Times Of The End: Matthew 24:3
Times Of The End: Matthew 24:3
“3) As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?””Matthew 24:3
Though all the Apostles were with Jesus as He came out of the temple in the previous two verses, it appears now as He sits on the Mount of Olives that only Peter, James, John and Andrew are in His company. (See Mark 13:3) They question Him privately.
This is a point often skipped over, but of great significance. Though all had equal access to Jesus, only this small group took every advantage of abiding in His presence. They were consistently pictured at His side.
The same is true today. Every believer has invitation to abide in His presence, study His Word, come boldly before the throne of grace, worship Him and walk by the Spirit, but so few spend significant time with Him. We allow many worthless and mundane things to steal our focus and attention while only a few spend time at His feet in private. Make it your ambition to be in that small group.
They were aware that significant changes were at hand. He had warned them often of His coming death and resurrection. (Matthew 16:21; 20:17-19) They took the occasion to ask Him three key questions:
When will these things be? What will be the sign of Your coming? What will mark the end of the age?
These three questions were profound. They were still on their mind after His resurrection. Look at Acts 1:6; “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” To this Jesus replied; “7) … It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8) but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.””
I would suggest the words “end of the age”, “times”, and “epochs” are crucial. The disciples were thinking in terms of an event, but Jesus was speaking of mysteries of a coming age, epoch or entire dispensations of time.
Though He had hinted about it in John 14-17, at this point the disciples were clueless of the coming age of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is often referred to as the “age of grace” or “the church age.” It might even be called “the age of the Gentiles.” It has already spanned nearly 2,000 years! But notice, this long “age” was not even on their radar screen!
The Apostle Paul spoke in depth about this mystery in Ephesians 3:1-12. He had unparalleled insight into “the age of grace” or “the Church age.” It behooves us to live and walk in the full benefits of this age of the indwelling Holy Spirit in which we now live! He made this application the focus of praying for believers in the next context of Ephesians 3:14-21. It is worthy of your careful study.
But now let me stretch you with another thought. Like the disciples, I often hear questions about “the end times.” We want a nice and neat explanation of exactly what is going to happen and when! Like the disciples, Christians are searching for a time and date. But what if “the end times” relate more to an age than a specific event? Could it be that God wants us to discern the “signs of the times” rather than looking for neatly packaged events? Are we as clueless as the disciples were about God’s calendar?
I confess, I am thinking more in terms of “the times of the end” than I am “the end times.” For example, the Bible talks about an expansion of international travel, the gospel going to every nation, times of tribulation and martyrdom, Israel becoming a nation, the forging of a one world government system and the rule of antichrist. This will be accompanied by an apostate Christian church that competes with and obscures the revived bride of Christ. Of necessity there will also be an explosion of technology to track the mark of the beast.
Hmm, I have watched many of these things take shape during my sojourn on earth. If I were born a mere 20 years earlier, I could conceivably embrace all of them including the expansion of international aviation to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel 12:4 and Israel becoming a nation.
Here is my point, many things blend together in “the times of the end.” The Bible presents this as a gradual time of transition that spans one full generation. This will be followed by the return of Christ to set up His millennial kingdom. (Revelation 20:1-7) Granted, there are numerous views as to how the return of Christ will transpire, but don’t lose sight of the big picture; Jesus is coming again!
I personally believe we are in the times of the end of this age. It has been unfolding right before our eyes in my generation. This will culminate with the next age on God’s calendar. God is still in control! The earth is not going to be destroyed at this time. Jesus is preparing to rule this present earth for a full millennium.
The problem I see is that people blend the end of this age and the end of the world together in their thinking. These two events are very different and are separated by the millennial reign of Christ.
Stay tuned as Jesus unpacks the times of the end in the next two chapters.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global