Signs of the End Times

Signs of the End Times: Matthew 24

Signs of the End Times search interest in Google 2004-Dec 2023
Google Search Trend past 20 years (Signs of End Times)

The genesis of this article is the somewhat renewed interest around the signs of the end times given the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel. I was actually surprised to see that the all-time peak interest was back in 2017 (related to astronomical phenomena) and then again in 2020 with the onset of Covid-19.

That said, it is important we remain vigilant and well informed as to the times according to scripture. As such, Matthew 24 is a popular place in scripture to help answer the question on what are the signs of the end time.

The signs of the end times according to Matthew chapter 24:

  1. False prophets and messiahs: Many will come claiming to be Christ, leading people astray. (v. 4-5)
  2. Wars and rumors of wars: Nations will rise against each other, and conflicts will escalate. (v. 6-8)
  3. Pestilences, famines, and earthquakes: Increased natural disasters and widespread suffering. (v. 7)
  4. Persecution of believers: Christians will face increased hardship and hostility. (v. 9)
  5. Widespread lawlessness: Moral decline and disregard for authority will increase. (v. 12)
  6. A darkening of the sun and moon: Symbolic events signifying cosmic upheaval. (v. 29)
  7. The Son of Man coming on the clouds: The return of Christ in glory to judge the world. (v. 30)

Many of the events above, especially the first five are present today. However, over the centuries, interpretations of ‘The End Times’ as described in these verses have varied widely, from literal to symbolic, and from imminent to distant future scenarios.

Interpretations of ‘The End Times’

Since we will focus on some of the bible verses in Matthew 24:4-8, let’s recall what Jesus actually said concerning the signs of the end times:

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Matthew 24:4-8

Keywords and Phrases

Since we are dealing with End Time prophecy, it is important to be familiar with the following keywords and phrases since they hold significant meaning:

  • “End Times”: Refers to a period which will precede the world’s end and the establishment of God’s kingdom.
  • “Signs of the end times”: Often associated with various events such as natural disasters, wars, and moral decay.
  • “End of the age”: A phase indicating the culmination of the present era and the beginning of a new divine epoch.
  • “Messiah”: In Christian eschatology, refers to Jesus Christ, whose return will be a sign of the imminent ‘End Times’.
  • “Sign of your coming”: Mentioned by believers as they inquire about the visible signs that will signal the second coming of Christ.

Theological Perspectives on The End times

Theologians interpret the “End Times”, referenced in Matthew 24:4-8, through various lenses. For instance, some view the “beginning of sorrows” or “birth pains”, as events unfolding during the current church age prior to a significant prophetic period known as “the seventieth week” cited in the book of Daniel.

On the other hand, interpretations such as the Olivet Discourse encompass a broader scope of eschatological events, including tribulation and Christ’s second coming. This discourse is seen as a detailed account of what will happen at the end of the age, leading up to the Messiah’s return.

Events Foretold in Matthew 24:4-8

signs of the end times Matthew 24

Matthew 24:4-8 provides a condensed description of challenges and tribulations that would characterize the period before the end times. Jesus addresses his disciples, cautioning them about the trials that they and the world will face.

Deception and False Prophets

In Matthew 24:5 Jesus speaks of false prophets in the end times, guiding the faithful to be wary of deception. This is echoed in discussions where it is noted that in the end times many will claim to be the Christ, deceiving many. Attention is given to the varied interpretations about these harbingers that are said to characterize the approach of the ‘End Times’.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Matthew 24:6 really resonates with the escalation of conflict in Ukraine and most recently in Israel. Jesus spoke of an era marked by wars and rumors of wars. He admonished that people should not be troubled by such events, as they are part of the predestined happenings, although not indicative of the immediate end. National conflicts and international tensions are depicted as the groundwork of the more catastrophic times to come, unfortunately.

Natural Disasters and Famines

Famines and earthquakes are detailed as significant signs of this end times age. These natural disasters appear as part of the “birth pains” showing the onset of a sequence of events leading towards the culmination of the current age (Matthew 24:7).

signs of the end times - earthquake frequency past 90 years
Frequency of Major Earthquakes M>= 7

It would be hard to conclude that the frequency of major earthquakes are increasing in the last 90 years, maybe if we went back further we would derive another conclusion. But scripture does not say there has to be an increase in frequency, but that these natural phenomena occur or are prevalent. On that basis, I do see that there is alignment to Matthew 24:7.

With regards to famine, below, there is an increase in acute levels of food insecurity as of 2022. With the impact from Covid-19 and the world crisis (conflict, climate, economic), the world has taken a step back circa 20 years in hunger related problems.

signs of the end times

The Beginning of Birth Pains

From what we saw, pestilence, famine, wars and rumors of wars place us with birth pains. These birth pains will increase in frequency and intensity, signaling the start of the end times (Matthew 24:8). Like any contraction, we need to continually assess whether the time between contractions is increasing.

The End is drawing near.

The Concept of ‘The End’

Signs of the end times

From a Christian perspective, The End times narrative is related to the final judgment, the establishment of God’s kingdom, and the renewal of the world. These are wonderful things that we should look forward to, even though living through the birth pains is difficult to deal with.

Events of The End Times

Discussions on the concept of The End often revolve around whether it signifies a transition to a new reality or a final cessation of the current world order. From the Christian eschatological viewpoint, The End represents both the culmination of the present age and the ushering in of an everlasting kingdom.

Here, The End is not an absolute conclusion but rather a transformative event that heralds the destruction of the old and the birth of a renewed world following the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Exhortations to Believers

Signs of the end times and exhoration

In Matthew 24:4-8, believers are guided to live with a keen awareness of prophetic events, characterized by vigilance and preparatory action.

Living in Anticipation of the End

We are exhorted to live in anticipation of the end. Jesus articulated the signs of the times, suggesting that events on earth will mirror the approaching culmination of the age. Those who follow Christ are called to exhibit an understanding that aligns with the divine narrative of redemption and consummation. Adherents are urged not to be swayed by external commotions but to anchor their lives in the unwavering love and promises of heaven.

  • Anticipation: Cultivating a mindset that remains focused on the eternal plan.
  • Understanding: Seeking wisdom in scriptural prophecies to discern the times.
  • Love: Maintaining the central command to love others amidst chaos and uncertainty.

Being Watchful and Prepared

To be watchful is to be spiritually alert, recognizing that deception can lead even the faithful astray. Preparation, then, involves an immersion in prayer, a steadfast commitment to scriptural truth, and the perseverance to stand firm in faith. In these times, the answer for believers lies not in fear but in the strength derived from a well-nurtured, resilient spiritual life.

  • Watchfulness: Staying informed of prophetic events and balancing them with vigilant faith.
  • Preparation: Engaging in regular prayer and examining one’s life in light of biblical prophecy.

Adherence to these practices ensures that believers can respond to Christ’s call with confidence, rooted in a deep-seated faith that transcends earthly turmoil.

Comparative Analysis With Other Biblical Passages

signs of the end times

In addition to Matthew 24:4-8, readers might want to compare some of the events to the book of Daniel.

Similarities to the Book of Daniel

The Gospel of Matthew draws thematic parallels to the Book of Daniel, especially in the apocalyptic imagery and the foretelling of events to come. Matthew 24:4-8 warns of false prophets, wars, and natural disasters, mirroring the words of Prophet Daniel who speaks of distress, conflict, and upheaval in Daniel 12:1-4. Both passages suggest a period of intense tribulation preceding the establishment of the gospel of the kingdom.


Signs of the End Times

Whilst some people may have a different view. It seems pretty difficult to argue against the fact that we are in the end times era and clearly with “birth pains”. The posture we must have at this time more than ever is that of integrity, compassion, and alertness.

Moreover, we all have a role to play as The End will only come when the gospel should be preached throughout the world. Seize the opportunity to share hope and the good news of the Gospel in these turbulent times, and be of good hope as Jesus reminds us in scripture.

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