Last week, we began looking at the prophecies of the present age. Matthew 24 really ought to be the foundational text that we use for any end time prophecy study. It is Jesus Himself giving us a rough overview of the timeline.
It can be broken up into 3 time periods. Matthew 24:4-14 regards the ‘beginning of sorrows’. Next is the Great Tribulation in verses 5-28 and finally in verses 29-31 it talks about the Second Coming of Christ.
Today, we’re going to talk about this first time period ‘the beginning of sorrows’. It can also be referred to as the ‘time of the gentiles’. Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Romans 11 also refers to the time of the gentiles. It’s sort of an in-between period; after the resurrection and before the second coming.
Let’s go back to Matthew 24:8. The word ‘sorrows’ here is the Greek word ōdin which means labour pains. This time period began after Jesus rose from the dead. Ever since then, the world has been prevailing, waiting for His return. Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
The labour pains have already started. The pain and suffering of this life has already begun. Labour pains get more and more severe as the mother gets closer to birth. That’s what we should expect as a sign of these times. The woman’s body says ‘it’s time to get this baby out’. And we can see that the world, those outside the church, are in the same process. The world wants to be delivered from the church, from the truth and the light. Satan wants to have this world to himself and God-fearing, Holy Spirit filled Christians are in his way. So, he is trying to get rid of the church.
The Bible tells us that all of creation will be renewed and restored, but there is a process that has to happen. The pregnant mother never regrets having given birth. It might not be pleasant at the time but as soon as it’s done, she’s filled with joy and love as she holds her new baby. So we have this hope, as we’ve said before, that we must keep our eyes on. Our future is bright, no matter what might happen before then. Keep your eyes fixed on what is to come, just as Jesus kept His eyes on what would result in His death and resurrection. It was that that gave Him strength to accomplish what He did on the cross. Thank You, Jesus!
Let’s look at this closer. Matthew 24 gives us hallmarks of this age. This is not in any order of priority, simply what’s written here first. The first sign is that the gospel must be preached in all the world. Matt. 24:14, Jesus says: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
We know that until this happens, the end will not come. What does he mean exactly? Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.
Rev. 5:9-10 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev. 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Then in v13-14 it says; And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
In order to have come out of something, you need to have been in it. Right? I want to point this out to you before we move on but we will get into this more at a later date.
This is a time when the gospel is going forth into all the world. Despite the world’s attempts to reject and restrict the preaching of the gospel, it’s still happening! Right now there is somewhere between 7000 and 10,000 ethnic groups in the world today. Isn’t that amazing?! Not all of those people groups have the Bible in their language. There are organisations out there who are trying to correct that. But the preaching of the gospel in every nation is one of the signs of the end.
The second hallmark we see is the spirit of antichrist. Deception, immorality and persecution. Matt. 24:4-5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
We see this today in scientology, christian science, Jehovah Witnesses etc. even the Methodists are embracing ungodly things now and ignoring the Bible to bow to the world’s ideaology. All of this was also foretold by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
People don’t want to hear the demands of the gospel or the consequences of sin these days. Of course, there’s a balance to it, but if you take away one side, you’re unbalanced. The rebellion and immorality is growing stronger and more common and the ‘falling away’ is happening all around us at a greater and greater rate year after year.
Jesus said in Matt. 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Our eyes need to stay fixed on Jesus, our hearts fixed on God’s Word and the hope of the blessings of the world to come. We must not compromise folks! Stay true to what God has spoken and let us run this race to the end, amen!
We’re going to stop here and pick up next time talking about this stage of 'the beginning of sorrows'. Keep your eyes on Jesus! Upstream Ministries
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