The End Will Come: 4 Things to Consider When Teaching on Jesus' End-Time Warnings

In 1960 C.S. Lewis wrote an essay in which he referred to the return of Jesus as  "The World's Last Night".   In this essay, he views the history of this world as unfolding like a drama or a play, but it's a drama in which we do not know how or when it will end.  Like all dramas, you know the end has come when the curtain falls.  Referring to the return of Jesus, Lewis  says "the curtain may be rung down at any moment".

When it comes to teaching on the end times, we often get caught up in the details.  Sometimes we even get caught up in discussing details about the end that Scripture doesn't give us, and this leads to speculation rather than actually teaching what the Bible says.  In Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus "what is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?".  What follows is Jesus teaching on the signs of the end of the age, tribulation, and His return.  I want to offer 4 things for you to consider as you prepare to teach on Jesus' words concerning the end-times.

1.  Find the Light in the Darkness (24:14).

You can't really look past the fact that the Bible's description of the last days can be startlingly dark.  Plagues, destruction, spiritual warfare, and, yes, literal darkness.  But in Matthew 24:14, Jesus says, "this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations". Only then will the end come.  In the midst of hell breaking loose, the kingdom of heaven is spreading.  That's always been the case.  In the darkest times in Christian history, the kingdom advanced the most.  The work of the gospel doesn't stop when it seems like all hope is lost.  Persecution often opens the door for the gospel to spread.  There is always light in the darkness.

2. Avoid Rabbit Trails and Speculation (24:9-22)

It's easy to get bogged down in the details when discussing the end times.  We often want to spend most of our time talking about the timing of the rapture or whether or not there is a literal millennium or who is the Antichrist (not that those are bad things to discuss), but the central message of Scripture regarding the end times is "Be ready, Christ is coming soon".  The signs of the end times aren't the focal point, the glorious return of Jesus is.  We are not preparing our hearts primarily for tribulation and perseuction.  We are preparing them to see Jesus.  Because a heart focused on Jesus will ultimately endure any kind of persecution or tribulation.  So keep that central.

3. Emphasize the Suddenness (24:36-44)

Matthew 24:44 says, "this is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect".  Alertness is a major theme of Jesus end-time teaching.  He compares his second coming to a thief in the night, sudden and unexpected.  The signs tell us the time is near, but the actual coming itself is imminent, can happen at any time.  Jesus also says his coming is like the days of Noah.  The people of Noah's time weren't sitting around waiting on a flood, even though Noah said there would be one.  They were doing what they always did: eating, drinking, sleeping, marrying, and having babies.  Their life was ordinary right up until Noah entered the ark.  The flood was sudden and unexpected.  So will Jesus' second coming be.

4. Don't Ignore the Warnings of Wrath (24:45-51)

Finally, don't sugar coat the tough teachings of Jesus on God's wrath.  A reckoning is coming.  Heaven awaits those who trust Jesus.  Only a place of separation and weeping and gnashing of teeth awaits those who reject Jesus.  The Final Judgment is just as sure to happen as the Second Coming.  In Matthew 25, There are sheep who will "inherit the kingdom prepared for [them] from the foundation of the world", and there are goats who will "go away into eternal punishment".  So in order to accurately teach on Jesus' words about the end-times you have to highlight both his glorious return and the fiery wrath of God on sin and sinners.

Jesus' teachings about His return are hopeful and urgent.  Who knows?  Tonight or tomorrow may be the world's last night.  So we have to ask ourselves as teachers, are we preparing our people for when the drama of this world ends, the curtain falls, and we are all finally face to face with King Jesus.


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