Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Confidence During the Last Days
AS TUESDAY, Nisan 11, draws to a close, Jesus is with his apostles on the Mount of Olives. They have recently left the temple area, which they can see below, and Jesus has been discussing with them the sign of his presence in Kingdom power and of the end of the system of things.
Continuing his comments, Jesus warns them about chasing after false Christs. Attempts will be made, he says, “to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.” But, like farsighted eagles, these chosen ones will gather to where the true spiritual food is to be found, namely, with the true Christ at his invisible presence. They will not be misled and be gathered together to a false Christ.
False Christs can make only a visible appearance. In contrast, Jesus’ presence will be invisible. It will occur during a frightful time in human history, as Jesus says: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.” Yes, this will be the blackest period of mankind’s existence. It will be as if the sun had been darkened during the daytime, and as if the moon did not give its light by night.
“The powers of the heavens will be shaken,” Jesus continues. He thus indicates that the physical heavens will take on a foreboding appearance. The heavens will not simply be the domain of birds, but they will be filled with warplanes, rockets, and space probes. The fear and violence will exceed anything experienced in previous human history.
As a result, Jesus says, there will be “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” Indeed, this blackest period of human existence will lead up to the time when, as Jesus says, “the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation.”
But not all will be lamenting when ‘the Son of man comes with power’ to destroy this wicked system of things. The “chosen ones,” the 144,000 who will share with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom, will not lament, nor will their companions, the ones whom Jesus earlier called his “other sheep.” Despite living during the blackest period in human history, these respond to Jesus’ encouragement: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”
So that his disciples who would be living during the last days could determine the nearness of the end, Jesus gives this illustration: “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.”
Thus, when his disciples see the many different features of the sign being fulfilled, they should realize that the end of the system of things is near and that God’s Kingdom will soon wipe out all wickedness. In fact, the end will occur within the lifetime of the people who see the fulfillment of all the things Jesus foretells! Admonishing those disciples who would be alive during the momentous last days, Jesus says:
“Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” Matthew 24:23-51; Mark 13:21-37; Luke 21:25-36; Revelation 14:1, 3; John 10:16.
◆ What world conditions mark Christ’s presence?
◆ When will ‘all the tribes of the earth beat themselves in lamentation,’ but what will Christ’s followers be doing?
◆ What illustration does Jesus provide to help his future disciples discern when the end is near?
◆ What admonition does Jesus provide for those of his disciples who would be living during the last days?