Prophecy lesson 2
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?
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