Believers in Christ, Baptized of God. Signs mean something is coming. A road sign warns us of what’s coming. A “do not pass” sign warns us that the road is going to change enough to where it’s no longer safe to pass.
There are signs in nature too. When we see big, dark clouds, isn’t that a sure sign that a storm is coming? When the leaves turn colors in the fall, isn’t that a sure sign that winter is coming? And when the trees begin to bud again, isn’t that a sure sign that spring and summer are “nigh at hand”.
But today Jesus speaks of signs that indicate something much greater is coming. The last day of the world is coming. He gives us signs, warnings: hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, fires, floods, nation rising up against nation. These signs paint a very vivid picture for us: the world is coming to an end.
He wants us to be ready. He doesn’t want us to hold on to what will be destroyed. If a house is so full of mold, water damage, and termites, and the foundation is crumbling - why would we want to hold on to it? A house that is fit only for the bulldozer? Why not invest our time and money and life rather into something new and better? God is going to bring forth new heavens and a new earth. Why hold on to the old?
He wants us to be ready for the new. As in the parable of the ten virgins, He wants our lamps to be full of oil, full of faith in Christ’s righteousness, ready to meet Him when He comes, at a moment’s notice. He wants us to be standing firm on the rock-solid foundation of the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for us. Relying on His strength, His grace, His forgiveness.
Let us then examine the signs of the end of the world, and their meaning. May it be for the strengthening of our faith.
When God sends a sign, often it’s because He’s bringing us something new. When God brought us the New Testament, through the cross of Jesus, God sent signs to usher in that New Testament.
When Jesus went to the cross, in the middle of the day, God sent darkness over all the earth. This signified that Jesus was taking upon Himself the darkeness of all sin and overcoming it. After Jesus gave up the ghost, God also sent a great earthquake, and many graves were opened, signifying that Jesus had overcome the power of the grave for us. God also tore the veil in the temple in two, signifying that Jesus removed everything that stood in between us and God. Jesus is the one mediator between God and man.
All these signs meant that God was bringing in something new. The New Testament was replacing the old. No more sacrifices on the altar. No more trips to the temple at Jerusalem. Worshipping the true God could now take place anywhere on earth, wherever Christians gather together in the name of Jesus. “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”, Jesus says.
And now God is bringing forth a brand new life for us, eternal life. The old life will pass away. There are signs of this coming new life.
“There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
The sea and the waves roaring? Who can forget Huricane Katrina in 2005? Or, who can forget the tsunami that struck Japan, that took tens of thousands of lives? Or who can forget the earthquake that struck Haiti just a few years ago, that took a quarter of a million lives?
And the world responds, “Well, what’s so special about an earthquake? What’s so special about a storm? These things happen all the time. These things are natural. These things are normal. This is nothing new.” But God never said all the signs would be new. The minute Adam and Eve fell into sin, that sealed the fate of this world, that it would be destroyed. And so these signs were already occuring from the very beginning to show us that this life is not forever. Already at Noah’s time there was an earthquake when God opened up the foundations of the earth to bring forth the flood.
But let us not be afraid when we see the signs. Jesus already faced Judgment Day for us on the cross. It is true that our many sins against God deserve His righteous judgment. But Jesus already faced that judgment for us on the cross. His resurrection means that God accepted His sacrifice for our sins. We are saved by His grace, through faith in Christ.
Therefore, Jesus says, “when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Lift up your heads, meaning, let your mind, your heart, your soul be lifted up, filled not with fear, but with joy and peace in believing. Jesus is coming back to rescue us from this evil world. It will be the best day of our lives, because we will finally see our Savior face to face. Jesus will say to us, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Temptation to sin, fear, pain, anxiety, restlessness, loneliness, all those things and more will pass away. Everything negative will be in the past. Believers in Christ, your redemption draweth nigh.
But Jesus also warns us, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” He warns us against overindulgence. He warns us against surfeiting, which refers to what we know today as the hangover. Drinking is not a sin, but getting drunk is. He also warns against letting the cares of this life weigh us down. He encourages us rather to watch and pray always.
But what if we find ourselves failing at all these things and more? The answer is always in God’s Word. Everything else fades away. Everything we own will not last. Even the most insured earthly treasure we cannot take with us. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Word of our God shall stand for ever.” And Jesus says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My Words shall not pass away.”
God’s Word lasts. And it gives us a guarantee that lasts way beyond this fading world. The guarantee that our sins are forgiven in Christ, and the guarantee that God will continue to support and strengthen our faith through the Word.
His Word is not here today, gone tomorrow, like the things of this world. It is the rock-solid foundation for our faith. We can always rely upon it. When doubts come knocking, when troubles overwhelm us, when guilt weighs us down, God’s Word calms, comforts, encourages, and gives us hope like nothing else can. Jesus promises, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My Words shall not pass away.”
As the signs continue to come, let us not be afraid then, but rejoice. It means the day of Christ’s return is closer. The day when everything that bothers us, troubles us, will pass away. And only joy and happiness will be ours forevermore in Christ. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.