaks of "the end." As he describes his future coming, he actually speaks of several "comings" and several "endings." We can clearly see references to the end referring to the destruction of the temple structure and the end of the age. We read of the end of Judaism; we read about the end of the world. Many have studied and written about the meaning of this chapter and it is beyond the few words available here to provide a complete explanation. Suffice it to say in this devotional reflection that many of the events described were immediate and would occur in the lifetime of those who heard Jesus. Other events were more distant and their timing was unknown.
This is even clearer when the two chapters are taken as a single discourse. In the kingdom, life is to be lived knowing that the end will come. No need to buy, renting is sufficient, because this world is not the ultimate goal. In this physical realm, we are not eternal. Nothing here is eternal, for the earth is temporal (time-limited or constrained). Only the spiritual being housed in the physical body is eternal. Life here will not be easy; difficulties and challenges will come, false teachers and distressing days. Nations rise and fall, but God controls.
Do you live with the end in view? How would you need to change your life to be able to say that you live knowing that the end is coming? What goals of your church would you describe as worldly? Are goals focused in this world valid? Why or why not? Think of some examples of spiritual goals the church might adopt? What are valid goals for your life, keeping in mind that the end is coming? What is the ideal version of your life given the truths presented in this chapter?
Dear God, help me live with the end in view. Give me the strength to endure the challenges of this life as I journey toward the ultimate kingdom goal, in Jesus' name, Amen.