Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Friday, September 7, 2018
Jesus then gives another illustration of this event. He tells the story of a man who heads out on a journey, delegating duties to each of his servants and commanding the overseer to be vigilant and watch for his return. He told them that he didn’t know how long he would be gone and didn’t want to find them sleeping on the job when he returned.
In context, the obvious application is that when Jesus returns, it will be at a time unknown, but should not be unexpected. Again, this cannot apply to the time when He returns in all His glory as King. According to Daniel, a specific time has been allotted for the tribulation; and we can know for sure that the LORD will return seven years after it starts.
Daniel 9:25–27 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
In summary, the reference to Messiah being cut off is a reference to the crucifixion of Jesus. After that time, Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed (which happened in 70 AD). The “prince that shall come” is a reference to the Antichrist. The first real identifying factor of the Antichrist will be when he confirms a covenant between Israel and “many” nations for one week, or seven years. In the middle of that week, he will break the covenant and stop all sacrifices when he declares himself to be God in the temple, as revealed by Paul.
2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
This act is the abomination of desolation foretold by Jesus earlier in this chapter.
Jesus gives yet another illustration of a man whose home is robbed because he had no way of knowing that a thief was coming. If he had known, he would surely have been prepared.
There are some verses in Revelation that I think are directly related to this illustration.
Revelation 3:3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
The purpose of each illustration is to point out the importance of expectation and preparation. Jesus is going to come without warning, like the thief, and we need to ever be in a state of expectation and readiness. The one who is truly watching will be ready—will not be in a position of shame to meet the Savior. This is a truth that has become much more important and real to me as I have grown older and more absorbed in His Word. I am so much more aware of what I am doing each minute. I so want the Spirit to be at home in my being. This makes it much easier to make choices in entertainment and in how I prioritize my time.
The LORD goes on to say that the servant who is busy doing what he was assigned to do will be rewarded. The evil servant that is disobedient and wicked in light of the fact that his master’s return is delayed will be appointed his portion with the hypocrites. He will be revealed for who he truly is—a servant in name only.
Jesus goes on to emphasize the importance of avoiding sinful behavior that will result in one being surprised and unprepared when He comes. He then goes on to say that you want to be accounted worthy of escaping all the things that will come to pass (in reference to the tribulation) and standing before the Son of Man (Himself). This emphasizes the truth that He is talking about the rapture. So, how is one accounted worthy? By being clothed in the righteousness of Jesus as a result of accepting His gift of salvation.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Ephesians 2:8–9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Come Lord Jesus!
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
We are to be approaching God with earnestness and eagerness for the LORD’s return, even though we don’t know when that will be. He then goes on to give an illustration concerning that time, making reference to the days of Noah. In the days before the flood, people were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered the ark; in other words, they were living life as usual. Only after Noah was in the ark did the people recognize the truth of his preaching. Noah knew all along that God was going to destroy “all flesh wherein is the breath of life” under heaven.
Genesis 6:13 & 17 “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.”
Scripture also tells us that Noah was a preacher of righteousness.
2Peter 2:5 “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly….”
This tells me that his situation was much like that of Christians who share the truth of God’s coming today. He knew the truth and was faithful to preach it, but the people ignored his message because they didn’t believe it. We who have been redeemed by Jesus know the truth and are faithfully declaring it to those around us, but they choose to ignore it because they don’t believe it.
This is not the first time that Jesus had taught this truth.
Luke 17:26-30 “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Note that Jesus included the example of Lot in His earlier teaching to emphasize His point. I think the important truth to note is that God is going to deliver His own before exacting judgment on the wicked.
As He continues to paint His word picture, the LORD says that two will be working in the field; one will be taken, and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and the other left. This is descriptive of what happens at the rapture when the LORD takes the family of believers home to heaven and leaves the unbelievers behind to experience the coming judgment.
(to be continued...)
Saturday, September 1, 2018
From the perspective of the Old Testament saints, the coming of the Messiah would end up being a two-part process—first as the Suffering Servant and next as Victorious King. That could lend credence to the same type of perspective in the eyes of the New Testament saints—first as Deliverer of the church and next as Victorious King.
Although the Greek for the words day and hour allow for more general time references, it would seem that their use as a unit is significant to a specific day and hour which would include the thought of a specific year.
I think at this point, based on the verses that follow, that Jesus is making reference to the rapture, the catching away of the church before the start of Daniel’s 70th week, since that concept is presented in scripture as something that could happen at any moment with no preceding signs of identification. This seems out of context with the coming of the kingdom, but is reasonable in light of Old Testament prophecies that referenced a span of time or more than one event, e.g., Isaiah 61 as noted above.
Isaiah 61:1–3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
When Jesus read from this section in the synagogue in Nazareth, he stopped after “the acceptable year of our LORD” and declared that He was fulfilling the scripture that day. He did not continue reading because the rest of that prophecy made reference to His second coming as Messiah the King.
Though the disciples would not have understood the distinction between the rapture and the return of Jesus as King Messiah, it in no way changes the truth of each. The LORD waited to reveal this mystery through the Apostle Paul.
1 Corinthians 15:51–53 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Paul is describing a time, a moment, when living believers will be caught up in the air with believers that had already died to be resurrected to incorruptible bodies. It is an event that can happen at any moment.
In light of that truth, the LORD encourages His followers to be aware, watch and pray because they could not know the time of His return. I believe He is addressing spiritual readiness. We are to be perceptive of what is happening around us—able to recognize the signs given by the Lord. We are to be spiritually alert and not affected by the world’s outlook as described by Peter.
2Peter 3:4 “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
(to be continued...)
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
It’s at this point that Jesus presents the parable of the fig tree. He noted that when you see the fig tree putting forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these signs coming to pass, you can know that His coming is near. It is interesting to note that Luke specifically includes all trees.
I know that many prophecy scholars equate the fig tree with Israel based on Old Testament scripture.
Joel 1:6–7 “For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.”
Establishing Israel as the fig tree, they proceed to compare the rebirth of the nation of Israel to the budding of the fig tree. Though the comparison of Israel to the fig tree and the prophesied rebirth of the nation (Ezekiel 36-37) are scriptural, I personally don’t see that as the primary point being made here, even though I do believe that Israel’s rebirth as a nation is the most significant sign regarding the nearness of the second coming of Jesus.
The Lord is drawing a word picture here. According to Eerdman’s Dictionary, the first fruit of the fig tree appears in February before the leaves appear in April/June; when the leaves appear, the fruit is usually ripe. When you see the leaves shooting forth on the fig tree, you know that summer is right around the corner. Luke even adds the phrase “and all the trees” since the sprouting of the leaves on the trees in spring are the harbinger of summer soon to come. Just as the sprouting of leaves is a sign that summer is coming, the emergence of the signs previously discussed are announcing that the kingdom of God is at hand—the return of Jesus to rule as King on planet earth.
Jesus follows this statement by declaring that “this generation” will not pass until all these things are fulfilled. There is much debate about what is meant by “this generation.” It would seem to me that in context, it is referencing those that see the signs. These signs include all the predicted events presented prior to this statement—some of which are a part of the 70th week of Daniel, the tribulation period. The generation that sees the hard labor pains will see the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Note: False labor sometimes precedes onset of actual labor. It is similar to actual birth pains, but is premature. Events could happen similar to the birth pains before actual labor begins—but even false labor is a signal of labor soon to commence. Labor pains that result in birth continue to increase in intensity and frequency until birth occurs.
The LORD then assures His disciples that even though heaven and earth will eventually pass away, His word will not; all will come to pass as He has foretold.
Isaiah 51:6 “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”
Isaiah 65:17 “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”
2Peter 3:13 “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
The LORD also tells His disciples that no man on earth or angel in heaven or even the Son (Jesus Himself) knows the day or hour appointed for His return; that is a time known only to God the Father.
This is a little bit confusing in that once the 70th week of Daniel starts, a specific timeline is given regarding its duration. It will last for seven years or 84 months or 2,520 days; it is even specified that the Antichrist will only be allowed to rule for half that time—3.5 years or 42 months or 1260 days. It seems one could mark off the days on a calendar. I think the key is that no one before those who experience the tribulation will have a clue regarding the day or hour. Even those who live through the tribulation will not be able to be specific as to the hour.
The other hard thing to understand is that the Father has information that the Son does not have. Again, I think the answer is found in the fact that the Son at the time of this prophecy is functioning in the human realm through the anointing and revelation of the Spirit. Until He was resurrected to His glorified state, He was by choice just as dependent on revelation through the Spirit as we are now. He lived His life as God had intended for man to live when he was created. It is also thought-provoking to know that neither do the angels in heaven know the appointed time. They know the plan and they helped reveal it to John; they just don’t know the exact timing.
(to be continued...)