READ: Matthew 24:1-35
THINK: Jesus answers His disciples' question about the sign of His return and "the end of the age" (v. 3) by describing several indicators and events that will characterize the last days before He takes His followers from the earth. He also provides warnings to those who will accept Him after that time and live through the terrible years referred to as the Tribulation. Toward the end of the Tribulation, more horrific signs will signal Jesus literal return to earth to conquer evil and rule in peace at the end of time as we know it. Jesus' words are a challenge to His followers who are alive prior to His initial return, that they would be ready to go with Him to heaven. Judging from conditions in the world today, it appears that Christ's return is fast approaching. Note: many details of Christ's coming--and the end times in general--are not revealed in this passage. In some cases, the timing or order of events is uncertain. (See study notes throughout chapter 24.)
RESPOND: What are some of the conditions that will be evident in the last days before Jesus returns? How will people behave toward one another? What will happen with Christ's message? (See 24:14 notes.) What is Jesus' primary purpose in describing these times and events? In what ways is deception becoming more prevalent? Why will people be so easily deceived in the last days, even though God's Word offers plenty of warning? (See 24:5 note.) What evidence is there of increasing hatred and opposition toward Christ's followers? (See 24:9 note.) What should you do to prepare for these times?
PRAY: Pray for the spread of Christ's message around the world, which will precede His coming. Pray that God uses you to spread the message with a sense of urgency in your corner of the world right now. Pray that people would be more open to God as they see some of the end-time conditions described in the Bible.
ACT: Read the 24:4 note, which describes the "signs of the end of this age." Note how these relate to specific occurrences in the world today. Use some of these issues to spark conversations with friends about spiritual matters. Look for the opportunity to talk specifically about knowing Jesus and being ready for His return.
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