When you read Matthew 24 and 25, do you ever find yourself asking, what is the context of Jesus answer to the disciples and the extensive response that carries on for two chapters? If you want to understand you have to go back to chapter 22 of Matthew to find out what motivated this string of explanations.
In Matthew 22 we find Jesus telling the disciples to get the young colt and its mother because Jesus was about to ride into Jerusalem like a conquering King – the king Israel had been waiting for.
It did not take long for all that to change, for when he arrived at the temple he cleared the outer courts, the courts of the gentiles by violently overthrowing their tables and chasing them, anyone doing business with them, and their livestock out of there with a whip he fashioned out of cords. This started a two-day verbal barrage with and against the Chief priests and elders.
Put flesh and blood on these characters called disciples and you realize that the disciples and Jesus were from Galilee and really had nowhere to go hide as Jesus went toe to toe with the elders, while they were in Jerusalem, therefore they stuck out like a sore thumb.
After two days Jesus directs them back to the Mount of Olives, one of his favorite places to commune with the Father. Stunned and shaken as they walked, they did not know what to say, so they did what anyone might have done, divert to the obvious because, once again, as far as they could see, He was not the awaited Messiah, as they previously thought. Walking past the temple, the pride and focal point of Israel, they point out the architecture of the temple. Really? God’s Son was standing right in front of them and all they could see is the temple.
Based on what He said in response they formulated two questions.
Matthew 24:3 NASB 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?”
Those two questions are extremely Jewish and have everything to do with when he will come back as the Messiah they expected. Try keeping that in mind as you read Matthew 24, 25. As I said his response was long. It was as long as the question was deep and everything He said had application to the end of time when He would come back as the Messiah Israel recognized.
Matthew 25:31-46 is only one aspect of what he told them, and, has everything to do with God’s last piece of business before we move off into a perfect eternity, a relationship as God intended it to be, free of sin.
Matthew 25:31 NASB (31) “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
As always, I admonish you to think like a Jew. That requires that you, as a Gentile believer, think outside the religious box you were brought up in and ask, what is the Jew, even today, awaiting? A Messiah that will come in his full glory ready to clean house, take the throne in judgment, and then, lead his people into eternity with him.
Because prophecy is embedded in patterns to the Jew these words, in a similar way, had already been stated on a previous occasion to the disciples. Aside from occurrences found in the Law and Prophets, this is the second time Jesus had said this to them, so it must be not only true but very important. We find the other instance in Matthew 19:28.
Should I want to dig I can find another reference to the glorious throne in writings of the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 14:21 KJV Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.
How could God disgrace his own throne?
This is reminiscent of a conversation that Moses had with God.
“I prayed to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. ‘Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look at the stubbornness of this people or at their wickedness or their sin. ‘Otherwise the land from which You brought us may say, “Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them and because He hated them He has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.” (Deuteronomy 9:26-28 NASB)
The impact of such a statement shows that Moses understood the character of God and that doing something such as this would make people see God as something He is not.
Let’s focus on this glory aspect for a moment.
While my earlier statements probably define how the Jew feels, what backs the definition and their feelings up?
Matthew 19:28 MKJV And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
So there is a clear anticipation of the Messiah coming back in a spectacular way.
The Complete Jewish Bible translates this verse like this:
Matthew 19:28 CJB Yeshua said to them, “Yes. I tell you that in the regenerated world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Isra’el.
When then, does Jesus come back in this anticipated way?
At the end of the time of wrath. Yes, the entire period we love to call “the tribulation” is a time of wrath and judgment.
We see this all throughout the Revelation starting with the opening of the seals in chapter six. Revelation 19 starting at verse 11 continuing through verse 21 speaks of Him judging and waging war, and so I show it to you now.
Revelation 19:11 NASB And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
Here, though, is probably where many errors in understanding begin because it describes Him returning and tells us that He judges and wages war. The not so discerning perceive “He judges” to mean that of those thrones to be set up, Christ’s is one of them and now he sits on the throne in judgment for the next thousand years I suppose.
Consider what has taken place.
What we mistakenly call the tribulation, years of God’s wrath and judgment poured out upon the nations and Israel for rejecting Him, quite probably initiated by the rapture, has just ended.
I feel like I have to take a moment here and define something. Why would it be proper to say that the time of wrath/judgment may have been triggered or initiated by the snatching away of the church?
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
1Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Because of these “witnesses”, I see credible evidence telling me that as a believer/follower of Jesus Christ, that I, nor you if you follow Christ, are going to be subject to the wrath that is coming. Can you also see why it is important to label the time frame as it is meant to be, a time of wrath, not tribulation? Oh certainly, tribulation will be a part of it as it has always been for the believer. Maybe, that has been a problem too, as we invite people to Christ indicating that all their problems will go away. Sure, I want you to come to Christ primarily because you are loved and have a hope and future with the Father in eternity. But get real, you are signing up for warfare. Perhaps I need say nothing more than what Jesus said?
Matthew 10:34 KJV Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Take the time to read Matthew 10:34 – 42, it will open your eyes.
Since God and Jesus are the same, then we could just as easily say that the last seven years have been Jesus judging the earth. Many will call this a stretch, so let’s see if we can find something more concrete for you.
Since much of what I have just mentioned comes out the Revelation, what does it say?
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,” (Revelation 1:1 NASB)
So the entire book then is a Revealing of Jesus Christ. Therefore, any application of God in the book is really talking about Jesus, because they are the same and in union with each other.
Then there is that whole event on the cross; what do you do with that?
While there is no denying that, as Matthew’s gospel puts it, He comes in Glory – which happens to mean judgment. But judgment for what?
Not sin, that was taken care of on the cross, as Jesus became sin for us.
“Sin” is such a lousy word for merely not hitting the center ring of a target, especially when you are having to compensate for everyday life events that act like sudden gusts of wind moving your hands off-center just as you release your shot or, you are sixty-two years old, as I am, and now your hands are starting to shake. How naughty of you! Get real, at least some of us are trying.
After reading scripture for all these years I feel like I can put the puzzle together because I have so many of the pieces. My problem is, I do not remember while I got the puzzle pieces from. Because of my memory slipping gears on me, I begin by doing searches for keywords I know are related to the subject. Since that did not work as well as I hoped, in this case, I sat there pondering for a moment. It is often in those moments, when I am quiet, that the Holy Spirit speaks. In this case, I was reminded to look in the letter to the Hebrews. (To you Gentiles, which is about all of us, this entire letter was written with the Jewish community in mind.)
For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and if every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by those who heard Him; (Hebrews 2:2-3 MKJV)
Since sin, the damaged condition we carry that required the payment of blood, was preventing us from a relationship with God, because it put us in the ownership of Satan, then someone had to pay the price for our freedom from this indebtedness and separation. Since there was no one on earth capable of doing that God sent his Son, untainted by what seems to be a genetic disposition to fail by sinning. That was Jesus Christ; And, He did it perfectly. His payment of his own blood purified us and paid for the freedom of us all.
What then would prevent a human from entering into heaven?
Well, just what the writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, to neglect so great a salvation. You, of course, are intelligent people and know full well what neglect is , don’t you? Really it is as simple as the child, who hears the request/demand to take out the trash, but, for whatever reason does not. They have neglected to do so. A synonym for neglect is to disregard. Now I understand, as foolishly disregarding a road sign that indicates there is danger ahead due to the road being destroyed by a flood can cost you your life.
I said all that to say, it is only our own bad choice to disregard God’s voice calling you to him that will put you through the eternal separation called hell.
Read Revelation 19 and 20 to get the full picture, but since we are talking about Christ sitting upon a throne where do we see a throne or thrones after the time of judgment?
Revelation 20:4-5 MKJV And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark on their foreheads, nor in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
I do not see one throne set up with just Jesus seated as a king that judges. I see many thrones; as many as there are martyred saints.
“ the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark on their foreheads, nor in their hands”
This horrific act of being martyred because your beliefs were different or challenged your oppressors, has happened to many already and it is not even the time of wrath yet; what happens to them?
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 MKJV (15) For we say this to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall ever be with the Lord.
Does all this mean that Christ will not be seated in the New Jerusalem during the thousand-year reign?
Not at all, for He will be the light.
Revelation 22:5 NASB And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
Here is my moment of honesty. I thought I would blaze through Matthew and the sheep and goats. As you can see I got stuck on one verse; it is a vital aspect of recent arguments/discussions and a source of grief for me.
Just coming to Jesus, although a wise thing to do, does not give you all wisdom and understanding in the Word of God. The biggest problem I hear is opinion and tradition, because people choose to believe those two things over the Word, and that causes all kinds of problems.
You need to spend time in the Word of God for yourself, for in that book, all truth is found.