Wednesday Night Bible Survey
March 8, 1995
We're now in the final week of Jesus' earthly life.
Jesus was teaching in the temple. He ended with quite a series of rebukes against the Pharisees, and some hints at the destruction coming on Jerusalem.
The disciples wanted to know more about His coming, and so Jesus was giving the signs to look for in His Second Coming.
We've finished the section on the signs, and not we go into a few short sections about the coming itself, and how we should respond to it.
What is the abomination of desolation? (vs.15, the antichrist stopping sacrifice and setting himself up as God)
Who is the tribulation period aimed at? (the Jews, Dan.9:24)
:29-31 The Visible Return of Jesus
:29 the sun shall be darkened ...
Great heavenly disturbances, as those in Revelation.
Revelation 16:10-AV And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
Revelation 8:10-AV And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
:30 all the tribes of the earth mourn
Zechariah 12:10-12 AV And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn. 11 In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;
I think there's something here of a sense of "Oh-no, it was all true! He really is the Messiah!"
:31 gather together his elect
1) picked out, chosen 1a) chosen by God
Who is this talking about?
It could be talking about believers in general, as the Church.
It could very well apply to the Jews, God's "chosen" people, who are again the object of God's working in the tribulation, according to Dan.9:24.
1. Post-trib view: This is the rapture of the believers at the end of the tribulation.
If this were the case, then who would populate the Millenial Kingdom, since there seem to be people in unresurrected bodies there? The unbelievers are all put out of the picture at this time.
2. Pre-trib view: This is the gathering of Jewish believers who survived the tribulation
They, along with the Gentiles who come to Jesus during the Tribulation, will go into the Millenial kingdom in their old bodies, and repopulate the earth under Eden-like conditions, because the curse will be lifted off the earth.
3. A Different View: They are gathered from heaven, not the earth. Maybe it's talking about the gathering together of the armies of heaven to accompany Jesus to the earth.
Revelation 19:14-AV And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
:32-35 The Fig Tree
:32 Now learn a parable
To me, Jesus has now finished His overview of answering the question of "When shall these things be?"
Now He's going to summarize it all with several thoughts.
:32 a parable of the fig tree
Two possible ways of looking at this:
1. Jesus may mean nothing more than just saying that when the signs are there, the end is near.
In this sense, He would be using the fig tree in a general sense.
2. Jesus may intend some significance to the fig tree.
Note that Jesus doesn't say, "a fig tree", but He says, "THE fig tree".
In the Greek, Matthew uses the definite article, translated with the word "the"
What is "the fig tree"?
I think we should ask ourselves is there is a specific fig tree that Jesus could be referring to.
1. First level: The cursed fig tree.
Remember the story of Jesus coming up to the fig tree, and when He didn't find fruit on it, He cursed it? (Mat.21:18-22)
If Matthew has his time references correct, even though it was probably weeks ago that we studied it, in Jesus' time it was the same day he gave the current discourse.
They came upon the fig tree early in the day, at breakfast time.
Then Jesus went into the temple to teach, covering the rest of chapters 21-23
Chapter 24 starts with them leaving the temple.
This is now close to the end of that same day.
Our point in Mat.21 was that God desires to see fruit in His creation.
Then we saw Jesus apply the same language to the Jews
Matthew 21:43-AV Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
2. Second level of meaning: Israel.
In addition to the link made above,
In Jeremiah 24, Jeremiah sees a picture of Israel in two baskets of figs. There was a basket of good figs and a basket of bad figs. The good figs were the believing ones in Babylon, the bad ones were the bad folk staying in Israel.
Jeremiah 29:17-AV Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
If this is the case, then we could possibly draw a lesson from the nation of Israel coming into existence, and lining up with the things prophesied in the chapter.
As Israel starts to find itself in a place to see the things come to pass mentioned in the first half of the chapter, it's as the fig tree putting forth it's leaves.
:34 this generation shall not pass
It sounds like Jesus is talking about His disciples, and that they won't die until He comes back.
But that can't be the case!
1. "This generation" (Greek genea) could be translated "family" or "nation".
It might refer to the nationality or family of the Jews.
The Jews won't be exterminated, but will continue until Jesus comes back again.
2. "This generation" best seems to refer to the previous verse:
Matthew 24:33-AV So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors.
It's the generation that sees all the things described in verses 1-28 will not pass away until Jesus comes back.
It used to be thought that it would refer to the generation that sees the rebirth of Israel and it coming into align with these prophesies (made popular by people like Hal Lindsey, "Late Great Planet Earth").
This is where the idea came about of taking a Biblical generation of 40 years, and adding it to the year 1948 to determine when Jesus would come back again.
But that view stopped being popular by 1988.
On the other hand, our generations are a lot longer than 40 years.
The Biblical generation is based on the account of the wilderness wanderings, where they had to wander for 40 years until the entire generation was dead, at least the generation of those in the army.
The army was made up of men from ages 20-50. The idea was that by the time the twenty-year-olds reached age 60, they'd all be dead.
For us, the average age of man is somewhere around 72 or so.
Our generation length could be closer to 50 or even 70 or more years, if you're waiting until the twenty year olds are all dead.
:35 my words shall not pass away
Invest in what lasts
There are only two things that I know of in our present physical realm that will really last forever. The rest will burn!
1. The Word of God.
God's Word should be a high priority, it's going to last.
2. The people around you.
Everyone is going to live forever. Everyone!
But some are going to live forever in heaven with Jesus, and some will be living forever in the lake of fire, a place of eternal torment.
Make sure you're investing properly in the future.
:36-41 The Suddenness of His Coming
:36 of that day and hour knoweth no man
Some, like Harold Camping, have tried to make out of this that they may not know the day and hour, but they will try to predict the year.
This is why people can come up with books like "90 reasons why Jesus will return in 1990", and, "91 reasons why Jesus will return in 1991", and so on.
I believe this refers to the timing of the Rapture of the church.
Three reasons for a pre-trib. rapture:
1. It best reconciles the "sudden return" with the "predictable return".
I can predict when Jesus is coming back.
Daniel 12:11-AV And from the time [that] the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, [there shall be] a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
When the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1290 days (3 1/2 years) until Jesus returns.
When the abomination of desolation is set up, those who are studying the Scriptures will be able to tell you when Jesus is going to come back.
But the Rapture, when Jesus takes His church off this earth, which happens at the beginning of the tribulation period, can't be pinpointed. We can only get the sense that it's getting closer.
2. Jesus promises to keep the faithful church from the tribulation
Revelation 3:10-AV Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
3. It fits best with our understanding of the tribulation being a time of God's wrath
The tribulation is the time of God's wrath.
Revelation 6:17-AV For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
God doesn't intend wrath for us.
1Thessalonians 5:9-AV For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
2Peter 2:4-9 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to hell, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth [person], a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned [them] with an overthrow, making [them] an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7. And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
The Greek word here is not Jlipsis (meaning "pressure"), which is used in Matt.24, but is peirasmos (meaning "an experiment, attempt, trial, proving"), the same one used in Rev.3:10.
The Lord knowing how to deliver us out of temptations could be applied to God "keeping" us safe through the tribulation, but I think it means that God will take us out of the tribulation.
Lot was removed from Sodom before the judgment took place.
That's not to say that I can't be wrong!
But that's where I'm at for now.
Some have said that belief in a pre-trib rapture makes for a lazy church, unprepared for hardship because they're trusting in the rapture rather than in Jesus.
Have you ever heard that from me?
Views on the rapture are not something to disfellowship over, just to politely and lovingly disagree over.
:38-39 eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage...
In other words, life was going on as usual.
For the most part, the world was not paying attention to what was about to happen, despite Noah's warnings.
Many people are going to be caught by surprise!
:40 one shall be taken
There are three ways of viewing these two verses:
1. It's a picture of the pre-trib Rapture.
One is taken to be with Jesus. One is left behind. But before the tribulation.
2. It's a picture of a post-trib Rapture
At the end of the tribulation, it occurs.
3. It's a picture of the judgment at the end of the tribulation.
One is taken away in judgement, the believer is left behind to go into the kingdom of Jesus.
This has some merit: In comparing with the days of Noah, those taken away were the ones taken away in the flood.
:42-51 The Application
:42 Watch therefore
Here we come down to the whole application of tonight's study, and to Jesus' discourse on the end times.
Prophecy has a purpose
It's important to me that we understand that there is a reason for Bible prophecy.
The reason is not so we can argue, or so we can play knowledge trivia games.
The reason is to motivate us and orient our lives differently.
If your own understanding of Bible prophecy doesn't affect the way you're living, then you have an incorrect understanding of Bible prophecy.
:43 if the goodman of the house
Can you imagine someone knowing that their house was going to be broken into, and not doing something about it?
The point is:
You know Jesus is coming. Do something about it!
:44 be ye also ready
Here's the point!
Be ready for Jesus' return
What do you do when you know you're having guests over to your house?
Do you do a little extra cleaning?
Do you take the time to pick up the kids' toys?
What if that person were someone really special to you?
What if that person were really, really, important, like the President?
Should we do any less for Jesus?
:44 in such an hour as ye think not
There's going to be a sudden surprise.
We have to have the house ready all the time.
Kind of like when you're selling your house, and you know that a realtor could come by at any time with a potential seller. If you're lucky, they'll give you ten minutes' warning.
:45-47 faithful and wise servant
1. Has been given responsibility by His Lord.
Each of us have been given some ministry, some portion to carry on with until Jesus comes back.
2. He's doing his job.
Jesus comes back and the servant is doing what Jesus asked him to do.
Why is the servant being faithful?
The implication is because he knows his master is coming back.
:48-51 that evil servant
1. My lord delayeth
Isn't thinking about how soon it might be until Jesus comes back.
This is why it's important for us to be living as if it were tomorrow, even if it's not until another 20 years.
Always be ready.
2. Acts like an unbeliever
Beats up his friends (instead of bringing them to Jesus)
Gets drunk (Whoa! Pretty good warning against alcohol!)
:50 shall come in a day when he looketh not for him
This doesn't have to just refer to Jesus' second coming.
It could also refer to when Jesus decides that it's time for your stay on earth to end.
Be aware of the signs of the times.
Let your attitude of expecting Jesus' return to affect the way you live.
2Peter 3:10-12 AV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?