Signs of The Times?

Matthew 24:32-41

“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; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. “For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.

If Heaven and Earth pass away, surely​ my missives will pass away too, along with all the possessions the mega-church pastors proclaim are part of your prosperity. What will not pass away however are the words of God, they are eternal. Therefore we mine for gold. I write not so that my missives will be remembered but to remind us that God’s words are eternal and in them one may find eternal life.

Problem; we don’t read them for all of their weighty worth, considering the original intent and the context but let our cultural clutter and the cross-cultural contamination cloud our minds, paying close attention to chapter and verse breaks and headings added later, not noticing the sublime string and the use of literary language. When we read things such as, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone,” we think that Jesus sits in heaven looking at the Father questioning him, saying, “now, now, now?” And the Father responding, “I told you, I will tell you when it’s time.” It sounds silly but that is exactly how many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers will unwittingly present the relationship of Jesus and the Father, when they say, “even Jesus doesn’t know the day of his return,” because they don’t consider the greater context nor the relationship between the Father and the Son–they are one–they can’t have secrets. My guess is that you all have struggled with this scripture at some point, maybe even now. We have to see the use of literal and literary language by Jesus and consider the greater context; the setting, the scene and especially, to whom Jesus is speaking–his disciples, alone.

To his disciples, who have the most inside information concerning the Christ, Jesus tells the shortest parable in the history of mankind; “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.” We understand that Jesus is speaking about signs of things to come, what we fail to grasp is that Jesus is speaking specifically to his disciples, written to the first-century Jewish audience and passed down for us–they are eternal.

“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; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

Twenty-two! Jesus and Matthew refer to the disciples as “you,” or, “the disciples,” 22 times thus far in Matthew 24, and it ain’t over yet. Jesus says to the disciples, “you,” 19 times up to this point in Matthew 24. Do you know who he hasn’t mentioned? Israel. He’s made mention of the nations and tribes and has certainly alluded to Old Testament quotes in which Israel is mentioned​ but as for the Master, Himself, he hasn’t uttered the word Israel. But according to many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers, Jesus is only referring to the bloodline of Israel left on earth after a supposed pre-tribulation rapture. Could it be that we have wildly misinterpreted the content of Matthew 24?

Twice, in the greater context, Jesus has said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” twice. I am being redundant because Jesus is being redundant. in the greater context he has said it more than twice. This is a difficult statement to overlook or try to explain away, considering that Jesus says it twice within only a few paragraphs.  I believe Jesus to be the Master of Metaphor, along with Master of everything else, but did he truly mean “that generation,” when he says, “this generation?” Don’t think that I deny the second coming or that I believe that it has already happened–Jesus will come again, fully and quickly and he will restore the earth to a Eden like state. Nevertheless, he tells his disciples; “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

Since we began these series of missives at the beginning of Matthew, like the context of Matthew, my missives build on themselves. If you are reading my missives for the first time, welcome, I am glad you have chosen to read this far. Nevertheless, it’s almost like picking up a novel and starting in chapter 30. If you have several hours and want to read all my missive on Matthew, that would be great. However, we live in the real world and I realize that is extremely difficult. In addition, they are only the words of a Bible-school drop-out. The good news is that contained in all my commentary of clutter, the context of Matthew is exposed, every word. We used the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics to unlock the caged Scripture, where;

  • 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

A very quick summation of the context of Matthew; Jesus was:

  • The son of David, the son of Abraham, the son of God
  • Born in Bethlehem
  • Forced to flee to Egypt
  • Called out of Egypt
  • Baptized by John
  • Tested in the wilderness
  • Called to give the law on the mountain
  • Ministering in Galilee and the surrounding districts

And ​all the while Jesus was healing many, making a myriad of miracles and preaching the good news of the Kingdom. We see that one of the sublime strings running through Matthew is that of Jesus as the true Israel. That is, the footsteps of Jesus mostly mirror those of Israel, only all that they failed to do, Jesus did, pleasing the Father and keeping the Law, trampling on tradition and the precepts of men.

And now, days before death, to put it very mild, for the only innocent man in all of history, will be beaten, scourged, mocked and nailed to a cross, is telling his disciples that they can expect similar situations before his return, and I shouldn’t write “return,” because Jesus never says that anywhere in this context–his coming.

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.”

We have many familiar verses here, but have we ever considered them in their context? For example, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away,” is sandwiched between, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” and, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” These words are easy to take out of context because they can seemingly stand alone and don’t really seem to fit together well, in our minds, because they have been taken out of context to the extreme. This is why we consider the greater context and sublime string. We need to see what the author’s aspiration was to his audience. First, Jesus to his disciples and second, Matthew to his first-century, Jewish audience.

How could Jesus not know, wasn’t he God? Look at the context of Matthew 24 alone–Jesus predicts, the temple toppling, false christs, wars, rumors of wars, famine, earthquakes, nation rising against nation, tribulation, the disciples being hated and killed, lawlessness, false prophets, hatred between neighbors, delivering each other up to the authorities, the gospel being preached, the abomination of desolation, the flight from Jerusalem, the mourning of the tribes of earth and the gathering of his elect across the globe. How could Jesus know all these things and perform the myriad of miracles and healings and feeding four and five thousand and have an unlimited knowledge of Scripture and withstand the wiles of the devil; yet not know when he would return? His words will never pass away, but he doesn’t know the day or hour of his return? The angels not knowing we can understand, and certainly the disciples not knowing we can live with, but how could the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Son of God, equal to the Father, not know? How, isn’t the correct question, because that’s an easy answer, the true question we should ask is, why?

Here is the answer to, “how?” Paul writes to the Philippians, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The King James version actually has a better translation for, “grasped,” it reads, “robbery.” Jesus lived by the Spirit of God, in the flesh. He could have, at any time, used his Godly power but didn’t. He humble himself, laid aside his majesty, emptied himself and worked with everything God gave him and God didn’t give him the date.

Therefore, the question is, why didn’t Jesus know the date? The answer, I believe, is found in this seemingly disjointed context as we look to see the author’s aspiration to his audience. When we do this, we will see that the context is not disjointed at all. Jesus didn’t want to know. He could have easily asked the Father for a date but didn’t because the date is not important. That is, if the disciples knew the date, they would act accordingly. Jesus is revealing a great many things to his disciples, but he is unwilling to reveal the exact time of his coming, he hasn’t asked the Father to reveal it to him. He wants to keep the disciples on their toes, so to speak, knowing that after all the aforementioned prophecies take place, Jesus could come in the twinkling of and eye. There are a great number of verses that support the theory that, not knowing keeps one alert. We will see this soon, Lord willing in our next missive; “therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day on which your Lord will come.”

Look at the phrase, “pass away.” “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. Jesus doesn’t know the date at this point, but what he does know is rock-solid. Everything that jesus has told the disciples is gospel, both literally and figuratively. Everything that Jesus has put forth, will happen to their generation. Couple the “truly I say to you,” with the, “my words will not pass away,” and we find that despite heaven and earth passing away, we are left with one solid promise from Jesus.

To beat the proverbial dead horse is no problem for me, it was certainly no problem for Jesus or for many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers. Many pastors and preachers theologians and teachers say things like, “this is the rapture,” concerning the passage: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.”

Problem; Noah and the seven others were left and “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Jesus evoking the story of Noah isn’t to teach us that believers will be raised up off the earth like Noah, as I used to believe. Rather he is continuing in his context about not knowing despite the signs. Consider the context and the shortest parable of all time. As the discples discern the days of summer by the tender branch with leaves, so to they shall discern the days of tribulation by, the temple toppling, false christs, wars, rumors of wars, famine, earthquakes, nation rising against nation, tribulation, the disciples being hated and killed, lawlessness, false prophets, hatred between neighbors, delivering each other up to the authorities, the gospel being preached, the abomination of desolation, the flight from Jerusalem, the mourning of the tribes of earth and the gathering of his elect across the globe. When they see these things, they will discern that Jesus is “right at the door.” But others will not, like the days of Noah, they will see the signs, like a big, giant ark being built and a man preaching about the coming dark days, but will continue on with their lives.

While it certainly does appear that Jesus is foreshadowing the his final coming, he is specifically speaking about something else. Consider the entire context of Matthew and the prophesies that he is fulfilling and the sublime string; which I know is difficult in our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, 20 minute sermons that we cannot recall culture. Jesus is fulfilling all that Israel failed to achieve and he is now telling his disciples that they will witness and experience this tragic time of tribulation. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away,” is a firm, trustworthy promise from Jesus to his disciples about the judgement on Jerusalem. And it happened in 70 AD.

Application: Just as Jerusalem fell, so too can any nation that follows after the precepts of men. Sinners are supposed to sin, we are called not to condemn them but to point to the passion of Jesus. Lord willing we are about to see the most magnificent miscarriage of justice that has ever taken place. Yet what have we seen so far concerning this Christ? A homeless man riding into the city he created for his worship on a donkey. One who loved the sinners and disdained the religious people. America can go down in flames and it won’t be the end of the world. But whose fault will it be, the government, sinners, or a church that resembles the apostate Israel and not the true Israel?

We look at the signs of the times and think that we need to be rapture ready. Much like Israel looked at Jesus on the donkey and wondered, “where is his sword?” Grant me a little leeway for literary license. But essentially that is what it is all about. They were thinking earthly and while the rapture has the appearance of spiritual thinking, its wanting rescue rather than doing our jobs. The context is clear, the disciples were given the authority to teach the New Covenant amidst all of the tribulations and trials and judgment in the first century. Do we want to be found waiting for rescue or preaching the true blessed hope, the true Israel?

I, Lord willing, will continue to write about the true Israel until I am banned in the USA. Then, Lord willing, I will take it underground. We had our chance and I don’t think that it’s too late to right the ship but we have to ask ourselves, how do we want to be found by him? Waiting, wanting peace and prosperity, too busy, or following in his footsteps? Our lampstand is about to be taken away in the West, because we follow the traditions and teachings of men, not following the eternal words of Jesus in their context.

 

 

 

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