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How to Discern the End Times (Video) 

 November 14, 2021

By  Sam Stone

A few people have asked me if the current pandemic is a sign of the end times. My answer is, “What did Jesus say?” The fact is, Jesus doesn’t want you to believe what other people tell you about the end times, including me. If I tell you the end times are here, or at such date and time, don’t believe me.

And don’t believe anyone else either. The Apostle Paul also warned people not to trust any sources even if they received a letter from Paul telling them that Jesus was here. Why? Because Jesus has taught you how to discern it by yourself.

If you don’t know how to discern the end times, don’t worry, you will learn it today. After this lesson, you will never need to ask anyone about the end times. Of course, you can discuss your discernment with your friends to compare notes, but you don’t have to rely on anyone for that matter.

Unfortunately, many people rely on the information from some gurus. I found quite a few prophecy preachers on YouTube, predicting the end times, taking advantage of the gullible. I was one of the gullible when I was young. They said they had the gift of prophecy to predict the end times, so I took their word for it.

However, none of their prophecies turned out to be true. I am sure you have heard of a few of them in your lifetime. One of the most famous was Rev. Harold Camping, who broadcasted to the whole world on Family Radio that Jesus was coming on September 4, 1994. We all know the day came, but Jesus did not appear.

Then he changed the date. The new date also came and gone, and Jesus was nowhere to be found. The sad part was that some people literally believed in him, sold their homes, and gave away their belongings before that day, but they lost everything and had to start their life all over.

When it comes to the end times, don’t believe in anyone. Unlike the meteorologists, who have exclusive access to weather forecasting technology, no one, or no group of people or pastors, have exclusive access to the end-time forecast.

Jesus taught his disciples to read the signs of the times. In the same way, he expects you to learn spiritual discernment. So, today, let’s explore what Jesus has taught us how to discern the end times based on today’s scripture lesson.

[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper. You are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]

The scripture lesson for today is from the Gospel According to Mark 13:1-8. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. (Mk 13:1–8).

[This is the Word of the Lord! Thanks be to God.]

The temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt by Herod the Great for over thirty years and still had not fully finished when Jesus and his disciples visited the place. It was an ambitious project. According to Historian Josephus, some of the brick stones weighed well over 100 tons, the largest measuring 44 by 11 by 16 feet and weighing approximately 600 tons.

So, it’s not surprising that the disciples admire the temple buildings.

Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2).

The word “see” is translated from the Greek, γλέπω (glépō), which means more than just superficial seeing but also seeing deeply, seeing through, or seeing beyond the façade. It’s discernment. About a dozen times in the chapter, Jesus used different words to teach us to discern the signs of the times.

Here, Jesus was asking them to see beyond the façade of the building because inside the magnificent building were corrupt religious leaders who were spiritually barren, including the current King Herod, who committed adultery and murdered John the Baptist. Previously, Jesus was also teaching them to see beyond the appearance of people.

I am sure the disciples were startled by Jesus’ statement about the destruction of the temple built with indestructible stones and precious metals. For the Jews, that is the holiest place and the home of their faith. To say, “not one stone will be left upon another” was unimaginable. It must be the end of the world. So, they waited for an opportune time to ask the question.

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” (v. 3-4).

From the Mount of Olives they have a top-down view of the entire temple from a distance. It seems Jesus wanted to teach them to see things from different perspectives. They had seen the temple close up, and now they were seeing it from a distance as if they had seen the tree, and now they were seeing the forest.

From any perspective, the temple looked magnificent. It triggered the disciples’ curiosity and desire to know the unimaginable prophecy. Their question has two parts: the time and the signs. Like the disciples, I am sure we all desire to know the time and the signs of what’s coming in the future, especially end times. Jesus gave us the answer once for all that we must all grasp.

1. Ignore the Time

Jesus did not answer the first question about the time because we are not supposed to know. Knowing the time of something to happen in the future will distract us from living in the present. Jesus taught us not to worry about tomorrow, but today is enough to be busy with. So, ignore the time.

The temple was burnt down by the Romans forty years after Jesus made this statement. The gold leaves melted by the fire and seeped into the gaps of the stones. To get the gold, the soldiers pried the stones apart, which fulfilled that prophecy of “no stone left upon another.”

As for the end times, Jesus himself did not know. God withholds certain information to prevent us from distraction and laziness. Near the end of the dialog, Jesus said,

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” (v. 32-33).

The point is clear that the purpose of not letting us know the time is to keep us awake. Jesus has told many parables regarding the importance of keeping spiritually alert. We must do our assigned work diligently and not let our boss come home finding us asleep. In other words, we must live in the present and treat every moment as if the Lord is coming.

2. Avoid the End-times Preachers

Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. (v. 5-6).

The phrase “leads you astray” is translated from Greek, πλανάω (planáō, it sounds like “play now.”), meaning “to make you wander about” or “to make you drift away.”

It means if you listen to the end-times preachers, you will wander away from focusing on the present moment and drift away from reality. You have heard the saying, “Yesterday is a history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift from God, and that’s why it’s called ‘present.’”

So when you wander away from the present, you walk away from God’s gift. All those end-times preachers are liars because if Jesus himself doesn’t know the time, how did they know? They are just feeding the anxiety of the people who want to see the future.

Jesus says not to believe in anyone that tells you the time, even if they claimed that they were “Christ.”  If they make you wander away from the present moment, they are not Christ at all. How do you know if they were leading you astray? Anxiety. Anxiety can be addictive, according to behavioral psychology. It’s a downward spiral. The more you listen to the end-times preachers, to more you want to hear.

When the real Christ comes, the first thing he will say to the believer is, “Peace be with you.” He does not trigger the anxiety but calms your anxiety. He said,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (Jn 14:27).

3. Learn to Discern the Signs of the Times

“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come … there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.” (v. 7-8).

One of the most important spiritual skills to develop is discernment. Jesus wants all of us to have discernment so that no one can lead us astray or no disaster can alarm us.

The metaphor of the “birth pangs” is repeatedly used in the Bible to describe the birth of God’s kingdom on earth. It gives us hope even when we live the pain if we know it’s the birth pangs. A few verses later, Jesus said,

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” (v. 28–29).

Discernment is a lesson we can learn from experience. My grandparents taught me to predict the weather by looking at the sky. I have learned a little bit, but we have lost that skill these days because we rely on meteorologists to tell us the weather.

We don’t have to figure it out anymore because we can easily find out on the Internet or smartphones. Scientists say the human brain will shrink in the near future as smart robots do most of the thinking for us.

However, discernment is a feature of the believers. Without discernment, we are not believers. When the Pharisees asked Jesus to give them the signs, he was disappointed for their lack of discernment.

He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.” (Mt 16:2–4).

Jesus called them “an evil and adulterous generation” because of their lack of discernment. Adultery is often used as a metaphor for idolatry, sleeping with other gods. That makes them without the presence of the Holy Spirit and unable to have spiritual discernment.

The term “generation” here does not mean a life cycle but a metaphor for “a type of people.” In this case, the nominal believers. That explains why Jesus said,

“Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” (Mk 13:30).

Many teachers and scholars have been arguing for two thousand years about what Jesus meant by this verse because it does not make sense if Jesus was saying that generation of the disciples would not die until all these things have taken place. Obviously, not all of them had taken place before they died.

I have read many commentaries about this verse, but they were all wrong because they took it out of context. Jesus used the word “generation” to talk about a type of people—the nominal believers. A few chapters above, Jesus used the same term to address the Pharisees for their unbelief.

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:11-12).

This passage shows that Jesus did not use the word “generation” to mean a life cycle but a type of people. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the time and supposedly faithful elders, but their unbelief made them unable to discern the signs.

So, the foundation of discernment is belief, and the Holy Spirit is given to the believers to discern all things. Paul said,

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Co 2:14–16).

So, let us have the mind of Christ so that we don’t need others to tell us what to believe about the end times because we are supposed to be able to discern all things. Jesus says that we can learn discernment. It is like a muscle we can develop.

So, a true Christian teacher will coach you to develop discernment rather than telling you what they have discerned. It’s like teaching you how to fish rather than giving you fish.

On the other hand, we must also get rid of the dependency on others for predicting the future. Stop begging for fish. Learn to fish because God has already equipped you with the Holy Spirit. All you need is to develop the muscle of discernment so that no one can lead you astray.

That’s it for today, and I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I do. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound happiness.

Amen!

Bye now!

Sam Stone


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