Matthew 24 is an interesting chapter of scripture. We read what Jesus had to say about the time leading up to his return.
He spoke of political unrest (wars and rumours of wars and nation rising against nation).
He spoke of unrest in the natural world (earthquakes in various places).
And significantly He spoke of spiritual unrest (false prophets, false Christs, and persecution).
Most of his discourse relates to the spiritual unrest, warning his followers of the dangers and giving them encouragement to stand firm. The other areas of unrest receive only a brief mention. To me this has something in common with warnings He gave to His disciples, just before He sent them out to minister to “the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt 10).
“…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. (vs 10)
Political unrest and natural disasters can only kill the body – but succumbing to spiritual attacks can lead to more eternal consequences and therefore they are the more serious danger to be faced.
I believe that is why Jesus made such a big issue of those things – so that those who heed His word would not be left unprepared. However, if we ignore His warnings of those spiritual dangers or merely brush them aside, we leave ourselves vulnerable to those dangers.
We therefore should not be complacent with the truth and take too little care about who we allow to influence our walk with Him. Those false prophets and false christs are out there now – and they are not hard to spot for those who really have a love for the truth; but many people still fall into step behind them and many are very quick to defend them when others point to their falsehood.
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Try reading through the whole of Jesus’ predictions in Matthew 24 and note the number of references to the spiritual dangers of deception and persecution.