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05 August 2019

Three Repeated Warnings of Jesus

Jesus exhorts his disciples - public domain
The final block of teaching by Jesus is referred to as the ‘Olivet Discourse.’ It was given to his twelve disciples on the Mount of Olives shortly before his arrest and trial (Matthew chapter 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). Three key themes are repeated in the Discourse and call for our attention.
Coming deceivers
The first statement of the Discourse is a word of caution to “beware lest anyone deceive you” (Matthew 24:4). This warning was given to disciples, not unregenerate sinners. Such deceivers will “deceive many.”
Moreover, “many false prophets” will come, not just a few (24:11). The target of their deception will not be the already deceived pagans, but God’s very elect (24:24). This warning is repeated in Matthew 24:1124:23-24 and 24:26.
The content of this deception is linked to false information about the coming of Jesus. Thus deceivers will claim that Jesus “is here” or “there” (Matthew 24:23), that he is “in the wilderness” or “in the secret chambers” (Matthew 24:26). Some will claim, “the season has drawn near” (Luke 21:8).
In context, the prediction that believers will “be hearing of wars and reports of wars” refers to what deceivers will claim (Matthew 24:4-6). Jesus did not deny that wars will come but they are not indicators of the end, contrary to what many will claim (Matthew 24:6).
It is the deceivers who point to wars, earthquakes, and famines as “signs” of the rapidly approaching end.
Our inability to know the timing of His Return
Jesus stated explicitly, “concerning that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, except the Father alone.” He ended the sentence with the term “alone” to add emphasis. The Father is the ONLY exception to the rule.
This theme is repeated in Matthew 24:42, 24:44, 24:50 and 25:13. In addition to not knowing the “day or hour” of his coming, Jesus stated believers also do not know “on what kind of day” the Lord is coming (Matthew 24:42). He will come “at an hour you think not” (Matthew 24:44). This theme is repeated three times in Mark’s version (13:32, 13:33, 13:35), which adds, “for you do not know when the season is” (13:33).
The Need for constant preparedness.
Rather than instruct his disciples to watch for precise signs, because they cannot know the timing of that day Jesus admonished them always to be prepared for its sudden arrival; he will come “at an hour you think not” (Matthew 24:44).
Matthew repeats this exhortation in 24:42, 24:44 and 25:13. In Mark’s version, Jesus also reiterates this instruction three times (Mark 13:32-36). 
The Olivet Discourse is viewed as an outline of future events by which astute believers can ascertain the nearness of Christ's return. Instead, the key themes of the Discourse are warnings about coming deceivers who will falsely raise expectations despite explicit statements by Jesus that no one except the Father alone knows the timing of the End, and his exhortations to remain vigilant and prepared.
The conclusion Jesus draws from is that disciples must be prepared at all times for the unexpected and sudden arrival of the Son of Man. What matters is not knowing the timing of this day, but that one is prepared and found busy about the Master’s business when he arrives.

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