His Urgent Warning

The discourse of Jesus given on the Mount of Olives includes instructions for his disciples about the future. In it, he warns repeatedly of the “many deceivers” and “false prophets” who will appear among his followers, spreading false information about his return and the end of the age and otherwise striving to mislead “the elect.” Constant vigilance by his Church is vital for avoiding deception and apostasy.

He begins with a warning: “Beware lest anyone deceive you.” Liars and charlatans will come in his name and “deceive MANY.” Likewise, “MANY false prophets” will come, not just a few, and they will target the “elect” of God with their false teachings. Here, the stress is on the term “many” - (Matthew 24:4-11, 24:23-24, 24:26).

Twilight jetty - Photo by Bowen Chin on Unsplash
[Photo by Bowen Chin on Unsplash]

The contents of this deceptive teaching will include false information about the return of the “
Son of Man.” False prophets will claim that he “is here” or “there,” or that he is “in the wilderness” or “in the secret chambers.” Some of them will set false expectations about the imminence of his return by claiming that the “season has drawn near” - (Matthew 24:23-26, Luke 21:8).

Disciples will “hear of wars and reports of wars,” and deceivers will point to conflicts between nations, earthquakes, and similar calamities, both natural and manmade, as “signs” of the rapidly approaching “end.”

Wars, seismic activities, and famines occur with regularity; however, they are NOT indicators of the proximity of Christ’s return. They are “birth pains,” evidence of the inevitable end of the present age.

Nevertheless, as Jesus stated, the “end is not yet.” Such repeated and regular events cannot be used to calculate the timing of the end. Not did Jesus say that their frequency or intensity would increase in the “last days” - (Matthew 24:4-6).

TIMES AND SEASONS


He warned his followers that “no one knows the day and hour, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, except the Father alone.” For emphasis, he ended this declaration with the term “alone,” which is emphatic in the Greek sentence. The Father is the ONLY exception to the rule, period.

He repeated this warning at least four times in his ‘Olivet Discourse’. Additionally, he stated that believers could not know “on what kind of day” he would come, for he was coming “at an hour you do not expect.” The version of this saying in the Book of Mark adds that his followers did not know “when the SEASON is” - (Matthew 24:42-44, 24:50, 25:13, Mark 13:32-35).

Jesus again warned his disciples about this just before his ascension. They asked when he would restore the kingdom. To this, he replied, “It is NOT for you to know TIMES or SEASONS, which the Father has put in His own authority.” The Greek nouns translated as “times” and “seasons” are plural. Together, they cover any way one might wish to delimit time - (Acts 1:7-8).

Rather than calculate chronologies and timetables, his disciples must concern themselves with proclaiming the Gospel to all nations. That is the mission assigned to them by their Sovereign, not decoding future chronologies. Thus, he commanded them to wait until they received the Spirit, then they would become his witnesses to the “uttermost parts of the Earth.”

Twilight country road - Photo by Mier Chen on Unsplash
[Photo by Mier Chen on Unsplash]

In the interim between his ascension and return, his followers must remain prepared for his sudden arrival. It is because they do not and cannot know the timing of the end that they must be ready at every moment for his appearance - (Matthew 24:14, 24:42-44, 25:13, Mark 13:32-36).

The ‘Olivet Discourse’ does not provide a timetable by which anyone can ascertain the timing of his arrival in glory. However, it certainly does provide emphatic warnings about deceivers who will plague his assemblies, a reality that will continue for the entire period between his resurrection and “coming on the clouds.” Therefore, “Beware lest anyone deceives you!



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