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And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3 INTRODUCTION Recently a group of religious believers spent a restless night on Staten Island, New York. According to the prophetic “revelations” received by group members, that particular Saturday evening was the time when the Messiah would return. Obviously, Christ did not return, so the group members eventually returned to their homes anticipating an early explanation of their error by their leader. This incident occurred recently, but judging from the reports of the past several years, a similar situation could repeat itself somewhere during the month you are reading this chapter. Despite the clear teaching of Jesus that no one knows the “day and hour” of his return (Matt. 24:36), many religious sects overstep this limit to biblical revelation and give dates to mark the return of Christ. Some groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists have predicted numerous dates over the years only to have to change the date or redefine the event after the fact. With all the fanaticism related to watching for the return of Christ, one might wonder if there are “signs of the times” that do give some warning that Christ might be soon appearing. Jesus said, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matt. 24:32, 33). Later Jesus stated two words every serious student of Bible prophecy should heed, “Watch therefore” (Matt. 24:42). No one will ever know the date of Jesus’ return until they see him coming in the clouds. Still, there are certain things happening in our world today that suggest the day of his return may be very close. We must be careful to obey the Scriptures and accurately interpret the evidences of Christ’s return without abusing the Scriptures in an attempt to somehow date his coming. THE COURSE OF THIS AGE Two passages of Scripture present for us a prophetic history of the major trends of our age. When Jesus gave his “kingdom parables,” some commentators believe he was chronologically outlining the characteristics of this present age. Later, as Jesus evaluated the seven churches of Asia, he may also have presented a second clue concerning the future history of this church age. Kingdom parables. Much of the ministry of Jesus during his earthly life was devoted to teaching his disciples. Parables were among his favorite techniques. They enabled him to address a large group, but speak specifically to a smaller group who would understand the real message of the parable. Matthew 13 records seven such parables in which Jesus sought to teach his disciples “the mysteries of the kingdom of
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This note was uploaded on 01/09/2011 for the course PHIL 104B taught by Professor Wong,j during the Fall '10 term at Liberty.

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