Many have attempted to predict when Jesus will return as promised throughout the New Testament. The Olivet Discourse, which is what we call the sermon Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, is the lengthiest answer Jesus gave to any question asked of Him. There are many important truths in these chapters. These 160 verses teach us what few preachers talk about, concerning His return.
There are essentially 3 reasons why these chapters are so important. First, Jesus relates to us His teaching on a wide range of prophetic truths concerning the future of the world. In contrast, 1Corinthians chapter 15 is where we learn specifically of the Resurrection. 1Thessalonians chapter 4 is full of truth concerning the Rapture of Christ’s church. The Olivet Discourse seems centered on Israel and her future.
Second, much of the teachings in Matthew24 and 25 are found no-where else in scripture. The end times events are not simply foretold, as in many other scriptures, but how the events are to unfold and how they fit together are detailed here. We are taught about not only the events themselves but also how they flow from one event to another. A true timeline of sorts is laid out, even if precise dates are not. As valuable as Daniel and Revelation are, the Olivet Discourse is unique in itself as comprehensive, clear prophetic teaching.
These specific scriptures detail the list of those who know when Jesus will return.
Matthew 24:36 (NKJV) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Here we see neither person nor even the Angels who are at constant readiness to fulfill God’s commands know when Jesus will return.
Verses 42 and 44 tell us “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” and “Therefore you also be ready, the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Verse 50 says; “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of”
Matthew 25:13 says; “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
And finally a parallel passage, Mark 13:32, details “nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Therefore, let us review this list of those who know when Jesus is coming back; no man, not the Angels, not even the Son. It is not known when He is coming back. Only our Father in Heaven, and set by His own authority knows when it will happen.
Understandably, Mark 13;32 gives many people concern. They might say “if Jesus is God, if He is omniscient, how can he not know?” To understand this you need only remember that when Jesus said this He was on earth as human/God. He had voluntarily left behind certain of His Godly attributes so He could be a Savior that had truly been in our shoes, a Savior for all humankind, not just rulers or Jews or… (insert your group here), but all peoples everywhere! Rest well assured He knows now that He has been accepted by the Father as sacrifice for our sins and has been resurrected and ascended to the Father in Heaven. He is eagerly awaiting that day!!
In the fall, we see Christmas decorations go up and we know the season is close. In Matthew 24 and 25 we see the signs of Christ’s return listed. An unknown author wrote; “the signs of the future cast a shadow before them.” Studying the Olivet Discourse is like looking at the shadows of those days. The parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-35 makes it clear that we are to be ready for His return. We can closely examine the signs of the times, and if we do so prudently, we can understand when His time is near. That which we see on the horizon tells us our Lord is coming in Glory, soon. The rapture of the church will take place soon, maybe yet this day or month, but soon.
So, the sermon itself began with the disciples commenting to Jesus on the beauty of the temple. Jesus tells them “not one stone shall be left her upon another, that shall not be thrown down”. This must have sounded ridiculous to them. How could such a grand construction be destroyed so quickly? So they asked Him “how could this happen?”
The answer is recorded in Luke 21:20-24. (Please read it now).
Later in A.D. 70 the words of that prophecy were fulfilled exactly. The Romans under Titus captured Jerusalem. The soldiers were quick to take the spoils, even to the point of taking the very stones, which had built the temple. Since Jesus’ words were so perfectly foretold, though the two events take place at different times, (the second part is yet to happen), perhaps it would be prudent to pay close attention to His end times prophecy.
When the disciples heard about the destruction of the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem they thought it was about the end of the world. They associated all their questions together. When is this, the destruction of the temple, going to happen, when is the end of the age and the coming of the Lord? They thought it would all happen at the same time. Perhaps we should be grateful that they did have it all mixed up. We might not have gotten such a comprehensive answer from Jesus if they had it right from the beginning.
Dr. David Jeremiah paraphrases something C.S. Lewis said this way “This whole drama of redemption is like a play with many acts. The author of the play is the Lord Jesus Himself, He knows the end from the beginning. We are in act 47 or 2000 or whatever it is and we are to play our part on the stage. It may be the last act but we do not know. We may be in the final part of the drama, but the author has not told us. After we finish playing our part we may go on to our graves and our souls go to the Lord. The generation that follows us will move on to the stage and they will play their part.” “We should always be looking to the conclusion of the play with hope and expectation. In the process we should never forget to play the part that God has given us to play now.”
If Jesus were to come tomorrow, I hope he finds me studying His word for the next sermon. If He comes tonight, I hope I am praying, thanking Him for His blessings. Whether He comes today or next week or… I want Jesus to find me at work for His Kingdom and to hear the words “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master”.
What are you doing today that you would change if you knew this was the end of the play?
What are you not doing that you would if you knew this was the final act?
After considerable Prayer and counsel, I have decided to undertake a lengthy study of prophecy. More specifically eschatological (end times) prophecy. I will include many Scripture references. Many times I will not include the entire text hopefully encouraging you to “dig” into your Bibles to follow along. Please carefully and Prayerfully consider the questions included with each weeks submission. Please also, feel free to include your thoughts and answers.
This initial lesson will be an overview of biblical prophecy. In future lessons we will dive deeper on many specific prophecies.
Acts 1:11 records for us the two angels telling Christ’s disciples that He would return in like manner, as they saw Him leave. This statement, as simple as it is profound, forms a sort of bedrock for the hope that we have as the church, that Jesus will come, is coming to gather His own to Himself.
When Christ does return for us, the first thing that will happen is that He will take us (His church) to heaven to enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb. The judgment seat of Christ will accompany this event. While we will be in Heaven already (there will no such questions for us) our works for the church will be rewarded.
While we are celebrating our marriage feast with Jesus, the world will be in quite a different time. This is when the tribulation begins. Since Christ will have taken His church away at this time, the Holy Spirit will go with Him. Imagine that. The world full of those who did not believe in Jesus, with hearts that are continually seeking evil and the loss the only restraining influence the world has ever had. The word tribulation seems somehow inadequate for the treachery that will be taking place at that time.
Revelation 3:10 comforts us to the fact that during this seven year tribulation we will not be on the earth.
There are 3 characteristics of the tribulation period that are important.
1) Worldwide judgment- In Revelation such things as seals and trumpets… bring about the forms of judgment the world will suffer.
2) Israel will be persecuted- Jeremiah 30:7 speaks of “Jacobs trouble” Jews will be harshly persecuted at this time.
3) Many will yet be saved- People who did not hear the Gospel before the rapture will have the opportunity to do so during the tribulation, many will believe and be saved, some of these will be immediately martyred for their faith. There will also be those who think they will “party” until the rapture and then get serious about faith and salvation. 2Thessalonians 2:9-12 gives strong admonition against this delusion.
The antichrist will rule the world during the tribulation. He will be Satan incarnate. The end will come when Christ appears and the Battle of Armageddon begins
The Millennium comes next. This thousand-year period is when Christ will rule. His capital will be Jerusalem. As His saints fresh from the Battle of Armageddon we rule with Him from the New Jerusalem, which is located above the earth. We help Jesus to oversee a thousand years of peace and righteousness on earth. At the beginning of the millennium, all people will be believers from the tribulation period. The unbelievers have been judged at this point. However, many people will be born in the millennium. They will still have free will and many will reject Christ even as his rule is perfect and peaceful in every way. Satan will be loosed at the end of the millennium for a short lived rebellion.
The Great White Throne Judgment concludes the millennium and eternity begins.
Prophecy, while stimulating mentally is so much more. If appreciated fully in the heart of a Christian, it should have profound impact on how we act. Below are some Scripture references to reveal this truth.
1Corinthians 4:5. Knowing we are to be judged, how can we judge others?
1Corinthians 11:26. The communion we take is rehearsal for the Marriage Feast in Heaven.
Colossians 3:1-4. Knowing Christ is coming for us, we should set our hearts on things “above”.
Hebrews 10:25. We should draw together with other believers. We need the encouragement and love that only another in Christ can offer.
1John 3:2-3. Anticipate His return and be ready for it. Purify your life. Do you want to be caught in an unholy act when He returns? Or worshipping him?
Jude 1:20-23. We must do everything we can to reach the lost. Please Pray about how you can positively affect someone’s eternity today, and then be ready and willing to “go for it”!!
1Thessalonians 4:16-18. Christians should have no fear of death. The dead will rise first to meet Him, and thus always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words!
When you know what the future holds, you can face today Boldly and Courageously!
What do you think is the ultimate connection between Genesis 3:15 and Revelation 20:10?
Why Evangelize? I am one who prays often for God to bless me with the gift of Evangelism. As such, I notice when Christians say, “Oh I just can’t do that, it isn’t me”, or “I am not comfortable with that” etc… When I read Matthew 28:16-20, (and I just did again to confirm my thought), it says nothing about being optional, or your comfort level. The truth is that often times we are either too lazy to invest the energy or too wrapped up in our own circumstances to care about that other persons eternity. Many times, it may be simply a sense of inadequacy or nervousness that keeps us quiet when the Holy Spirit prompts us to act. Both of those symptoms of inaction are self-correcting. When you jump out of your nervousness into faith enough times you will grow to be more effective! The “why” we should is very simple, it was commanded by Jesus as His last words from earth to His beloved disciples, it must therefore be very important! Also, think of this, if someone had not stepped out of their comfort zone, or risen above their sense of inadequacy you dear Christian would still be facing Death and Hell for eternity. Matthew 4:19 says “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (nkjv). When my dad was on what turned out to be his deathbed, he had a moment of clarity (in the final stages of lung cancer, lots of morphine is needed) when he looked to the corner of his room (where no one was) and said, “no, I don’t wanna go yet”. ( I now believe God had me see that as a warning for my future as I was not yet committed to Christ). There was a fear in his eyes as he said this. I was staring straight at him, it was clear and unmistakable. He did not want to go with whatever was there calling him. My dad never ever said a Spiritual word in his life, never said God or Jesus unless there was a four letter word attached to it. Even at that stage of Spiritual immaturity ( I had been baptized, but fallen away from my faith) I recognized the need for Prayer. He quickly fell into unconsciousness and lingered for several hours before dying. During this time I took his hand and asked him (if he could hear me) to Pray the words I was using, even if only in his own mind, for forgiveness and acceptance of the gift of Grace from Jesus. I do not know if he did it or if he did, if it was accepted by God, I can only wait and hope. This experience is, I think, the spur under my saddle to “Share the Gospel of Christ” with all people everywhere! So please, take heed as you read these words, do not let anyone in your family die without knowing for sure that you did Share the Gospel of Christ and their lot is cast of their own decisions, not your insecurity, or comfort level. When my mom died a few years later my sister found a note in her Bible saying “on [this date] I give my life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour!! Praise God, Hallelujah!! She is home! If you Pray for wisdom and opportunity to effect someone’s eternity, be ready for it, God will provide! You need to be open to the prompting of the Spirit and ready to be an example or a kind word, or a teacher, or whatever God needs you to be for that person. He will guide you, and give you security and confidence (read Exodus 3 and 4). Remember, Matthew 28:20 promises Jesus will be with us “even to the end of the age”
Since the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and God the Father spoke from Heaven immediately after Jesus was Baptised, is it evidence of “when” salvation occurs?
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. This is Romans 10:9-10 from the NKJV. Nothing about baptism here. Just saying…
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