In my last post, we looked at the beginning of the birth pains of the END TIMES. In this post, we look at more warnings of Yeshua’s revelation of what is to come.
“Your Under Arrest”
“At that time you will be arrested and handed over to be punished and put to death, and all peoples will hate you because of me. At that time many will be trapped into betraying and hating each other, many false prophets will appear and fool many people; and many people’s love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah. But whoever holds out till the end will be delivered. And this Good News about the Kingdom will be announced throughout the whole world as a witness to all the Goyim. It is then that the end will come.” ~ Matthew 24:9-14
Yeshua personalized His prophecy by explaining that the talmidim themselves would face severe persecution; thus, they must be on their guard in order to stay true to the faith. Believers have always been hated by the world, but here we have an acceleration of persecutions and murders. All nations will be involved. This certainly was not true in the history of the early church.
As the early church began to grow, most of the talmidim experienced this kind of persecution. Luke recorded many of these persecutions in the book of Acts. Yeshua didn’t say it, but the talmidim would learn that loyalty to Yeshua meant separation from Judaism. Two of the talmidim listening to Yeshua (Peter and John ~ Mark 13:3) faced the Sanhedrin not long after Yeshua’s resurrection (Acts 4:1-12). At that time, they certainly remembered these words of Yeshua. Because of the talmidim’ belief in Yeshua, the Jews would denounce them as traitors or heretics and pass down the sentence right in their synagogue. They even would condemn Believers to death.
Not only would the talmidim face hatred from religious and civil leaders and their own families, they would be hated by all nations. For a Jew to believe that Yeshua was indeed the Jewish Messiah would soon become very dangerous because it would lead to hatred and ostracism. And Yeshua’s words looked forward to a time when hatred of Believers would grow. As Believers, we should not be shocked or surprised that the world hates us (see John 15:18-21). On the other hand, we shouldn’t be overly suspicious or totally withdraw from the world (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-11). To believe in Yeshua and stay strong to the end (v. 13) will take perseverance because our faith will be challenged and opposed. Severe trials will sift true Believers from phony believers.
Folks it is going to get messy! If you’re the type who likes harmony in all relationships, you’ve got problems ahead. Yeshua indicates in many ways how problematic relationships will get before He comes again.
- People you considered Believers will turn against you.
- Admiration for your faith will give way to tolerance, then to spite, then to hate.
- The justice system you believed would protect you will decide to oppress you, and then threaten you, and finally exterminate you.
What’s to be done? Stay faithful to Yeshua, loyal to all who call him Lord, true to your calling as best you understand it. Stay alert and focused. God’s Word is truth, and God will see you through.
Yeshua warned that such severe persecution may lead to the defection or falling away of some members. It will lead to betraying and hating each other. The fear and persecution will be so intense that people will betray and hate in order to keep themselves safe. It will not be popular or respectable to be a Believer. It will be dangerous.
Not only will Believers face defection and betrayal from within the body, but also false prophets will appear and their teachings will fool many people. The Old Testament frequently mentions false prophets (see 2 Kings 3:13; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 23:16; Ezekiel 13:2, 3; Micah 3:5; Zechariah 13:2). False prophets claimed to receive messages from God, but they said what the people wanted to hear, even when the nation was not following God. We have false prophets today, popular leaders who tell people what they want to hear – such as: “God wants you to be rich,” “Do whatever your desires tell you,” or “There is no such thing as sin or hell.” Yeshua said false teachers would come, and He warned His talmidim, as He warns us, not to listen to their dangerous words. Second Thessalonians 2:3 mentions the day of Apostasy when the Anti-Messiah will use the persecution to influence others to lose hope in the Second Coming or even to abandon their profession of faith.
False teaching and loose morals bring a particularly destructive disease – the loss of true love for God and others. Many people’s love will grow cold when sin turns our focus on ourselves and our desires.
Only Yeshua’s faithful followers will enter God’s Kingdom. The stress in this verse is not on endurance, but on salvation; the verse offers both a promise and a warning. The end refers to the consummation of the Kingdom at Yeshua’s return. This became a precious promise to Believers who were struggling during intense persecution throughout the history of the kehilah. Enduring to the end does not earn salvation for us; it marks us as already saved. The assurance of our salvation will keep us going through times of persecution. While some will suffer and some will physically die, none of Yeshua’s followers will suffer spiritual or eternal loss.
[Remember that I am not advocating a pre-trib rapture position, although that is currently my position. What I know for sure is that we currently are going through times of upheaval and those who come to faith as a result of the Great Tribulation will go through even more difficult times.]
Yeshua predicted that His followers would be severely persecuted by those who hated what He stood for. In terrible persecutions, however, they could have hope, knowing that salvation was theirs. Times of trial serve to sift true Believers from false ones. When you are pressured to give up and turn your back on Yeshua, don’t do it. Remember the benefits of standing firm, and continue to live for Yeshua.
Let me close on a more positive note.
“And this Good News about the Kingdom will be announced throughout the whole world as a witness to all the Goyim. It is then that the end will come.” ~ Matthew 24:14
Yeshua said that before His return, the Good News of the Kingdom (the message of salvation) would be preached throughout the world. Some have misconstrued Yeshua’s predictive prophecy; it does not necessarily mean that every last tribe must hear the gospel before Yeshua returns. But this was the talmidim’ mission – and it is ours. Yeshua talked about the end times and final judgment to emphasize to His followers the urgency of spreading the Good News of salvation to everyone.
Although persecution is inevitable, we must never give up our mission to preach the Good News to “all the nations to the Jew first and then the goyim.” (See Romans 1:16.) We need to start with our family, friends and neighbors. Yeshua predicted a great missionary expansion to the entire world before He would return. By the time Matthew’s readers would hear these words, Yeshua’s prediction had already begun to be fulfilled. Reaching all the nations began at Shavuot (see Acts 2:5-11) and was spreading to the entire world (Romans 1:5, 8; 15:19; Colossians 1:6, 23; 1 Timothy 3:16).
Next week, we will continue in Matthew 24 to learn more about what Yeshua has to say about the END TIMES.