What on Earth have we done with the Teachings of Jesus?
Now onto part three of our continuation with our review into the Matthew Henry commentary regarding Matthew 24. This was Jesus’ last main discourse with His disciples prior to His death. His last warning, His last comfort, His last impartations. This next section deals mainly with the troubles and persecutions that was and is to come.
And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another, Matthew 24:6-10.
Wars and Rumours of Wars
Henry says – He foretells wars and great commotions among the nations. When Christ was born, there was a universal peace in the empire. But do not think that Christ came to send or continue such a peace [Luke 12:51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division]. From the time that the Jews rejected Christ, and He left their house desolate, the sword did never depart from their house. He had given it a charge against a hypocritical nation and the people of His wrath, and by it brought ruin upon them.
Here is a prediction of the event of the day; You will now shortly hear of wars, and rumours of wars. See how terrible it is [Jer. 4:19 Thou hast heard, O my soul, the alarm of war!] Even the quiet in the land, and the least inquisitive after new things, cannot but hear the rumours of war. See what comes of refusing the gospel! Those that will not hear the messengers of peace, shall be made to hear the messengers of war. God has a sword ready to avenge the quarrel of His covenant, His new covenant. Nation shall rise up against nation, so that they shall be devoured by, and dashed in pieces against one another.
But a prescription of the duty of the day, ‘See that ye be not troubled’. Is it possible to hear such sad news, and not be troubled? Yet, where the heart is fixed, trusting in God, it is kept in peace, and is not afraid, no not of the evil tidings of wars, and rumours of wars. Be not troubled. There is need of constant care and watchfulness to keep trouble from the heart when there are wars and rumours of wars. It is against the mind of Christ, that His people should have troubled hearts even in troubled times.
These things must come to pass
We must not be troubled, for two reasons. Because we are to expect this: unbelievers must be punished, ruin must be brought upon them. By this the justice of God and the honour of the Redeemer must be asserted; and therefore all those things must come to pass. The Word is gone out of God’s mouth, and it shall be accomplished in its season. The consideration of the unchangeableness of the divine counsels, which govern all events, should compose and quiet our spirits, whatever happens.
Let us therefore comply, because these things must come to pass; not only as the product of the divine counsel, but as a means in order to a further end. The old house must be taken down (though it cannot be done without noise, and dust, and danger), for the new fabric to be erected. The things that are shaken must be removed, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain, Heb. 12:27.
Because we are still to expect worse. The end is not yet and, while time lasts, we must expect trouble, and that the end of one affliction will be but the beginning of another. Therefore be not troubled, do not give way to fear and trouble, sink not under the present burthen, but rather gather in all the strength and spirit you have, to encounter what is yet before you. Be not troubled to hear of wars and rumours of wars; for then what will become of you when the famines and pestilences come?” If it be to us a bother to understand the report (Isa. 28:19), what will it be to feel the stroke when it touches the bone and the flesh?
Earthquakes bade good
He foretells other judgments more immediately sent of God—famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. Beside war (and that is enough), there shall be famine, signified by the black horse under the third seal, Rev. 6:5-6. Pestilences, signified by the pale horse, and death upon him, and the grave at his heels, under the fourth seal, Rev. 6:7, 8. This destroys without distinction, and in a little time lays heaps upon heaps. Earthquakes in divers places, or from place to place.
Great desolations have sometimes been made by earthquakes, of late and formerly. They have been the death of many, and the terror of more. In the apocalyptic visions, it is observable, that earthquakes bode good, and no evil, to the true church, [Rev. 11:13 In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven].
When God shakes terribly the earth, it is to shake the wicked out of it (Job 38:13). Here they are spoken of as dreadful judgments. Yet only the beginning of sorrows —of travailing pains, quick, violent, yet tedious. When God judges, He will overcome; when He begins in wrath, He will make a full end. Bad as they are now, there are worse miseries to come for the obstinate refusers of Christ and His gospel.
Hated of all Nations
He foretells the persecution of His own people and ministers, and a general apostasy and decay in religion, Matt. 24:9-12. Of all future events we are as much concerned to know of our own sufferings more than anything else. Then, when famines and pestilences prevail, then they shall impute them to the Christians, and make that a pretence for persecuting them. Christ had told His disciples, when He first sent them out, what hard things they should suffer.
They shall be afflicted with bonds and imprisonments, cruel mockings and scourgings, as was Paul (2 Cor. 11:23-25). Not killed outright, but killed all day long, in deaths often, killed so as to feel themselves die, made a spectacle to the world, 1 Cor. 4:9-11. They shall be killed; so cruel are the true church’s enemies, that nothing less will satisfy them than the blood of the saints, which they thirst after like water.
They shall be hated of all nations for Christ’s name’s sake, as He had told them before, Matt. 10:22. What shall we think of this world, when the best men have the worst treatment in it? It is the cause that makes the martyr and comforts him. It was for Christ’s sake that they were thus hated; their professing and preaching His name incensed the nations so much against them. The devil, finding a fatal shock thereby given to his kingdom, and that his time was likely to be short, came down, having great wrath.
Suffering Times are Shaking Times
The offence of the cross, Matt. 24:10-12. Satan thus carries on his interest by force of arms, though Christ, at length, will bring glory to himself out of the sufferings of His people and ministers. Three ill effects of persecution are here foretold. The apostasy of some. When the profession of Christianity begins to cost men dear, then shall many be offended. They shall first fall out with, and then fall off from, their profession in Christ.
It is no new thing (though it is a strange thing) for those that have known the way of righteousness, to turn aside out of it. Paul often complains of deserters, who began well, but something hindered them. They were with us, but went out from us, because never truly of us, 1 John 2:19. We are told of it beforehand. Suffering times are shaking times; and those fall in the storm, that stood in fair weather, like the stony ground hearers, Matt. 13:21. Many will follow Christ in the sunshine, who will shift in the cloudy dark day. They like their religion while they can have it cheap, but, if their profession cost them anything, they quit it.
The malignity of others. When persecution is in fashion, envy, enmity, and malice, are strangely diffused into the minds of men by contagion. Charity, tenderness, and moderation are looked upon as peculiarities. Then they shall betray one another, that is, ”Those that have treacherously deserted their religion, shall hate and betray those who adhere to it, for whom they have pretended friendship.” Apostates have commonly been the most bitter and violent persecutors. Persecuting times are discovering times. Wolves in sheep’s clothing will then throw off their disguise, and appear wolves: they shall betray one another, and hate one another. The times be perilous, when treachery and hatred have the most influence.
Love of Many Shall Wax Cold
The general declining and cooling of most, Matt. 24:12. In seducing times, when false prophets arise, in persecuting times, when the saints are hated, expect the abounding of iniquity. Though the world always lies in wickedness, yet there are sometimes in which it may be said, that iniquity does in a special manner abound. When it is more extensive than ordinary when violence is risen up to a rod of wickedness, so that hell seems to be broke loose in blasphemies against God, and enmities to the saints.
Also to be expected is the abating of love. This is the consequence of the former. Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. It is all too common for professors of religion to grow cool, when the wicked are hot in their wickedness. The church of Ephesus left her first love in bad times, Rev. 2:2-4. Or, it may be understood more particularly of brotherly love. When iniquity abounds, Christians begin to be suspicious one of another, affections are alienated, distances created, parties made, and so love comes to nothing. The devil is the accuser of the brethren, not only to their enemies, which makes persecuting iniquity abound, but one to another, which makes the love of many to wax cold.
This gives a melancholy prospect of the times, that there shall be such a great decay of love. But, first it is of the love of many, not of all. In the worst of times, God has His remnant that hold fast their integrity, and retain their zeal, as in Elijah’s days, when he thought himself left alone. Secondly, this love may have grown cold, but not dead. It may have abated but is not quite cast off. There is life in the root, which will show itself when the winter is past. The new nature may wax cold, but shall not wax old, for then it would decay and vanish away.
He that Endures Shall be Saved
Yet comfort is administered in reference to this offence: He that endures to the end, shall be saved. When we see so many drawing back, we may be ready to fear that the cause of Christ will sink for want of supporters. But even at this time there is a remnant according to the election of grace, Rom. 11:5. A remnant who are not of them that draw back unto perdition but believe and persevere to the saving of the soul. They endure to the end, to the end of their lives, to the end of their present state of probation.
They endure to the end of these suffering trying times, to the last encounter, though they should be called to resist unto blood. It is comforting to know that those who do thus endure to the end, and suffer for their constancy, that they shall be saved. Perseverance wins the crown, through free grace, and shall wear it. They shall be saved: perhaps they may be delivered out of their troubles, and comfortably survive them in this world; but it is eternal salvation that is here intended. They that endure to the end of their days, shall then receive the end of their faith and hope, even the salvation of their souls, 1 Pet. 1:9; Rom. 2:7; Rev. 3:20.
The Crown of Glory will Make Amends for All
The crown of glory will make amends for all; and a believing regard to that will enable us to choose rather to die at a stake with the persecuted, than to live in a palace with the persecutors.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
1. Don’t assume Christ came to bring peace. True believers will encounter division at home and further afield.
2. See that you are not troubled, let your heart be fixed, trusting in God and it shall be kept in peace.
3. Not that great desolations such as earthquakes bode well and not evil for the true church.
4. Know that when profession of Christ begins to cost men, many shall fall away.
5. He that endures to the end shall be saved. Perseverance wins the crown.
There may be trouble ahead. We are to expect it. We may have to go through the biggest challenges we have ever faced. But Jesus promises that those who endure to the end will be saved. What does ‘to endure’ mean? It is not a passive resignation to fate, but the ‘active, energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance’. Only by seeking Him, repenting of all our shortcomings and trusting in the grace of our Lord to bring us through, will we be victorious. May He find us faithful.
Endure Meet all your difficulties with love and laughter Do not forget I am worthy of all Praise. Be assured that I am with you Especially in these last days. Remember, remember It is the last few yards that tell. Do not fail me, I cannot fail you Rest in My love knowing all is well. How many petitions go unanswered Because My children who prayed Would not endure to the end So easily becoming dismayed. They thought it was too late So they chose to intervene. Thinking I was no longer acting for them As though I had left the scene. But you, do not forget My Word Do not allow yourselves again to become enslaved. Remember that, ‘he who endures to the end The same shall be saved’. Can you endure to the end My children? Is My training too hard? With courage, love and laughter, joy in Me For the world have no regard. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father we acknowledge our need of You. Conform us to the pattern of Your Son. May we be steadfast in these days, resolute in following hard after You. Whatever the cost, whatever the loss. Help us fix our eyes on You. May we endure to the very, bitter end and remain faithful to You. By Your grace and mercy. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.