Matthew 24:12-13 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
People have been reading this chapter for 2000 years and responding either rightly or wrongly, regardless of the historical era. There are scholars today who say that much of this was fulfilled in AD 70, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. That is possible, but as I commented when the reading was in Isaiah 7, many prophecies had, and continue to have, multiple “fulfillments” in different ways. Pointing at various things in this chapter and saying they have already been fulfilled doesn’t mean they aren’t coming up for their final, ultimate fulfillment. Since Jesus was adamant about no one knowing when the world would end, (Matthew 24:36) the point for us is to be on our guard against the various dangers and pitfalls mentioned. I have always maintained that for anyone old enough to read this chapter, the end of the world is no more than 100 years in the future! Many of the things mentioned are out of our control. Certainly earthquakes are, and generally, famines and wars. However, each of us is personally responsible for what is mentioned here. We can’t control another person’s fervor, but we are accountable for our own. We can certainly see plenty of “increase of wickedness,” (the Japanese says, “lawlessness”) so we’ve got to keep tabs on our “spiritual temperature.” Many translations say, “the love of many will grow cold,” but this is another of the few places I prefer the NIV, saying “the love of most.” That should be a very sobering thought! Frankly, we seldom pay attention unless it’s a famous person who goes apostate, but in recent years there have certainly been plenty of those. I well remember how saddened I was when B. J. Thomas declared he was no longer a Christian. Some of his songs still bless me, particularly Home Where I Belong, but that is simply evidence that the message is often greater than the messenger. We’ve got to remember that no one is above needing to take in God’s Word daily, letting it permeate our heart, and then living it out under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Those who interpret “love” as simply emotion are very quick to fall away, because our emotions are unreliable. I think every believer goes through times when they don’t feel a thing. That makes it essential that our commitment is far deeper than emotion. (Exactly the same thing can be said of marriage, but that’s another long discussion.) The Japanese renders verse 13 as “He who endures to the end will be saved.” Sometimes it does come down to white-knuckled endurance, but God is faithful. As Paul told us clearly, we must not give up and “go with the flow” of the world. (Romans 12:2)
Of course I’m talking to myself here as much as I’m talking to anyone else. The minute I think I’m “above” all this, I lay myself open to the attacks and deceptions of the devil. I see some of the things mentioned in this chapter almost every day. I’ve got to remember Jesus’ words in the Upper Room: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me.” (John 14:1) I am to look forward to eternity with my Lord, whether that is at the end of all things or simply at my own personal end, and I am to strive to be faithful until that day, however white my knuckles might get from hanging on! I am to remember God’s gracious words to Jeremiah at a time of extreme distress, (Jeremiah 29:11) and rest, relax, and rejoice in my Lord, whatever the journey looks like at the moment.
Father, thank You for this Word. It is always timely! It was sad yesterday to hear that a friend’s wife is probably in her personal last days, but that is in Your hands. The question now is simply how much of the Gospel she has absorbed, and how she responds. Help me remember that I may be the only opportunity someone has to hear the Gospel. May I be faithful indeed, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!