Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Matthew 24

About Matthew 24
Have you read this chapter? All those who have called themselves "Christian" have at one time or another read it, and wondered. There are so many conflicting ideas as to what it means. Every interpretation lends to further questions which, when pursued, demolish the previous ideas put forth. Many play 'bible hopscotch', skipping from one verse to another, coming up with all sorts of ideas. Yet, those who believe in Christ know that there must be a proper meaning, one which answers all the questions as to what each thought means, a meaning which is harmonious.
Those who have been involved in the preparation of this document have struggled with all the 'ideas', and finally realized that only God can reveal it. The answer was found in the first three verses, and in the effort to put oneself in the position of those asking the questions, to feel as they felt, to think as they thought, to be a Jew awaiting the Messiah!
24 Departing now, Jesus was on his way from the temple, but his disciples approached to show him the buildings of the temple.
There were so many questions that Jesus brothers wanted answers to, but hesitated to ask. The Jewish nation had been waiting a very long time for the Messiah, and now he'd finally arrived! As they walked through the Temple grounds with the Messiah, the Son of God, already filled with questions, the disciples proudly directed Jesus' attention to the beauty of the Temple with it's glorious construction, "how it was adorned with fine stones and dedicated things" (Luke 21:5). The privilege to exhibit the grandeur of the most important edifice in Jewish life, to the most important ambassador to have ever been sent to the Jewish people, must have made their hearts swell. One can only imagine how their hearts sank as they heard Jesus' response, one which went completely contrary to their present thinking. He tells about the future of the Temple and it is not good.
2 In response he said to them: "Do YOU not behold all these things? Truly I say to YOU, By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down."
There are no words recorded as having been spoken during the walk to the Mount of Olives, but then these are not words easily received by a first century Jew. Many Jews believed that the "kingdom" would be established by the Messiah on earth at Jerusalem. The obvious pride in the Temple displayed by the disciples, who were indeed quite Jewish, in company with the question asked at Acts 1:6, would make it reasonable to conclude that the disciples also were expecting the earthly Temple to play a very important role in God's plan. It would have been quite a jolt to hear Jesus words to the contrary.
For a person to understand how the disciples must have felt, one only need imagine receiving a respected friend from afar, and proudly showing them you're home. You take them through and highlight the beautiful things you've done only to hear them ask you bluntly if "YOU" see these nice things, followed by words of condemnation. The person tells you, not just that you will lose you're home, but that it will be pulverized.
The Temple meant a great deal more to these ones than did their own homes, as it was 'God's house', the center of Jewish religious life and untouchable. Jesus had already seen the Temple. In fact he had demonstrated his personal zeal for it by throwing out the money changers. So for the disciples to be showing it off to Jesus meant that they were very proud of it.
From the standpoint of the Jews, what Jesus was speaking were 'fighting words', blasphemy and apostasy. Later, Jesus would be accused of no less by means of his words relating to the 'tearing down' of 'the temple' of his body, understood by listening Jews to mean the literal Temple which we are discussing.
Keeping this in mind as one reads the account helps one understand the mind-set of the disciples to whom Jesus was actually speaking. Hence, the reader might also grasp what Jesus words mean.
3 While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: "Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?"
After just hearing Jesus words concerning the Temple, the disciples must have been rather discomfited. They were obviously discussing things amongst themselves and apart from Jesus, for the Scripture says "the disciples approached him privately" to inquire of him. They had many questions to ask him but were somewhat afraid to ask, and Mark 12:34 shows how Jesus' powerful way of teaching could have this effect. But now, after this last information regarding the Temple, four of them worked up the courage to query Jesus, and these are identified in Mark's account as Peter, James, John and Andrew. They began to question Jesus, first about what he had just spoken concerning the Temple.... "When will these things be", yes when would the Temple be overthrown, and second concerning the final end of the system... "what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?"... a question now raised due to the disposal of their preconceived ideas concerning the end.
For the disciples to begin to question Jesus regarding the Temple's doom, means they first had to accept that what Jesus was saying was the truth. This in itself would have been difficult. The act of accepting these words, and continued discussion with Jesus, would have been viewed by hard-line Jews as apostasy, punishable by death! This is another possible reason for the apparent silence during the walk to the Mount of Olives, and the hesitation in pursuing further discussion on the subject with Jesus.
With these few words, Jesus destroyed the faith of the disciples. He needed to do this, for their faith was on the outside, founded on an institution and they needed to cultivate faith on the inside. They would now begin to learn what it meant to worship in "spirit and truth" as opposed to worshipping in an organization.
The reason so many fail to understand, and hence find themselves propagating
conflicting dogma about the 24th chapter of Matthew, is that these few simple facts elude them. Hence, they lump together the two questions with the two respective separate answers Jesus gave.
As one reads the account at Matthew 24, one might feel that understanding Jesus' words would be a great deal simpler had the disciples not asked these two questions in tandem. Jesus then, would have been able to answer so as not to confuse the matter. Yet, the disciples could not help but ask in this way. They perceived that the Temple played an important role in God's plan, and now the Messiah had arrived. Raised as Jews, their perception of what the Messiah would do is to bring about the fulfillment of all the glorious promises given to the nation of Israel. Not in the future, but then and there. So, for Jesus to shatter their preconceived ideas with the facts left them in an awkward position.
From what is recorded in this conversation, and from what Peter said to Jesus at Matthew 16:22 "Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this [destiny] at all.", -the idea that the Temple would be destroyed and the Messiah killed, was not in their mental paradigm.
Their question then took the form that it did as a result of their thinking up till that point. In simple terms the question was, 'If not now -then when?' , two questions in one. In a more understandable way of expressing it, the question that the disciples wanted an answer to was this, 'Lord, when will this terrible thing happen to the Temple, and since this is not the time of your coming to bring about the end of the system, when will it really happen?' Two separate questions in one sentence.
The key to understanding Jesus' words is to first understand the questions he was answering, and the thinking of those who asked it!
Jesus would address first, the issue of Jerusalem's future, as this was their first question. He did not, though, answer the question of when Jerusalem would suffer destruction straight off, but rather chose to give a warning with several cautionary statements.
4 And in answer Jesus said to them: "Look out that nobody misleads YOU; 5 for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. 6 YOU are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that YOU are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet.7 "For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. 8 All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.
Jesus first words were "Look out". It can hardly be said that this is in any way part of the answer to the question of "when" Jerusalem would fall. Rather it was a warning. Jesus made clear that false teachers would arise and even claim to be sent by God and he outlined their message so that they could be recognized. The false 'christs' would come onto the Jewish scene and preach "wars" so as to disturb the people and cause them to act improperly. Yet Christians were warned "see that YOU are not terrified " for "the end is not yet" as "these things are a beginning of pangs of distress", but of nothing more. Jesus outlined events to come, namely "wars... food shortages and earthquakes", yet he did not say these things were a beginning of the 'end', but rather a "beginning of pangs of distress." Neither were these words a description of a "sign", for Jesus was warning against false prophets and helping the disciples to avoid being misled.
Some today preach the message that Jesus here gave "wars and reports of wars" as part of a "composite sign" of the last days. In fact, these words have nothing to do with the still future coming of Christ. These words applied to the Jewish system and served as a caution against false ideas. He said "YOU are going to hear of wars and reports of wars" and "nation will rise against nation". From where would Christians "hear" these "reports", but from the "many" false messiahs.
Jesus knew that there would come those who would attempt to use national hostilities to cause people to be turned away from the truth. We see this today in groups that preach an 'end of the world' message based on "wars and reports of wars" and "nation will rise against nation", some false teachers even going as far as to twist Jesus warning itself and use it also to excite people.
(The war in 1914 was heralded as the 'end of the world' by some who call themselves Christian, and as it passes further into history, reproach is heaped on God and Christ. For many people, all that is needed to make them think that the end has come, is a real good spring storm. As the roof is getting ripped from their home, they perceive the end of time has arrived. They don't think forward to when the storm will pass and the insurance companies will pay off as life gets back to normal.)
Jesus here was warning Christians back then about false teachers from whom they would "hear of wars and reports of wars", but he did not say that this was a sign. Instead, he said "see that YOU are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet" and "these things are a beginning of pangs of distress". These terrifying things were going to take place, and he did not want Christians to be sidetracked by these events, and so he told them to expect these but not to be overly concerned, as these things were not a beginning of the end, but rather a "beginning of pangs of distress", pangs which would continue.
Jesus did not want Christianized Jews to be misled into thinking that these events were anything more than what they were, and hence be drawn into believing all the hype of false messiahs who would capitalize on the tumult of wartime and use all this doom and gloom to cause them to fear and to flee Jerusalem prematurely. Christians were to give only limited attention to these events.
He went on to tell them that on top of having to endure the false messengers with their "war" stories, also they would have to undergo suffering.
9 "Then people will deliver YOU up to tribulation and will kill YOU, and YOU will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name. 10 Then, also, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another.
True Christians suffered, and many times at the hands of those that believed themselves to be God's 'chosen ones', their own 'brothers'. This pressure was intense enough that some Christians were "stumbled" and fell into un-Christian acts of hatred. It was good that Jesus prepared them in this way. He then went on to describe the extent of the effect of these false messengers.
11 And many false prophets will arise and mislead many; 12 and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off. 13 But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.
To make matters clear, Jesus instructed them that these "false prophets" would have a definite impact on the faith of Christians. These false messiahs would scream that 'the sky is falling' and "mislead many", getting people all worked up.
No amount of wars has ever caused God to act. He acts in his own good time. How dangerous the war hype of the false messiahs was. As the people listened to the false prognosticators, they began to believe that there was no reason to be law abiding. They threw caution to the wind believing that the end was nigh, and as a result of the uncaring "lawlessness" of the people, some Christians became discouraged and gave up and failed to endure to the end.
Then, still speaking only of the time preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, he said...
14 And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.
Whereas in verse 6 Jesus warned "the end is not yet", now he says "and then the end will come". All the things Jesus mentioned between these two statements would have to be, and were, fulfilled upon Jerusalem. As can be seen from Acts 5:28 and secular historians as well, this was fulfilled then, -during the first century. They filled Jerusalem with their teaching and soon, not the 'entire earth', but rather the whole inhabited earth, the earth never to be empty again. As a result, today the Bible is everywhere and Christianity is no secret.
Jesus then finally began his answer to the first question "when will these things be", or 'when will it be' that "By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down."
He said...
15 "Therefore, when YOU catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, , (let the reader use discernment,) 16 then let those in JuĀ·de'a begin fleeing to the mountains. 17 Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house; 18 and let the man in the field not return to the house to pick up his outer garment.
When Christians saw the Romans undermine the wall beside the Temple in 66CE and soldiers, as non-Jews, actually "standing in a holy place" where they "ought not" (Mark 13:14) they recognized the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. Fortunately true Christians were not tricked into leaving prematurely by those false prophets who used "wars and reports of wars" in an attempt to cause fear and panic in Christians so that they would flee Jerusalem -see nothing happen -and return only to not heed properly the warning given by Jesus. True Christians stayed put. They "endured to the end", the real end that fulfilled the prophecy in Daniel, not the false end prophesied by impostors. At only this time would Christians have to abandon everything in order to flee. The wise ones did, and it's sure that these ones were viewed as apostates for leaving.
Before Jesus switched topics and began to answer the second question concerning the last days of our system, he gave one more detail by means of an exhortation.
19 Woe to the pregnant women and those suckling a baby in those days! 20 Keep praying that YOUR flight may not occur in wintertime, nor on the sabbath day; 21 for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world's beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. 22 In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.
Here Jesus gave encouragement, and in telling them to pray that it "may not occur in wintertime, nor on the sabbath day;" was giving more detail which would help in discerning the time to leave. The Father would certainly answer their prayers, so the "cut short" would definitely become manifest in other than winter and not on the Sabbath. The winter would make flight extremely difficult if not deadly, and the Sabbath, for Jews, would be a very difficult time to make haste in flight from Jerusalem.
Again, these words of Jesus could only apply to the last days of Jerusalem, for seasonal concerns would not factor in to a global event, and the Sabbath would mean little in the event portrayed for the end of an entire world. In an effort to apply these verses to a supposed future "parallel fulfillment", some have written that Jesus words are in company with the 'tribulation' mentioned in the Revelation to John. Yet, if the end of the world is not a local event, how could the 'season', or the "Sabbath", matter? As well, Jesus said that this particular "tribulation" had "not occurred since the world's beginning until now" and would not "occur again.", thus showing conclusively that his words, up till verse 22, were relevant only to the literal Jewish system before 70 C.E. in a one time fulfillment.
Regarding the Greek word thlipsis translated "tribulation" at verse 21, Strong's Bible Dictionary says "pressure" (literally or figuratively) and the word comes from the Greek word thlibo, which is akin to the base of tribos 5147 GSN; to crowd (literally or figuratively)
The manner in which Jesus used this word would have been consistent with Luke 21:20 where Jesus is recorded as actually saying "Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies" in what would be termed a "siege". A great "pressure" and a 'crowding' would describe well what Jerusalem would undergo.
Now, all these things took place as Jesus said they would. There was no confusion among discerning Christians as to how things would unfold. They remained calm when the false prophets made noises about "wars and reports of wars", not being deceived by those who would capitalize on these fearsome events to misdirect Christians.
His discussion now takes a turn as he moves on to the second question, the answer to which is of interest to Christians today as we find ourselves on the doorstep of their fulfillment.
3b ...."what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?"
Because some today confuse the answers that Jesus gave and also the questions that were put to him, they end up with a hodgepodge of conflicting ideas that vacillate from one extreme to the other and eventually ring hollow. When one considers that some professed Christians go even farther and have ulterior motives, seeking to use Jesus words in Matthew 24 to elevate themselves over their brethren, twisting his words and using fear about "wars and reports of wars" to motivate honest people into doing things not necessary, or even improper for Christians, then it is easy to understand the situation we see today in some religions. Some professed Christians have even gone as far as to build an entire religious structure around the interpretation of one word, hence, ending up with false doctrine about a 'secret coming' of Christ.
Now, Jesus begins to answer the question concerning his coming, but again he starts with a warning.
23 "Then if anyone says to YOU, 'Look! Here is the Christ,' or, 'There!' do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. 25 Look! I have forewarned YOU. 26 Therefore, if people say to YOU, 'Look! He is in the wilderness,' do not go out; 'Look! He is in the inner chambers,' do not believe it"
Starting here in verse 23, Jesus begins his answer about our present day. In Mark 13:21, it is easier to see this as Mark records Jesus say "Then, too if anyone says to you". Yes "Then", in the last days of this system, there "too" would exist the same feature of "false Christs and false prophets ". Whereas the false teachers of the last days of the Jewish system had their message about wars, the "false prophets" of the last days before the second coming would "say to YOU, 'Look! He is in the wilderness,'" yet Jesus warned "do not go out; " and "'Look! He is in the inner chambers,' " but again warned "do not believe it."
This is evident today when some claim that Jesus is back on earth, but somehow he is always hiding somewhere. The King James version says ...
(KJV) Matt 24:26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, {he is} in the secret chambers; believe {it} not.
Another version uses the words 'he is in the closet'. And so these false prophets keep Jesus in a closet, saying 'he is really here... you just can't see him because he's invisible', out of sight. Yes they even teach today as Christ said they would, that "He is in the inner chambers" -present but invisible!
In contrast to these false teachings, and to show that he would make, not a feeble, invisible, secret chamber entrance, but rather a Grand one, Jesus description of his coming was quite clear. He went on to say....
27 For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence of the Son of man will be.
(KJV) Matt 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
In stark contrast to what the false prophets will be saying, namely "{he is} in the secret chambers;" his "invisible presence" unseen to you and me, Jesus says instead "as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence (or coming) of the Son of man will be". Who could ignore lightning intense enough to span the heavens from 'east to west' ? Let the false prophets say he's invisible then! Yes, Jesus would come powerful and glorious, not cowardly hiding in secret as some suggest.
Some today say Jesus has come invisibly, and that Jesus' coming will be obscured as is lightning in the clouds. If we read Bible history at Exodus 16:10 we see a much different picture.
10 Then it occurred that as soon as Aaron had spoken to the entire assembly of the sons of Israel, they turned and faced toward the wilderness, and, look! Jehovah's glory appeared in the cloud.
What did Israel turn to see if there was nothing to see? The Son of Man will come and every eye will see him! Yes, Jesus contrasted what the false ones would say about the second coming against the exciting reality.
Matthew now records the answer to a very important question.
28 Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
-This is the answer to a very important question, a question that Matthew did not record. We will move past it for a moment, and come back to it.
Now we discuss the finer details of Jesus second coming.
29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Matthew says "the tribulation of those days" and Mark 13:24 says "that tribulation". This is entirely another event than the "tribulation" on the Jewish system. Mankind will experience a state of serious adversity, but will seem to find his way out. Yet, his celebration will be short lived for all the stars in heaven will cease to give light, including our sun. In this dense darkness Christ's coming, as lightning from east to west, will be arresting.
There will be no questions in the minds of any true Christians, for they will grasp the meaning of this event right away. They had been watching for it! Most people, however, will not be happy to see it for "all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation ". These verses back up Jesus earlier statement about the second coming. It would not be a sickly 'invisible' coming, but a grand one and "all the tribes of the earth ....will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
What he does when he comes is of interest to us.
31 And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.
Jesus will separate people and gather only those who have his approval. Gather to where? Matthew does not record the question, only the answer, and as we skipped over it at verse 28, "Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together." we now clarify the matter.
Luke does record both the question and the answer. At Luke 17:31-37, Jesus likens the last days of our world to the last days of Sodom and gives the same illustration mentioned above by Matthew. After Luke describes the same separating event, verse 37 says "So in response they said to him: "Where, Lord?" They would have had in mind the 'angelic' gathering of Lot and his family from Sodom and wanted to know where Christian ones would be gathered to also, so... "He said to them: 'Where the body is, there also the eagles will be gathered together.'"
This was the obvious next question for when the Jewish system would be destroyed the Christians had a route to safety. They knew where they would go and the manner in which salvation would take place, namely to flee to the mountains. When Jesus paralleled the destruction of our times with the times of Noah, they would have known that survivors in Noah's case were gathered onto an ark. But "the conclusion of the system of things" would be global and no ark was to be built. Where would survivors go? Where would Christ provide safety for his followers? It is obvious to see why they asked.
His answer is complete, although he did not give all the details. As eagles would gather to a body, a source of life for them, so Christ would gather his "chosen ones" to himself as he will be the one to provide what they need to live. Where and how physically does not matter, only that as eagles continue to live as a result of gathering to a carcass, so Christians will continue to live by being gathered to Jesus! We remember that he will not be limited for he has the unlimited power of the Father behind him. Salvation is sure!
Jesus then, as he did customarily, uses an illustration to help the reasoning process.
32 "Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, YOU know that summer is near. 33 Likewise also YOU, when YOU see all these things, know that he is near at the doors."
When the false prophets would proclaim Jesus' "invisible presence" in the "closet", using great signs -and when the evidence of the "tribulation of those days" is indisputably here, with the sun being darkened and the moon not giving it's light and the stars falling from heaven -then Jesus would be "near at the doors."
Now having answered concerning both the end of the Jewish system and the second coming, Jesus begins a summary comparison. He begins to contrast the end of the Jewish system with the end of the this system in which we live today. In relation to the end of the Jewish system, for which the Christians would need a definite indicator because they would have to take physical action and flee, He says...
34 Truly I say to YOU that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.
Jesus was quite clear that the people living at that time, his generation, would be alive to witness the end of the Jewish system. They were, as only three decades would pass before it came. Jesus, then, was pointing out the nearness of the end of the Jewish system by means of the fact that those people alive when Jesus spoke those words would still be living to participate in it's end. The fulfillment of his words are only in connection with when they were spoken.
Some false prophets today try to apply Jesus words regarding the final "generation" of Jews in the first century to this 'generation' or that in our days today. Their "generation" is a revolving door. It goes on spinning for eternity. They presume to speak with Christ's authority, as if God would listen to their application. How many times have false prophets selected out certain generations to which they would misapply Jesus words. Yes, they have been saying this for many generations. All those 'generations' have passed away, and new 'generations' have had to be invented, and so their words have exposed them for what they are!
That "generation" of which Jesus spoke disappeared thousands of years ago. Jesus was speaking of the Jewish system and any application to our days would be a misapplication. In trying to misapply this thought about a "generation", these false prophets even predict dates. In so doing, they cause all kinds of problems for which they continually have to come up with "new light", in the same ill-conceived effort, hoping to cover over their mistakes so that no-one will notice, and thus, they bring reproach on all who believe in the Christ.
In relation to the end of this system in which we today live, Jesus made clear that no indicator would be given Christians, as was done for Christians then, before 70CE. No, in fact the opposite was true. Jesus contrasted the end of the Jewish system, which he indicated would end within that "generation", with the final end of the world, when he said...
36 "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.
Yes, concerning "that day and hour", -the day we await, no such indicator would be given or needed, for true Christians do not have to flee a literal city. They need no date for they need not take flight! Jesus gave no same indicator-as he himself did not even know the day that "the Father" had chosen. He compared it, NOT to the last days of the Jewish system, but instead to "the days of Noah" which bear no resemblance to the last days of the Jewish system.
37 For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 38 For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; 39 and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.
When Jesus comes in glory, true Christians will be watching for it. They will not be misled beforehand into listening to false ones who hide him in the closet, nor will they be shocked, for they will have expected it. They will not be in fear or be thrown into derision as will the nations and all the false prophets.
The ones who fail to find favor with Christ are those who "took no note". These ones took no note of what? The false emissaries of today say that Christians should take "note" of them and their powerful organizations, but is that notion in harmony with Christ's teaching? Noah preached righteousness, and the people failed to learn righteousness. They did not need to 'strictly adhere' to the false teachings of some behemoth institution that preached Jesus in a closet. Rather, the people should have repented as did the people in Nineveh. They needed to "take note" of and practice the "righteousness" that Noah was preaching, such that the earth would not be "filled with violence" as it was.
Christ will then set into motion the separating of what, in chapter 25 that follows, he described as 'the sheep and the goats'.
40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; 41 two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned. 42 Keep on the watch, therefore, because YOU do not know on what day YOUR Lord is coming.
43 "But know one thing, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Decisive separating action on his part, and he exhorts Christians to watch for it. Here Jesus tells us that this event will be "coming exactly as a thief in the night." as 1Thess. 5:1-2 relates. They were to watch for it like a thief. No, they were not told to watch for a "sign" for a thief gives no sign, he just comes! If thieves would give signs, people would not need expensive alarm systems. Jesus was then telling them that there would NOT be a sign, only that leading up to the event there would be false prophets who would try to say there was some "sign" so as to mislead. Obviously God's chief opposer tries to confuse Christians and offers his false prophets as a substitute before that time, and how we have plenty!
What Jesus referred to at verse 30 as "the sign of the Son of man" was not something that leads up to the 'second coming', but rather the 'second coming' itself, for when it occurs, "all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.", followed by judgment when "he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones".
The suddenness of his arrival will come like a thief in the night, and what he will do when he comes is described further in verses 44-51, where the basis for the separating work is outlined.
44 On this account YOU too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.
45 "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that slave if his master on arriving(lit."having come" ;see footnote) finds him doing so. 47 Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings. 48 "But if ever that evil slave should say in his heart, 'My master is delaying,' 49 and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, 51 and will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his part with the hypocrites. There is where [his] weeping and the gnashing of [his] teeth will be.
When "the Son of man is coming", he finds two distinct kinds of persons. The "faithful and discreet slave" whom the master "finds him doing so", "taking note" of righteousness and looking "after orphans and widows in their tribulation and to keep(ing themselves) without spot from the world".(James 1:27)
Also the other type of person who "say in his heart, 'My master is delaying,' and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards,". The "faithful and discreet slave" then "will be taken along and the other be abandoned", the other being "that evil slave". The "evil slave" would also "beat his fellow slaves", lording it over them and treating them unfairly saying "in his heart,'My master is delaying,'", and by predicting dates which inevitably prove false, he makes it seem that since the Master has not arrived on time -according to his false scheme- that he is late.
It is complete, that this "evil slave" should use even these particular words of Jesus himself as the tool to accomplish his beating of his fellows. The "evil slave" even goes as far as to judge himself righteous, separating Jesus clear words about his judgment taking place at his "coming" as found in verse 44, from his description of judgment in verse 45. He takes these words out of context and says, not just that he is 'a faithful slave', but rather that he is "THE faithful slave" as though Jesus was describing a living entity, a latter day messiah, instead of his way of judgment.
He does not stop there. The evil slave goes on to say that salvation will come not through Christ alone, but instead through him -the self proclaimed "faithful slave". He says no salvation is possible except in connection with "that faithful slave" thereby excluding our Lord and Mediator.
It is fitting that Jesus, "the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his part with the hypocrites". This for the fact that he has exalted himself over his brothers and committed acts of violence to suppress Christ's honest followers who would speak up to reveal the truth!
We wait then for that most glorious event that hopefully will find us taking care of the Master's interest, building in ourselves, and others, "fruits" of the "Spirit", putting up with the Pharisees of our day and working righteousness, in anticipation of what God will do by means of Christ.
..... biblexaminer
expositors@yahoo.com

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