In the Olivet Prophecy Jesus told the disciples that they had to be on their guard, so they wouldn’t be deceived (Matthew 24:4). Then he pointed out several things from wars and natural disasters to false-christs that would seem to lead people into thinking “the end” is near. People are never more religious than during times of disaster. When hope is ebbing away and control over one’s life seems all but gone, people turn to God, or at least give an appearance of turning to him. Churches fill up during the times of war. Many in America began turning to God during the 911 crises a decade ago. But, as time takes the edge off our fears, we begin to resettle ourselves into the pattern which we had grown to enjoy prior to whatever made us afraid.
After the series of recent earthquakes in Japan, many began to wonder if this was a signal that the end was near. After all, if those nuclear reactors melted down, and perhaps exploded, not only would that be disastrous to Japan, but the radiation could affect many other countries around the globe. We tend to believe that any present disaster is the worst of its kind; no one ever had to endure what we are going through today. People are like this. We tend to exaggerate our positions and our experiences in such a way that they have to be the best or worst that ever was or ever will be. The Bible also uses exaggeration as a literary vehicle to express the disastrous effect some judgments will have upon those who continually rebel against God.
The 70 Weeks Prophecy predicted the coming of the Messiah, and to my knowledge, no one had tried to pass himself off as the Messiah prior to the life and ministry of Jesus. After Jesus was crucified, however, Josephus recorded several men who came, declaring themselves as the Messiah and promised miracle working power and deliverance from the Romans. Josephus also mentions several sever famines that stuck the Empire and in particular the Jewish community. He records several wars that concern both the Empire and the Jews and their neighbors before the final Jewish rebellion that destroyed the nation. Yet, none of these things except the Jewish revolt in 66 CE signaled the time of the end. The Jews knew they were living in the time of the end of the age, because when the Messianic Age would arrive, the age that brought them to the Messiah would come to an end, but the day and hour of its end could not be predicted. This was Jesus’ point. Don’t get excited when certain events take place, because these events, of and by themselves, do not indicate the end. Sure enough we have always had charismatic people who drew the loyalty of others but led them into disaster. Many even worshiped these men as though they were gods. Yet, time passed and these men didn’t signal the end of the age. We have experienced thousands of wars throughout our history and disastrous natural disasters that surprised and shocked even the most prepared among us, yet the end has not come.
None of the things Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:4-8 have anything at all to do with either the Second Coming of Christ or the end of our age. We know this is so, because we cannot point to a single century in the past 2000 years where all of these events didn’t transpire either together or one after another, yet we’re still here. The end didn’t occur, and Jesus’ Second Coming has not occurred. So why would we tend to believe the end is near when war or disasters strike? Why do we consider it extraordinary when an evil charismatic figure steps onto the stage to take his shot at ruling the world? Let’s not be deceived. The best that can be said of these things is, they do not indicate anything more disastrous than the times in which they occur. The end is not yet.
 I speak of Jesus’ Second Coming here only because many people believe the Olivet Prophecy points to it, but it doesn’t as I have tried to show in other posts; e.g. No Man Knows the Day or the Hour and The Olivet Prophecy. Nevertheless, if these things don’t point to the “coming” Jesus did speak of, they couldn’t point to the Second Coming either, even if it were the subject of this prophecy.