There are many thin gs in the Bible which are neither easily, nor quickly, comprehended. Of course, then there are times when we miss even the obvious. In my 60 years of avid reading and diligent searching of the Holy Scriptures, I have overlooked the truth of a passage many times; sometimes for years at a time. It has been impressed upon me time and time again that one of the biggest barriers between us and the truth has been the fact that "our (spiritual) fathers have inherited lies" (Jer. 16:19). We thank God that during "The Reformation," which began in about the 16th century A.D., and yet continues, some of those errors have been corrected.
There will always be passages which are more difficult to understand than are others. However, it is the Spirit of the Lord which inspired the writing of the Holy Scriptures, and are, therefore, "spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). So, with a gentle nudge from the Spirit of the Lord, we can find out the truth. To quote our Lord, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
The Question: One particular passage where these inherited "errors" are especially troublesome is the 24th and 25th chapters of Matthew. In Matthew 24:1-3, the disciples of our Lord asked Jesus a three-part question which He answered in relatively clear and simple terms. As His disciples proceeded to show Jesus the buildings of the Temple, He returned comment, saying, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." To which his disciples asked, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming? and of the end of the world?"
I, therefore, have taken in hand to properly divide for us Jesus' explanation of those things to which their question pertains, and to show the truth thereof. Many of those things have already come to pass, but those things which are yet to come will come very soon, and we need to come to an understanding of them even sooner.
In the rest of chapters 24 and 25, Matthew records for us the straight forward, if lengthy, answer by which Jesus answered His disciples. In 24:4-14, Jesus gave a synopsis of the events from their time to "the end" of the Grace Age, and the transfer of the rulership of the world from the control of carnal men to Jesus: the Christ of God. (When we see a reference to an "end" in the Holy Scriptures we must always consider it in relation to Ezekiel 7:6, "An end is come, the end is come.")
The end, in Matt. 24:14, is not the end of the millennium which is mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:24, at which time Jesus "shall have given up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power." Neither is it the end (the word not used) to which Jesus referred in Matt. 24:35, in which "Heaven and earth shall pass away;" which event comes to pass far beyond the end of the seventh millennium from Adam. No, it is simply the end of this era: the end of carnal man's control of this world.
The Answer, part 1: In 24:15-22, Jesus answered the first part of their inquiry. He told them how to know when the Temple would fall, saying, "When ye shall see the abomination of desolation . . . stand in the Holy Place," run! escape! (The placing of that abomination in the Temple is something which apostate Israelis did, not some pagan Roman General, which fact is recorded in the allegorical prophecy in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chron. 28:22-24.)
At the time of the fall of the Temple, Jesus said, "Shall be great tribulation" such as had never been experienced by any nation "since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be." The whole nation of Israel was slaughtered, burned and scattered. And according to these words, no nation shall ever experience such severe tribulation, not even when Jesus comes forth to pour out His wrath upon the nations of the world (Deut 33:2). But, even that tribulation was shortened, as somehow God caused the Roman armies to turn to other things before they could overtake the "Elect." Why? It was partly to fulfill the prophecy in Ezekiel 5:1-4, which required that "A few in number" be bound up in the protective skirts of the prophet, until later, when they also had to be persecuted unto death. As it is written, "For therefore shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel." They continued to function under the auspices of James, and then Jude until near the end of the first century, that is, to about 70 years from the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
In 24:23-26, Jesus warned the believers that, after the Jewish Church of God had finished its course, an era of apostasy and deception would follow, and that Christians should take all precaution to avoid being deceived by those who falsely claim to be "God's Anointed," "God's Man of the Hour," etc., and false prophets which would arise over the next 1900 years, more or less.
The Answer, part 2: In 24:27-31, Jesus went on to explain that the Gospel of Christ had "come out of the East," and that it would proceed westward, even to the western hemisphere. Thus did God show that the last of the prophetic work of the Grace Age, the preparation of the Bride, would be accomplished in the United States of America.
When the Light Goes Out: Jesus also told us that just before we would see the sign of His coming, there will be a period of tribulation which will result in all preaching of the gospel to cease. He said, "The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from Heaven." (Jesus was obviously referring to categories of Christians, as is testified to in Psalm 148:3; Songs 6:9:10; Matthew 13:43; 1 Cor. 15:40-42.) That period of tribulation is to be the sign to show to us Gentile believers that it is time to run! to hide! because great calamity will soon follow upon the whole of Christianity (the kingdom of heaven), and only a "few" will survive. Of all Christianity, only those who follow, and remain with, that prophet who is "spiritually called" Noah (Gen. 7:23 and Luke 17:26) shall be alive to be changed to immortality in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52).
When the light of the gospel of redemption ceases to be preached, the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in heaven, and great mourning shall come upon all the earth. Then shall we see the Son of man coming with clouds. Then he shall send forth a group of ministers to "gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (This phrase is not talking about "Heaven" so much as "the kingdom of heaven," as is clearly shown by its prophetic use in Deut. 30:4. Furthermore, there will be no gathering of Christians after the resurrection.) The parable of the tares, in Matt. 13, shows that the harvest of Christians is at the end of the world, and that they are gathered to somewhere on Earth. That is just as sure as the fact that the marriage of the king's son, in Matt. 22, takes place on Earth. Else how could anyone possibly have entered without having on a wedding garment?
The Answer, part 3: In verses 32-51, Jesus told us of some events which must take place; leading up to "the end." He began with "a parable" of the fig tree, and told us of Noah, and of "A faithful and wise servant" and of an "evil servant" over God's household. We can not lightly dismiss this parable as some mere comparison. Jesus gave no parables "for the kiddies." Matt. 13:34,35 makes that perfectly clear. He chose to use the fig tree, because of its relationship to Israel.
Jesus said of the fig tree, "When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This Generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Then Jesus spoke of the very end, saying, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
So when Israel was restored to nationhood, the nearness of "the harvest" was emphasized. That is to say that the end of the world is near. Not only can you know when the end of the world is, the sign of Israel's emergence as a sovereign nation pinpoints the time to within seventy years of May 17, 1948. Only God knows when heaven and earth shall pass away, but Jesus' words will not pass away. The things He is telling us about the end of the Grace Age are absolute, and not merely something we can know, but that we must know, if we are to escape the wrath to come.
Jesus, having made that point, explained that, though we may not know the exact time of the coming of Jesus, there are details which we can know. Again Jesus answered the scribes and pharisees, saying that there should be no sign given to that generation, but "the sign of the prophet Jonas." Likewise, in this passage, Jesus gave this generation "the sign of Noah." I quote Luke's account of this particular comment from Luke 17:26, "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man."
Jesus concluded His discourse about the fig tree, and Noah, with a strong admonition that we should watch and be ready, because the Son of man will come at a time when we simply would not believe that He would come. You know how Christians are; they do not believe that we can know when Jesus is coming, but that we can know when He is not. I think we should be wise enough to take Jesus' words for it.
In the process of time at this "end," Jesus declared to us that there will be two particular men who will be leaders of God's people. One faithful, and one evil. That evil one seems to be the "Son of Perdition." But to dwell on a happier note; look at what Jesus said in verses 45-47. "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods."
The last man whom God shall make "ruler over His household;" the man who will be giving "Meat in due season" to God's people when Jesus appears, will be given the position at the right hand of Jesus when He shall sit upon the throne of His glory. It is no wonder that, in the past sixty years, we have had so many ministers laying claim to the title "God's Man of the Hour." The stakes are high, but the prize shall be given to that one faithful servant whom his Lord, when He comes, shall find humbly serving and feeding His people with the same love that He himself did when He was among those early disciples.
The Last Call: In Chapter 25:1-13, Jesus said that at the time of the end, Christianity would be like ten virgins who had started out with their lamps (Bibles), to meet the bridegroom, but before he could get there, they fell asleep. That is where we have been for several years now. He showed that, at a time of darkness which He called midnight, someone is going to make a cry, to wake them all up. Now these are all called virgins, so we must hear "Christians."
Before the marriage, but after they hear the cry to go out to meet the bridegroom, they must trim their lamps. Some had enough oil (spiritual understanding) to do so, but others did not. Quite simply, when that cry is made, and all Christians wake up to the seriousness as to what is happening, they will have to re-study the Bible to see where it is they went wrong, and failed to get ready ahead of time. The problem is that, because of the false hope of "the rapture," Christians just do not believe that there is anything to be done to prepare for the marriage. And more than that, today's ministers are, almost altogether, preaching an incredibly shallow message. They are pretending, and perhaps believing, though I know not how, that we must preach only a get-saved message.
Be assured that someone has the oil to sell them, for their lamps. "Go to them that sell," they said. Those virgins went, and we know, from the allegorical prophecy in 2 Kings 4, that there will be two men with oil to sell them. Yes, the two witness of Revelation 11 will already be working at their job, just as Moses and Aaron (the two wings of an eagle in Exodus 19:4) led the people of God out to meet the Lord, to the marriage at Sinai.
The trumpet of Jubilee will sound on the tenth day of the Jewish seventh month, in the Autumn of 2010. However, the year of Jubilee, the 6000th year from Adam, will actually begin ten days earlier. The marriage will take place, and Jesus will spend the year of Jubilee with His new bride, according to the prophetic requirements. Then, when the seventh millennium begins, in the fall of 2011, He will come forth from that place of which Moses prophesied in Deut. 33:1-4. Moses said, "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints."
"The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them" (Numbers 23:21).