Hope for a World In Crisis

Hope for a World in Crisis

Matthew 24:1-14

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

 

            In Matthew 24, the disciples asked what the sign would be when Jesus would return. While they did not fully understand all the events that were about to transpire, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus, they did understand that Jesus was going to leave them for a time and that when he returned, he would establish his kingdom.  Thus, the question.

Jesus responds with a description of the events of the world that seem to be taken right from today's headlines.  Today the news constantly bombards us with a message of empending doom.  Whenever we turn on the news or read a paper, it points to a rapid descent into destruction.  We hear reports that global warming is causing all types of natural disasters that are bringing the threat of unparalleled famines.  We see the images of devastating earthquakes and the tidal waves they cause.  We are troubled by the onslaught of war and global hostility that carries the threat of nuclear war.  And the list goes on.   

            But the crisis goes beyond natural disasters; we also face a crisis of truth and morality.  Where does one turn for truth when there are so many conflicting views regarding what is right and wrong?  The political division ripping across the country is more than just a difference of political ideology; it is a division of morality.  The only thing that seems morally certain is that there is no moral certainty.  Lawlessness is increasing as people become more divided. 

            When we examine the words of Jesus, they describe these very events.  Before his return, there will be an increase in war and global hostilities (vs 6-7).  There will be an increase in natural disasters, including famines and earthquakes (vs. 7).  Those who follow Christ will increasingly be the object of ridicule and rejection (vs. 8-9).  Furthermore, there will be an increase of false teachers who question the authority of scripture in pursuit of their own morality (10-12).  These are the very things we are seeing in our world today. It serves as a reminder that we live in a fallen world where sin brings destruction and decay. 

            In Matthew 24, Jesus describes all these events and warns that they will not only characterize a sin-marred world but that they will increase in intensity and severity as the time comes near for Christ's return.  How, then, do we find hope in a chaotic world? The anwer is twofold.  First, the gospel will continue to advance no matter how dark it gets.  Even as the effects of sin bring further destruction, the hope of the gospel will advance to penetrate every corner of the world.  

            Second, it reminds us that God is the controller of history.  God established the beginning and the end.  When Christ returns, he not only will create a new heaven and new earth, but he will remove the effects of sin and its destruction.  No matter how dark it may seem to be, Christ will triumph over sin and will reign eternally. Therefore, Christ reminds us, “See that you are not frightened, for these things must take place (verse 6).   Unlike the world that lives in fear of global warming, nuclear destruction, and moral chaos, because of Christ’s sovereign control of history and world events, we no longer need to fear.  Everything that happens in the universe is under his sovereign control and is part of his design and plan.  While the world becomes gripped by fear, we can have absolute peace because we know even as these things increase, they point to the final return of Christ when he will make all things new.  Our hope is not in the ability of man to stop global warming or the wisdom of man to define morality, or the political maneuverings of man to bring world peace.  Our hope is in the living God who established the time and outcome of history even before he created the universe. 

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