Most Christians are familiar with Matthew 24 but we are going to re-examine the chapter. To give some background to the events mentioned in Matthew 24 it is good to look at Matthew 23, where Jesus condemned the Jewish church—God’s church, that had been given the truth. They had been blessed with prophecies and prophets had been sent to instruct them. They had the word of God in their midst, yet they had backslidden so much that God could not recognize them or use them as His own church any longer.
They were in much darkness and were about to murder God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. In Matthew 23, we read that Jesus condemned their church, their ministry, and their educational work. He told them that they travel across the continent and the ocean to find a soul, bring him or her into their church but make them worse than they were before (verse 15). With tears in His eyes He said, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64.
As He left the church, Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matthew 23:37. Jesus said, “You have stoned My prophets and you are about to kill Me. You have denied the voice of the Holy Spirit. What more could I have done?” The apostles had been listening to what Jesus had said, and it made them very nervous. If He had departed the synagogue and was never going to return, what was going to happen to them?
As Jesus rested at the mount of Olives, the last place where the whole scene of Jerusalem was visible, the disciples asked Him the meaning of what He had said: “You are acting as if you will never return to the church. What will be our future? What about Your becoming King for us?” Jesus looked at the church once more. It was very beautiful. No other nation had a temple that was as magnificent. Looking at His church, which God had appointed and raised up, He said, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2. “The building, which you call the temple of God, will be desecrated, destroyed completely.” The disciples were shocked. Then they asked Jesus if it would be the end of the world if that happened. They just could not think of the destruction of God’s church, and they asked Jesus to tell them what would be the sign of the destruction of God’s temple; what would be the sign of His returning and the sign of the end of the world.
In Matthew 24, we see that the time in which we are living is right at the end of the signs that were given. The content of the words of Jesus in this prophecy has already been fulfilled before our eyes. If this is the truth, what will be the fate of God’s church? This is a very solemn theme on which we need to contemplate.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things?” Matthew 24:1, 2. One thing must be made clear—the church is not the denomination; it is not the brick and mortar. The church is not the building or organization. The church is the people of God who believe the word of God and keep His commandments. “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all of these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” This temple will be thrown down completely.
This was such a shock to the disciples that they could not understand. We must apply this to ourselves today. Certainly the temple was beautiful, one of the most beautiful buildings built by human hands, but it was destroyed by the invasion of the Roman armies exactly as Jesus Christ had described, and it became desolate.
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus was talking about the destruction of the temple and the disciples put that together with the end of the world. “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. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Verses 3–6.
Up until the present time, all has been fulfilled through the Christian era. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, these signs were fulfilled. But look at Matthew 24:7 and 8. It says, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Don’t you know that we right now are in the season of sorrows and the season of calamities? As we study and read Matthew 24, many times we miss the points. These are points to which we must pay attention.
Earthquakes and famines and pestilences have been in the world for a long time, so how can they be the sign of Jesus’ coming at the end of the world? Jesus gave a clue for only those Christians who are eagerly searching to find truth. He said, “in diverse places.”
There have been earthquakes all throughout human history. So why do they become a sign of Jesus’ second coming at the end of the world? Because He said that these earthquakes and famines and pestilences—these three things—are going to simultaneously happen in diverse places of the world. There have been pestilences, and illnesses that cannot be cured. There are many pestilences in the world right now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Georgia, United States), reports that at least 240 occur per year. There are famines, pestilences and earthquakes going on at the same time in different/diverse places. Our day is the time about which Jesus was talking, and He said that all of these things are the beginning of sorrows.
“These things [events] are the result of drops from the vials of God’s wrath being sprinkled on the earth, and are but faint representations of what will be in the near future.
“Earthquakes in various places have been felt, but these disturbances have been very limited. … Terrible shocks will come upon the earth, and the lordly palaces erected at great expense will certainly become heaps of ruins.
“The earth’s crust will be rent by the outbursts of the elements concealed in the bowels of the earth. These elements, once broken loose, will sweep away the treasures of those who for years have been adding to their wealth by securing large possessions at starvation prices from those in their employ.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 391.
There is a vast gap between the rich and the poor, and it is getting bigger and wider. God is soon going to release the winds from the four corners of the earth (Revelation 7:1), and tremendous destruction is going to sweep over the land. “The elements of nature are to be placed in the power of angels of God. He holdeth the winds in His fists.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 220.
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, United States) is sitting on a volcano. This park is very interesting to visit with its beautiful scenery, but under the surface is an active volcano with boiling magma causing it to shoot hot spring water high into the air. This is just part of the Lord’s arsenal that He will use in the last day of destruction, which will be devastating. The destruction on that day will be ten thousand times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima, Japan. Lands, houses, everything will be gone.
We are living in a time that is close to this destruction—it is very close! Our only protection on that day is to be connected with the God of heaven. How do we get that connection? The first thing is to make a total surrender to the Lord, giving Him all of our faults, confessing all of our sins and forsaking them while Jesus is still ministering in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary. Life is a precious gift from God—do not waste this opportunity. Give your whole heart to Jesus. If you love the things of the world, forsake them. If there are any idols or unforsaken sins, give them to Jesus. Be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ; He is still holding back the close of probation for that last sinner to repent.
The signs pointing to the end are all around us. Look at all of the pestilences, the incurable diseases like the bird flu, the swine flu and mad cow disease. The 1918 flu epidemic went for two years and killed about 25 million people. Any of these kinds of things can happen. We are living in the beginning of sorrows.
During 2010 there were record-breaking snowstorms in the United States of America and also record-breaking rainfalls and tornadoes, many in the same regions. There have been recent earthquakes and tsunamis, and we are told that the earth’s axis was tilted eight inches during one big earthquake. The earthquake in Chili (February 27, 2010) caused the earth’s axis to tilt three inches. The earthquake in Haiti (January 12, 2010) caused floods that destroyed so much, and China also has been devastated with flooding that started during early May 2010. There was a major flood also in Fargo, North Dakota (United States), in March 2010. Poland also suffered flooding—dams were submerged and towns were destroyed (May 2010). A violent late winter storm with fierce rain and hurricane-strength winds devastated many cities in western Europe (February 2010). But Jesus said these are just the beginning of sorrows! These are very strange phenomena we are experiencing, with very different changes in weather patterns in many regions of the world.
Remember the recent volcano erruption in Iceland (April 2010), which resulted in so much volcanic ash in the sky that airline flights were cancelled for seven days? Many companies lost billions of dollars and some went bankrupt because of the problem. Right at that time, the European Parliament had invited Roman Catholic Bishops and other church leaders to start a movement called Work Free Sunday Law Legislation. God is warning the people with signs, and while the talks were being held, the ashes covered the whole sky. A coincidence? I do not think so!
There are many of God’s people still in Babylonian churches who are seeking for the truth and for the true church. There are people in our ranks who have the Spirit of Prophecy books but have not read them. Ellen White says, “There are many souls to come out of the ranks of the world, out of the churches—even the Catholic Church—whose zeal will far exceed that of those who have stood in rank and file to proclaim the truth heretofore.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 386, 387.
There are people in our churches who are just warming the pews. They do not read the Spirit of Prophecy books and apply the precious truths in them to their lives. But God has His hand on His remnant people, even in Roman Catholic churches and many other churches, waiting for the right time to bring them together.
Ellen White refers to the eleventh hour workers. The search for these workers is continuous. They are about to come out to join God’s people and receive the latter rain to enable us to go out and give the loud cry to the world. “For this reason the eleventh hour laborers will receive their penny. These will see the battle coming and will give the trumpet a certain sound. When the crisis is upon us, when the season of calamity shall come, they will come to the front, gird themselves with the whole armor of God, and exalt His law, adhere to the faith of Jesus, and maintain the cause of religious liberty which reformers defended with toil and for which they sacrificed their lives.” Ibid., 387.
We are in the midst of the season of calamity. Actually we are in the middle of a crisis. The mark of the beast is beginning in the European countries and other nations. The true crisis—the true Sunday law, the true mark of the beast persecution—will begin from the United States of America, according to prophecy of Revelation 13, and then will spread to different regions of the world. Then the eleventh hour workers, who are about to come out of both the Catholic and Protestant churches, will come to the front. They will come out girding themselves with the whole armor of God, exalting His law and adhering to the faith of Jesus. Here is the patience of the saints; they keep God’s commandments and have the faith of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:12). They will also maintain the cause of religious liberty that the reformers defended with toil and for which they sacrificed their lives. This means they are going to fight the battle of religious freedom in the day of the crisis of the Sunday law. We are in a crisis—the season of calamities has begun.
Jesus Christ is coming soon, and the Sunday law will come so soon that it will be an overwhelming surprise. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9. We need to pray as we have never prayed before. These things are no longer far from us.
“We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude.
“The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 11.
The things that are taking place right now are happening rapidly.
Has there been in the past any generation of true Christians, the true church, that has been hated and persecuted by all nations? No. They have been hated by some nations, but not by all nations. God’s true church will be hated by all nations for Jesus’ namesake at the time of the Sunday law. There will be only two groups of people remaining in the world—one who will receive the seal of the living God, and the other group, the vast majority who will receive the mark of the beast. At that time the true remnant church will be hated by all nations, by those who receive the mark of the beast fulfilling the words of Jesus in Matthew 24.
Jesus, talking about the generation living here, right now, says, “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Verses 10, 11. Some of us will be like Judas Iscariot and sell their Lord and their brothers and their sisters for some worldly benefit. If we want to avoid that kind of treachery, let us keep our hearts in Jesus today. We must wear the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Righteousness is a powerful experience where Jesus sows the seed into our hearts, and we become like Him in our hearts and in our actions. Sanctification is the process of carrying out the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and souls; that is, living a holy life, true righteousness.
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” He that will endure long-suffering in faithfulness and loyalty shall be saved. This is the patience of the saints. This is the time for us to prepare. “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.” Verses 11–14.
Right now we are living in these things. All of the signs are being fulfilled around us; earthquakes, pestilences and famines are taking place in diverse places simultaneously in the world right now. Soon we will be hated by all nations, and then false prophets will arise and the evil angels will appear in the form of dead people such as John the Baptist, Elijah, Enoch or Daniel. Evil angels will thus appear and deceive the people.
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.” Matthew 24:23–25.
After all of this phenomena, Satan will appear and counterfeit Christ, and he will deceive the whole world. This is coming in the very near future. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 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.” Matthew 24:9–14. Only by the power of the latter rain, the power from on high, will we be able to finish the work of the gospel of the kingdom, and then the end shall come.
“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Verses 33, 34. What things will be seen? Earthquakes, pestilences, famines taking place simultaneously in various places in the world. The generation who is watching these happen at the same time in diverse places will be hated of all nations and will be sold and betrayed by their former brothers and sisters. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” Verse 45. That meat is the present truth for this time—the Three Angels’ Messages—that need to be preached.
“But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Verses 48–51.
To “eat and drink with the drunken” means to accept the wine of Babylon. People will be drunk with the error, the wine of Babylon, and smite their good fellows. The Bible says these are evil servants. I am so thankful for the wonderful mercy and grace of my Lord and for the opportunity we have to serve Him. Jesus is coming very soon. May the will of Jesus be done in my life and in your life.
Pastor David Kang is Director of Light for Life Ministry operating out of Georgia, U.S.A. His sermons are broadcast weekly on New York and Virginia Korean television stations. Pastor Kang also frequently travels to Asia where he trains pastors. Pastor Kang may be contacted by telephone at: 706-377-1004.