Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The 3 Questions in Matthew 24.3

 Last week's Blog concluded with the following comment:

‘The First Resurrection’ events described in Matthew 24, 1Corinthians 15, 1Thessalonians 4, and Revelation 20, ALL happen at the same time....immediately following 'The Last Trumpet' on Rosh HaShanah, when  the LORD Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with The Trumpet of His Second Coming.

The evidence is clear when we put together the relevant passages. But, of course, there are many additional questions....

For example, we read in Matthew 24.3:
As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your Coming, and of the end of the age?"

There are 3 separate questions in this verse:
       1. when will these things be?
       2. And what will be the sign of Your Coming?
       3. and of the end of the age?’ 

However, before we correlate the passages in which Jesus answered the 3 separate questions that the disciples asked....let's deal with the two misunderstood problems of Matthew 24.36-37 and the 'Rapture'.

Matthew 24.36-37:
....of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the Coming of the Son of Man be.   

The phrase of that day and hour no one knows  has been accepted as proof that  no one  knows when Messiah will return.  However, the text refers to that day and hour , and it does NOT mention the season.

Messiah will return at the season of Rosh HaShanah because it is the only Festival that begins on the first day of the month.  The month begins when the New Moon is sighted by at least two witnesses.   Therefore, of that day and hour no one knows until the time arrives because the New Moon appears on either the 29th or 30th day of the lunar month.

Matthew 24.36-37 is a further confirmation that Messiah will return at Rosh HaShanah!

The 'Rapture':   

Because the Tribulation period will be such a frightening experience (of which more later), many have tried to suggest that believers will be spared the Tribulation by being ‘raptured’ before it begins.  

This mistaken theory of the ‘Rapture’ before the Tribulation was promulgated by JN Darby in 1832 after he had visited Miss Margaret MacDonald who had had a vision of the ‘rapture’ when she was seriously ill.

Countless books and pamphlets have been written over the last 200 years to support this mistaken 'Rapture' theory.  There is no record of any 'Rapture' theory prior to Miss MacDonald's emotional and self induced 'vision' in 1832.  

In addition, there is no Scriptural evidence to support the theory that Jesus returns at His Second Coming rather like a yo-yo; coming down once to 'rapture' believers, returning to heaven, and then coming down again to complete His Second Coming.  This process seems to be like a comic pantomime act....and it should be dismissed.

The Prophet Zephaniah suggests a different course of events:
It may be that you will be hidden in The Day of the LORD’S Anger.   Zephaniah 2.3    

A similar situation happened during the Exodus Plagues when the Children of Israel were protected by the LORD from the effects of the Plagues on the Egyptians: 

The LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Children of Israel.   Exodus 9.4

So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the Children of Israel had light in their dwellingsExodus 10.22-23

The historical facts that nothing died of all that belonged to the Children of Israel, and all the Children of Israel had light in their dwellings  suggests that, rather than a spurious and unsupportd 'Rapture' escape from the Tribulation, the LORD will protect believers from the effects of the the Prophet Zephaniah prophesies.

Now let's return to the 3 Questions in Matthew 24.3. The summary answers to the 3 Questions are as follows:

Question 1- 'when will these things be?' is answered by the prophecy in Matthew 24.1
Then Jesus went out and departed from the  Temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’

The prophecy 'not one stone shall be left here upon another' was fulfilled precisely in 70CE, when the Romans burned the Temple. The gold of the Temple roof melted and ran down the walls. Since the Roman soldiers had not been paid for months they gathered every scrap of gold from between the stones.

Question 2 - 'what will be the sign of Your Coming?', refers to His Second Coming some 2000 years later.

Question 3 - 'and of the end of the age?’, refers to the end of the age, 1000 years after His Second Coming.


The 3 Questions , therefore, are a summary introduction for His disciples to the events of the next 3000 years which will culminate in the Great White Throne Judgment, followed by ‘the renewed earth and renewed heavens’ of the World to come.

But first, we must begin with Question 1: 'when will these things be?' 
these things refers to the subsequent events of the years 60 to 70CE, and is answered in Luke: 
Luke 21.12-16:
Before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My Name’s sake.....
But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.
You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death….
they will put some of you to death…. refers to the murders of Peter, who was crucified, Paul, who was beheaded, James, who was murdered in 62CE, and of many others.

Luke 21.17-23:
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.    
This verse specifically refers to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the years 66 to 70CE. 

Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

led away captive into all nations is a description of the Diaspora which began in 70CE.

So, the answers to Question 1, when will these things be? refer to the events that would take place some 30 years later, culminating in the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70CE.


Question 2 in Matthew 24.3 And what will be the sign of Your Coming?  is answered in the following verses in Matthew 24:
Matthew 24.4-22: Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will  deceive many. 

And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and  earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 
But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Then there will be Great Tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

there will be Great Tribulation
is the ‘Day of Wrath’ referred to in Joel and Zephaniah:

A Day of darkness and gloominess, a Day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.   
Joel 2:2 
That Day is a Day of wrath, a Day of trouble and distress, a Day of devastation and desolation, a Day of darkness and gloominess, a Day of clouds and thick darkness,…
Zephaniah 1:15  The detailed events of the Tribulation are described in Revelation chapters 4 to 19.  The LORD appeared to John and instructed him to:
Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 
Revelation 1.19
There are 3 ‘things’ that John was instructed to ‘write’:

1. the things which you have seen refers to John’s vision of the LORD Himself in 1.12-16:

I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two–edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

2. the things which are refers to the spiritual state of the ‘seven churches’ summarised in Revelation 2.1-3-22

3.  the things which will take place after this which are the detailed and spectacular events of the Tribulation period described in Revelation 4.1-19.10. 

We will look at the spectacular events of the Great Tribulation in next week's Blog.  The comparison of the Revelation Judgments and the Plagues in Exodus will give us some clear clues about what we might expect....

Until next week.

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