Matthew 24 is filled with both literal and figurative language. Frankly much of it are things I don’t like to dwell on - wars, famines and earthquakes, hate, tribulation, death, betrayal, false prophets, The Abomination of Desolation (yikes!), a darkened sun and stars falling from the heaven. My tendency when I read passages like this is to zoom through them. However, as I read and re-read and re-read Matthew 24, God pointed out some things to me.
I tend to live very much in the present moment/day with God. This is by intention as I find it helps curb my “being in charge by over planning” nature. But Jesus spoke these words to his disciples about what to expect prior to his coming again and I don’t think he ever wasted his words. I need to pay attention to what is going on in the world, to see the chaos within the parameters of Jesus’ words. “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (verse 44). The challenge to me is to be vigilant, to live expectantly. Live each day anticipating God’s ultimate renewal of all things. It means expending my vision from just today to the many tomorrows.
The Message paraphrases verse 13 this way, “Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end.” After reading Jesus’ words, how do I “stay with it” in the face of what seems to be a confusing and chaotic future? God promise’s that “although heaven and earth will pass away, my words will not pass away” (v36). Jesus himself is the word enduring forever. I aim to sink roots into Jesus like the tree described in Psalm 1. Deeply rooted so that I can “stay with it” in expectant hope as each day unfolds.
In the final chapter of Matthew Jesus promises his disciples that he will be with them – perpetually, regardless of circumstances and on every occasion. That same promise is for me. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to reside within me. The Holy Spirit strengthens, guides and gives counsel as I pursue expectant Kingdom living.