Matthew 24:6-8: Rumors of War
Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 20, 2012
Matthew 24:6-8 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. (7) Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. (8) But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.
The disciples sat around the fire listening to Jesus preach. They had their minds set on becoming the new generation of prophets Jesus mentioned when He taught in the temple court yard. In their minds the first order of business was to prepare themselves to debate with the religious leaders. They thought the best way to prepare was to learn as much as they could about the law and prophecy, the two most commonly discussed topics with all the religious leaders. Jesus wanted them to understand, debating those issues was not the way to lead lost sheep to Heaven. It did nothing to show God’s love and concern for them. For three years Jesus presented an example of God designed to touch their hearts, and make them want to share His love with others.
As the disciples observed the light of the flickering fire dance upon Jesus’ face, they looked beyond Him into the dark silence of the night. He warned His disciples about false Messiahs about to appear here and there. He told them not to be deceived by them. He then looked each one of His disciples straight in the eye, a signal to them, He was the Messiah. They had to learn to trust in the example in front of them, and not mix His words with the traditions of the world.
In the silence of the night, interrupted only by the cracking sound of burning wood consumed in the fire, the disciples began to see how all the religious leaders had misinterpreted prophecies about the Messiah to a degree beyond imagination. Some of the prophecies were twisted to fit other beliefs and misconceptions. They began to see how the scriptures which were written to draw the world together were mishandled. They wondered what caused the religious leaders to mistreat God’s Word in such a way. At first it didn’t seem to make sense. They had been taught to admire and respect the religious leaders who seemed to possess a superior understanding of the scriptures. They quoted texts, knew when the books were written and by whom. They knew the historical background, told stories about the circumstances surrounding the characters, and taught the interpretation of symbols. Their lives, actions, dress and diet seemed to center around the laws. It seemed strange, all of them exhibited the same outward show, but why did they have so many disagreements? Which one was correct? Why did each of the religious factions act as if salvation depended on the proper belief in one particular interpretation. As they thought about the different interpretations, the disciples realized, not one of them agreed with the life Jesus exhibited.
Jesus made His point. He got His disciples to think, to open their minds to the concepts He was about to introduce. He continued His Lesson, “you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.”
So many things began to race through their minds. The mention of war made some think about Rome. When Jesus talked about wars and threats of wars, they thought about how Rome was able to conquer the world with an army not much larger than any single kingdom they defeated.
Rome used the endless wars and disagreements around them to their advantage. They often would instigate wars between nations by offering favors to one nation while feeding false information to another. Rome’s plan was to stand by while nations and tribes fought against one another until their money was spent, resources depleted, and armies diminished to a point a few legions could easily defeat them. They also arranged treaties with other nations, giving them a false sense of security until troops could be properly positioned for a quick and decisive attack. Rome mastered the art of divide and conquer.
Jesus’ long pause gave them time to think and compare the two seemingly unrelated messages. It took a while to sink in, but the message began to reveal itself. The religious leaders had been divided on the subject of the Messiah longer than any of the disciples had been living. They had been divided and conquered as easily as the nations and tribes who fell to Rome.
Some of the disciples looked to scripture for the interpretation of Jesus’ lesson. As soon as Jesus mentioned the threat of wars, and told them not to panic, they took it to heart. Their minds were drawn to a number of distinct historical events. Wars had been fought long before Abram pursued the Amorites with only 318 armed men. Against insurmountable odds, the Lord gave Abram victory freeing Lot and all the captured inhabitants of Sodom with no loss of life. God repeated this with Gideon and his 300 men when they fought against the Midianites. Following Gods instructions insured them victory, against odds no man would ever consider attempting without faith. The Lord appeared to Joshua before Jericho fell. They also remembered the hillside around Elisha filled with horses and chariots of fire, and how Elijah faced off against 450 prophets of Baal alone. Some of the disciples remembered how Assyria surrounded Jerusalem bragging about their victories, giving credit to their gods. After King Hezekiah prayed the Lord sent one angel, killing 185,000 Assyrian solders in one night. God also sent His Angel to Daniel in the lion’s den, and into the furnace to protect Daniel’s friends. They began to think of what these things symbolized, the lions, furnace, Jerusalem, and others.
So many examples came to mind, the message could never be misunderstood. God has and always will be with His people. His eye and protecting hand will never leave His followers unguarded. God will protect His people in wars, famines, and earthquakes no matter where they are.
When the disciples could not think of another text, they began to wonder what Jesus meant by,.”all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.” They waited in silence for His next words.
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