“See, I have told you ahead of time” (Matthew 24:25).
These are the words of the Lord Jesus, found in the middle of his discourse on the end of the age. His disciples had asked him what the signs will be of the end of the age and of the second coming. He listed several signs.
The first thing the Lord mentions are the false christs that will come and deceive many. This we are already seeing all over the world. I have found many articles of people who claim to be the Christ. One even resides in Florida. A few weeks ago in the Chicago Tribune there was an article about the Unification Church’s leader, Yung Sun Moon, coming to Chicago and leading many pastors of evangelical churches astray by his teachings.
Next, the Lord mentions wars and rumors of wars. All you have to do is turn on the radio or TV or read a newspaper to hear about these things. Just tonight I heard a news report mention that we are entering into another Cold War. There are many rumors spreading about alliances being formed and uniting against particular common enemies. And many wars are already being fought around the world. The Lord tells us regarding these things, “See to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (v. 6).
After warnings of nation rising against nation, we find warning of famines and earthquakes. These things we are also seeing all around the world. Even here in the United States crops are failing and livestock are dying due to the recent weather patterns. We are told about all these things, “All these are the beginning of birth pains” (v. 8).
If these things are only the beginning, we haven’t seen anything yet. What more can happen? The Lord continues, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (v. 9). A great persecution is coming where Christians will be put to death and people who betray Christians will think they are actually doing a good service to God. No nation will be left untouched.
Then the abomination that causes desolation will seat himself upon the throne of God in the temple. This is the antichrist. We are told when we see this to flee to the hills and not to turn back for anything. They will be the most dreadful days the world has ever seen. Again, many false christs will lead many astray, but we are told not to listen to them. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, it will be as the lightning is seen from one end of the heavens to the other. There will be no mistaking it, so we should not go out to the desert or into a secret place to see someone who claims to be the Christ. They will even perform great signs and miracles, but do not be deceived. These are false christs.
The Lord Jesus Christ says to his church, “See, I have told you ahead of time… Now learn this lesson from the fig tree. As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (v. 25, 32-33).