Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway
By Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. CallowaySenior Pastor, Bethel A.M.E. Church
Scripture: Matthew 24:32-42
Earlier this year, the Rev. Harold Camping, owner of the Family Radio Network, predicted the end of the world on May 21. His actions brought to our attention humankind's curiosity and fascination about the end times.
His predictions, he said, were based on the signs of the times as recorded in the Bible as well as a complicated mathematical formula. Though Rev. Camping's first prediction of the end time in 1994 and his recent prediction were inaccurate, he has subsequently revised his prediction of the end time to October 21, 2011.
Matthew's community's curiosity and fascination with the end times was no different than that of ours. As Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, His disciples came to Him privately in verse 3 and asked for the signs of His coming and the end of the world.
There would be wars and rumors of wars, Jesus said. He told them that nations would rise against nations, kingdoms would rise against kingdoms, there would be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. He said there would be a great tribulation that no one has ever seen.
After the tribulation, Jesus said the sun would darken, the moon would not give light, stars would fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens would be shaken. Then, Jesus said the Son of Man would appear in heaven.
The twist to the chapter is found in verse 32. Jesus said to learn a parable from the fig tree; when its branch is tender and puts forth leaves, know that summer is near. When they see these signs, He said know that the end is not yet, but the end is near.
The shocking revelation of this text comes in verses 36-37, when Jesus admits to his disciples that even He does not know when the end time will be. This text, used by Rev. Camping to predict the end of time, is about preparation. It provides instructions on living ‘in the mean time.' In the mean time, while all of these signs were being fulfilled, they were not to live foolishly. It was foolish not to think that Jesus wasn't coming back again. It was foolish not to be ready when Jesus comes again. It was foolish to be eating, and drinking, and marrying, and not have prepared for His coming. It was foolish to be so occupied with the mundane, that it blinded you to the eternal.
In the mean time, while these signs were being fulfilled, they were to live faithfully. They were to live according to Jesus' words. They were to live by His teachings. His words and His teachings were the words of eternity. Heaven and earth would pass away, but His words would not pass away.
Live faithfully, watching and waiting for Jesus' imminent return. He is coming back again! Live faithfully according to His words. Bless them who curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you. Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor your parents.
In the mean time, live faithfully and be ready when He comes. In the mean time, don't waste time trying to predict when He will come, just be prepared when He comes! Amen.