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Matthew 24:1-35 (Part 2)



“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (verses 9-13)

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The intensity of the last days before Christ’s return will wreak havoc in the lives of many. There will be a sifting of those who have professed to have faith in Christ, and many will fall away. It’s a painful scene.


Hostility against Jesus’ followers will intensify, and persecution will increase. As a result, “many will turn away from the faith.” Others will be caught up in communal turmoil between those who have previously lived together as brothers and sisters in Christ, with hatred spiking and betrayals spilling forth. Still others will be “led astray” by false prophets, leaving behind their singleness of devotion to Jesus. All of it is tragic.


The result? “The love of most will grow cold.” Many will turn away. The community of faith will be diminished. Only a remnant will remain.


The call, therefore, is to “stand firm.” Paul, using a different word, gives us similar instruction in his letter to the Ephesians. “Therefore, take up the full armour of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (6:13). We’re not to be caught off guard by the daily struggle, nor by the intensity of the end, but rather to be ready, clothed in Christ, and standing firm.


Interestingly, Jesus himself is the prime example of the word he himself uses here for standing firm. In a gentler context, Luke tells us that Jesus, as a boy of twelve, “stayed behind” in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph headed home to Nazareth. When they later turned back and found him, he asked them, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:43, 49). It’s a simple picture of what it means for us to “stand firm,” namely making ourselves at home in the Lord’s household, staying planted there, rather than in the world.


The second instance is more intense. The writer to the Hebrews, using the same word, tells us that Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, for the joy set before him, “endured the cross” – he “endured such opposition from sinners,” leaving us an example so that we ourselves will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:2-3).


This is to be our stance. We are to make ourselves ready for the time of rising opposition and hostility and deception. We stand firm, like Jesus, making ourselves at home in him, and taking up our own cross in endurance, simply trusting him.


May we be ready.

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O Lord Jesus, please strengthen me in you, ready to endure like you, making myself fully at home in your presence so that I don’t go astray. Make me ready. For your glory. Amen.

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Pray: Use the prayer above (or rewrite your own) and pray it several times throughout the day. Pray it for this current moment. Pray it for that future day.

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