Starting today, I launch an expository sermon series on “Signs of the End But Not of Themselves the End,” based on Matthew 24-25. For so long, I haven’t preached on Bible prophecy. Now I’d like us to begin with Jesus’ discourse on the signs of the end of the age. The signs of the end are not themselves the end, but signs of the end. (Hagner) The present age covers the interim period of Jesus’ first coming and second coming. It began in the time of the Jesus and will end in the second coming of Jesus. The signs of the end of the age are the signs before the second coming of Christ.
Scholars have debated on the exact meaning of Jesus’ discourse. Yet scholarly debates should not stop us from studying it. Remember that Jesus’ disciples were simple folks, not scholars. Jesus did not say these words to confuse them, but to clarify to them. He did not say it to discourage them, but to encourage them. (MacArthur) Matthew did not write his gospel to scholars, but to simple Jewish people.
Thus, we will study Jesus’ words in a straightforward manner. We will read it plainly, literally, and normally, following the historical-grammatical method of interpreting Scripture. As David Guzik noted, the literal fulfillment of the destruction of the Temple should make us expect the literal fulfillment of His other prophecies in the chapter. (Guzik)
Jesus’ teaching on the signs of the end is important for several reasons. Jesus’ teaching is fundamental and critical. Hence, the starting point of knowing the signs of the end is the teaching of Jesus. Jesus wants us to be aware of it, and not be ignorant of it. We are now living in the last days—the period of Jesus’ first and second coming. We are seeing several signs of the last days—wars, earthquakes, false Christs, false prophets, and persecution of Christians. If we know the signs of the end, then we can be ready any time for the end.
In my next post, we will tackle Matthew 24:1-3, which introduces Jesus’ discourse.