“Those days” (Matt. 24:14-22)
“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive,
but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matt. 24:22)
Have you experienced it yet or is it still to come? “What”, you ask? The worst day of your life, or maybe a prolonged period of trouble that just does not seem to end – “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again” (vs. 21). It’s a calamity so great that at the time you don’t know if you are going to make it through. There seems to be a lot of “those days” lately: a severe battle with cancer; a nasty divorce; prolonged unemployment, even homelessness; some debilitating medical issue that alters your whole life. Or, if you find yourself in that part of the world, invasion from an army or rebel group that forces you to flee your home and destroys all that you have worked your life to build. Drought, fire, floods, wars, sickness – it seems that “those days” are upon us and they are here to stay. For some people in parts of the world we know little about, “those days” are what they call “normal”.
Our passage today depicts a time in history when the people of God experienced a great trial under Antiochus Epiphanes who persecuted the Jews and offered a pig on God’s holy altar, described in Daniel 11:31. But Jesus says it will happen again, which it did in A.D. 70, when the Romans under Titus seized Jerusalem and desecrated the temple. Yet again, many believe that Jesus’ prophecy has not been fulfilled yet but will be one day in the future with the rise of the Antichrist (2Thess. 2:1-5). We definitely do not want to get lost in the struggle of figuring out the “when” but rather focusing on the “what and the who”. We may or may not be alive when “that day” happens, but we know history teaches us that “those days” are always near to us, and from the lesson the Ukrainians have learned, can come upon you suddenly and without warning. Our passage today leaves only one alternative when “those days” come…RUN! Like an uncontrollable wildfire, in which the wind started blowing the fire in your direction, there is only one response. Friends for many, even in our own land, “those days” are here. What do you do when the inevitable is on your doorstep?
Run to Jesus! Run to His word.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
In Luke’s words, At the beginning of “those days” - “look up, your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Friends, when life is overwhelming and uncontrollable, and flight is the only action to take, we need to look to our Savior. We pray for mercy (vs. 20) and trust God to shorten those days because we are His chosen possession (vs.22). God is either going to give you the tools to overcome, or the grace to go through the worst days of your life. “Those days” will come….guaranteed! Know that you are not alone! There is a mighty God, our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in time of need, who is able to see us through every trial. Ultimately, one of “those days” may consume us. The bombs fall and the fires blaze on, but we lean into the everlasting arms of the One who chose us and promises to bring us into His eternal resting place. Till that day, we flee to Him everyday, for in His presence is fullness of joy! No matter what we are facing, we learn to rest in His peace and comfort, for in the middle of any storm of life, He is that Friend who sticks closer than a brother. We remember that “those days” of affliction, which are ultimately inevitable, cause us to focus on “future days” that are awaiting us.
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)
Have a great week getting to know your Savior!
"Advancing the Kingdom of God by releasing Spirit-filled followers to serve Jesus in freedom and joy."