Friday, 4 September 2015

Understanding the 3 questions asked in Matthew 24

My last post was an invite to our end time bible studies, I was hoping to see some of you there but alas... :-) Anyhow we've been running them now -10 lessons strong - all by The Lord's grace and mercy.
How did these lessons come about? I realised that I was pretty ignorant on bible facts surrounding the end times, so I called my dear small papa - Pastor Patrick and he made a great suggestion which was instead of him teaching just me, that we extend our studies to other members of In God's Company as well as other children of God that would like to attend.
I used to find Matthew 24 difficult to understand and now I realise why, I had failed to distinguish that there were in fact 3 distinct questions asked the Lord by the disciples, and that his subsequent responses were in regards to these 3 questions.
Therefore one of the main keys for understanding Matthew 24 is that the reader understand that Our Lord Jesus was responding to 3 different questions. When we look at the answers he gave and the questions that were asked, it is important that we bear that in mind, this will allow us to avoid ascribing the right answer to the wrong question. We will also be looking at Luke 21 in conjunction with Matthew 24 to identify, understand and trace back the answers to each question.

Matthew 24 vs 3 "Later , Jesus sat on the Mount Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, Tell us, when will this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world? (Life Application Study Bible)

The questions can be broken down as follows:
  1. When would the destruction of the Temple be? This refers to the actual physical Jewish Temple which was located in Jerusalem.
  2. What would be the signs/trends that will help us identify the season or generation of His return or that we are close to His return?
  3. What would signal the end of the world?

Now let's look at each question.

Q1: The Destruction of the Temple
In verse 1 of Matthew 24, the disciples had been showing the Lord the temple and it's buildings - also directly translated as to-exhibit the structures of the temple - no doubt a grand structure and they must have been fascinated by it. Luke 21 vs 5 says "Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of The Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls"
But the Lord in turn responded as recorded in both Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that the entire building would be demolished completely. This was fulfilled in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple, this is recorded in history.
Luke 21 from verse 20 -24 we see the answer to question no.1
And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. For those will be days of God's vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end. (LASB Version)
Likewise in Matthew 24 from verse 16 to 20

Historic accounts:
It is said that Christians who heeded the advise of the Lord fled Jerusalem before the destruction, I would surmise that those of them who had been watching and listening to the  Holy Spirit, careful to bear in mind what the Lord had already said would have probably started to make their migration out of Jerusalem AD66 when the city was surrounded by Roman soldiers who were sent to quell the Jewish revolt. And if they did n't quite get it in AD66, once the city was surrounded a second time by soldiers in AD70, they would have understood it was time to leave without hesitation as forewarned by The Lord or risk getting caught in the resulting outcome.
Q2: Signs that signal the nearing of the Lord's return
Luke 21 vs 8-12 gives the answer to this
"And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake."
Pastor P gave us an assignment where we looked at the trends of wars, earthquakes, famines & pestilences; for all of the items we were able to source statistics on, we saw a rise in these events. We also know that Christians have been greatly persecuted just as The Lord said we would, most of the apostles as history records were martyred, when we look through the book of Acts we know they were delivered to synagogues (Stephen in Acts 6), brought before kings (Paul was brought before King Agrippa - Acts 25) and it was all for preaching in the Lord's name just as He said. Persecution started happening from the time of the Apostles and after which wars, pestilences continued to intensify upon the earth and we will see more of it as the world enters the time of great tribulation and through the tribulation.
Let's take a look at the seven seals in Revelation 5 and 6 in conjuction. Pls read these two chapters in order to be able to follow the discussion. In Revelations 5, we see a book which has 7 seals which could only be opened by the Lamb, the bible describes this book as being written on at the back and within (Reference Rev 5:1). In Revelations 6, we see that as the lamb breaks the seals certain events begin to unfold, these events include: wars, famines, death etc. We see 4 riders released when the first 4 seals were broken, these were given power to run through the earth and create these events, they are operating now and their operations will be intensified as we enter the last-last days. The reason I believe that the events described are not only reserved for the end but have already begun (though not in full measure) is because the Book of Revelation is careful to tell us that the book was written on it's back and within. I felt the Holy spirit confirm to me that this means these things will hapen through time (in some measure through time and in full measure at the end of time).

1 John 4: 3b "and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world"
We see in 2 Thessalonians 2 vs 7 -8a the bible says "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.  And then shall that Wicked be revealed..." The spirit of the antichrist is already at work and after the Church is raptured, the man antichrist (666 - the no of a man -see Rev 13:18, man was made on the 6th day) will be revealed and he will be authorised then to do these things in full measure with the false prophet and satan their master as they aim to form a false trinity 666. For now, the Spirit of God upon the Church of God is the hand that restrains them from unleashing themselves in full measure and because they are not authorised yet to operate, as we have been given the authority over them.

See Luke 10:19-20 " I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”." Yes, these spirits are subject to us. If you notice they were given power but we have authority but when the True Church of God is taken away, then they will have license - authorized to operate in the 7 years of tribulation.

Any activity they are running now is illegal and we are the ones expected to restrain them. Which is why Christians must engage in battle against these and shine the light of Christ everywhere they go. If we look at the message of The Lord Jesus to messages to the churches Revelations 2 through 3 - the recurring theme was: he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death and shall be given power over the nations and shall be clothed in white raiment - meaning there is something to overcome! I hope I will be able to share on the power to the nations when we talk about the millennium rule of the Lord Jesus, what you do now will determine where you will be placed then. I realised during this bible study that in the light of the 1000 year rule of the Lord on the earth and eternity afterwards, this life is like a pebble against a mighty ocean, it makes whatever we go through for His name sake so well worth it! 
Q3: Signs that signal the end of the world
Luke 21 vs 25 - 28 provides the answer to this
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."
Matthew 24: 29 - 31
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

This describes the end of the great tribulation (which will last for 7 years as I understand it from studies) when the Lord will come and rule on the earth for a 1000 years after which we continue with Him and The Father for Eternity!

I would like to expand a little bit on the above, before I do I must let you know that there is more than one school of thought on if the church will be raptured before the great tribulation or if the church is expected to go through the great tribulation. I am of the former view as you may have surmised however there are others who hold the view that the Church will not be taken before the great tribulation - this view is held by some whom I deeply respect their ministry and who love the Lord. However my studies and understanding of scripture point me to believing and understanding that the faithful church will be taken off the earth before the great tribulation occurs and it is on that premise which I will be teaching and you may have already gathered from my answers in question 2.

The church that will be taken, will be those found faithful, I pray that you and I will be one of those.
I hope I can continue from here in my next post...