Todays readings… 2 Samuel 8&9, Jeremiah 13, Matthew 24
“AT AN HOUR YOU DO NOT EXPECT”
Today our Matthew reading is about the Olivet prophecy of Jesus. As we read this in one of the Gospels every 2 months we may tend to become too familiar with it. As the clouds of trouble and ungodly behaviour multiply in so many countries, we have every reason to be fully alert as to the significance of the words of Jesus to his disciples as he answered their urgent questions to explain what he had said when they were in the Temple. They had been marvelling at the magnificence of the Temple when he had said, “there will be left here not one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” [ch.24 v.2]
“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age?” [v.3] were their urgent questions. We see his answer as a twofold prophecy: first about the destruction of Jerusalem and how to avoid being caught up in that destruction – but then the ultimate time of trouble for the world, called “the great tribulation” [v.21] at the time of his return to earth.
Verse 14 is a saying that particularly demands our attention! “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Only now through the marvels of the internet, is the “whole world” wired in so that anyone can search for any information they desire, and this includes automated translation facilities to overcome language barriers!
So what happens when the end comes? Why is it “at an hour you do not expect”? Notice the word “you”! One would expect that believers would be the only ones who will “expect.”! But the most obvious answer is because the message of Christ is no longer believed by the great majority!
The Apostle Paul was to write, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them …” [1 Thess. 5 v.2,3]. This implies a time of great trouble, maybe around Jerusalem, but then people think they have achieved an agreement through a lot of “saying” to achieve “peace and security”!
But careful Bible readers “are not in darkness … for that day to surprise you like a thief” [v.4] “at an hour (we) do not expect”! But we cannot be totally confident about that!