Matthew 24:6-14 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 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. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
One of my greatest temptations today is to want to bury my head in the sand and not even care what is going on in the world. The 24/7 news is too much for sensitive souls especially when there is little I can do to change the landscape of politics, rhetoric, and a world seemingly gone bonkers. This Scripture reminds me Jesus too was affected by “current events.” His very life was required as God ordained because of the political climate in Romanized Judea.
In William B, Eerdmans book Two Thousand Years Ago: The World at the Time of Jesus, (centuryone.com) he writes, “a Hellenistic monarch ruled under surveillance of Roman emperors.” In other words, Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures were colliding and creating a hostile environment for any opposition to the status quo. To complicated matters the Jewish factions added to the contention. Rome was the enemy. Samaritans were considered half-breeds. Taxation was oppressive. Rulers like Herod were “ruthless but brilliant strategist and politicians” or like Pilate, gutless puppets. For a population in Judea of approximately 500,00 there were 18,000 “clergy,” or one priest (not all were Jewish) for every TWENTY SEVEN persons. “Miracle workers” were prolific using magic formulas, incantations, and requiring payment for services rendered. Josephus, the Jewish historian writes of the time of Christ life (4BC -33AD). This corner of the world is noted for its wars and political unrest.
Jesus life began being profoundly affected by this geo-political tension. Herod the Great tried to kill Him and sent His family fleeing Judea into Egypt. Jewish faith had been reduced to impossible to follow precepts, rules and regulations and the leadership was more interested in protecting their position than the people they were ordained to serve, teach, minister to, and lift up in prayer. (Matthew 23)
Jesus faced the temptation to bury his head in the sand, fleeing in fear, or pretending it was not affecting Him by seeing it as the way of the fallen world. He did so by telling His disciples that Jerusalem would fall and not even a stone would be left standing in the Temple. (Matthew 24:1-2) He gave His followers instructions on how to approach the “evening news.” He told them and us to know the Word of God and watch for the fulfillment of prophesy to discern the world events in light of God’s timetable. (Matthew 24:15) In the meantime, He gave us instructions of how to live in peace: “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:20-22; Mark 12:17) In Matthew 17: 24-27 is the story of Jesus doing this very thing.
Today, we are hearing of wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis, nations attacking nations be it via bombs or cyberattacks, we see our values as a nation eroding and we treat others who do not agree with our personal beliefs as outcasts instead of honoring them as children of God created in His image and trusting Him to change hearts, and many a false prophet raises their voice and we no longer are able to discern the truth from a lie. There truly is “nothing new under the sun” as King Solomon wrote. (Ecclessiates 1:4-11)
One Day, Jesus will return and right all the wrongs and those who have trusted Christ as Savior will once more live in peace and harmony with God and man in His kingdom of peace. Until then, may we each add a degree of shalom, the peace of Christ in the storms of life that surround us and our world.
One Day by Casting Crowns
By Yvonne Jones