Practical Lessons from Matthew 24

May/June 2019

If ye know these things ..

“God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7).

by Timothy Thomassen

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Matthew 24 contains many prophetic insights into our Lord’s second advent. Bible scholars have studied and discussed this important prophecy for many years, sometimes coming to different conclusions. However, it contains practical lessons as
well. Some are suggested here for consideration.

“Tell to us, when these (things) shall be? And what the sign of thy presence and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3, Benjamin Wilson Diaglott). The disciples wanted to know more about the sign of the Lord’s presence and the end of the Gospel era. Likewise, we should have a sincere and studious desire to
discover additional insights.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NASB).

It pleases God when we handle carefully and correctly God’s written word. We should look to the word of God with the same reverence as the Psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Jesus gave a parable to illustrate the alertness and attentiveness that should characterize his followers. Luke 12:35-36 (NIV) says: “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him” (Luke 12:35-36 NIV).

Jesus illustrates the alertness that should characterize his followers while waiting for his second coming. The lesson here is that diligence in service, watchfulness for the interests of the Master’s cause, faith in his promise to return, and expectancy of the event, serve as aids or stimulus to proper service.

Jesus instructed his disciples, “take heed that no man lead you astray” (Matthew 24:4 ASV). We should guard against false teachers who do not teach the sound doctrine taught in the
Bible. We are to be careful that no man deceive us by pretending to come from God with a new revelation, instead of the truth of God’s word.

The Apostle Paul’s counsel to the elders from Ephesus is relevant for us today: “For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God. Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of God which he purchased with the blood of
his own Son. I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:27-30 RVIC).

It is necessary for the discipline, trial, and final proving of the church of God that they should be subjected to these adverse influences.  To him that overcometh them is the promise of
the great reward. If we would reign with Christ, we must prove our worthiness to reign by the same tests of loyalty to God, of faith in His Word, of zeal for the Truth, of patient endurance of reproach and persecution, even unto death, and of unwavering trust in the power and purpose of God to deliver and exalt His
church in due time.

Jesus said, “ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6 ASV).

Jesus was instructing his disciples, as well as us, to program our minds to not allow wars and rumors of wars to concern us. True, we should be empathetic to victims of wars and violence.

However, we have been blessed to know that a time is coming when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4, ASV).

Jesus’ implies there has always been war, and until he establishes peace in the Millennial Kingdom, war will be commonplace. No matter, our mission is the same. And this mission of preaching the gospel worldwide is what Jesus
says is a sure predictor of the end times.

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end have come” (Matthew 24:14 RVIC). This expresses the service of saints throughout the Gospel Age. During the present Harvest or ending period of the age, we should the more continue our commission to preach the good tidings.

Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ASV).
As we learn to take a proper view of the Lord’s dealings, learn to have faith in him, learn to note his providences and trust his promises, it is our privilege to have peace and rest in every time of storm and distress. It is not always so with others. How thankful we should be!

Matthew 24:12 indicates that the love of many shall wax cold because iniquity shall be multiplied. This describes conditions that will continue to the end of the Gospel Age.  Unrighteousness, false professions, empty forms of godliness, and love of pleasure will abound. But it is better to walk alone than with a crowd going in the wrong direction.

A cooling of our love toward God means losing the desire to please Him, with a lessening of our love for His service in spreading the Gospel message. But “he that endureth to
the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13 ASV). Hence, the need for endurance is stressed, and the test of endurance is one of the hardest. Patient endurance to the end of the race is needful to all running for the prize held out in this Gospel Age.

Many scriptures stress the importance of endurance. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4 ESV2008).

“You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36 ESV).

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11 ESV).

One overriding theme is watchfulness. As the writer suggests in a well-known hymn: “We’ve been watching, we’ve been waiting,
For the bright, prophetic day; When the shadows, weary shadows, From the world shall roll away. We are waking, for ’tis morning, And the beauteous day is dawning; We are happy,
for ’tis morning; See! the shadows flee away. Lo! He comes! See the King draw near! Zion, shout! The Lord is here” (Hymns of Dawn 318, “Watching for the Day,” verse 1).

The importance of watching is emphasized in many scriptures, including: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NIV).

By faith, we should draw near to our Master Teacher, full of confidence in God’s wonderful plan. All true watch-ers must also be pray-ers, and all fervent pray-ers must also be watch-ers.

In conclusion, let these words be continually on our minds: “Watch therefore” (Matthew 24:42 ASV). We should watch the signs of the times in the light of God’s Word. We should
watch ourselves, and also the word of prophecy. We should watch intently and with interest because we know of the good things that God has in reservation for those who are faithful as
well as for all mankind. “To God be the glory!”





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