END OF THE WORLD: Will Signs Precede It?

Many people today believe that we are nearing the end of the world. They claim that the Bible gives signs that will warn us that the end is near. They propose to get these signs from Matthew 24:

Matthew 24:6-7

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

Careful study of this chapter shows that Jesus was not giving signs that would warn of the end of the world. Instead, He was giving signs that would warn those Christians living in Jerusalem of the coming destruction of that city in 70 A.D. at the hands of the Romans. Notice verse 16:

Matthew 24:16

“…then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Jesus told those Jews living in Jerusalem that when they saw certain signs, that they were to flee to the mountains in order to escape the carnage that was about to take place. If Jesus had given those signs as a warning of the end of the world, why would He tell them to “flee to the mountains” when they saw those signs? That would make no sense; the mountains would offer no safety in such a case. Later in the chapter, when Jesus did discuss the question of signs of the end of the world, He gave this response:

Matthew 24:42-44

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus said that concerning the end of the world, there would be no signs to warn us, that it would happen when we do not expect it. A man will not be able to live a life of wickedness and then repent at the last moment by watching for signs preceding the end of the world. A number of verses describe the end of the world as coming “like a thief in the night.”

1 Thessalonians 5:2

“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

2 Peter 3:10

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”

A thief does not give a warning before he breaks into a house. He knows that the only way he can steal the goods in the house is to sneak in when people least expect it. That is why we lock our doors at night. We are preparing our house so that a thief cannot surprise us. That is Jesus’ point about the end of the world. He will come as a thief, unexpected. We must prepare ourselves through obedience to God. If we are faithful Christians, then we are prepared for the end of the world, no matter when it happens. It will not take us by surprise even though we do not know the day or the hour in which it will come.

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