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[cont'd from The End of the Age 3.31.10]
As I continue my examination of the Olivet Discourse, looking for the words of Jesus that can be applied to the world of today, we come to Matthew 24:10-12:
At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
“Fall away” in this context comes from the Greek skandalizō, G4625, meaning to “scandalize” or to entrap, that is, trip up (figuratively stumble [transitively] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure): – (make to) offend.
It’s hard for us as Americans to visualize this falling away. It’s hard to understand that many who now proclaim to be Christians, when pressed by difficult circumstances, will “scandalize” and betray one another and hate one another. As I wondered what our reaction to this situation should be, I remembered another verse from the Sermon on the Mount, where skandalizō is translated “to stumble.”
If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
While Jesus is trying to prepare us for hard times by telling us what it will be like, I think His solution to the problem is to literally throw out anything, including body parts, that would cause us to sin. If a TV show leads us into temptation – throw the TV out. If a friend entices us to tread a wrong path – avoid that person. Based on Jesus’ advice, nothing we can do is too drastic if it keeps us from sinning.
Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
There are so many false prophets and teachers in the church today, it’s hard to find the real deal. It’s so bad in my area, that I would be hard-pressed to recommend any church to a newcomer to the faith or to the area. In today’s passage, Jesus’ doesn’t offer a way to avoid being misled, but in another He promises the only answer I know:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)
If we have not received the Holy Spirit of truth that Jesus’ promised, then I think it will be impossible for our feeble brains to avoid being misled.
Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
It’s hard to love criminals. It’s hard to love those who hurt others, especially when the hurting are close to us. The more crime and hate we see, the harder it is to love the criminals. But love we must, or we will be among those whose love has grown cold.
When I come across someone who is hard to even be around, no less love, I remind myself of who I was and what I did before I accepted the forgiveness of Christ. I remind myself that God loved me even in the worst of my sin. I didn’t deserve forgiveness any more than the worst person I’ve encountered. And then I realize that, unless I want to be a hypocrite, I must offer that same love and forgiveness to everyone I meet.
(27) “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
(28) bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
(29) “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.
(30) “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
(31) “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
(32) “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
(33) “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
(34) “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.
(35) “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
(36) “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
(37) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
(38) “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:27-38)