2009-02-22_1157_ChurchLast week we looked at the problematic aspect of praying to the Father, as the Lord directed us to do in the Lord’s Prayer, that “Your kingdom come.” Praying this way means that one of the things that must happen is that the “rebellion,” or the “falling away,” or the “apostasy” must occur (2 Thessalonians 2:3). As I wrote at the end of the last post, this is not good news. Here’s why.

Jesus taught that false prophets would arise before the day of His coming. This is a long passage, but in order to talk about it, we must read it:

“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’” (Matthew 24:3–14).1

I’d like to draw your attention to Jesus’ first response to the questions His disciples asked at the beginning: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

What was Jesus’ first response? Was it about earthquakes and wars? No. It was, “See that no one leads you astray.”

Not being led astray as Christians in these last days should be our primary concern. Terrible times may be in store for those who are reading this. I know many Christians believe the Church will not be here for what is called the Tribulation, but it is not my purpose to argue that here. My purpose is to center in on what Jesus’ primary concern about the days that preceded His return was: Do not be led astray.

After His warning about being led astray, Jesus said, “For many will come in my name, saying ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.”

If you’re a Christian reading this, you may say, “How could anyone possibly believe that someone else showing up on the earth is the Christ, the Messiah?”

Be careful.

There are several reasons to be careful, which we’ll continue to consider but the primary reason for concern is that Jesus said it was going to happen: “…they will lead many astray.” Not they might—they will.

And here’s another. Jesus asked this question in Luke: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7–8).

A Christian may respond, “I will never stop believing in Jesus!”

Well, then, why would Jesus ask such a question?

More next week.

1All scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.