December 16 | Advent Devotional

The Coming of the End (Not what you think);
The Hopes and Expectations of Advent

From Charles and Sean Barrett
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Matthew 24:1–14

“…the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’”

The destruction of the Temple! This was, apparently, a remarkable thing for Jesus to forecast with certainty. The temple and the structures associated with it were built, after all, with permanence in mind. They must have been far more substantial than the ordinary shops and dwelling houses of the city. Here was the legacy of Solomon, the pride of Herod, and the heart of Israel built, this time, to last. Then Jesus tells his followers that it is all going to come down — so far down that you can’t find two rocks still stacked. That is as flat as it gets! To these people, that must have seemed as bad as it can be for this nation, because the temple was apparently the beating heart and breathing soul of its people. The disciples want to know when this is going to happen and how much time, exactly, have they got left. But Jesus tells them that even after the prime symbol of the nation is cast down, it will get worse! War, riots, famine, earthquakes, deception, hatred, persecution, and death will await mankind. Oh, great! Not exactly what anyone wanted to hear. Not exactly what was hoped for or expected.

It’s not what we want to hear either. None of us wish to live through the rise of “false prophets who deceive many people” (verse 11), or face persecution and death for His sake (verse 9). But the Lord goes on to tell us in verse 13 that “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” This was not what the people hoped for. Not what they expected.

They expected triumph over enemies. They hoped for the safety that comes from conquest. They desired a powerful leader to make it come about by force. Instead they got someone who told them to renounce living by the sword, and actually love their enemies. And, as we read in verse 14, this gospel is preached in the entire world the end will come. That will be the reunion with God. The final reconciliation with Him. That will be the universal reign of the Prince of Peace.

Prayer: Oh God of all, grant that we may have the strength to endure, the wisdom to discern deception, and the courage to stand firm. You are our fortress! You are our refuge! You are our strength! As our newborn King is with us, give us the will to stand with him. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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