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Matthew 24

24
The Signs of the End
1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him. They wanted him to admire the temple buildings. 2“Do you see all this?” Jesus asked. “Truly I tell you, there won’t be one stone left here on top of another. Every building will be torn down, to the last stone.”
3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately and asked, “Tell us, when will this happen? And what will be the sign of your coming? What will be the sign of the end of the age?”
4Jesus answered, “Don’t let anyone trick you! 5Many people will come claiming to be me and saying, ‘I’m the Messiah!’ They’ll get many people to follow them. 6You’ll hear about wars, and you’ll hear people saying there are going to be wars. Don’t be afraid. Those things will happen, but that won’t be the end. 7Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom will fight against kingdom. People won’t have enough food, and there will be earthquakes in many places. 8But all of this will be only the beginning of the birth pains.
9“Then people will hand you over to be oppressed and killed, and all nations will hate you because of me. 10At that time, many will turn away from the faith. They will hate one another and hand each other over to their enemies. 11Many false prophets will appear, and they will trick many people. 12Wickedness will increase and many people’s love will grow cold. 13But anyone who remains strong in the faith will be saved. 14This good news of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.
15“The prophet Daniel spoke about ‘the detestable thing that brings desolation.’ One day you’ll see it standing in the holy place.” (Let the one who reads this be sure to understand.) 16“When that happens, those who are in Judea should escape to the mountains. 17No one who’s on a housetop should go down into the house to take anything out. 18No one who’s out in the field should go back home to get their coat. 19How awful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that you won’t have to run away in the winter or on a Sabbath day. 21There will be terrible suffering in those days, worse than any other time from the beginning of the world until now, and there will never be anything like it again.
22“If that time were not cut short, no one would survive. But because of God’s chosen people, it will be shortened. 23At that time someone may say to you, ‘Look! Here’s the Messiah!’ Or, ‘He’s over there!’ Don’t believe it. 24False messiahs and false prophets will appear, and they’ll do great signs and miracles. They’ll even try to trick God’s chosen people if they can. 25See, I’ve told you ahead of time.
26“So if anyone tells you, ‘He’s out in the desert,’ don’t go out there. And if anyone says, ‘He’s deep inside the house,’ don’t believe it. 27Lightning that comes from the east can be seen in the west. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes. 28You know where a dead body is when you see vultures circling in the sky.
29“Right after the terrible suffering of those days,
“ ‘The sun will go dark,
the moon won’t shine,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the planets will be shaken.’
30“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. Then all the peoples of the earth will mourn, when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his chosen people from the north, south, east, and west—from one end of the sky to the other.
32“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33In the same way, when you see all these things happening, you’ll know that the end is near, right at the door. 34Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Time Are Not Known
36“But no one knows what day or time this will happen. The angels in heaven don’t even know, and the Son doesn’t know either—only the Father knows. 37When the Son of Man comes, it will be the same as it was in the days of Noah. 38In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, getting married and arranging marriages, right up to the day when Noah entered the ark. 39They didn’t know anything about what was going to happen until the flood came and took them all away. That’s how it will be when the Son of Man comes. 40Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken and the other will be spared. 41Two women will be grinding together with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other will be left.
42“So keep watch, because you don’t know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the robber was coming, he would have kept watch. He wouldn’t have let his house be broken into. 44So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at a time when you aren’t expecting him.
45“Suppose a master puts one of his slaves in charge of the other slaves and tells him to give them their food at the right time. The master would want to choose a faithful and wise slave to do that. 46It will be good for this slave if the master finds him doing his job when he returns. 47Truly I tell you, the master will put that slave in charge of everything he owns. 48But suppose the slave is a bad person and he says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time. I can do whatever I want.’ 49Suppose he then starts to beat the other slaves and to eat and drink with people who drink too much. 50The master of that slave will come back on a day when he isn’t expecting him and at a time when he isn’t watching. 51Then the master will cut him to pieces and send him to the same place where hypocrites go, where people will weep and grind their teeth.
24
Routine History
1-2Jesus then left the Temple. As he walked away, his disciples pointed out how very impressive the Temple architecture was. Jesus said, “You’re not impressed by all this sheer size, are you? The truth of the matter is that there’s not a stone in that building that is not going to end up in a pile of rubble.”
3Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, “Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time’s up?”
4-8Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.
9-10“They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.
11-12“In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.
13-14“Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.
The Monster of Desecration
15-20“But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. The prophet Daniel described this. If you’ve read Daniel, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re living in Judea at the time, run for the hills; if you’re working in the yard, don’t return to the house to get anything; if you’re out in the field, don’t go back and get your coat. Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Hope and pray this won’t happen during the winter or on a Sabbath.
21-22“This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.
The Arrival of the Son of Man
23-25“If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, ‘Here’s the Messiah!’ or points, ‘There he is!’ don’t fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. But I’ve given you fair warning.
26-28“So if they say, ‘Run to the country and see him arrive!’ or, ‘Quick, get downtown, see him come!’ don’t give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.
29“Following those hard times,
Sun will fade out,
moon cloud over,
Stars fall out of the sky,
cosmic powers tremble.
30-31“Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he’ll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
32-35“Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.
36“But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.
37-39“The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah’s. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.
39-44“The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.
45-47“Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you. It won’t be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation.
48-51“But if that person only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases—abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends—the Master is going to show up when he least expects it and make hash of him. He’ll end up in the dump with the hypocrites, out in the cold shivering, teeth chattering.”