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What the Bible says about Signs of the End Times
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 24:6

If Jesus said this to imply something of worldwide importance—worldwide impact—it did not apply well to those people in Jesus' day because, to them, the world was limited to the Mediterranean area. They did not have radio, television, or telephones. Communication then compared to today was quite slow. What we are looking at here in Matthew 24 is primarily addressed to those who are living at the end-time, when there is radio, television, the Internet, and all kinds of means of rapid communication.

We cannot go through a day anymore without hearing of a war or some kind of armed fighting or conflict with people being killed somewhere on this earth, whether it is in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iraq, in East Africa, in South America, or now even in the United States. It is happening all the time, and we are aware of it. We may not pay a great deal of attention, but it registers on our minds that it has occurred. It adds to the intensity of our stress and keeps us a little bit on edge. However, Jesus says that, despite hearing all these terrible things, the end is not yet.

All of the things He mentions from verse 4 to at least verse 12 is that none of them is absolutely a sign of the time of the end. This is not to say that they will not happen at the time of the end. They most certainly will happen at the time of the end, but none of these things of and by themselves, or even collectively, is a sign of the end time. These kinds of events can all occur at any time in history. Beginning at verse 12, though, things begin to get more serious for those of us who are living at the end time.

In terms of spiritual instruction to us, Jesus is warning us not to allow ourselves to get caught up in them because they can very easily become false signs that one can give far too much importance to.

These things are happening, and they are happening at both an increasing tempo and an increasing intensity. They are beginning to strike right in our very own lands. We need to keep an eye on them, but Jesus says, despite them, "The end is not yet."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)

Luke 17:34-37

The disciples' question, “Where, Lord?” appears to be about where all of this would be taking place—including His return, which would initiate the judgment—rather than about where His followers would be taken. In Matthew's account, their original question was about the signs of Christ's coming and the end of the age (see Matthew 24:3, 28), so what appears to have been on their minds were the specifics of His return rather than the location of those “taken.”

As is His pattern, He does not answer their question directly. Instead, His answer applies on multiple levels. Looking at Matthew's and Luke's accounts together, the disciples ask about when and where, since we humans want a specific date and location so we can gauge how these things will affect us personally. God, however, gives principles.

In Scripture, a wake (gathering) of vultures is an indicator of God's judgment for rebellion. In the blessings and curses given to Israel, God warns them, “Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten themaway” (Deuteronomy 28:26). It is a judgment of great shame, one that has been fulfilled in type in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem (Psalm 79:1-3).

Under this curse, the Israelites would have no dignity in their deaths; they would have no one to bury them. It symbolizes the height of defeat, disgrace, and personal insignificance, when no defenders are left to keep the scavengers from tearing a human body apart just as they would a dead animal. When God cleans His creation in this way, a person becomes nothing more than a meal for one of the most despised creatures.

But Israelites are not the only ones to receive this shameful judgment. The same fate is prophesied for those fighting against Christ at His return:

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, freeand slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. . . . And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:17-19, 21; see also the prophecy against Gog in Ezekiel 39:17-20)

The followers of the Beast and False Prophet will be killed, and God will specifically call the carrion birds for this gruesome feast. Any alleged return of the Messiah that does not involve this judgment on God's enemies is a lie. These are grisly descriptions but necessary reminders of His view of sin, disobedience, and rebellion against Him. Christ will return at a time when the opposition to Him will have reached a peak and to a place where human governments will have assembled against Him. Moreover, there will be a gathering of scavengers as a sign of God's judgment of shame.

David C. Grabbe
Where the Eagles Are Gathered

Luke 21:7-28

In verses 7-19, Jesus informs us about the visible signs of world events which signal that the end is near. In verses 20-24, He is still talking about these visible signs, but specifically about those that involve Jerusalem. Verses 25-28 describe the cataclysmic events in the sky and on the earth, heralding His imminent return. Thus, through verse 28, our Savior reveals to us the events presaging His return in the world (verses 7-19), in Jerusalem (verses 20-24), and in the sky and earth (verses 25-28).

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part One)

Luke 21:32

Which generation is "this generation"? Obviously, if we are to believe Scripture, it could not have been the generation of the apostles because "all these things" were not fulfilled in their lifetimes. By putting verses 31-32 together, we can conclude that "this generation" is the one that "see[s] these things happening." That is, the generation that recognizes the signs of the Olivet Prophecy being fulfilled is "this generation."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are These the Last Days? (Part 1)


 




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