Surprisingly, it is often the small things that give me inspiration; I suppose it is because they speak to something deeper within me. Such is the case with this. I feel the need to talk about this idea of knowing or not knowing when Christ will come back.
I know that evokes immediate negative reaction and emotion in many. I am also aware that most of what you feel or think about the topic stems from tradition, an understanding based in what you have been taught, or just another false teacher that led his flock to ruin, death, or at the least embarrassment, as the entire world watched. The most recent that comes to mind was the guy that told his followers to sell everything because the Lord was coming back at a particular time, and they certainly would not need it. I wonder who got all that money? You have surely heard the saying, follow the money. Peter essentially told us to do the same when assessing if a person is a false teacher.
Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:2-3 NASB)
I am also painfully aware of my own thoughts on the subject of when Christ would return, and I have the internal debates about what I would do if could really know that there was a definite time of removal coming. With that knowledge, would I live like a dog, gambling that I would pay attention to my watch and do the appropriate repenting mere minutes before his arrival. I think he knew that weakness about us and has kept this knowledge appropriately cloaked until recently. Now that I am older and had some time to ponder these bizarre thoughts, the answer is no, I want to go out strong like a Billy Graham, or better yet, Smith Wigglesworth; now there’s an interesting man for you.
I go to several bible studies, and at one of them I recently met a an older woman. The reason I mention her is because she reminds me of Anna, the prophetess, whom when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for circumcision, arrived, as she always did. Luke’s gospel recorded that she was looking for his coming and spoke of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38 NASB. That implies that some did not care. You learn quickly that you are wasting your time speaking about the things that excite you with some people. So this dear lady, whom had waited and longing for the Messiah, knew Him when they brought Him up to the temple. Now how is that possible?
How is it possible, that “heathens” from Babylon, wise men, Magi, would have known that the Messiah had been born, and came looking for Him-to worship Him?
How is it possible, that the learned of Israel, refused to acknowledge or understand the signs that told of His arrival, and yet Simeon the priest, “came by the Spirit into the temple. And as the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do according to the custom of the Law concerning Him, he received Him in his arms and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now You will let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your Salvation which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples,” (Luke 2:26-31 MKJV)
Why did I bring up that woman I mentioned?
As I had time before the bible study gathered, I realized that this now blond-haired woman was the woman I had spoken with several weeks earlier, and I found that she has read the same books and listening to the same men I have. It really excites me to find a like mind. We spoke excitedly about the evidence of His soon return, and then I said, I am not comfortable telling people that I believe Jesus Christ is coming in September with Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana), and I am not comfortable for all the common reasons that I pointed out earlier. She responded promptly with, I am. I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that it is for us to know.
I did not disagree with her choice to speak out about Christ’s soon coming, but felt that I need to get this idea straight in my head, so that I can speak about it responsibly.
Having come out of a religious upbringing, where church doctrines are shoved down your throat, whether they are correct or not, and having a mother that latched on to one of these advocates of the Lord’s return, my reaction as a high school student who struggled with undiagnosed learning disabilities was, this is my ticket out of this hard work and I mentally quit trying. I have come to understand that this is the complete opposite of what God’s word tells us to do.
So if you will stick with me, we are going to find out what God’s word does say about our ability to know and understand when Jesus is coming back.
For me, it all begins with the disciples pointing out the temple.
Matthew 24 is our starting point, as it has the verse that people love to quote in their efforts to squash the enthusiasm of people like me.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36 NASB)
We cannot do this verse justice without looking at the context and the context begins with a Jewish oriented statement, directed at Jesus, a Jew. You can find this in Matthew 24:1. And just to be clear, Jesus did not have switch from being a Gentile God, back to being a Jewish Messiah just to answer their question. He was brought into this earth as a Jew, and he remains a Jew to this day.
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matthew 24:1-2 NASB)
The statement the disciples made seemed simple enough, but it demonstrated where their hearts were at, and it was not on Him as the Messiah, one of the primary things he wanted them to see. So He responds to their statement with a devastating response: “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” The temple was a national symbol to Israel and a source of pride. The stones are huge, no one could tear it down. Oh yes they can, and will.
Several minutes passed and now we find them sitting in the mount of olives, quite probably the same place Jesus always went, and here they ask – with their Jewish mindset – the questions that His statement evoked.
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 NASB)
Do you see it? They asked three questions, but we all forget that these are questions out of a Jewish mindset. I know, some of you are asking, what does it matter? It matters because He understood precisely what they were asking and answered them in a way that a Jewish mindset should have comprehended. This is not about riddles, God wanted them and us to understand. The problem here is that we Gentiles apparently need to adjust our thinking to align with the Jewish mentality, and have failed to do so.
Since much of the answer spoke about a time beyond their life span, and that they could not yet see who He was, I do not think they understood the answer.
It was just three questions. Do you think they understood the depth of what they were asking? Perhaps that is why the answer is exhaustively long, and that is why I will leave you to essentially read the entire chapter at your leisure. Matthew 24:4-51
We should understand that while much of this, for them, will soon be a reality, it is still looking to our present day as well. God saw fit to tell Daniel that what he saw was for a future time, and that time is now.
“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Daniel 12:4 NASB.
So I am looking through Matthew chapter twenty-four trying to find something that makes my case. What I find sounds very much like what I read in Joel, Daniel, or Ezekiel, when it speaks about the end; the ending where Jesus actually comes back as the Messiah they awaited. That is until you get to Matthew 24:32. Verse 32 is where we have to start paying attention if we are going to find out whether we have the ability to figure out our place in the timing of things.
Matthew 24:32-34 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; (33) so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (34) “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Who or what then is represented by the fig tree?
If we substitute Israel for the fig tree, and Israel became a nation 1948, can we then say that the fig tree budded in 1948? But there is a more generalized application in the fig tree. The fig tree produces leaves in the winter, not considered to be the best time of the year because it is often cold and gray outside. On the plus side the tree should be filled with figs by early summer. However, we are not really talking about fig trees here, are we? We are talking symbolically about the nation Israel, and our ability to find out the coming of the Lord, and this is one of our first clues that tell us we have the ability, like the Magi, to intelligently find out the signs of His arrival.
Here are just a few more things that might help you learn the maturity of the fig tree/Israel.
The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. Balfour Declaration, which declared that the British favored a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The Six-Day War was fought between June 5th and June 10th, 1967. The war was against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Rather than wait to be attacked, the Israelis launched a hugely successful military campaign against its perceived enemies. The air forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq were all but destroyed on June 5th. By June 7th, many Egyptian tanks had been destroyed in the Sinai Desert and Israeli forces reached the Suez Canal. On the same day, the whole of the west bank of the Jordan River had been cleared of Jordanian forces. The Golan Heights were captured from Syria and Israeli forces moved 30 miles into Syria itself. The war was a disaster for the Arab world and temporarily weakened the man who was seen as the leader of the Arabs – Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt. The war was a military disaster for the Arabs but it was also a massive blow to the Arabs morale. Here were four of the strongest Arab nations systematically defeated by just one nation.
I asked you keep in mind the context of Matthew 24, and it is Jesus, a Jew, answering Jewish questions. So the direct application is to the end of time, the end of God’s wrath upon the earth, the nations, and of Israel. This has nothing to do with the rapture, the snatching away of His church, but that is the very thing we use this verse for when we pull it out in an effort to shut someone up, isn’t it?
How much sense does it make for God to expect us to stay in a state of readiness if we have no clue about when He coming.
Matthew 24:35,36″Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (36) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Look at the terminology used in the Amplified bible.
“Truly I tell you, this generation (the whole multitude of people living at the same time, in a definite, given period) will not pass away till all these things taken together take place. Sky and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:34-36 AMP)
When I read, “but of that exact day and hour” I come to the understanding that I have the ability – if I may use a golf term – to hit the green. I may not be able to put it in the hole, but hitting the green takes skills.
I strongly suggest you read all of Matthew 24 attentively. Apparently the Father wants us looking for His return, and we can see His intensity in verses 44 through 51.
Matthew 24:44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
So, even if I can’t make a hole in one, I am still supposed to be ready, looking for his return.
I want evidence that demonstrates that He is talking to the church.
The most compelling evidence we have that the Holy Spirit wants us – the church – to understand and know when He is coming, comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica.
As regards the course and periods of time, brothers, you have no need of being written to. You know perfectly well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night; when ‘all’s well’ and ‘all is safe’ are on the lips of men, then all of a sudden Destruction is upon them, like pangs on a pregnant woman — escape there is none. But, brothers, you are not in the darkness for the Day to surprise you like thieves; you are all sons of the Light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 Moffatt NT)
The Contemporary English version translates verse 4:
1 Thessalonians 5:4 CEV (4) My dear friends, you don’t live in darkness, and so that day won’t surprise you like a thief.
The word darkness in the Greek also means shadiness or obscurity. If we are in obscurity, it is certainly not because of God. The word day can also be read as: a period of opportunity.
Substitute this phrase into the sentence and it messes up the theology of many. “But, brothers, you are not in obscurity for this period of opportunity to surprise you like thieves.” The opportunity being the rescue of His church and the launch of the time of wrath.
We have the ability to comprehend the time frame.
We are not excluded from knowing.
Matthew 13:10-11 MKJV And the disciples said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables? (11) He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them.
Three gospel writers recorded the same thing, and repetition compels us to pay attention. It is given to us to know! We find this in: Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; and Luke 8:10.
Gill’s commentary on Matthew 13:10 explains: “but to them it is not given; to the wise and prudent, to the Scribes and Pharisees, to the multitude, to the bulk and generality of the people, to the rest that were blinded. Mark calls them “them that are without”; who are not in the number of God’s elect; nor within the covenant of grace, nor among the disciples of Christ;..”
What does this mean? Some will simply not get it! God is not playing favorites, the ignorance is wide-spread.
Matthew 13:13 MKJV Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; nor do they understand.
If Anna the prophetess, Simeon the priest, the Magi, and all the chief priests and scribes that Herod called in for questioning, had a knowledge, then why could not all Israel see, understand, and accept Him as the Messiah?
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'” (Matthew 2:3-6 NASB)
I used to wonder why God was coming back with such a vengeance, and His own people are part of the target, but look at this – all the chief priest and scribes were called before Herod to explain what was going on, and they did. Based on collected information Herod had all the boys two years old and younger, in that particular region, slaughtered. That means the religious leadership had the same information that Anna and Simeon had. However, there is an intentional refusal to accept Jesus as the Messiah.
A momentary return to everyday life.
As I rejoined the senior group at McDonald’s this particular Tuesday morning, the man who leads the Thursday morning bible study was there. I pulled up a chair and he immediately says to me, “I want to talk to you about Lazarus the beggar and the rich man.” I responded with, “Wow, hi, good morning, but okay, fire away!” He proceeds to spew the doctrines of Hank Hanegraff, while excoriating Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer for teachings that entertain the idea that Jesus had to be put in hell, which “by definition” has at least two compartments, blah, blah, blah. The intent of his tirade was not discussion, but to set me straight. I said nothing, and he ended with, “I just wanted to tell you that.” I sat there for a moment and said, “Okay, you told me.” That was all he accomplished, for he had changed no ones mind and several of us were little more than irritated at the delivery. He left shortly after that, and that is when I said to the remaining crowd, “now we can talk.”
Communication often leaves the door open for discussion and room for correction should it be appropriate. As a child, I had none of that. Mr. Bible study and I have had these talks before and I see it as role-playing game. He likes to play the role of an angry, obstinate father, who is not the least bit interested in your opinion. Not much of a game as only one person gets to play, and once they have played their hand no one is interested in playing anymore. Maybe this is what Gill is trying to point out. The Pharisees had their minds made up and there was no room for change or discussion in them.
Why am I telling you about “Mr. Bible study”, because he, like those pharisees, does not get it. When I spoke about Lazarus and the rich man, I described an unexplained mercy being shown to a beggar, not because he was a beggar, but because there is so much about this mans life we do not know, and yet God does. Now contrast this with the last judgment of the sheep and the goats, we have little background on those called sheep, until Jesus explains why he is letting them into the kingdom of heaven. Look this up in Matthew 25:31-46.
That period of opportunity is also our hope.
You can tell by the way 1 Thessalonians 5 opens that Paul is in mid thought, therefore there is a context that we do not pick up on without backtracking. I think that to some degree we are safe in jumping back to 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” There is that word again, hope. Paul goes on to explain what they are having hope in and why.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 NASB (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. (15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.
I see two things intrinsically tied together. Our hope in being caught up to meet Him in the clouds, and the benefit of always being with the Lord because of that action. I do not see the idea of inconceivable images of Heaven and our time with the Father, as being our hope because our minds cannot wrap around those images. Salvation and therefore hope, at least for some, is deeply tied to our being caught up and extracted from a world gone mad. The Apostle Paul uses this term hope throughout the New Testament. An example of this is found in Acts 26:6 NASB “And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers;” This too is that hope which is demonstrated in our salvation from this world, into the arms of a loving Father who awaits our return.
Other signs we should pay attention to.
If you are paying attention to what is going on in the world, you surely have heard of the Shemittah and the Blood Moons. I recently asked two young men if they were aware of what the Blood moons were. Their answer was not only no, but they showed no interest at all. Here is brief synopsis:
The blood moons have come in a grouping of four, called a Tetrad. This stretches over a years period and has amazingly occurred in conjunction with Jewish feast days at least eight times. We are now in the last Tetrad that you and I will witness in our lifetimes, as documented by NASA.
Just for information sake, the last few of these Tetrads have come in:
1493 – 1494: This corresponds with Spain’s persecution of the Jews which started in 1491 and included the confiscation of gold and their placement in ghettos. The Jews were being expelled in 1492 as Columbus sailed out in search of new lands financed by confiscated gold.
1949 – 1950: 1933 saw an escalation persecution against European Jews, culminating in 1945 with Hitlers final solution. All the while Palestine, under shared control by British and Muslims, refused escaping Jews the ability to return. The significant event, Israel became a nation in 1948.
1967 – 1968: The six-day war. I already presented some details about that.
2014 – 2015: How has Israel been affected in the last couple of years? How about presently?
It comes from Leviticus 25:10:
And you shall make the fiftieth year holy, one year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you, and you shall return each man to his possession, and you shall return each man to his family. (Leviticus 25:10 MKJV)
It really operates on the principle of 49 plus one, that one being the fiftieth year. We are in that year now and it ends on September 13, 2015.
I looked at a website http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/562077/jewish/What-Is-Shemittah.htm, for an explanation of what the Shemittah is:
“As soon as the Jews settled in the Holy Land, 1 they began to count and observe seven-year cycles. Every cycle would culminate in a Sabbatical year, 2 known as Shemittah, 3 literally: “to release.”
There was the release of debts:
At the end of seven years you will make a release. And this is the manner of the release: to release the hand of every creditor from what he lent his friend; he shall not exact from his friend or his brother, because the time of the release for the Lord has arrived. (Deuteronomy 15:1–2)
And, this was a method giving the land a chance to rest:
For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, you shall not prune your vineyard, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth of your harvest. And [the produce of] the Sabbath of the land shall be yours to eat for you, for your male and female servants, and for your hired worker and resident who live with you. (Leviticus 25:3–6)
“During the Shemittah year, the residents of the Land of Israel must completely desist from cultivating their fields. They also relinquish personal ownership of their fields; whatever produce grows on its own is considered communal property, free for anyone to take. This aspect of the Shemittah year is known as shemittat karka, “release of the land.”
This year on the Jewish calendar, 5775 (Sept. 24, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015), is the Sabbatical year.
It would have been beneficial to us to understand that God is working with time frames, and that His time frames are coinciding with the Jewish calendar and Shemittah years. We would have been so much farther in our understanding of not only God’s word, but His plans.
Is it possible that we should awaiting anxiously because of these events that are coming?
Absolutely! I have pointed out to you that God has demonstrated that He works in close proximity to these markers, and we are not in the dark. So yes, I would say it is time to get excited, and do not quit, but amplify. Pray against the enemies attacks as he is already putting pressure on the saints. Try to ignite a passion for Christ within people. Show them who Jesus is, not how violent we can become. Lead them to Jesus, because without Him now, their journey will be a deadly gamble. Violence will soon fill the streets, and our government is playing this as one of their intentional cards. You are seeing the Harlot of Revelation and the beast. The beast is Islam, and all this will come crashing down, but it will take seven years. Get ready now! Do not be like those of Matthew 25 who were not ready and waiting for Him.