An Awesome Assembly

A Beautiful Beginning

A Concerted Calling

A Dire Day

An Efficacious Edification

A Fantastic Fellowship

Matthew 24:29-31

“But 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 the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”

Now this must be the Matthew 24 of which the pre-tribulational-rapture, radio, reverends refer to. Notice two things, it’s a very small sample of Scripture and it is over 1/3 Old Testament quotes. Vitamin E time. But first, remember to whom Jesus is speaking; the disciples, alone.

Joel chapter 32 excerpts; “Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations. A fire consumes before them, And behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, But a desolate wilderness behind them, And nothing at all escapes them. And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (An aside; How many of you spent your hard-earned money on books about the 4 blood moons in which absolutely nothing happened?)

Excerpt from Daniel 7; “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”

Excerpt from Isaiah 27; “And it will come about in that day, that the LORD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown; and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

And there it is, clearly I, the Bible School dropout, must yield to those with degrees and pedigrees. Clearly Jesus and the prophets both proclaim that it is the nation Israel that will be saved in the end times. We see Jesus coming in the clouds, a trumpet blowing and the sons of Israel being gathered in Zion. I can remember teaching toddler church with my grandmother. We would give those little rugrats, who are now in their late twenties and early thirties with rugrats of their own, toy trumpets and plastic drums. We would march around the room singing, “we’re marching upward to Zion.” That’s what Matthew 24 is all about, that the bloodline of Israel continues after the parenthetical church is removed. During the time of “Jacob’s trouble,” the Israelites will open their eyes as they march to Zion to bring their sacrifices to the altar of the New Temple. Jesus comes to them in the clouds, like lightning and defeats the ungodly. Matthew 24 and its corresponding, Old-Testament prophesies all speak of the second coming of Jesus. This context is the second coming of Christ. There is one small problem though, it is not.

For those who are new and as a reminder for those who have returned, this is the home of the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics.

  • Context is King
  • Author’s Aspirations to his Audience are Apex
  • Genre is the General
  • Expository Exegesis of Examples Enlightens
  • Dividing Rightly the Word of Truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions

Remember to whom Jesus is speaking; the disciples in private. Consider the context and the sublime string running throughout the book of Matthew of Jesus mirroring the footsteps of Israel and fulfilling all that they failed to fulfill. It’s certainly not our culture to consider the context. We like “feel good” verses like John 3:16 and Romans 12:2. We barely consume our daily crumb, much less our daily bread. We consult commentators and Sunday School teachers who are only teachers due to default. We simply don’t read our Bibles for all of the weightier worth. Matthew went to great lengths to demonstrate Jesus as the true Israel but we in the West cannot see it. We want our peace and prosperity.

Let’s set aside our preconceived notions and presuppositions, reading the book with fresh eyes. Part of using our Old Testament tutor is to consider its context as well and look for other instances where it may be quoted in the New Testament. Let’s look at Joel again.

“Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, [we saw this last time.] Nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations. [if time ends, why this phrase?] A fire consumes before them, And behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, But a desolate wilderness behind them, And nothing at all escapes them. And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

How were trumpets used in the Old Testament, or what did their use signify in the Law of Moses? Not in hymns or praise songs but in the Law of Moses? Let’s look at a two examples: “Make two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece you shall make them: that you may use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.” -Numbers 10. And in Leviticus; “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.'” The trumpet was blown to call them to their assemblies or to get them to move.

What do clouds and darkness represent in our Old Testament tutor? Exodus 16:10 “It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.” Question; was that the second coming? Notice also; “It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. And in Solomon’s case; “Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.'” -1 Kings 8:10-1220190408_092620

Most often we find that clouds in the Old Testament signify God’s presence and often times, judgement. He guided Israel in the wilderness in a cloud, gave them the 10 commandments in a cloud and deep darkness. But could we think pragmatically for a moment; what are clouds? What do they do, what is their function? What do they look like? What types of clouds are there? The high-hanging, cirrus, the lowest, stratus and stratocumulus and the low-level, light and fluffy cumulus, which is probably what we picture Jesus using as an elevator. Isn’t that how we picture the second coming of Christ; him riding down to earth on a fluffy, white cumulus cloud descending from heaven like an elevator? Perhaps you have been in an airplane and looked down at the cumulus clouds and thought, that’s how Jesus will descend from heaven.

IMG_20160412_122723114

Of course, you were 24,000 feet above the cumulus clouds, which rarely are found above 6,000 feet–who knows how much further it is to heaven. What I hope we see is that we don’t consider the context. We read, “the son of man coming on the clouds,” and our minds picture a cloud elevator. We don’t consider the intended meaning of clouds. We don’t read, much less consider, the surrounding context. For years and years I would read a chunk of the Bible here and part of a passage there and it was hard to make the pieces fit. I’m glad that I wasn’t the pastor of a Mega-church. This is especially true with books like Revelation and Matthew that lean so heavily on the Old Testament that they are impossible to understand without knowing the Old Testament. This is the reason why I use the NASB translation–it let’s the reader know when the Old Testament is quoted.1529359059984883882697

Back to the context of Matthew; “But 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 the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” This really does sound like the second coming, and it most certainly could be an allusion to it. Nevertheless, consider the greater context of Matthew, our Old Testament tutor and our New Testament explanation; found in Acts, on the day of Pentecost, that’s the Old Testament Shavuot, the feast of weeks; first fruits.

“But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: ‘Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: “AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,” God says, “THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN UPON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE, AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BENEATH, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. AND IT SHALL BE, THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED..”‘”

One word; fulfilling.

Peter confirms that this prophecy of Joel, which Jesus quotes in Matthew 24, is being fulfilled on this day of Pentecost where the seemingly drunk disciples, speak in tongues. Peter goes on to explain more, but for time’s sake, we will not read it all. Nevertheless, we see the people are “pierced to the heart,” they mourned and lamented, like Jesus said they would. They cried out to Peter, “What must we do to be saved?” They are gathered together like wheat is at the harvest.

Pentecost; the feast of first fruits where the Hebrews celebrated the giving of the Law. But that was not it’s original intent. It was to celebrate the wheat harvest. That’s right, the wheat harvest, it was a harvest festival. However, Pentecost is not the feast of the ingathering, that’s the Feast of Booths. We see that while much ingathering remains, the words of Joel and Jesus are being fulfilled in Acts. Remember the other Old Testament quotes of Jesus?

“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him.” Sounds like an ingathering to me. Jesus, through tribulation unseen before or after, is sending out his angels to gather his elect from all tongues and tribes and nations who will serve him. Luke wrote; “The kingdom of heaven doesn’t come with signs to be observed.” And in Matthew Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” I find it hard to believe that, even though the metaphorical Master, Jesus meant anything but “very near,” or “here.”

Consider; “And it will come about in that day, that the LORD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered up one by one [not all at once], O sons of Israel. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown [used to call, to gather]; and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.” 

This isn’t the end but a blessed beginning. It’s also a not-so-abrupt end to the old way. The old way wasn’t working, only Jesus could fulfill the Law, once and for all. Someone wrote to the Hebrews: “For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”

And when did he do it? At Pesach, Passover–he did more than pass over our sins, as Colossians says, he nailed them to the cross, canceling our debt, once for all. There can be no more sacrifice. Jesus removed our sin during Pesach, sent his Spirit, not the Law, during Pentecost or Shavuot, and will continue the ingathering during Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. But we’ll see this unfold soon.

Jesus uses wondrous words to describe the ingathering of his elect. Nevertheless, the context speaks for itself. If we remove our cultural clutter and let go of our preconceived notions and presuppositions and let the words speak for themselves, we will see that Jesus may be foreshadowing his return, but considering the context, he is clearly teaching the disciples what is going to happen very soon. A sneak peek into my next missive on Matthew 24, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Question; was Jesus wrong or are our modern pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers wrong? Even using heavenly math, this generation means this generation, therefore, someone is mistaken.

 

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