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Hope in Times of Trouble

Jesus said chaos would be everywhere before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This is recorded in Matthew 24:1-35. Many think Jesus was talking about the end of time, but He told the disciples that all these things would happen in “this generation”—the generation then in the first century. Still, though the Lord referred to a calamity that occurred long ago, there are many lessons we can learn from this tragedy.

False religion abounded. “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (v. 5). “And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many” (v. 11). You might think that in times of national trouble people would set aside their differences and unite. You might think that men would be afraid to be false teachers or that people would be too distracted to listen to them. But religious division often increases during times of tribulation. Part of this is because many look for hope and false teachers promise it.

Conflict between countries escalated. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars…nation shall rise against nation” (vv. 6, 7). The citizens of one country turn against each other and the leaders of another see this weakness as a time to divide and conquer. As lust for power grows an international dog fight can quickly erupt.

Christians were persecuted. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (v. 9). Jews regarded the church as a sect and Nero blamed the fire of Rome on Christians. As a result, both sides oppressed Christians. In times of national turmoil the people of God often suffer at the hands of evil rulers.

Distrust and division reigned. Jesus said many would “betray one another, and hate one another… and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (vv. 10, 12). It might seem that people would humble themselves when times are hard, but that is not always the case. Some become more calloused in their soul than ever.

Christians were delivered. “But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved” (v. 13). Saints who heeded Jesus’ warnings and left Jerusalem were spared the horrible calamities of war. More importantly, Christians kept their focus and continued to live for God even though their world was turned upside down. That trial was the worst the world has ever seen or ever will see (Matt. 24:21). If they could be faithful to God in spite of danger on every hand, then we can certainly remain true to Christ.

The gospel was preached. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world” (v. 14). Even in those adverse times, Christians were able to teach the truth and convert the lost. In these confusing days now we may think it is too turbulent to reach people with the gospel. But the seed of the kingdom thrives in harsh conditions.

The events Jesus predicted in this passage happened long ago, but the principles are the same. Let us take courage and not grow weary.

Kerry

West End Church of Christ Bulletin article for July 25, 2021.

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