Introduction: We rejoice to see God bring His salvation to us through His rejected Son! Even though His own people tragically rejected Jesus as their Messiah after Palm Sunday, choosing to bow the knee to Caesar as their king, their rejection of Jesus means the riches of salvation flow to the Gentile world, to people like us! This is what makes mission trips, such as our church’s this summer, to be worthwhile and hope-filled endeavors.

Mon/Tues: read Matthew 23:1-39 and Romans 11:7-15. His own people Israel’s rejection of His work of salvation means that the Gentile nations were to be “gathered under” Christ’s wings in place of Israel – (See Matthew 23:37 compared with Romans 11:7-15)! Because God’s people Israel rejected Christ as their Savior, the message of Good News was sent to find us! How humbling – that we who had not sought God should be found by Him and gathered under His wings of grace! But oh what a cost to Israel to turn away from Jesus. In Matthew 23:29-36, their blood guilt would stretch 100 generations – from the Old Testament right to the day of Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70! May God therefore give us grace to tremble before His Day of Judgment. But in contrast to Jerusalem’s facing destruction in Matthew 24, may that Day dawn for us as a Day of great hope!

Wednesday: read Matthew 24:1-2. When it comes to the judgments of God, there are always two points on the horizon that we are to focus our eyes of faith upon, without losing sight of either. These points are:

  • The immediate judgments which God sends on the wicked in this life: “I saw the wicked man flourishing like a green tree… then I looked, and lo, he was no more” (Psalm 37:35-36). This is the proximate judgment of God in history, which Jerusalem endured in A.D. 70 as a direct consequence of their rejection of Christ. It is this judgment to which Jesus refers in Matthew 24:1-2 when the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans: “not one stone will be left on another”.
  • The final judgment of God when the wicked will call on the rocks to hide them from the face of “Him who sits on the throne and the face of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:15-17).

Both these judgments are to be kept firmly in front of us, as a great influence on our daily behavior and our attitude of watchfulness (Matthew 24:42) – like a telescope that focuses on both the closer forefront of God’s work in history, and at the same time also on the far-away goal of Christ’s Second Coming. Meditate and Pray: Sing about the privilege of preparing for that great day with the words of this great hymn # 540:

A few more years shall roll,
A few more seasons come,
And we shall be with those that rest
Asleep within the tomb;
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that great day.

Refrain

O wash me in Thy precious blood,
And take my sins away.

A few more suns shall set
O’er these dark hills of time,
And we shall be where suns are not
A far serener clime:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that blest day.

Refrain

A few more storms shall beat
On this wild rocky shore,
And we shall be where tempests cease,
And surges swell no more;
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that calm day.

Refrain

A few more struggles here,
A few more partings o’er,
A few more toils, a few more tears,
And we shall weep no more:
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that bright day.

Refrain

A few more Sabbaths here
Shall cheer us on our way,
And we shall reach the endless rest,
Th’eternal Sabbath day;
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that sweet day.

Refrain

’Tis but a little while,
And He shall come again
Who died that we might live, who lives
That we with Him may reign;
Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that glad day.

Refrain

Thursday: read Matthew 24:1-3. As we hear Jesus speak about the judgments of God on Jerusalem, the disciples ask Him a two-fold question in verse three: “When will these things happen (the destruction of the temple in Matthew 24:2 and the judgment on the religious leaders in Matthew 23) “… (and) what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age”? They were taught by Jesus to understand that their Master was speaking about both near-term judgment and the Final Judgment at the end of time. In this way, the stage is set for Jesus’ great ‘Discourse on the Last Things’ in Matthew 24.

Meditate and Pray: Do you have both a calm trust in God’s Judgment in the moment, (entrusting yourself to His will when the slights and barbs of a wicked world break your heart), as well as a future hope when you know all will be put right? May God enable us to “entrust ourselves to the One who judges justly” even as our Lord did at His moment of greatest pain in 1 Peter 2:23.

Friday: read Matthew 24:3 and Acts 1:6. The Disciples of Jesus are at a crisis point in Matthew 24. Soon they will see their beloved Master crucified and then risen. Victorious and joyful as their Easter reunion with Him will be, they still face a world that hates the Gospel, and rejoices to silence their Apostolic witness. No wonder, given the prospect of persecution after Christ’s Ascension, that they are still asking Matthew 24:3’s question in Acts 1:6: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”.

Meditate and Pray: Lord, give us patience to not be concerned with times, dates and seasons. We submit to the fact that your Second Coming will come, “as a thief in the night”, and that for those living in darkness, Divine judgment will come on them unawares and unprepared. But thank you that we are not of the night, but children of the day. Help us to live like children of the day, and by deeds of light and a living faith to get ready for when that Day dawns. Amen.

For further reflection: Sing about the need for patience as we await Christ’s Return. When many mistakenly become distracted by false promises of Christ’s return (Matthew 24:24-26), and others impatiently despair of ever doing anything of lasting significance for Christ’s Kingdom while on earth, let this song be a help to your perseverance: (# 426):

Till He come O let the words
Linger on the trembling chords,
Let the little while between
In their golden light be seen;
Let us think how Heaven and home
Lie beyond that, Till He come.

When the weary ones we love
Enter on their rest above,
Seems the earth so poor and vast,
All our life joy overcast?
Hush, be every murmur dumb;
It is only, Till He come.

Clouds and conflicts round us press;
Would we have one sorrow less?
All the sharpness of the cross,
All that tells the world is lost,
Death and darkness, and the tomb,
Only whisper, Till He come.

See, the feast of love is spread,
Drink the wine, and break the bread;
Sweet memorials, till the Lord
Calls us round His heavenly board;
Some from earth, from glory some
Severed only, Till He come.