13. GOD'S REVELATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
Suggested readings: Matthew 24:1 – 35, Mark 13:1 – 28 & Luke 21:5 – 36.
Matthew 24:1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 2 Jesus said unto them; Do you not see all these things? Surely I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. 3 As he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?
Luke21:5 And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with valuable stones and gifts, he said, 6 As for these things which you see, the days will come, in the which there shall not be one stone left upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 7 And they asked him, saying, Teacher, but when shall these things be? And what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? (Underlining added)
When Jesus Christ spoke to his disciples on the Mount of Olives, he would have said a lot more than what we have recorded in the gospels. When Matthew, Mark and Luke wrote the gospels, each of them drew out and highlighted, that which God wanted them to reveal to his people, both Jews and Christians.
To Matthew, the main thrust of the disciples questioning is about the end of the age, and what will be the sign of Jesus Christ coming, and of the end of the age.
To Luke, the main thrust of the disciples questioning is about the temple, and by what sign will we know that the temple is about to be destroyed. It is now history that the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. So much of what is recorded in Luke on what was going to happen before and around the time of the temple’s destruction is now history. It is only after covering these events, that Luke then goes on to record something of what Jesus Christ said about end time events; events leading up to Jesus Christ Second Coming and the resurrection.
As I have already said, history has a habit of repeating itself; there is nothing new under the sun. In the years 33 – 73 A.D. most true followers of Jesus Christ were thrown out of the synagogues, which was the mainstream church at that time. Then from 66 – 73 A.D. the Imperial troops of Rome, hunted down, killed, punished or imprisoned both Jews and Christians in Judea because of their faith. During these years there were also many false Christ.
As we come closer to the Second Coming, again we will see the true followers of Jesus Christ being thrown out of, not only the Jewish synagogue, but also out of main stream Christian churches. Again the imperial troops will enter Judea, to hunt down both Jews and Christians alike, and again there will be many false Christ.
It is important to note that God’s wrath is not against the true followers of Jesus Christ, but against the Jews for their rebellion against him, and their rejection of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Through Jesus Christ, Christians were warned to flee Judea prior to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 A.D.
Luke 21:20 When you shall see Jerusalem surrounded with armies, then know that its desolation has drawn near. 21 Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of Jerusalem depart out; and let not them that are in the country enter into the city.
It is said, so many Christians believed these words of Jesus Christ and fled from Judea that many Jews still blame the Christians for the fall of Jerusalem saying; “If only the Christians had stayed and fought with us, Jerusalem would not have fallen.”
Through Matthew, Christians are again warned to flee Judea in the last days.
Matthew 24:15 Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (who ever reads, let him understand). 16 Then let them which are in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Just as there was no need for Christians to be caught by the imperial troops in 70 A.D. there will also be no need for Christians to be caught by the imperial troops during the great tribulation. But some Christians will remain in Jerusalem and others will come to the faith. Of these, because of their faith, most will suffer and many will die.
In giving us their account of the Mount of Olives discourse, all three writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke follow the same pattern. First Jesus Christ tells us of things that are not signs, or are not reliable signs. Then Jesus tells us of the first of two reliable signs. They are reliable signs, because they both will only happen once during the time of the prophecy. After telling us the first sign, we are then told of the time between the two signs and what will happen during this time. Then we are told of the second sign that will come after this time, but before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Finally we are told of things that will happen on the day of Jesus Christ Second Coming.
The Sign Of Jesus Christ Second Coming And Of The End Of The Age.
(Focusing On Matthew’s Account)
For a moment we will focus on Matthew’s account of what Jesus Christ said on the Mount of Olives. To Matthew, the main questions to be answered were: What will be the sign of your Second Coming, and of the end of the age?
Matthew 24:4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceives you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many, 6 you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that you are not frightened: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
The disciples wanted to know when the end would be. What Jesus is saying in verses 4 to 6 is that all these things will happen, but none of them are a sign that the end is near.
Matthew 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Almost as soon as a woman becomes pregnant with child, she receives the beginning of birth pains; pains that will come and go until the birth of her child. These pains let a woman know that she is with child and that one day she will deliver her child. In the same way, ever since the dawn of civilization, nation has risen against nation, kingdom against kingdom and there have been famines and earthquakes in various places. These will continue until the End of Days. They remind us that all is not well on this earth and that one-day, the Lord our God will return. He will return to remove that which is wicked and restore all things to perfection.
Like birth pains, they will come and go. They will come more often and they will get stronger. But! They can never be taken as a sign. Many a woman has been deceived into believing her child will be delivered in the next few hours, only to find out that she has to wait a little longer. Likewise, many Christians have been deceived into believing Jesus Christ will come this year or the next year, only to find that they have to wait a little longer.
Matthew 24:9 Then they shall deliver you up to be persecuted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because wickedness shall abound, the love of many shall become cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this, the good news of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come.
These are latter birth pains. The beginning of birth pains began with the dawn of civilization. The later birth pains began with the dawn of the church age. Right from the Day of Pentecost, true believers in Christ Jesus have been handed over to be persecuted, and by the time the young church was 20 years old, Christians were hated throughout the then known world, and were being put to death for sake of the name of Jesus Christ. Today most people of other faiths do not mind you preaching about God; as long as you do not preach that the name of Jesus is above all other gods. During these times of persecution many have turned away from the faith. There have been times of increased wickedness, when the love of most has grown cold. These latter day birth pains, like the beginning of birth pains will also continue until the end, always getting stronger and more frequent, but they can never be taken as a sign.
Even the preaching of the good news of the kingdom to the whole world, as a testimony to all nations, is not a sign, but a birth pain. By the year 100 AD; the young church had preached the good news to all the nations of the then known world. By 200 AD; the gospel message had been taken west to the British Islands, east to China, and down into Africa and India. They thought they had taken the good news into the whole world. During the 1990s the church was aiming to have this task completed by the year 2,000. But no matter how well the church completes this task; neither I nor anyone else, will ever be able to point at the completed task. Saying; “Look! Look! See the sign of the coming of the Lord!” therefore the preaching of the good news of the kingdom to the whole world, is not a sign but a birth pain.
Having told us of the birth pains, things keep coming and going, and are therefore not reliable signs, Jesus Christ, through Matthew, then tells us of the first reliable sign; which is the seeing of the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. A sign that both the end is near and Jesus Christ is coming back soon. Then Jesus tells us of the great tribulation, the time between the two signs.
Matthew 24:15 Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (who ever reads, let him understand). 16 Then let them which are in Judea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to collect his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are pregnant with child and to them that are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray you that your flight is not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day. 21 For then there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 Except those days should be shortened, there would no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
This is the same time of tribulation, spoken of in the book of Daniel, chapter 12 verses 1 – 3.
Matthew 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, look, here is Christ, or there; do not believe. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Listen, I have told you before it happens. 26 Therefore if they shall say unto you, look, he is in the desert; do not go forth: or they say, look he is in the secret chambers; do not believe. 27 For as the lightning comes out of the east, and is seen as far as the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wherever the carcase is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
Verses 23 to 28 are telling us, that if anyone comes to you and tells you, “We have seen the Christ.” Do not believe them, for they have not seen the Christ. Also if we believe we have seen the Christ, and there are others who haven’t seen the Christ then we have not seen the Christ. For when Jesus Christ comes, his appearing will be like that of a lightening flash, which appears in the east, and in a flash it is seen in the west.
When Jesus Christ returns, in an instant, we will all look up and we shall all see Him. Revelation 1:7 says of that moment, “Look, he comes with clouds, and every eye will see him, even they who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. Even so, amen.”
How do we explain verse Matthew 24:28, which says; "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
If a large animal is about to die out in the wilderness, the flesh eating birds begin to circle round and round, waiting for the animal to die. You can see the birds from a great distance, flying round and round. Then when the animal dies, the birds gather together on the carcass for a great feast.
If you live in the wilderness and you see the birds circling, the first thing you think is that an animal is dying. Then when you see the birds gathered together, the first thing you think is that an animal is dead. It is so obvious, and no one (unless they are blind) can fail to see it. So it will be when the Son of Man returns to earth. The appearing of Jesus Christ will be so obvious, that no one will fail to see him arrive. Not even the blind will fail to see the coming of Jesus Christ, for the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the lame shall dance with joy.
So, in verses 5 – 14 we are told of things that are not reliable signs.
In verse 15 we are told of the first reliable sign, the placing of the abomination of desolation in the holy place.
In verses 16 – 22 we are told of the great tribulation, the time between the first and second reliable signs.
In verses 23 – 28 we are told don’t be deceived by false Christ, and that when Jesus Christ does come, everybody will see him.
Then in verse 29 we are told when to expect the second reliable sign, and what that sign will be.
Matthew 24:29 Soon after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from the sky, and the powers of the sky shall be shaken:
Mark 13:24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light; 25 the stars of the sky will fall, and the powers that are in the sky shall be shaken.
What both Matthew and Mark are saying, is that it will be in the days after the great tribulation, that we will see the sun and the moon darkened and the stars fall from the sky. This is the second of the two reliable signs that Jesus Christ is coming soon.
Note: From “Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.” Albert points out that the Greek word ‘eutheos’ translated as ‘immediately’ in the (K.J.V.) Matthew 24:29 can equally be translated as either ‘shortly’ or ‘soon,’ and he is of the opinion, ‘shortly’ or ‘soon’ would have been a better translation in this instance.
After telling us of this second sign, Jesus then tells us (in verse 30) of another sign. A sign, not that he is coming soon, but a sign that he has come. In verse 31, we are told what will happen when Jesus Christ comes.
Matthew 24:30 Then shall the sign of (Jesus Christ) the Son of man appear in the sky: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they (all mankind) shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Words in Italics added)
Jesus Christ, just having told His disciples of the two signs by which they will know that He is coming soon, then tells them this parable.
Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch has become tender (sign number one), and puts forth leaves (sign number two), you know that summer is near: 33 So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Most surely I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things are fulfilled. 35 Sky and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
(Words in Italics added)
If you live in a land with trees that lose their leaves in winter; the question is how do you know that summer is near? You know summer is near, because first the branches become tender (sign number one), then after a time the leaves come forth (sign number two). These are both reliable signs, because unlike birth pains, as summer approaches these two signs always only happen once, always in the same order and always with a time in between.
So it will be in the days before the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. In the life time of the last generation, we will see first one sign, the abomination of desolation, followed by a time, the great tribulation, followed by the second sign, the darkening of the sun and the moon. Jesus Christ himself gives us his word; that the generation that see these things will not pass away, without first seeing his return.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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