Matthew 24:6-10

Mat 24:6 (KJB)
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.

Not only will there be those pretending to be the Messiah, but there is going to be wars and rumors of wars. These are not signs of the end because wars have always been around. The disciples are not to be troubled when the war drums sound or if they hear a rumor that some type of war is coming. (Luke 21:9 KJV) But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Luke adds to the scenario with the words “but the end is not by and by” which means the end is not immediate. I remember when the Gulf war of 1990 happened, everyone was looking for the return of Christ. Every time Israel gets into a war, the prophecy pundits sell more books. War is not a sign of the end today as it was not a sign of the end in the time of the disciples. In fact the text even states that it is necessary for these things to happen. The great signs of the second coming are yet to happen and we will see what they are in a few verses.

Mat 24:7 (KJB)
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

In the time leading up to the fall of Jerusalem, Jesus had predicted some natural events as well as some man made events. Jesus wants the disciples to know that these things have been around and just because He had predicted the end of Jerusalem, He did not want the disciples and Christians in general to begin to look at worldly unrest as a sign of the end. We can have earthquakes all of our lives but as soon as someone predicts the end, then when those earthquakes continue, we change our thinking from a regularly occurring event to a sign of the end and this is what Jesus wanted to prevent.

Nation against Nation - The word “nation” in the Greek is “ethnos” which may also be understood as “a race of people, ethnicity.” The Jewish revolt against Rome began in 66 A.D. leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Then there was the Jewish-Syrian war in 60 A.D. which was over who had rights to the city and about 20,000 Jews were slain.

Kingdom against Kingdom - In A.D. 69, after the death of Nero, there were four who claimed the title of Emperor and as a result, the kingdom of Rome was fighting against itself as each of these four men Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian had vied for the throne of Rome. Vespasian had won in July of 69 A.D.

Famines - During the reign of Claudius Caesar who reigned from 41-54 B.C. (Acts 11:28 KJV) And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. In fact the historical record states that there were four major famines during this 13 year period. Both Josephus and Tacitus record these famines.

Pestilences - Tacitus and Suetonius record that in 39 A.D. that over 30,000 people had perished from a plague.

Earthquakes in divers places - Josephus, Tacitus, Seneca and other historians record earthquakes in many different places such as Rome (51 A.D.), Crete (46-47 A.D.), Laodicea (60 A.D.) , Campania (62 A.D. - a region in southern Italy which contains the city of Naples and Salerno. It is also a very densely populated area.), Apamaea in Phrygia (53 A.D.) There are earthquake zones in the Mediterranean Sea and throughout the middle east. These earthquakes would not just be in Israel but would be in many different places.

Mat 24:8 (KJB)
All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Sorrows - Birth pangs

What Jesus had said here was not the complete picture of the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem. He wanted the disciples to know that these were just the beginning, just as birth pangs are the beginning of a birth, these are only the beginning leading to the final destruction.

Mat 24:9 (KJB)
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.

Afflicted - Tribulation

Not only would their be natural calamities and wars but there would be persecution on an individual basis. The followers of Jesus would enter times of tribulation which would lead to their martyrdom. Stephen and James were two of the earliest martyrs. Persecution and hatred of the Christian would finally escalate into a full blown pogrom. It would start in Jerusalem with the Sanhedrin desiring to kill all Christians and would culminate in ten major Roman persecutions. The first one began in 64 A.D. with Nero and the Apostle Paul had died in this first persecution. The Roman Empire had stretched to Northern Europe, North Africa, and Asia. This vast area contained many small countries and provinces where Christians were persecuted.

Mat 24:10 (KJB)
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

(Luke 21:12 KJV) But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. In Luke 21:12, Jesus warns the disciples the before all those things He just pointed out which will happen before 70 A.D., there will also come a falling away of the brethren. Sometimes during a time of persecution, some Christians will depart from the faith for a season but the real Christian will repent and come back. What probably is in view here is that those who claim to be Christians, who were enjoying the fellowship but never became truly converted will suffer three different things.

The first is that they will be offended. That is, they will become angry and displeased because Christians are being targeted for persecution and all they were there for was the times of fellowship, the pleasing times. Remember the parable of the sower? (Mat 13:21 KJV) Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. It is like the shallowness of many of today’s teachings.

The second is that they will betray each other. The Scriptures mention five men who were betrayers. They were Phigellus, Hermogenes, Demas, Hymeneus, Philetus. The word “betray” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “handing one over.” Whenever there was a persecution in ancient times, their torture methods always yielded other names to find and arrest. This betrayal has happened in modern times in communist countries where children would give up their own parents.

The third is that there would be hatred for the true Christian thus making it easier to hand them over to the authorities. Those who walked with the Christians would probably be their greatest enemies just as the Apostle Paul had experienced.

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