Last Sunday Tom and I attended worship with my parents at the Lexington Church of the Cross United Methodist. We have attended there before and we enjoy our opportunities to worship with my parents. On this particular Sunday, Rev. Glenn Hamilton preached the best sermon I have ever heard him preach. It was so good I have been thinking about it all week. In the sermon, Rev. Glenn gave us a roadmap to the end of the age.
“The end of the age” is a term only used by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. There are plenty of other places where Jesus or others talk about the end times, but this particular term is unique to Matthew. Jesus is giving his disciples private instruction in how to recognize and navigate the end of the age. In other words – a roadmap.
Tom and I know a lot about using a roadmap. Because we are often in places without cell service, we always have a paper map of the area with us. Google maps can’t help us in those places. And even the best GPS can lead you astray – down a dirt road or a closed road – if you rely on it exclusively.
But Rev. Glenn pointed out that if we follow Jesus’ roadmap to the end of the age, we won’t get lost. Here are his words in Matthew 24:3-14.
3 As he (Jesus) sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
So, how does this give us a roadmap to the end of the age? We need to remember the two things that Jesus tells his disciples. First, be skeptical about the signs. All my life people have been warning that the end times are near. And they may well be. But people were warning about the end times 2,000 years ago. We can’t get hung up on the things we see as signs. There are always wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters. It may seem like there are more now but I think it is because of our perspective, not because it is necessarily true.
Second, watch out for detours and deceivers. Have you ever ignored a detour sign and found out the road wasn’t actually closed? Tom and I have sometimes ignored detour signs and found out they were absolutely telling us the truth. But if we are following in the Way, we can’t allow deceivers to put up detours that we follow. We can’t follow the lies of the world or replace Jesus with a human leader.
We know our destination – eternity with God – and we have to be careful to follow the roadmap laid out by Jesus. If we follow faithfully, we won’t get lost. By keeping our eyes on Jesus, he will lead us to and through the end of the age.