Matthew 24:23-26 (Don’t Believe It: Neither Here Nor There)

In response to His disciples’ request for when the destruction of the temple would take place and a sign that would precede His coming in judgment and the end of the age, Jesus has foretold in the Olivet Discourse the rise of false Christs and false prophets who would mislead the masses by appealing to people’s desire for a worldly king to give them a worldly kingdom, which was what caused them to reject Him as their true Messiah.  Besides the tribulation this would cause for Christ’s true disciples, such deception under the guise of false religion would also act as a catalyst for lawlessness to increase greatly so that even while holding to a form of godliness the love of most would grow cold (see 2Ti 3:1-5).  Such is the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, so that as those who are called to be God’s people are filled with the spirit of the world and lose their savor as the salt of the earth, there is no longer the preserving influence of His Holy Spirit to stay His judgment.  At that time Jesus warns that His disciples must make all haste to flee that prostituted city of God, for the judgment that will overtake it will be unprecedented and result in a time of great tribulation such that no life would be saved had not those days been cut short.  But even in the midst of such judgment God will always preserve for Himself a remnant, and for the sake of the elect, who are God’s most select and choice vessels who love and obey Him as His servants, those days will be cut short.  Moreover, the judgment in 70 a.d. that overtook the Jews typifies an even greater fulfillment of the coming of the Lord that will mark the end of our own evil age, with the result that what happened to the false Jews and their polluted temple will happen to false Christians and their polluted temple, which is a harlot church that has likewise prostituted itself with the world; Rev 17-18.

What does Jesus now say to His disciples that reiterates His initial warning in answer to the intent of their question for what they should watch out for in order that they may not be swept away in the great tribulation to come?  See Mat 24:23-26.  What does this remind us about the greatest threat Jesus saw to the preservation of His disciples?  With what emphasis in these verses does Jesus warn against the danger of those who will promise a worldly salvation in time of such straits?  When Jesus comes in judgment upon the wicked, will there be any but Him who is be able to deliver us from that judgment?  In particular, will those who promise a salvation apart from the salvation from sin that Jesus has already provided be able to deliver us?  How important then is it that we give heed to His commands regarding them?  What command does He repeat three times to emphasize the peril false Christs and false prophets will pose to His followers?  See Mat 24:23,26.  Besides obedience to His commands to not believe and go out after those who are false, what else is clear from Jesus’ warnings in these verses is essential for His disciples in order to be saved from a deception so tempting as to mislead even His most select and choicest followers?  See Joh 10:1-5 and consider: If one does not have a close, personal relationship with the true Shepherd so as to know His voice[1] and is not careful to listen to hear that voice above the cacophony of the world, will he not be taken in by the flesh-pleasing signs and wonders of those who are false and come to believe their false promises for a worldly salvation?  What was Jesus’ admonition to His disciples in this very context to guard against being taken in and deceived by those who would appeal to their flesh?  See Mat 24:42-44, Luk 21:34-36.

In that day after the bait is taken and the trap is sprung so that one’s eyes are opened to understand that he was deceived and has been caught in a snare, what will add to his remorse and pang his conscience like a worm that will not die?  See Mat 24:25 and consider the remorse of Judas (Mat 26:21-25, 27:3-5) and even of Peter (Mat 26:31-35,75, Joh 21:17) who were both blind to their weakness and forthcoming failures in spite of having been told in advance; cf. Mat 24:30, Rev 1:7.  What does this remind us about the extremely deceitful nature of sin, as well as the primary importance of both a love for the truth and an obedient faith in our walk with the Lord, even when it is out of fashion and we seem to be alone in our faithfulness?  Cf. 2Th 2:9-12, Joh 14:6, 3:36.

1. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e45dVgWgV64 for a video illustrating this truth.

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