Very probably we've always thought of this chapter as giving a check sheet of signs that we can "tick" off one at a time; it is and yet it isn't. Christ does give a list but if we check it once, twice, thrice, and a fourth time we will see that there are certain things He emphasised repeatedly. Notice: the disciples ask; Question 1) "Tell us, when shall these things be?" Question 2) "And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" [verse 3]. The very first answer to both questions is..."Take heed that no one deceives you." [verse 4]. Then He adds "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many." [verse 5].
Jesus does give a list that includes wars, rumors of wars, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. [verses 6, 7]. He adds that "All these are the beginning of sorrows" (birth pains) [verse 8]. Another list follows that includes tribulation, being killed, being hated, offending, betrayal and hating one another [verses 9, 10].
Another warning comes: "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" [verse 11]. Skipping over to verse 23 we read "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it.'" [verse 23]. (Comment: those saying "here" or "there" would be taking part in deception). Reading on..."For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" [verse 24].
And finally, "See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it'" [verses 25, 26]. Again, Christ is describing conspirators in deception. What emerges here are ongoing attempts to deceive the elect. No doubt, many will be deceived; it is happening before our very eyes in religion and in politics. The world is unprepared for the time when Satan comes down showing great power masquerading as an angel of light. "Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone" [Revelation 19:20].
In closing, what is it we are to watch for and avoid? Being deceived! "By whom?" one should ask. False preachers, false prophets, and false teachers.
With thanks to P.G. for not prosecuting this blatant theft (smile).
Study to show yourself approved to God! e.c.