[cont'd from The End of the Age 3.24.10]
As I continue this review of the Olivet Discourse, I was curious whether recent war death tolls differed greatly from wars farther back in history.
The only list that I found was on Wikipedia, so take it for what it’s worth, but it seems that man has been very good at killing man throughout history. While 72 million died in World War II, 100 million died during the Mongol Conquests from 1207 – 1472, so I don’t think we can use Jesus’ first warning in today’s passage as a sign of the end times. Wars have been continuous throughout history.
The same thing appears to be true of earthquakes and famines and other natural disasters. While the death toll in Haiti is estimated at 233,000, four other earthquakes going back to Antioch in 526, eclipse that number, so again, I don’t think it’s a “sign of the times.”
(Matthew 24:6-8) You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
Jesus advice on how to deal with all these things is simple: See that you are not frightened. This is a common refrain to God’s people throughout the Bible, and the verse that seems to speak to my heart most clearly on this is Matthew 10:28:
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
When we fear what man can do to us, I think we have lost our perspective. We have given man way too much importance, and God way too little.
(Matthew 24:9) Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
This is the verse that has jumped out at me this week, particularly the last phrase: you will be hated by all nations because of My name. As Christians in America begin to feel twinges of hate from our secular culture, it occurred to me that this truly could be a “sign of the times.” If all nations will hate Christians, then there can be no refuge anywhere in the world. Jesus has told us that America, too, will turn its back on Him and us.
[to be continued]