Matthew 24:7 (Famines and Pestilences)

Recall that Jesus in His Olivet Discourse is giving to His disciples signs that will precede His coming in judgment upon the Jewish nation for rejecting Him as her Messiah Who alone could provide the peace she sought; cf. Luk 19:41-44.  Of first importance, He has warned against being deceived by false Christs who would arise and promise a salvation more in accordance with men’s worldly expectation for a deliverance apart from the salvation from sin that can alone bring everlasting peace.  He has also said there would be wars and rumors of wars, which will threaten His disciples with fear, but which are a sign not that the end has arrived, but more that it has not yet arrived.  For such wars must take place, with nations and kingdoms rising against one another as a natural consequence of men having loved their sins more than that which makes for peace.

Besides war, what additional signs does Jesus give in Mat 24:7 that will precede His coming in judgment?  In what way are famines also a natural consequence of people rejecting Him Who would save them from their sins?  Cf. Deut 11:11-17, 28:2-5,12,15-17,23-24,38-40, 1Ki 8:35, 17:1, Jer 14:1-7,10, Amo 4:6-9, Hag 1:9-11.  What does this help us to understand about the relationship between physical famine and spiritual famine?  Cf. Amos 8:12-13.  Were there in fact famines that preceded the destruction of Jerusalem as Jesus predicted?  Cf. Act 11:28, as well as the famine that would have ravaged those caught in Jerusalem before its destruction when it was under siege; cf. Deut 28:49-57, Lam 4:9-10.

Notice that in addition to famines the Byzantine text followed by the KJV also includes pestilence; cf. Luk 21:11.  In what way are such plagues also a natural consequence or spiritual result of men’s sins?  See Exo 15:26, Lev 26:21,25, Num 11:33, 14:37, Deut 28:21-22,58-61.  Notice that the Greek word is mostly used in the LXX for people who are pestilent, for worthless, violent and ruthless men who are arrogant scoffers and love conflict so as to wreak havoc among others like a pestilence; see 1Sa 25:17,25, 2Ch 13:6-7, Psa 1:1, Pro 22:10, Jer 15:21, Eze 28:7, 30:11, 31:12, 32:12, and cf. Act 24:5 where the Jews used the same word to accuse Paul of being a pest.  Although the modern worldview of materialistic naturalism believes that plagues result only from physical pathogens, in view of the Biblical relationship between pestilence and men’s sins, is it possible that such plagues originate from an even deeper cause, perhaps even from those who are spiritually pestilent?

In what way are wars, famine, and pestilence related to one another, and often consequences of one another?  Cf. 1Ch 21:11-15, Jer 14:12, 21:6-10, 29:17-19, etc., Rev 6:8 and consider the flu pandemic following WWI that killed between 20 and 50 million people, or the famines in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and other African nations ravaged by war.  What is the cure for such famines and plagues upon a land or people?  See 2Ch 7:12-14 and cf. Num 16:46-50, 2Sa 21:1-3, 1Ch 21:16-27.  What does this remind us about the importance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins, and of heeding His commands to be gathered under His wings of refuge (Mat 23:37)?  Cf. Exo 11:1, 12:21-23, Psa 91:1-10.

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