In Matthew 24:1-10, the apostle recalls a conversation that Jesus had with his disciples regarding what was coming in the future. It was such a striking conversation, that it was recorded by two other gospel writers; Mark in chapter 13 and Luke in chapter 21. Although John does not record this conversation in his gospel, he writes an entire book about a revelation given to him by Jesus which elaborates on many of the events spoken of in this very conversation.
In this conversation, Jesus speaks of the world as we know it changing and even coming to an end. He points out several changes and some events in the future which will allow the disciples to know that the end is near and His coming eminent.
To believe these words, one must believe that Jesus is exactly who He says He is: THE Prophet of God; His Son sent to guide and save the world! While many don’t live as if they believe Jesus, there is still a fascination with His words regarding the end of all things.
Something about life in the present is peaking interest in this conversation. Are we truly near the end?
Last week, I gave a short talk about the prophetic reference points Jesus gave His disciples which function as signs to point out where we are on the scope of time. Those two reference points were the destruction of the Jewish Temple which was accomplished in 70 AD and the establishment of the covenant of peace between Israel and its enemies which is brokered by and then broken by the anti-Christ.
In between these two reference points, many prophetic events happen.
I want to discuss a few signs that Jesus said would occur in or around the church that reveal that the end is approaching. The sign we are looking at today has to do with apocolyptic attitudes toward Christians.
Christianity has been the predominant religion of influence in the west since the days of the Roman emperor Constantine. This influence came through two primary avenues: the spread of the gospel through evangelization and the corruption that followed the institution of the temporal powers of the papacy. One good – another not so great.
Although not all scholars agree, Christianity was a driving force behind the creation of the laws and institutions of the republic of the United States. This is according to the writings of the Founding Fathers themselves. While Christianity has not been popular in many nations around the globe, it is at this time the predominant religion worldwide comprising 2.18 billion people; one third of the world’s population.
Jesus stated that one sign of the end times would be that true believers would be hated by ALL nations because of their devotion to Jesus and His Word. Despite what we consider advancement in thinking, persecution of Christians continues.
Here are some statistics regarding the persecution of Christians:
163,000 die every year because of their faith in Christ
Half of all martyrs have died in this century – 35 million!
2025 – Number will rise to 210,000 deaths yearly!
The headlines are full of stories about the persecution of Christians worldwide.
The US has always been considered a friend of religious freedom and Christianity in particular, yet recently, attacks against public expressions of Christianity have increased dramatically especially through the court system. The Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and Nativity Scenes are suddenly considered “toxic.” Wearing Christian T-shirts at school or singing Christmas carols that mention Christ is considered unlawful. In some quarters, the US military has been teaching its soldiers that groups that support traditional marriage or believe in evangelization are hate groups.
Even top public officials in our own nation often make a stand against the truth of the faith.
Here’s a few comments by a top current policy maker:
“Even those who claim the Bible’s inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages – the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ’s divinity – are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life.”
When asked what the definition of sin is – “Being out of alignment with my values.”
When asked about support for same-sex marriage and the benefits that accompany marriage – “I am not willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.”
“I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize.”
“All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isa, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.”
“The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer.”
These are all quotes from the leader of the free world, our President. I’m not throwing stones, just reflecting to you that Jesus said you will be hated by ALL nations. Will this attitude change for a season of time? Possibly, but it will return with a vengeance as we get closer and closer to Christ’s one thousand year reign.
Attitudes are changing toward Christians, even in America. Jesus said it is a sign of the end.