3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Someone said to me recently, “I believe that we are living in the end times. There is so much evil in the world and so many people are turning away from God that we have to be near the end.”
Whenever I hear someone talking about the end times I am reminded of the words of Jesus from Matthew 24:36: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” If we as believers knew the exact hour or day that Christ would appear in power and glory in the sky, it would be a hindrance to our faith. Faith is the key word here. As believers, we must live each and every day by faith, trusting in God’s divine plan for this world.
Chapter 24, in the book of Matthew, gives us an insight into just how curious the disciples were, about when the end times would occur. Sitting down on the Mount of Olives, looking down over Jerusalem, the disciples want Jesus to give them a sign of when the end will come. It’s understandable that they would want to know a time frame since they were so deeply invested in the gospel ministry of Christ.
Matthew, chapter 24, can easily be misunderstood if you do not carefully study this chapter which talks about signs of the end of the age. The chapter begins with the disciples asking Jesus about signs to look for that signal the end of time. In verses 4-14, Jesus appears to give a description of the last days, which would begin with Jesus’ incarnation and end with his second coming. The destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in AD 70, is then presented in verses 15-22. Then in verses 23-31, it seems that we are given a description of Christ’s second coming.
There are many modern bible prophecy teachers that use this text to create interest or fervor among those who are curious or long for Christ to return to earth. While some of this teaching may be motivated by good intentions, it does not follow the teaching of Christ in Matthew 24:36, that plainly tells us that only God knows fully when the end of time will occur. Many end time teachers today use the bible to point out “clues” that the end is near. The bible however, states very clearly, that it is not in God’s will for us to know or even attempt to determine when the end will occur.
Many catastrophic events, such as earthquakes, famines, and wars, have occurred throughout the history of the world and these “birth pains” are sufferings that Jesus warns us that we will face. In our own time we may remember David Koresh or Jim Jones and the death tolls they exacted as false prophets. But there were also many false prophets that came on the scene in the first century. And in our time as well, we must constantly be on guard, for those whose teachings run counter to Christ and our Holy Scriptures.
Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” There are many websites today that attempt to measure the preaching of the gospel to all the nations of the world. There is a lot of debate as to the percentage of nations that has been exposed to the gospel. Jesus knew that his disciples were curious and He knew that we would be curious in our time as well, but Christ plainly tells us that we can never know the exact day or hour that the end will come.
Jesus concludes his teachings on the end times, in Matthew chapter 24, by telling a parable about who is the faithful and wise servant that has been put in charge of his master’s household. This parable on being watchful and actively serving concludes this chapter on end times, but many people continue to miss what Jesus is saying. As believers, we must always be vigilant because the day of Christ’s coming could happen at any time. Jesus teaches us that we must also continue to preach and spread the gospel of Christ to the whole world and not worry about when the end will come.
As believers, we must be actively doing our part to share and spread the love and teachings of Christ each and every day. We can never be too busy that we miss the many opportunities that God gives us in our own “mission fields” every day.
Matthew 9:35-38: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
As a follower of Christ, I encourage you to seek out the “harvest field” that God is calling you to, as you minister to and serve those that do not know Christ.
 Zondervan, NIV Study Bible, 2002