I was born again and sanctified in a Church of the Nazarene when I was ten years of age. I immediately became an avid reader of the Bible, reading it through about once per year. At the age of fourteen, I began to attend a Pentecostal church, one of the Churches of God. At fifteen, I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and, with my new guide, continued my search for God in His holy word. By the time I was twenty years of age, my studying had managed to cause me problems with the common teachings; not only of the secular differences between the various church organizations concerning the process of redemption, but of other things, such as the doctrines which were then - and are yet - widely taught concerning the prophetic schedule of events immediately preceding, during, and immediately after our Lord comes to resurrect the saints and to change those who are “alive and remain.”
These differences, or “contradictions,” between what is taught and what the Bible says, continue until today. We call this kind of contradiction a “paradox.” Just recently I was having a discussion with a young man concerning the coming of Jesus. He was insistent that we can have no idea when Jesus is coming, using the passage in Mark 13:31-32 to “prove” his assertion. But what does that passage really say? “Heaven and earth shall pass away; but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Surely there are not very many Christians who believe that Heaven and Earth are going to pass away when Jesus comes. If that were the case, we would find it necessary to toss out several passages in both the Old and New Testaments, including Isaiah 65:17-25, and Rev. chapters 19 & 20. According to those two prophets, Jesus and his faithful servants shall rule the world for the next thousand years, and the life expectancy of mankind shall escalate upward to one hundred years of age. Accordingly, just in the last fifteen to twenty years, we have seen a sudden and widespread increase in the number of people who are living to a hundred.
Furthermore, does anyone really believe that the Son, Jesus, does not know when He is coming back? We know that Jesus was present when God created the Heavens and the Earth, for “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). Jesus is fully aware that He has given mankind six thousand years to rule the world, and that the seventh thousand belongs to Him. Jesus will surely come when those six thousand years have ended, and He will rule the world in righteousness for a thousand years. (Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision, - For yet the end shall be at the time appointed. Dan. 8:17; 11:27.) Some time after the judgment which follows the glorious reign of Jesus Christ on Earth, Heaven and Earth shall pass away. I really do not think it matters whether or not we know when Heaven and Earth shall vanish away, but we certainly need to know when Jesus is coming.
I know that when, after the resurrection, the disciples of our Lord asked Him if He intended to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time, Jesus told them that it was not for them to know “the times or the seasons.” Of course it was not, seeing that they were living almost two thousand years too early for it to matter. However, when the Apostle Paul was telling the Gentiles about Jesus’ coming in 1st Thessalonians, chapters four and five, he told them,
“But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safely; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
In Matthew 24:37, Jesus said, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” Now that is something which we need to know about. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul said, in Heb. 10:22-25, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” “Let God be true!”
Much of the Christian population of the Earth today zealously preaches the doctrine of the “Rapture.” There are various sectarian differences in the details, but it seems that most of them adamantly declare that when Jesus comes for his faithful, He will, without delay, take us to Heaven. With great certainty, they assure themselves that we will suffer no persecution before that great event, but immediately after the “Rapture” occurs, great tribulation will begin, and last for either three and a half or seven years; depending on their persuasion.
If that is the case, what shall we do with Daniel 7:20-27? God shows us here that the last great persecutor of Christianity (The eleventh horn of Dan. 7; the Little Horn of Dan. 8) shall make war with the Saints, and wear out the saints of the Most High, and prevail against them until Jesus comes, and “The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Hitherto is the end of the matter.”
In Jeremiah 14:13-22, God prophesied to us concerning some of the preachers of our day, saying, “Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.”
It is interesting to me that someone could read, and form an opinion about, Matthew 24:35-36, but not take into account verses 29-31. I readily acknowledge that the whole of chapters twenty-four and twenty-five need some rightly dividing. However, I believe it is quite obvious, from verses 29 & 30, that a time of severe persecution will most surely precede the appearing of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven: … and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory.” If we can understand 1 Cor. 15:35-42, and let it help us to understand the intent of Matt. 24: 29, I believe we can grasp the fact that, by the mention of the darkening of the lights of Heaven, God is telling us that every category of Christians will cease to preach the gospel (because of the persecution by the Little Horn) before Jesus comes in His Glory. “Let God be true!”