…What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
— Matthew 24:3
Today I want to talk to you about “where” we are in time in reference to the return of Jesus and the end of the age. Many seem to have an inner knowing that we are getting very close to the end, so let’s look at Matthew 24:3 to see what Jesus Himself had to say about His return and the end of the age.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus’ disciples took an opportunity to ask Him a very pointed question about the last days. They specifically asked the Lord, “…What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).
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Let’s make one thing clear as we get started. The word “world” in this phrase does not refer to the end of the world itself — because the world will never end; it will be changed (see 2 Peter 3:12,13). The word used here was translated from the Greek word aionos, which refers to an age. Thus, the disciples were actually interested in knowing when this present age would come to a close. The New King James Version states it correctly: “…What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
This word “end” in Greek is the word suntelos and it describes the completion, conclusion, closure, culmination, ending, finish, sum-up, or the ultimate wrap-up of a thing. The disciples wanted to know what the sign would be that this current age was experiencing its final wrap-up.
The word “sign” is a translation of the Greek word semeion. It was used to describe an authenticating mark or a guarantee. It could have been used to authenticate that a document was real or that an object was genuine. In other words, semeion indicated the absolute proof, reality, or genuineness of a thing.
An example of semeion could be signs placed outside a city limits as indicators to help travelers authenticate exactly where they were at the moment. This means the disciples were asking Jesus what sign should be taken as an authenticating mark or guarantee — an absolute, genuine proof — that His coming was imminent and that the end of the age was nigh.
Because I live in a suburb of Moscow, I’ll use my daily travels to this enormous city as an example of the point I want you to understand.
No matter what direction I approach Moscow from, I can see signs on the road that are strategically placed to let travelers know they’re headed toward the city limits. The closer I get to Russia’s capital city, the closer together the signs appear so that I can know how far I have remaining on my journey before I cross the border into this immense region. The signs validate and alert me to the fact that I am approaching my destination.
The nearer I get to this city, the environment around me also starts to change. For example, on my route into Moscow from my home, I see a lot of Russia’s countryside along the way. The road I travel winds among beautiful spruce and fir trees. But the closer I get to this metropolitan center, the scenery begins to change. I see industry, multifamily housing, and high-rise buildings, and the roads become denser with traffic.
At first, these changes are subtle and barely noticeable. But the nearer I get to my destination, the more obvious and vast the changes in the scenery become. As I reach the very outskirts of the city, the changes appear almost abruptly. Change, change, change — rapid change — is what I encounter as I travel from just outside Moscow to just inside the city.
When I finally reach the city limits, I see a huge sign that reads MOSCOW. That sign separates the outskirts from the city itself, and the moment I drive past it, the sign authenticates that I have entered new territory. I’m no longer traveling toward Moscow — I have entered the city and arrived at my destination.
When I’m driving from the countryside toward Moscow, without signs telling me where I’m headed, I could think I’m just somewhere out in the country. In other words, I would know only intellectually that this immense city was somewhere out in front of me — just as we know that Jesus’ return will occur at some time out in front of us.
Of course, travelers could understand when they’re about to approach the city limits of Moscow based on their Global Positioning System, their rate of speed, and traffic conditions. But under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t know that their arrival was imminent without signs.
As we approach Christ’s return and the end of this present age, we will likewise see visible changes all around us that appear almost abruptly. I actually believe that we’re no longer approaching the last part of the last days; rather, we have crossed the border, and we are already there.
When did the “last days” begin? In biblical terms, the “last days” officially began on the Day of Pentecost. Peter announced in Acts 2:17 and 18 that the last days of this age were officially initiated when the Holy Spirit was poured out. So for the last approximate 2,000 years, we have been living in “the last days” on God’s prophetic calendar. We are now living in the final stages of this period.
Let me use the example of a football game to illustrate this point. When the players return to the field just after halftime, play begins in the second half, or the last half, of the game. That would be an example of the beginning of the end. But when the game is winding down in the last half to the last minutes and seconds of the fourth quarter, that very vividly describes a wrap-up — the very end of the game.
I personally believe that this perfectly depicts where we are in history. We’ve been playing this last-days game for about 2,000 years. But now it’s the fourth quarter, and the game is winding down to the last “minutes and seconds” before Jesus comes and the game is wrapped up.
As we head into the very last moments of the last days, you and I are on this end-times team as members of the Body of Christ. God, who summons each generation to live on this planet, has called you and me for such a time as this (see Isaiah 41:4; Esther 4:14). And with that calling, a divine role has been assigned to each one of us. It has never been more important to discover that role, get in our place, and apply ourselves to it spirit, soul, and body with all the strength and enthusiasm we can muster.
As believers, we must be fully engaged and not sidelined or relegated to “sitting on the bench” in these last moments of the last days. If we will honor the transforming Cross of Christ and His Word, we can be confident we’ll be positioned to participate in this last, greatest move of God’s Spirit the world has ever seen!
Are you ready?
This is a time to set our hearts to seek God and get prepared for the last moments of this age that Jesus prophesied about. The fact is that we are privileged to be personal witnesses of the time that the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, Paul, John, and Peter all prophesied would come! We are truly a chosen generation as we experience the wrap-up of the age and wait for the soon return of Christ!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to help me do all I can to prepare my heart for the soon return of Jesus. Times are changing — and I’m thankful to know what Jesus had to say about the end of the age in Matthew 24:3. Help me comprehend the significance of the fact that I’ve been chosen to be a part of a very special generation. Help me find my role, get in my place, and do all I can to help advance the Gospel and its message before the age ends and Jesus returns. And especially help me to reach my family, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers with the message that the Cross has the power to save them, forgive them, and transform their lives!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am blessed to be a part of the wrap-up of the age before the return of Jesus Christ. It is no accident that I am alive at this time. God made me for such a time as this — and I will step into my place, fulfill my role, and do all I can to shine the light of the Gospel to those who are sitting in darkness. God will use me to remove the blinders that are on the eyes of unbelievers and bring them into the Kingdom of His dear Son!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What signs do you see that make you think we are living in the very closing days of the last days? Can you make a list and back it up with scriptural references?
- If you don’t think we’re living in the last part of the last days, how have you come to that conclusion?
- If you believe we are living at the very end of the age, as many believe, what specific actions do you need to take to tell others about the saving message of Jesus? Has the Lord put certain unsaved people on your heart as your personal assignment to faithfully lift up in prayer until they come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Who are those individuals?