The Lord talks a lot about the events that will occur before he returns. And the thing that you get from all he says is that things will get worse before he returns. A lot worse. There will be wars, earthquakes, and famines. And because of all these troubles, false prophets will arise, trying to bring hope, but instead deceiving many. And if that weren’t bad enough, Antichrist will appear.
The result? Persecution. There will be a persecution of the Jews in particular, but also of any who follow Christ, leading to a great falling away from the faith. You won’t see what you see today with many people claiming to be Christians, all the while living as they please.
And because of all the wickedness surrounding them, the love of most will grow cold. Trust, I believe will be in short supply as well, as people will be turning on each other, especially on those who are following God. And then celestial phenomena will start to occur that will further shake people’s hearts. But just when things reach their worst, Jesus will appear and bring an end to these things, and his kingdom will finally come.
Having said all this, Jesus gives us warning and encouragement.
The first warning he gives is to be careful of false Christs. When Christ comes, he’ll come from the sky and the whole world will see his coming. So don’t waste your time running after rumors. And though people may come with great signs and wonders, if they claim to be Christ, don’t believe them. For that is exactly how the Antichrist will come, performing signs and wonders, deceiving many. (2nd Thessalonians 2:3-9)
He then warns us and encourages not to lose hope through this time of trouble, but to be ever watchful doing what he has called us to do. He says first,
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)
In other words, don’t fret when these things happen. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t lose hope. Because all these things mean that Jesus is truly coming soon.
But then he says,
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. (Luke 21:34)
It will be so easy in those days to fall into discouragement and depression from all the evil you see around you. And so Jesus says to be careful not to let that happen to you.
He also warns us not to become jaded and cynical, and to start thinking that Jesus will never return because of all the evil we see. Instead, we are to continue waiting in hope. Waiting in terms of watching for his return. But also waiting in terms of serving him, and doing the things he has asked of you. And if we do, we’ll be rewarded. If we don’t, we will be punished. (Matthew 24:46-51)
I know that there are a lot of people thinking, “Well, this isn’t really for me. I’ll be raptured by then.”
I certainly hope you’re right. But if the day comes that you see the “abomination that makes desolate” standing in the temple (a mirroring of what Antiochus did when he sacrificed a pig on the altar of God and set up an idol in the temple), then know that these words are not only for the Jews. They are not only for those who become Christians at that time. They are for you.
And no matter what happens, no matter what trials we may go through, let us keep watching for our Lord, serving him faithfully until he returns.