A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (31)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 7)

35.     The Rich Young Ruler

References: Matt. 19:16-30; Mk. 10:17-31; Lk. 18:18-30

In our interpretation of this story it must be remembered that it took place under the dispensation of Law. When the rich young ruler asked, “What good thing must I do to have eternal life?” the Lord replied with the requirements of the Law. In the dispensation of grace when the jailer asked Paul the same question, Paul replied: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” The question arises, Does the Bible teach two different ways of being saved: by law keeping and by grace apart from law keeping?

Paul makes clear two facts in his epistles. The first is stated in Rom. 2:6,7,13 that “God will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified).” On the surface this sounds as though Paul is teaching that man can be justified by keeping the law.  It is rather a statement of God’s just dealing with man. And Paul goes on to show the second fact that there has never been a man since Adam’s fall that could measure up to that standard; for he proves that all have sinned and the conclusion is inescapable: “Therefore by the doing of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20).

Although the young ruler claimed to have kept the Law from his youth, Jesus showed him he had broken the two great commandments of the Law. He didn’t love his neighbor as himself, for he refused to share his wealth with the needy, and he did not love the Lord with all his heart, for he turned away sorrowful and refused to follow the Lord. The ruler had called Jesus Good Master, and Jesus had said, “There is none good, but one, that is, God.” If Jesus was good then He was God. The ruler was not God, therefore he was not good, as he supposed himself to be in his self-righteousness.

The law was given to show man that he is not good, but the Jews as a nation never learned the true intent of the law, as Paul explains in Rom. 10:1-3. Faith is the one thing necessary for pleasing God in every dispensation, but faith was demonstrated in different ways in different dispensations. If God said a flood was coming, faith believed and built an ark. If God said, “without the shedding of blood is no remission,” faith believed and brought an animal sacrifice. But after God had proved the whole human race guilty and had given His Son as the once for all sacrifice for sin, faith no longer engages in things required by the ceremonial law but believes and receives Christ as the all-sufficient sacrifice.

The disciples were astonished by Jesus’ remarks concerning the difficulty of a rich man entering the Kingdom and asked: “Who then can be saved?” Jesus said, “With men it is impossible,” that is, it is impossible for man to save himself. But, “with God all things are possible.” God has done what for man was impossible. He has found a way to justify the ungodly, entirely apart from human merit or goodness.

Matthew, being especially the Kingdom Gospel, records the further remarks of the Apostles which were called forth from Christ’s dealings with the young ruler. They said, “We have left everything and followed you. What will we have?” Jesus told them, “Verily, I say unto you, In the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This is a special reward which Jesus will give to these men, and these only, when He returns to establish the Kingdom of God in this earth. There is personal, spiritual regeneration which the sinner receives when he believes the Gospel and is saved. There is also a regeneration in nature which will occur when Christ returns and removes the curse from nature and restores the earth to its original glory. Peter called it “the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (cf. Isa. 65:17-25; Rom. 8:21).

36.     The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

Reference: Matt. 20:1-16

In order to get the setting for this parable we must go back to the conclusion of Ch. 19. The last verse of that chapter reads: “But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” And the parable ends: “So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.” The parable was told to illustrate the truth at the end of the previous chapter.

The parable also illustrates the sovereignty of God and His purpose in election. The householder went to the marketplace to hire laborers, going very early in the morning, then at nine o’clock, then at noon, and again at three in the afternoon, and finally at five o’clock, each time hiring idle men. He agreed on a wage with the first ones and told the others he would pay them what was right. At the end of the day he called the laborers together and told his steward to pay them, beginning with the last and ending with the first. The ones who worked only one hour got a penny and when the steward came to those who were hired early in the morning, they supposed they get much more, but they too got one penny. When they complained of injustice, the householder replied: “Didn’t you agree to work all day for a penny? It is not lawful for me to do with my own what I desire? Is your eye evil because I am good? It is my will to give unto these last even as unto you.” We are quite sure that modern labor unions would have taken this householder to court for unfair labor practices, even though the men who worked all day got what was generous pay for that period in history. Man, of course, is not sovereign, but God is, and the householder in the parable represents God.

There are several significant things to notice about the parable. The men in the marketplace were idle. They were unemployed. They did not go out looking for work; instead, the householder came to them and gave them a job. This is a picture of man in his lost condition. He is not seeking God, but instead God seeks the sinner (cf. Rom. 3:11; Lk. 19:10). No one would have been saved unless God had taken the initiative and sought out the sinner.

The interpretation of the parable has to do with rewards in the Kingdom. Martin Luther and others have taught that the penny or denarius represents salvation which each receives whether he has labored much or little: all get the same eternal life. However, such an interpretation makes salvation a reward for work, and salvation is always a free gift. Others have supposed the parable teaches that although salvation is a free gift, all of the saved will receive exactly the same reward for their service, but of course such teaching is contrary to almost every passage dealing with rewards (cf. Matt. 16:27; Rev. 20:13). Some have tried to see in the first who were called the Apostles and the later ones the Gentiles, down to the very last ones to be saved before the Lord comes. The context does not bear out such an interpretation. If the Apostles are represented by the workers hired first, then the parable must teach that they will be the very last and least in the Kingdom, which is contradicted by our Lord’s promise that they are going to be reigning as judges over the twelve tribes of Israel.

It appears that the parable was called forth by Peter’s question: “What are we going to get as rewards for our work?” When a child of God takes the attitude expressed by some who were first called that they deserve more than others,  that they have done more for the Lord, it is evident that his motive for service for God is wrong. God will not forget any labor of love (Heb. 6:10), but work that is done, simply for self-aggrandizement is really not a labor of love. Some great world-renowned evangelist may be surprised at the judgment seat of Christ to discover that some humble believer whose name the world has never heard will receive as great, if not greater reward than himself. God is the One who gives abilities and opportunities and apart from His gifts we could do nothing for Him. We may take credit for leading a soul to Christ, when in fact ten other people had more to do with the result than we did. We must ever remember, as Paul tells us, that the worker is really nothing: he may plant or water the seed, but only God can give the increase (1 Cor. 3:5-8). Some who thought they would be first may end up at the end of the line, and others who took no credit to themselves and placed themselves last may end up at the head of the class.

37.     Christ Again Predicts His Crucifixion

References: Matt. 20:17-19; Mk. 10:32-34; Lk. 18:31-34

Jesus is here on His final visit to Jerusalem. He was walking ahead, leading the procession of His disciples. Mark alone tells us of the emotional condition of the disciples. He says they were amazed and afraid. Other translators say they were filled with alarm, were astonished, filled with terror and dread, dismayed and afraid, in a daze and apprehensive, filled with awe and afraid. There must have been something in the demeanor of Jesus, something strange and foreboding in His manner which struck fear into their hearts.

Jesus, knowing their fears and knowing all that would happen to Him in the next few days, took the disciples aside and told them again of all that would befall Him in Jerusalem. He would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes and then to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged, to be killed, and after three days to rise from the dead. And Luke adds: “And they understood none of these things; and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” The fact that they didn’t understand is evident from subsequent events as seen in the statement of the two on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:21), and in the fact none of them believed He had arisen even after the report of the women who first saw Him after His resurrection (Mk. 16:10-14).

As pointed out earlier, although these apostles had been preaching the gospel of the Kingdom for over three years, it is evident that their preaching contained nothing about the redemptive death of Christ and His resurrection, which truths in our dispensation comprise the very heart of the gospel, (1 Cor. 15:1-4). That is why we must turn to the epistles to learn the secret of the Gospel. We find the revelation of the meaning of the death of Christ only after He had accomplished the work of salvation and had ascended back to heaven, from whence He made known the glorious truth of the gospel of the grace of God.

38.     Ambition of James and John

References: Matt. 20:20-28; Mk. 10:35-45; cf. Lk. 12:50

This incident of the two brothers, along with their mother, requesting a place of preeminence in Christ’s Kingdom is first of all a proof that Christ actually taught that He was going to establish a kingdom here on the earth, which was different from the universal Kingdom of God which has always existed. There are so many proofs of this truth in the Gospels that it might seem trite to even mention it, but there are many evangelical Christians who teach that the Jews were completely mistaken in supposing that the Messiah would establish a literal Kingdom upon the earth and therefore there will never be a Millennial, Messianic Kingdom. This teaching is known as A-millennialism. But if the disciples were so carnal and mistaken in believing that Christ was going to establish such a kingdom in the future, why did Christ not correct their false notions about such a kingdom, instead of telling them it was not in His power to make such decisions? There was surely a Kingdom of God in Old Testament times, as well as when Jesus was on earth, but everywhere in the teachings of Christ His Kingdom was always future. It was near at hand but it was not yet a reality. Therefore, there must be a difference between that which was then present and that which had not yet come into existence.

The request of this mother for her two sons, which stirred up such indignation among the other disciples, simply points out one of the weaknesses of fallen human nature: self-aggrandizement. Man likes to exercise authority, to be able to lord it over others. But the prerogative of lording it over belongs to God alone, so that in Christ’s Kingdom or for that matter, in the life of the Christian today, the Lord should be the only lord. If one wants to be greatest, he should be greatest in caring for and serving others. Paul teaches the same spiritual principles (cf. 1 Cor. 12:25; Phil. 2:3,20,21).

The cup and the baptism to which Christ referred (cf. Lk. 12:50), both point to His sufferings and death and the intimation is that the disciples also would suffer a like fate at the hands of the unbelieving world.

39.     The Blind Men Near Jericho

References: Matt. 20:29-34; Mk. 10:46-52; Lk. 18:35-43

There is a supposed contradiction between the Gospels here, in that Matthew says there were two blind men who were healed, whereas Mark and Luke mention only one, and to further complicate the problem Matthew and Mark both say the healing took place as Jesus was leaving Jericho, and Luke says the healing took place as He approached Jericho. If Mark and Luke had stated that Jesus healed only one blind man at Jericho there would be a contradiction with Matthew. It is not a contradiction to mention only one of the two who were healed. As to the other seeming contradiction it should be pointed out that Jericho in the time of Christ was a “double city.” Cobern states regarding excavations made by Dr. Ernest Sellin: “They did however find a large Jewish town (600-400 B.C.), and proved that the Jericho of Jesus’ day was a double city spreading itself out on both sides of the wadi.” Thus Matthew and Mark spoke of leaving one part of the city and Luke spoke of approaching the other part of this double city.

Mark alone gives us the beggar’s name, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. He was probably a well-known character in the community, whereas the other beggar was not, and that is probably the reason only Bartimaeus is mentioned. Mark also relates that when told by the crowd that Jesus had stopped and called for him, he not simply “arose,” as in the A.V., but literally “leaped up.”

Jericho was a cursed city (Josh. 6:26 cf. 1 Kgs. 16:34), but wherever Jesus went the curse was lifted. This is no doubt a picture in miniature of what will   happen when Jesus returns and takes away the blindness of Israel and lifts the curse from creation which sin has brought. Christ was made a curse for us to deliver us from the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13).

40.     The Conversion of Zacchaeus

Reference: Lk. 19:1-10

The Greek grammar shows that Zacchaeus was not bragging about all of the good works he had done in the past, but of what he was going to henceforth do as a result of his conversion. It was common practice for tax-collectors to overcharge, to place fictitious values on property or income in order to enrich themselves. Zacchaeus vows now to restore four-fold to those he had cheated. According to Ex. 22:1 this was the restoration required of a thief. He was thus confessing his sin and calling it by the proper name. The expression in vs. 8, “I give,” has the force of “I now give,” or “from now on I will give.” He was not only going to restore four-fold where he had cheated others, but was going to give half of his wealth to the poor. He thus stands out in bold contrast to the rich young ruler, who was not convicted of his sinfulness and refused to give his wealth to the needy.

There is an interesting play on words in the Greek text. The tree into which Zacchaeus climbed (translated “sycamore”) was the fig-mulberry (sukomorean, a compound of suke, fig, and moron, mulberry). Then in vs. 8, the expression, “taken by false accusation” is the word sukophanteo, a compound of suke, fig, and phanein, to show: a fig-shower or fig-informer (an informant of the law forbidding the exportation of figs from Greece). It is our English word “sycophant.” The word is used only one other time (Lk. 3:14) where it is translated, “accuse falsely.”

Zacchaeus did not let his physical limitations keep him from his determination to see Jesus. We are reminded of the four men who made a hole in the roof in order to let down the palsied man into the presence of Jesus.

Zacchaeus must have been amazed to hear Jesus call him by name when he had never even seen Jesus before. This must have impressed him of the supernatural character of Jesus. Jesus’ words: “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house,” have the ring of kingly authority. Zacchaeus did not extend an invitation, nor did Jesus ask, “May I stay at your house?” It was a command: “I must stay at thy house.”

41.     Parable of the Postponed Kingdom

Reference: Lk. 19:11-28

We are informed that Jesus told this parable because He was near to Jerusalem and because the people supposed the Kingdom of God was going to be set up immediately. The purpose of the parable was to show that the Kingdom would not be established immediately; that the rightful King had to first go into a far country to receive the authority for the Kingdom; and then return to take over the actual Kingship.

It is helpful to understand that a few years prior to this both Herod and his son, Archelaus had gone to Rome to receive authority from Caesar to reign over Judea and had returned to take over the kingship. It is interesting also to note that Jesus spoke this parable in Jericho, the very city from which Herod had gone to Rome and to which he returned and built his palace. Thus the parable is built on an actual historical incident with which the people were familiar.

There is no doubt but that the nobleman represents Jesus Christ, and that the far country represents heaven, and the One from whom the authority is received is the Father. The return must represent the second coming of Christ to earth. There are many Bible interpreters who are fond of spiritualizing the Scriptures, as they call it, although there is nothing spiritual about it. They teach that the Kingdom is purely spiritual; that after His death Jesus went back to heaven in order to establish His Kingdom; that He is now reigning as King, and that all of the promises in the Bible of a literal, physical, earthly kingdom must be spiritualized to mean those blessings which Christians now enjoy; that Jesus will never return to establish a Kingdom on earth, but rather that when He returns He will bring an end to the world with the final judgment and resurrection.

All of these ideas are completely opposite to the teaching of this parable. Herod did not go into the far country and set up his throne there in Rome, and neither is it stated that Christ went to heaven to set up His throne there. Today Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father’s throne (Heb. 8:1; 12:2). And just as Herod’s citizens had sent a message to Caesar saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us,” so the Jews declared they would not have Jesus to reign over them. And as Herod destroyed his enemies when he returned as king, so there will be a judgment when Christ returns as King and the wicked will be destroyed from off the earth. But those servants who were loyal to the King and had taken care of His business while He was away will be rewarded by being made rulers over various cities in the Kingdom. This is one of the clearest and most important dispensational parables concerning the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom at the return of Christ to earth. There is a somewhat similar parable in Matt. 25: 14-30, told a few days later in the Olivet discourse.

42.     Anointing of Jesus By Mary of Bethany

References: Matt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; John 11:55-12:11

There are certain problems related to the correlating of these three passages. While the three accounts have much detail in common, there are some differences. The account of the supper at Bethany and the anointing as given by both Matthew and Mark is prefaced by the statement: “ye know that after two days is the feast of passover.” John tells us: “Jesus therefore six days before the passover came to Bethany.. . so they made him a supper there.”

In Matthew and Mark the supper was in the house of Simon the leper, and the woman who anointed Jesus is not mentioned by name. In John nothing is said about Simon the leper, and the woman is named as Mary. This has led some to believe that there were two suppers and two anointings. However, almost everything that transpired at the supper is common to all three records. Most expositors believe that both Matthew and Mark inserted the supper account out of chronological order for a special effect and that therefore there was just one supper. Matthew does not say the supper took place two days before passover, but simply, “When Jesus was in Bethany.” Some have speculated that Simon the leper, now healed, of course, was the husband of Martha.

Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are mentioned by name only by John. Matthew and Mark state that the woman anointed the head of Jesus; John the feet of Jesus. Mark says the ointment was worth above three hundred pence; John says three hundred pence. Matthew and Mark have the disciples indignant over wasting this amount of money; John says it was Judas Iscariot who objected.

None of the differences are really contradictions. Mary could have anointed both His head and His feet. Judas may have started the objection that the ointment could have been sold for three hundred pence, and other of the disciples could have taken sides with Judas and said it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence.

Besides the Lord Jesus there are three characters that stand out in the story. One is Mary. She had sat at the feet of Jesus and learned of Him. She was the only one of the disciples who understood and believed that Jesus would rise from the dead. She anointed His body for burial beforehand. She was not in the group that went to the tomb with spices to anoint His dead body. The Lord rewarded Mary’s love and understanding and devotion by having her name placed in Holy Scripture for millions of people to read about as a memorial to her.

Another character is Judas Iscariot. Here we learn that he was the treasurer for the Apostles and that he was a thief. He objected to what he called Mary’s waste in anointing Jesus with the costly spikenard, because he would like to have seen it sold for three hundred pence and the money put in his bag for his personal use. It may seem strange why Jesus chose a man to be one of His apostles when He knew that he was unsaved. In fact, Jesus stated in John 6:70: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” And knowing he was a thief, why would He permit him to be the treasurer for the group? It may be speculation, but it may be that Jesus chose such a one because He knew that in any group of God’s people in this world there will always be one or more who are not truly saved. If it could happen in a group which Jesus Himself chose, how much more likely it is to happen in assemblies where ordinary men do the choosing? Therefore, as a practical lesson for today, churches need to constantly be on their guard, especially about those who have to do with money matters. Even a saved person may be such a lover of money that he will steal or misapply church funds. Every safeguard possible should be used to protect both the congregation and the one who is in charge of finances.

Paul was very careful about the handling of money from the churches, but in spite of that he was falsely accused of being dishonest. Paul gives some good advice to churches. One of his qualifications for an officer in the church is that he is “not greedy of filthy lucre” (1 Tim. 3:3). He warns against those who will to be rich (1 Tim. 6:9). And he set an example when he took up offerings from the Gentile churches to help the poor saints at Jerusalem. The churches chose certain ones to travel with Paul to see to it that the money got to its proper destination (cf. 2 Cor. 8:16-24).

The third character is Lazarus. John tells us that many of the common people heard that Jesus was there, and they came, not only to see Jesus, but Lazarus who had been raised from the dead. A great number of Jews had become believers through the testimony of Lazarus, so much so that the religious authorities were seeking how they might put Lazarus to death also. We should like to know what experience Lazarus had during the four days he was dead, but God has not been pleased to satisfy our curiosity. We have no idea if Lazarus spoke anything about that experience. When Paul was caught up to the third heaven he saw things which He was forbidden to reveal (2 Cor. 12:4). Perhaps it was the same with Lazarus.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (29)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 5)

23.  Parable of the Unjust Steward

Reference: Lk. 16:1-13

Alford in the Greek Testament states: “No parable in the Gospels has been the subject of so much controversy as this.” The main problem concerns the commendation of this unjust steward by his master. Some contend that according to the laws that governed stewards, this man had the right to discount bills and thus he actually did nothing amiss in thus ingratiating himself with his master’s creditors.

Others think his action in discounting the bills was illegal and that the master’s commendation was not an approval of the act of bilking him out of his rightful due, but simply a recognition of the shrewdness and sagacity of the steward in planning for his future welfare. But if the steward was guilty of malfeasance, why did not the master have him arrested? One answer is that the steward, knowing he would be fired, made up out of his own pocket the amounts he had allowed the creditors to discount their bills, knowing that he would be more than repaid by the favors he might expect from the creditors.

The Companion Bible makes vs. 9 a question: “Do I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness?” And the answer is, “No.” The Living Bible paraphrase also gives this sense, holding that the end does not justify the means. Although the exact meaning of the parable may be hard to come by, it is clear from what follows that it was spoken against the Pharisees, for we read that they being covetous “derided him.” The word “derided” is derived from the word for “nose,” and means “they turned up their noses at Him.” The ancients had an expression, “to hang on the hooked nose,” that is, to turn up the nose and make a hook of it, on which to figuratively hang the subject of ridicule.

The general lessons from the parable are that worldly people show more wisdom in making provision for their future material needs than the children of light do in making provision for their future in the Kingdom; that faithfulness or unfaithfulness do not depend upon the size of the responsibility; that unfaithfulness in caring for another’s goods unfits one for being entrusted with true riches; and that it is impossible to serve two masters.

24.  The Rich Man and Lazarus

Reference: Lk. 16:14-31

There is, of course, a vital connection between this story and what has gone before. Jesus has been dealing in particular with the Pharisees who were sticklers for law observance, and yet many of their traditions had negated the law. That is why Jesus told the parable of the unjust steward, for the Pharisees were lovers of money (covetous – vs. 14); and why He brought up the matter of divorce, for the Pharisees had liberalized divorce far beyond the permission of the law. And that is why He told the story of Dives (Latin for rich) and Lazarus, for no doubt the rich man represents the Pharisees.

This story is often called a parable, although the Scripture does not do so. Since this story, if factual, proves the falsity of all views about death being soul-sleep or non-existence, those who hold such views claim that this is a parable and suppose that they have eliminated the objections posed by this story. But whether it is a parable or not has not the slightest effect upon its reference to death. A parable is a figure of speech in which a story from real life is used to illustrate some higher truth. If consciousness does not continue after death, then it would be impossible to base a higher spiritual truth upon a statement which is false.

Consider, for example, the parables in Matt. 13. If a sower never sowed seeds but only rocks, the parable of the sower would be ridiculous, for rocks never sprout and produce fruit. The same would hold true for the parables of the tares and the mustard seed. If a field was not a plot of ground but only a mental concept, then hiding a treasure in a field would be meaningless. If pearls were dead leaves, it would not make sense for a man to sell all that he had and invest his entire fortune in one dead leaf. If nets were never cast into the sea but only into a vacuum, how could it trap all kinds of fish? And likewise, if death is always complete unconsciousness or non-existence, as some claim, how could the dead be represented as talking to one another?

There are numerous doctrinal questions raised by this story. Perhaps the most evident one is: Was Lazarus saved because he had no enjoyments in this life, and was Dives lost because he did have enjoyment? The context gives ample evidence of why Dives was lost. As representative of the Pharisees he was a hypocrite (12:1); he denied the claims of Jesus Christ (12:9); he was a rich fool (12:20,21); he was an unfaithful steward (12:47,48); he was unrepentant (13:5); he refused John’s baptism (7:30), thereby rejecting the counsel of God. No statement is given why Lazarus was saved, but perhaps his name throws some light upon his character. Lazarus is the Greek name for the Hebrew Eleazar, which means “God is helper.” The fact that the beggar is named but the rich man is not is significant. God calls His own by name.

There is also an eschatological question: Is Abraham’s bosom heaven and is hell or hades where the rich man went, the lake of fire? Apparently, the story dealt with the then present time, for the rich man’s brothers were still alive. The lake of fire had not yet been opened up, but after it is, hades will be cast into it (Rev. 20:14). Although the final judgment had not yet taken place, the unsaved were already in a place of suffering.

Old Testament saints at death went to sheol (Hebrew equivalent to the Greek hades), Genesis 37:35, grave is sheol. Therefore, it would seem that Hades must be divided into two parts, for the saints did not go to the same place as the wicked, yet both went to sheol. The story of Lazarus does present two places with a great gulf fixed between them. Many also believe that Christ went to Hades, for God’s promise was that His soul would not be left in that place (Acts 2:27). Some believe that when Christ ascended He led all of the souls of the saved in the upper compartment of Hades into heaven itself. However that may be, it must be remembered that the saved have not yet been perfected in their resurrection bodies.

Luke 16:24 might seem to contradict this fact, since Dives prays that Lazarus might dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his parched tongue. How could disembodied spirits have fingers and tongues? In answer we can say only that man was made in the image of God, and that God is pure Spirit, and yet God can speak; the Bible speaks  many  times  about  God’s  hand  and  His  arm  (Ps.  44:3;  Isa.  52:  10), and other members which we associate with the body. If pure spirit without bodily parts can have faculties comparable to our bodily parts, it may well be that the human spirit without the physical body has similar counterparts.

This parable or incident from history, whichever way it may be understood, teaches several important lessons. God’s people should have social concern for those less fortunate. The greater wealth God permits one to gain, the greater the responsibility to use it for the good of others. Riches in the life to come are far better than riches in this life.

Decisions made in this life endure for eternity. After death there is a great gulf fixed between the saved and the unsaved. There will be no second chance after death. There is conscious existence after death, either of joy or of sorrow. On the part of the unsaved they would do anything to keep their relatives and friends from sharing their fate. God has given us His Word and if we won’t be persuaded by that Word, nothing will persuade us, even though one rose from the dead. People often say they would believe the Bible if they could see someone come back from the dead and tell them about it. The fact is that some One has come back from the dead and has told us all about it, and still they refuse to believe, all of which shows their insincerity and pretense.

25.  Repentance and Forgiveness

Reference: Lk. 17:1-6

Compare this passage with Matt. 17:20; 18:6,7,15,21,22. Children often play pranks on their fellow-playmates, such as tripping them and causing them to stumble or perhaps fall. Sometimes such pranks can cause very serious injury. It seems that as we grow up, we are prone to transfer this trait from the physical to the moral and spiritual, where the results are even more serious.

Christ said that in the world, constituted as it is, it is inevitable that occasions of stumbling will come, but woe to the one who causes them. The word “skandalon” (from which we get our word scandal) meant originally the part of a trap where the bait was fastened, and then it came to mean a snare or the trap itself. In Scripture it is always used metaphorically of anything that causes prejudice, that hinders others or causes them to fall or stumble. It is translated “occasion to fall (stumble), offense, thing that offends, stumbling block. Almost always the cause of stumbling is evil, as in the present case. On the other hand, the wicked may be caused to stumble by that which is good in itself. Christ Himself is called a “rock of offence,” (Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8; 1 Cor. 1:23), and a cause of stumbling to those who are disobedient to the Word. The preaching of the Cross was a stumbling block to Israel. Paul speaks of “the offence of the cross” (Gal. 5:11). Romans 11 is all about Israel’s stumbling and fall. In vs. 9 we read: “And David said, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them.”

Paul shows that the misuse of Christian liberty can be a cause of stumbling: “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion of falling in his brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13). He also shows that teachings contrary to sound doctrine can be occasions of stumbling (Rom 16:17). Especially serious is that which causes a little child or a young Christian to stumble and go astray. A mature person should be able to protect himself from tripping over such stones and is therefore the more responsible.

A failure to forgive may also be a cause of stumbling. Christ goes on to say: “Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against thee seven times in a day, and seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” There is a great deal of teaching in the Bible about forgiveness and the impression is often gained that forgiveness should be granted to all, regardless of their sins or their attitude. In this teaching of Christ, it is plain that forgiveness is to be granted only after repentance or change of mind on the part of the one who has sinned. God is surely the most gracious and forgiving One in the universe, but does He forgive the unrepentant? Those who refuse to admit they have sinned and therefore refuse to receive the gracious gift of salvation? We may do great harm both against the offender and the one offended by granting blanket forgiveness without any indication of change of attitude on the part of the offender.

We can feel with the disciples when the Lord told them to forgive a brother who offends seven times in one day. That almost seems too much. We can almost hear them sigh: “Lord, increase our faith.” The Lord spoke much in parabolic language and we take His words to have this meaning, when He said: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye would say unto this sycamine (actually the black mulberry) tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea, and it would have obeyed you.” This is in itself a parable in answer to the disciples’ request for more faith to be able to live up to Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. Faith is compared to a mustard seed. The seed is planted in the ground where it has to overcome many obstacles in pushing its seed-leaves up through the hard, lumpy soil. A living faith is something like that; it has power to overcome all obstacles.

26.  Parable on Discharging One’s Duty

Reference: Lk. 17:7-10

The social order has changed much since Biblical times. Slavery was universally practiced. Whereas the word slave occurs but twice in the A.V., the word meaning slave but translated servant appears hundreds of times. Even though our social order has changed, so that we no longer find slavery permitted in most civilized societies, there are still two masters to whom men are slaves: either to God or to Satan. Paul states:

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves slaves to obey, his slaves ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the slaves of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you . . . But now being made free from sin, and become slaves to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:16,17,22).

God owns the Christian by right of creation and by right of redemption. We are not our own, we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19,20).

The parable before us is based upon the duty of the slave to his master. The slave has certain duties which he is supposed to perform. He deserves no praise for doing only what is his duty. Service to the master comes first, before consideration of self. Therefore, Jesus says: “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say ‘We are unprofitable slaves; we have done that which was our duty to do.'”

Although he has done all his duty, yet he has done nothing except what he ought to have done, so he can claim no merit for himself. He could claim to be profitable only if he had done more than his duty. This parable may give the impression that Jesus is a hard taskmaster, but from the Christian’s viewpoint, if he is truly humble, his very best service for Christ falls short of his ideal. But from the divine standpoint, even though we feel ourselves unworthy and unprofitable, yet He will reward even a cup of cold water given in His name. God sets us free from the slavery of sin and Satan, and we then yield ourselves to Him as His bond-slave. We must never forget that relationship.

27.  Raising of Lazarus

Reference: John 11:1-46

We have already considered its significance in connection with the raising up of the nobleman’s son who was at the point of death. It took place at the beginning of our Lord’s ministry when the nation of Israel was at the point of death, but now at the end of His ministry He has been rejected and Israel is dead spiritually. Having already considered the typical and dispensational aspects of this sign, we will point out a few matters of special interest.

When Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death,” it might appear that He was mistaken, since Lazarus did die. What He meant was that the final outcome of this sickness would not be death, but that which would glorify God in restoring life to Lazarus.

It seems strange that after saying Jesus loved, in a very special way, these two sisters and their brother that He would delay two whole days before setting out to help them. But God always does things at the right time, and Jesus knew by waiting two days Lazarus would have died and been buried four days before His arrival, and this would give Him the opportunity to demonstrate that He was indeed the Resurrection and the Life, by bringing back to life one whose body had already gone into corruption. No doubt God often delays in answering prayers for similar reasons. The sisters were probably saying, “O, if He would only hurry and get here in time.” And then after He did arrive, all they could say was, “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” But Jesus had told His disciples: “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there.” If we were going to see a loved one who was critically ill we would be sad and disappointed to learn that he had died before we could get to him. If he had been there Lazarus would not have died, for no one ever died in His presence, and He would not have been able to perform this sign.

We have already seen a difference in the spiritual character of Martha and Mary (Lk. 10:38-42). Martha makes a good confession of her faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and in her belief in the resurrection, and she says exactly the same thing to Jesus that Mary said a little later: “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” But when Mary spoke these words and Jesus saw her weeping, we read: “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him?” and “Jesus wept.” There was something in Mary’s spirituality that touched Jesus far more deeply than in Martha’s.

No doubt the raising from the dead of Lazarus can be used as an illustration of salvation when a spiritually dead person is raised to life. First, it is important to understand that this work of regeneration is wholly the work of God. Jesus did not say, “Now, Lazarus, you do your part and between the two of us we will get you back to life.” Jesus simply shouted: “Lazarus, come forth.” And he came forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes. This was a double miracle. He came out of the cave-tomb even though his binding was tightly wrapped so that he couldn’t move his hands or feet. Although the giving of life is entirely the work of God, there are things that man can do and is responsible for doing. Man could roll away the stone from the door of the tomb, and man could loose him from the grave clothes. Both of these things are the responsibility of the Christian ministry. But sad to say, many converts never get fully loosed from the grave clothes so they can enjoy the freedom and liberty there is in Christ Jesus. Christ spoke of the Son setting us free and Paul exhorts us to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free (Gal. 5:1), and not to be bound with the grave clothes of ritualism.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (27)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 3)

9.        The Leaven of the Pharisees

Reference: Lk. 12:1-12

There are a number of warnings against the leaven of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 16:6, 11; Mk. 8:15, which the Lord described as hypocrisy. A hypocrite is one who plays a false part, one who feigns to be something other than he really is, an actor on the stage who wears a false face. But Jesus declares the day is coming when everything that has been covered up is going to be revealed, when things spoken in secret will be shouted from the housetops.

10.        Parable of the Rich Fool

Reference: Lk. 12:13-34

This parable is introduced as a result of an appeal of a bystander for Jesus to make his brother divide the inheritance with him. Jesus refused, for He apparently saw that this request was motivated by covetousness. A man’s true life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Many a rich man has committed suicide because his riches couldn’t buy anything that satisfied him.

There are a number of principles which may be derived from this parable. A man who lays up treasure just for himself is a pauper towards God. The parable points out the uncertainty of life and of worldly riches. Man works hard to amass a fortune and when he is ready to enjoy it the stock market may crash, he may lose his health, or life itself. And what he has laid up for himself is left behind to be enjoyed and perhaps squandered by others. The whole book of Ecclesiastes is a commentary on this parable. “Yes, I hated all my labors which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that ú shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored” (Eccl. 2:18,19 cf. 5:10-17; 6:1,2).

There are many general lessons to be drawn from this parable; however, there are some important dispensational principles also which must be distinguished. These are primarily “Kingdom teachings” and they are addressed to the little flock to whom the Father was going to give the Kingdom (vs. 32). If the mark of a true Christian is selling all that he possesses and giving away every cent of it, there are not many Christians in the world. Many attempts have been made to establish Christian communism, where all things are had in common, as in Acts 4:32, but they have all ended in failure and delusion. The failure was not that of God’s Word, but of refusing to rightly divide that Word. Having all things common worked as long as God’s Kingdom program was in effect in the early Acts period, but after that program was set aside and God began a new dispensation under Paul, the old program fell apart.

By the end of the Acts period these people, who had had all things common so that no one lacked, found themselves destitute, so that Paul had to take up collections from the Gentile churches to help these poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25-27). Paul never tells members of the Body of Christ to sell all and give it away. He does tell the believer to work with his own hands, so that he might supply not only his own needs but the needs of others (Eph. 4:28; 1 Thes. 4:11), and if any would not work neither should he eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Paul does not tell the rich to sell everything, but he does charge them to be rich in good works (1 Tim. 6:17,18). Paul’s instructions on Christian giving are to be found especially in 2 Cor. 8 and 9, which he wrote in connection with this collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. If Paul’s Gentile converts had given away all of their possessions they would not have had anything left to give. Political and economic conditions will be vastly different in the coming Kingdom from what they are in the present world.

11.        Parables on Readiness for the Coming of The Son of Man

Reference: Lk. 12:35-48

There is great emphasis in the Kingdom teachings of Christ upon readiness for the coming of the Son of Man to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom here on the earth (cf Matt. 24:42-51; 25:1-13; Mk. 13:34-37; Lk. 21:36).

There are actually three parables in this section. The first is based upon the bridegroom returning from the wedding and finding his servants ready and waiting for him. The second concerns the unexpected visit of the thief who breaks into the house, and the third that of a wise and an unwise steward, one who always acts in view of his master’s expected return, and the other who acts as though his master will long delay his return. This latter parable ends with a statement of principle upon which judgment will be based: greater punishment for those who knew God’s will but did not prepare themselves to do His will, and lesser punishment for those who did not know. Stated in another way: “Unto whom much is given much will be required. Unto whom little is given, less will be required.”

There is always the danger when speaking of judgments and rewards, to apply these things to the salvation of the soul. It will help to remember that no one, in any dispensation, receives salvation as a reward for his works or faithfulness. The unsaved who are finally cast into the lake of fire are judged and punished according to their works, and therefore there will be degrees of punishment. The saved will also be judged, but not for the penalty of their sin which has been forgiven, but for their service for Christ. This will result in reward or loss of reward. Believers in this present dispensation also are instructed to wait for the coming of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:7; Tit. 2:13), but this coming is not to earth to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom, but His coming in the air to catch up the Church in resurrection and glorification.

12.        The Baptism of Death

Reference: Lk. 12:49-59

Christ’s statement that He had come to bring division on earth rather than peace seems to contradict the angel’s announcement of peace on earth, good will toward men. His object in coming was to bring peace, but the effect of His coming was to bring fire and persecution and division, for the people were divided over Him.

Christ was baptized by John the Baptist at the beginning of His ministry, and now He says I have a baptism which will bring my ministry to a close. The first was a baptism in water, the second a baptism into death. This death baptism would be the culmination of the division among the Jews regarding Him. Through the Apostle Paul it has been revealed that the believer shares in His death baptism through the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ (by the Holy Spirit) were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3). For that reason, Paul could say, “I was crucified together with Christ.” None of this truth of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is to be found in the Gospels. It is part of the distinctive revelation given to Paul. (On this death baptism see also Matt. 20:22- 24 and Mk. 10:39).

Christ follows this with a denunciation of the people in that they were able to discern the signs which affected the weather, but were not able to discern or interpret the signs from the Word of God regarding the coming of the Messiah. “This time” in vs. 56 is the time predicted by the prophets, such as Dan. 9:25; see also Matt. 16:2,3.

Then Jesus asked why they could not judge what is right. They were in the wrong and He advised them to do as a man would who was being brought before a judge by an accuser. Settle the matter before you get into court or you will go to jail and stay until you have paid the last penny. This verse is wrongfully used by Roman Catholics to support the idea of purgatory. It is rather advice to get right with God before being hailed into the final judgment from which there is no release, for man can never atone for his own sins.

13.        Repent or Perish

Reference: Lk. 13:1-5

Public calamities often happen and we wonder why certain people should meet such fate. Had they committed some terrible evil? Was God punishing them for their sins? Two such calamities are here mentioned, one in which Pilate had shed the blood of certain Galileans, mixing their blood with the blood of the animal sacrifices they were offering, and the other the death of eighteen men when the tower of Siloam collapsed and crushed them. Jesus said that none of these unfortunate people were greater sinners than the rest, but He predicted, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” It is altogether possible that Jesus had in mind the coming destruction of Jerusalem in which great multitudes perished. The parable which follows bears this out.

14.        Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree

Reference: Lk. 13:6-9

There are three basic parables about the fig tree in the Gospels. In two cases the tree was unfruitful. In one it was cursed and withered away (Matt. 21:19), in the other it was cut down. (Cf. Matt. 24:32-35; Mk. 13:28,29; Lk. 21:29-31; for the sign of the Fig.)

Israel is depicted in Scripture under the figure of the Olive Tree, the Fig Tree, and the Vine (cf. Rom. 11:24-26; Isa. 5:7; Jer. 24:1-10). All three are mentioned in Jotham’s fable of the trees in Judg. 9:8-15. The Olive is an evergreen which has great length of life, and is thus a fitting type of Israel’s covenant blessing which will never fail. The Vine seems to refer more to Israel’s spiritual blessings, as set forth in John 15. The Fig probably represents Israel’s national blessings. The Fig was chopped down, but branches of the Vine and the Olive were cut off, so that the covenant and spiritual blessings still existed for those who believed.

The certain man of this parable represents Christ who came to Israel looking for fruit and found none. This is exactly what Christ did in Matt. 21:19 when He cursed the fig tree and it withered away. In this parable, however, the owner of the vineyard told the gardener that He had come for three years looking for fruit and had found none; therefore, cut it down. Why cumbereth it the ground? That is, why is it taking up valuable space and making the ground unproductive. But why did Jesus say, “three years” instead of perhaps two or five? Three years was the length of His public ministry to Israel. But notice that the Dresser of the vineyard interceded in behalf of the fig tree. He said, “Let’s give it one more year. I will cultivate and fertilize it, and if it then bears fruit, well and good, but if it doesn’t, then we will cut it down.”

Traditional interpretation cuts Israel’s fig tree down at the Cross, at the end of Christ’s three-year ministry, and begins an entirely new spiritual order on the day of Pentecost; thus completely negating the plain teaching of this parable. What about the extra year when Israel was to be given another opportunity? What are the historical facts?

First, we know that Christ did intercede for Israel as He hung upon the Cross: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” Next, we know that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stated in Acts 3:17 that through ignorance Israel and its rulers crucified Christ. And finally, Peter still addressing the people of Israel states: “Unto you first, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26).

Whether one bases his teaching on this parable or not, the fact is that Israel was not set aside at the Cross, but because of Christ’s intercession Israel was given another opportunity in the early chapters of Acts to repent and receive her Kingdom blessings. If Israel and her Kingdom were not set aside in early Acts, then it is evident that a new and unprophesied spiritual order did not begin on that notable Pentecost. Instead it was the fulfillment and continuation of Israel’s prophetic Kingdom program.

15.        A Daughter of Abraham Healed

Reference: Lk. 13:10-17

It seems that Jesus intentionally performed many of His healing miracles on the Sabbath day, apparently to show that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), and also that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27,28).

As Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath He saw this woman with a strange illness which Satan had brought upon her, so that for eighteen years she had not been able to stand up straight, but was constantly bowed over. He called the woman and laid His hands on her and pronounced her healed and immediately she stood up straight and glorified God. The president of the synagogue was indignant, got up and announced to the congregation there were six days in the week for working; therefore, come on one of those days to be healed. No wonder that Jesus stood up and no doubt pointed His finger at the ruler and said: “Thou hypocrite; does not each one of you untie your ox or ass and lead it out to drink on the sabbath? Ought not this daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound be loosed from her infirmity on the sabbath?” This rebuff shamed the leaders and the remainder of the people rejoiced for the glorious things Jesus had done. The contrast is between the bowed over woman who was made straight, and the upright indignant ruler who was forced to bow in shame.

16.        The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven

Reference: Lk. 13:18-21

They were told again here to meet the immediate need. The word “Then” in vs. 18 shows the connection between what went before and these two parables. The word is actually “therefore.”

Both parables begin with something small which grows into something large: a seed becomes a great tree, and a few cells of yeast multiply until all of the meal is permeated. This is what the Kingdom of God is likened unto. The usual interpretation is that the Gospel begins in a very small way in the hearts of a few and it grows until it converts the whole world. The only thing wrong with this interpretation is that it is contrary to the facts. The world did not get converted under the preaching of the Kingdom Gospel, and it is far from being converted after 2000 years of the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God. It is also contrary to Scripture because Scripture plainly asserts a great apostasy will take place before the return of Christ.

Other parables liken the Kingdom to a field in which good and bad seed is sown and both grow up together until the return of Christ, and to a net cast into the sea that enmeshes both good and rough fish, or to different kinds of soil, some of which produces little if any fruit. Therefore, when we think about the Kingdom of which Jesus was speaking, we must not think of heavenly bliss with everything pure and holy. It is something like the temple at Jerusalem. It is called the temple of God. Jesus called it My Father’s house, but it had become a den of thieves (Matt. 21:12,13). Israel’s Kingdom was the Kingdom of God but it was filled with evil.

Some feel that the fowls of the air which lodged in the mustard tree are representative of Satan’s emissaries, as they apparently are in the parable in Mk. 4:4, which devoured the good seed before it could sprout. Likewise, leaven is always representative of the principle of evil at work. Leaven was excluded from the food and even the homes at Passover (Ex. 13:6,7). Jesus called the false teachings of the Pharisees leaven (Matt. 16: 6). Paul likened leaven to malice and wickedness and warned that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Thus these two parables explain how a daughter of Abraham in the Kingdom of God could be bound by Satan for eighteen years, and how the rulers of the synagogue could be so blinded as to rebuke the Lord for healing this woman on the Sabbath day.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$100.00

Donations

$10.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (26)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 2)

6.     The Feast of Dedication Reference: John 10:22-42

The feast of dedication was not one of the original Mosaic feasts in Israel. This feast was established during the inter-testament period by Judas Maccabaeus when he freed Jerusalem and the Temple from the Greeks in 164 B.C. It was held on the 25th of Chisleu (December), which seems to be good evidence that Jesus was not born on that day. Just three years to the day after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated the temple it was rededicated. The word dedication means “renewal.” It was also called the feast of Lights. For the eight days of the festival lights were kindled in the temple and in every Jewish home. Solomon’s porch, according to Josephus, was a remnant of the original temple of Solomon which had remained intact after the Babylonian destruction. It was on the east side and the morning sun would warm the place on a winter morning.

The Jews asked Jesus, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus had told them plainly on several occasions and He repeats His claim to Messiahship again. Jesus attributed their unbelief to the fact that they were not His sheep and therefore did not hear His voice. The case was just the opposite with those who were His sheep.

Verses 28 and 29 are very strong security promises for the believer. “I give (not will give or may give) unto them eternal life and (if it is eternal then it must be true) they shall never perish.” The believer is pictured as being held in the hand of Christ, and His hand held in the Father’s hand, so that no man will ever be able to snatch him out of those almighty hands.

Christ follows this, not only with the claims of Messiahship, but with equality with the Father: “I and my Father are one.” The Greek reads: “I and my Father one we are.” The verb is plural and “one” is neuter singular. If “one” had been masculine, it might have implied “one person.” The neuter implies “one in essence.” The statement thus affirms the distinction of Persons in the Godhead and the unity of essence and nature. But this claim of equality with God, perfectly understood by the Jews, angered the Jews and they took up stones again to kill Him for blasphemy. They could find no fault with the good works which Jesus had done, but for a man to make Himself God was too much. Then Jesus quoted Scripture to them, as He often did: “Is it not written in your law, I have said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

You will notice that Jesus said that this was written “in your law,” that is, the Jew’s law, which means God was calling certain Jews gods. This fact is further emphasized in the statement “to whom the word of God came.” The word of God came only to the people of Israel back then. This does not mean that God called every Israelite a god; howbeit, He did call them all, children of the most High (Ps. 82:6). This verse begins, “I have said,” indicating that God had said this previously.

If we turn back to Ex. 21:6 and 22:8,9, we discover that the word translated “judges” in these verses is the Hebrew “Elohim,” or gods. Moses is also called a god in Ex. 7:1. Thus God called the judges, the prophets, and the rulers “gods” as being His representatives. Jesus is not saying that He is a god only in the sense that the judges of Israel were called gods. But rather, if they could be called gods in an official sense, how much more properly could He, who was sealed and consecrated by the Father, be called, Son of God. After answering their charge of blasphemy He appeals again to the character of His works: If they don’t bear the character of the Father, don’t believe me; but if they do, which you have admitted, believe the testimony of the works, even though you don’t believe me, that you may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him. Again, they would have stoned Him but He escaped out of their hands. So Jesus went away again “beyond Jordan” where John at the first had baptized and there He abode and many believed on Him, for John’s testimony of Him had proved to be true.

We should point out that Jesus also defended the infallibility of the Scripture on several occasions: here, when He asserted: “The scripture cannot be broken.”

7.     Discourse on Prayer Reference: Lk. 11:1-13

This chapter begins with Jesus teaching some disciples to pray, as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. Jesus used almost the same format for prayer as we find in the sermon on the mount. The setting here in Luke seems altogether different from that in Matthew, although the wording of the prayer is very similar.

A The Parable of the Importunate Friend.

Jesus follows this instruction with two parables on prayer. The first is that of the Importunate Friend, and is found only in Luke. On the surface prayer seems to be a very simple thing, simply making request for a particular need. But there is more in the outworking of prayer than human wisdom can fathom. Men rationalize that if God has foreordained and foreknown everything that will ever happen from the beginning, how can man’s prayer cause anything different to happen? We can answer only by saying that God has ordained the means as well as the result, and prayer is often the means. Thus, God foreknew that a missionary would have a particular need and that He would supply that need, but He also foreknew that a group of believers ten thousand miles away would pray for that need and their prayer would be answered.

The present parable deals with the importunity of prayer. Importune means to urge with frequent application, press urgently, be insistent. The parable seems to be saying that if one keeps on asking long enough God will finally give in and grant the request. But on another occasion the Lord said: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). The parable is not encouraging man to act like a selfish child, always crying, “Gi’me! Gi’me!” There is more to real prayer than simply saying, “Bless the foreign missionaries,” and then taking the attitude you have discharged your duty and there is no further need to talk to God about it until another urgent request is received. Prayer should be born of concern. If a loved one is at the point of death, we do not pray in that fashion. We continue in prayer pouring out our hearts, and that is a good Pauline admonition: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). The teaching of the parable seems to be if we can by importunity obtain our requests from an unwilling friend, how much more can we expect to receive from a willing Giver?

B The Parable of Fatherhood.

This is a self-explanatory parable of God’s willingness to give good things to His children. Often people think of God only as a Judge whose only motive is to catch us doing wrong, to punish, and to take away our pleasures. God is, of course, a righteous Judge, but the believer has passed out of judgment into God’s family and now knows God as a loving Father. The objects which Christ contrasted in this parable: a stone for a loaf of bread, a serpent for a fish, and a scorpion for an egg, might seem odd at first sight, but there is a similarity in appearance between these pairs of objects. There are also contrasts between an earthly father and the Heavenly Father and between good material gifts and spiritual gifts.

Apparently the Lord did not mean that the Father would give the Person of the Holy Spirit to those who asked, for Christ made it plain that the Holy Spirit could not come as an indwelling presence until He had ascended to the Father (John 16:7). In the Greek text Holy Spirit appears without the definite article, and this usage usually means gifts or endowments of the Spirit. Christ also told His disciples while He was with them the Holy Spirit was also with them, but that later on He would be in them. Believers in the present dispensation do not have to pray that God would give them the Holy Spirit; nor do they have to tarry for Him (Lk. 24:49); they receive Him and are sealed by Him upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where the present participle “after ye believed” should be translated, “upon believing”). Both of these parables lend great encouragement to the child of God to make request to His heavenly Father.

8.     Conflict With the Pharisees

A The Unpardonable Sin: Matt. 12:22-32; Mk. 3:22-30; Lk. 11:14-23.

After healing a man who was blind and dumb, the Pharisees accused Jesus of using Satanic power, but Jesus showed the inconsistency of such a charge, for in that case Satan would be fighting against himself and his kingdom would be destroyed. But if He was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, this was proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon them. He illustrated this truth with the parable of the stronger man (Christ) binding the strong man (Satan) and then spoiling his goods. Matthew and Mark give the added details of what is generally called the unpardonable sin.

Christ stated that all manner of sin against the Son of man would be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven: it is an eternal sin. This passage has caused many Christians to fear, lest they have committed this sin and have therefore lost their salvation. First of all, it should be evident that anyone who is sincerely concerned about being saved through faith in Christ has not committed this sin. In fact, after one has received the gift of eternal life and has been sealed by the Spirit unto the future day of redemption, there is no sin or power that can separate him from the love of Christ, or as we have recently seen from John 10, nothing that can snatch such a one out of the hands of Christ and the Father.

The unpardonable sin is usually interpreted as ascribing the work of Christ which He wrought through the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan, as these Pharisees were doing. It seems, however, there is a deeper meaning than this, for Jesus Himself prayed that these people who had thus accused Him and finally had Him crucified might be forgiven because they really didn’t know what they were doing. However, when the Holy Spirit was miraculously poured out at Pentecost and the people of Israel were enlightened by the Spirit (cf. Heb. 2:3,4; 6:4-6), they were no longer ignorant of what they were doing. We read in the book of Acts that the Jews blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, which means that that generation of natural Israel committed this sin and they could not be renewed unto repentance. This, we believe, is the true meaning of that sin. It was committed by Israel, and as such it is a sin which cannot be committed today. Every sin is forgivable through faith in Christ, and no sin is forgivable apart from faith in Him.

B The Unclean Spirit Who Returned: Matt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:24-26.

All we know about demon spirits is what we read in Scripture. Jesus said that when such a spirit goes out of a man he walks through dry places seeking rest and finds none, so he returns to the man from whence he departed and finds the place swept and garnished and then brings with him seven other spirits worse than himself and the latter end of the possessed man is worse than the first. This is apparently not a case where a demon had been cast out by Jesus, for we cannot imagine that these people He healed ended up the worse for His healing. It seems that the demon left of his own accord, at least when he left, the man’s house or body was left empty, unoccupied.

When a person is saved today his body is occupied by the Holy Spirit, which rules out the possibility of an evil spirit coming back to take possession again. It seems that man’s body is either occupied or strongly influenced by either the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit. Paul states that before we were saved, the prince of the power of the air was the spirit that was energizing us (Eph. 2:2). This does not mean that all unsaved people are demon possessed, but it does mean that Satan has access to their spirits and can mightily work in them. But thank God, the Spirit who energizes us is greater than Satan and will not permit him to take control of us, although when the Spirit is grieved and not allowed His rightful place in our lives it is possible for Satan to take advantage of us.

Some feel that this story of the unclean spirit is a case history of Israel. Israel became idolatrous in O.T. times; God sent them into captivity and they gave up their idolatry in reformation without actually committing themselves to God, and now in the days of Christ the demons have come back and the latter state of Israel is worse than it was at the first.

C The Mistaken Woman: Lk. 11:27, 28.

People often make the mistake of placing the emphasis upon the wrong thing. What they say is not necessarily untrue, but the truth is distorted. While Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd, apparently admiring Jesus for His wonderful words and works, and perhaps wishing that she had had a son like that, shouted out: “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked!” The woman was blessing the mother of Jesus, rather than Jesus Himself.

Sad to say, this mistake has become a creed in Christendom. She is honored as the Mother of God, immaculately conceived, assumed up into heaven, where she intercedes for mankind with her Son, Jesus. Mary was indeed highly honored in being chosen to become the human mother of Jesus Christ, but the gentle rebuke of Jesus in answering this woman clearly indicates that Jesus did not give Mary the exalted place above Himself which Rome has given her. Jesus said, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” He did not dishonor His human mother, but as far as blessedness was concerned, any humble soul who heard God’s word and obeyed it was more blessed than His mother in the flesh.

D The Sign of the Prophet Jonah: Matt. 12:38-42; Lk. 11:29-32.

It will be noted that Matthew placed the sign of Jonah before the story of the unclean spirit, whereas Luke reverses the order. Matthew includes the statement: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,”(cf. Jonah 1:17), whereas Luke simply states: “For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” The men of Ninevah will rise up in the judgment and condemn the men of Jesus’ day, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching (cf. Jon. 3:5-10), and a greater One than Jonah was there present and they repented not.

The Queen of Sheba will also testify against those of Jesus’ day, for she came from a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon (cf. 2 Chron. 9:1-12), and a greater than Solomon was there. The generation which lived through the earthly ministry of Christ bore the greatest responsibility of any generation in the past. Earlier generations had much less light of revelation and yet in many cases they were more responsive than those of Jesus’ day. It is our belief that people in our present generation bear even a greater responsibility than those of Jesus’ day, for we have the full and completed revelation of God’s Word which leaves man totally without any excuse whatsoever.

E Parable of the Lighted Lamp: Lk. 41:33-36; cf. Matt. 5:15; Mk. 4:21; Lk. 8:16; Matt. 6:22,23. See notes on the above passages where this parable is expounded.

F Dining at the Pharisee’s House: Lk. 11:37-54.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner marvelled that Jesus did not baptize Himself before reclining at the table. It would have been a great service to the English reader if the translators had always rendered the Greek “baptizo” as baptize, instead of “wash” as in this instance. By saying that Jesus and His disciples did not wash before eating, the impression is left that Jesus paid little attention to bodily cleanliness. Also the true significance of baptism is veiled. Most Christians suppose that baptism has only one meaning and that it is a ceremony to be performed only once at the time they join the church. The Mosaic religion contained many baptisms, according to Heb. 9:10, and the Jews had added many more since Moses’ day. They ceremonially baptized themselves before every meal, as well as baptizing their eating utensils. Jesus not only did not practice these traditions of the elders, but stated that these practices had made void the word of God.

It was no doubt because Jesus understood what was going on in this Pharisee’s mind that He began pronouncing woes upon them. They washed the outside of the cup, the part that man could see, but left the inside dirty and encrusted with mold and corruption. If only they would cleanse the inside they would not have to worry about the outside. They obeyed meticulously the smallest outward requirements of the law, such as tithing of various things, but they passed over judgment and the love of God. They should have done the lesser outward things, but even more they should have done the weightier things that were inward.

He said they were like unmarked tombs that men trample underfoot without knowing it. In another place He called them whitewashed tombs, white on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. There were some lawyers present also, the experts in interpreting the Bible. And they said, “Master, you have insulted us also by your words.” And Jesus fearlessly flayed them also. They placed heavy burdens upon the laity but freed themselves from all obligation. They built tombs for the prophets which their fathers had murdered, thus consenting to the deeds of their fathers. And again we see the great responsibility which devolved upon that generation. He said that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the beginning of the world, all the way from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-22), would be required of this generation. The lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge; they had not gone in themselves and they stopped those who were trying to go into the Kingdom.

It had not been a very pleasant dinner party for the Pharisees and Lawyers. After dinner they became very bitter and tried to draw Him out on many subjects, hoping to pounce upon some incriminating statement, whereby they might condemn Him.

For further denunciations of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 23:4-36 and Mk. 12:38-40.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (25)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 1)

RESUME

As stated earlier, it is not possible to fit all of the events of Christ’s ministry into a perfect chronological order. Some writers end the Period of Retirement with Mark 9:50, and insert next a Judean Ministry beginning at Mk. 10:1 taking in the trip from Galilee to Jerusalem and continuing through the Feast of Tabernacles to the Feast of Dedication in John 10. Because the events at these two feasts are recorded only in John it is uncertain exactly where they fit into the Synoptic record. We are beginning the Perean Period with Christ’s final departure from Galilee and ending in His last appearance in Jerusalem. As will be seen the greater part of this period is covered only by Luke. Of the 43 topics in this section, only 9 are common to the Synoptics – 5 are found only in John, and 28 only in Luke.

Perea is not a scriptural name. It is the name used by Josephus to describe the district which the rabbis habitually referred to as “the land beyond Jordan,” which in the Greek is “peran tou Iordanou” (Matt. 4:15; 19:1). It was bounded by Pella in the north to Machaerus in the south and extended from the Jordan river on the west to the desert on the east. Perea was considered as a part of the land of Israel, along with Judea and Galilee and was under the same religious and political laws.

The Final Departure From Galilee

References: Matt. 19:1,2 cf. 8:18-22; Mk. 10:1; Lk. 9:51-62

Much of our Lord’s ministry was in Galilee, but now He is leaving Galilee behind and heading for the eventualities which will transpire in Jerusalem, although there still remains several months of ministry beyond Jordan. The chronology of this section is uncertain. Luke states that when the time had come for Him to be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. But following this is the account of certain men who would follow Jesus, but only after they had taken care of other business. This same account is found in Matt. 8, which means that the passage is out of chronological order in either Matthew or Luke, or the same situation happened on two different occasions.

The Lord never made it easy to be a disciple. He reminded these men that even the animals have a place they can call home, but He didn’t own so much as a place to lay His head. We are not told whether the man changed his mind about following Jesus when he learned that. Then Jesus said to another, “Follow me,” but he asked for permission to wait until his father died and was buried, but Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” This sounds strange, for how could a dead person bury another dead person? Undoubtedly Jesus used “dead” in two different senses. The unsaved are spiritually dead. There are many jobs they can do as well or better than a saved person. The saved person should be sure he is doing God’s work first of all. Another man wanted to wait until he went back home and bid farewell to his friends and family. Many a person has thought of serving Christ, but after consulting with friends and relatives has been dissuaded. It is man’s nature either to be too forward (vs. 57), or too backward (vs. 59), or too undecided (vs. 61).

The Samaritans had no dealings with the Jews (John 4:9), so when Jesus sent His disciples to find lodging in the Samaritan village, they would not receive Him because He was going toward Jerusalem. James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven, and while the fire will fail some day, it was then the day of salvation and not of judgment.

1.     The Mission of the Seventy

Reference: Lk. 10:1-24

Jesus appointed these seventy disciples to go ahead of Him in pairs into every city and village He was going to visit to prepare the way for His coming. Just as the number twelve is significant in connection with Israel, so is the number seventy. Beginning with Jacob, there were seventy souls. that came forth out of his loins (Ex. 1:5). There were seventy elders in Israel (Ex. 24:1,9; Num. 11:16). Israel’s period of captivity in Babylon lasted seventy years (Jer. 25:11). Daniel prophesied that seventy weeks (of years) had been determined upon Israel (9:24 cf. vs. 2). And the ruling body in Israel, the Sanhedrin, was composed of seventy men. The Septuagint was supposedly translated by seventy scholars.

The commission of the seventy disciples was very similar to that of the Twelve, given in Matt. 10. They were to take no supplies with them; they were not to pass the time of day with people on their journey; they were to be entertained at a home that would receive them, and if no one received them they were to wipe the dust off their feet as a gesture of shame against that city and tell them to be sure of the fact that the Kingdom of God had come near unto them. Then Jesus berated the cities in which He had done His mightiest works, stating that they would suffer a sorer judgment than such wicked cities as Tyre and Sidon.

When the Seventy had finished their mission and had returned they were very happy, for they said that even the demons were subject to them through the name of Jesus. Jesus replied: “I was beholding (imperfect) Satan as lightning having fallen (aorist) from heaven.” This may refer to Satan’s original fall, but more likely to what had just been transpiring. While the Seventy were getting the victory over the servants of Satan, Christ was beholding Satan fall as a dazzling flash of light which was quickly extinguished. The divine protection against serpents and scorpions is similar to that given to the Apostles in the commission of Mk. 16:17,18. However, their greater cause of rejoicing was that their names were written in heaven. The disciples were honored above many kings and prophets who never had the privilege of seeing and hearing the things they were experiencing.

2.     The Good Samaritan

Reference: Lk. 10:25-37

The expressed purpose of this parable was to answer the question of the lawyer: “Who is my neighbor?,” and this should be the primary interpretation. The lawyer, one versed in the Mosaic law, was tempting Jesus, that is, trying to trip Him up. As usual, Jesus made His questioner answer his own question. It was most difficult for the Jewish lawyer to admit that a despised Samaritan was a better neighbor than a priest or Levite of the Jews, but that is what he had to admit and that is the primary teaching of the parable.

However, the parable has many applications, and Christians generally make only applications and never use it to teach the human relationship of neighborliness.

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem knows that one literally goes down from Jerusalem, 2500 feet above sea level, to Jericho, 825 feet below sea level. The usual application of the parable makes the certain man who thus went down to represent Adam’s fall.

He was robbed of his innocence and righteousness, mortally wounded and left to die. The priest and the Levite who happened along, when they saw the dying man, passed by on the other side of the road. They represent the Law. The Law cannot forgive, or restore life; it can only condemn and put to death. That is the clear teaching of Paul’s epistles, especially Romans and Galatians.

But then a certain Samaritan came along, and came to where the dying man was, had compassion on him, treated his wounds and bandaged them, put him on his own beast of burden and brought him to the inn and took care of him. And when he left the next day, he gave the host money and promised upon his return to pay the entire bill for caring for this robbed and wounded man, who had no money to pay his own debts, and had no strength to take care of himself.

And in the application, Jesus, of course, is the good Samaritan. In fact, shortly before this incident the Jews had said: “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a demon?” (John 8:48). Jesus is the only man who ever loved God with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself. He is the only good, really good, neighbor this world has ever had.

3.     The Visit to Martha and Mary

Reference: Lk. 10:38-42

We often hear of women’s societies in churches which call themselves the Martha Society, but seldom do we hear of a Mary Society, and yet Mary was the one who chose the better part. The inference might be made that Mary was an impractical kind who shirked her household duties; however, the text proves just the opposite. When Martha said: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone,” the verb, “hath left,” is in the aorist tense. “She did leave,” indicates that she had been helping until Jesus appeared. The text makes it plain that the house belonged to Martha and she was the one who invited and received Jesus under her roof and was responsible for providing the hospitality. We dare not condemn Martha for what she was doing, for she was doing her best to entertain Jesus in her home, and we can think of many things worse than that. But Martha did not have the spiritual discernment possessed by Mary. She was interested only in providing the outward, physical things for the enjoyment of her Guest, but Mary realized that the Guest had spiritual blessings to bestow, and so took time off from the physical preparations to become spiritually prepared.

The word “cumbered” is an interesting word. This word appears only twice in our A.V., here and in Lk. 13:7; however, they are entirely different words in the Greek. Here the verb means to be distracted. She was distracted from the person of Jesus by the many little chores which needed to be done.

The word “help” is also an unusual word. It is a compound of three words: “to take hold,” “together with,” “reciprocally,” so that Martha said: “Bid her therefore that she take hold and do her part together with me.” This word occurs only one other time, in Rom. 8:26, where we are told that the Spirit “helpeth” our infirmities; that is, the indwelling Holy Spirit takes hold of the heavy end of the load we are called upon to bear and thus helps us in our weakness.

4.     Healing of Man Born Blind

Reference: John 9:1-41

Here we would point out a few principles involved. The first is what we might call the mediate and the immediate cause of disease. Disease is the result of sin, and so naturally the disciples asked: “Who committed the sin which caused this man to be born blind, the man himself or his parents?” In saying that neither this man nor his parents sinned, Jesus did not mean that they had never committed sin, but that it was not their sin which caused the blindness. A man may commit a sin which is the immediate cause of disease, or it may be some defect which he has inherited mediately through his forebears. Ultimately all the sin and disease in the world came in a mediate way from Adam. But in this case Jesus said the man had been born blind that the works of God might be manifested in him. How little did he or his parents have any such concept until the day that Jesus worked this great miracle, for there was no case on record of the restoration of sight to a man born blind. There are doubtless cases today where God has permitted one to be diseased for this very same purpose, that God might do some work through him to bring glory to God, but apart from revelation it would be mere speculation to make such judgments today.

Actually this man was not the only blind person involved. The Jewish rulers in their hatred of Jesus were spiritually blind. They closed their eyes to every bit of evidence: refused to believe the man had been blind until his parents testified he was their son and although they didn’t know how he had received his sight they knew he had been blind from birth. Faced with this evidence they went back to the man and tried to make him confess that Jesus was a sinner. They accused him of being a disciple of this sinner Jesus, but claimed they were Moses’ disciples, and knew not where this Jesus came from. The man marvelled at the ignorance of the rulers: here is a Man restoring sight to the blind and the rulers don’t even know anything about Him. This answer enraged the rulers: “Are you who were born in sin trying to teach us?” And they cast him out.

Up to this point the only thing the man knew for certain was that whereas he was blind, now he could see. When Jesus had heard what the leaders had done, He found the man and asked if he believed on the Son of God, and he replied: “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe?” And Jesus revealed Himself to the man as the Son of God and he believed and worshipped Him. It has often been pointed out that if Jesus accepted the worship of man, and Jesus was not truly God manifested in the flesh, He was guilty of blasphemy and was the greatest imposter the world has ever seen.

In conclusion Jesus told the Pharisees, “For judgment I am come into the world.” He did not mean that He had come to judge the world, for He explicitly stated: “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). The original meaning of judgment was separation, such as dividing the sheep from the goats at the judgment of the nations. Thus, His coming into the world resulted in a judgment, a separation between those who believed on Him and those that rejected Him. Phillips catches the idea in his paraphrase: “My coming into this world is itself a judgment – those who cannot see have their eyes opened and those who think they can see become blind.” Some of the Pharisees overheard this and said: “So we’re blind too, are we?” “If you were blind,” returned Jesus, “nobody could blame you, but as you insist, ‘We can see,’ your guilt remains.”

5.     The Good Shepherd

Reference: John 10:1-21

The first five verses of this chapter constitute a parable, but the disciples did not understand what Jesus meant by the parable. In the verses that follow Jesus applies the parable to Himself as the Shepherd who enters in by the door, in contrast to all who came before Him, who climbed in by some other way and were thieves and robbers. Actually the expression “some other way” (vs. 1), means from some other quarter. It is a matter of origin. Christ had been insisting previously that He came from above, from heaven. The others had their origin from a different quarter: they were from the world. Christ is the door for the sheep. It is said that the shepherd, after bringing his flock into the fold, lies down at the entrance, so that any intruder would have to come in contact with him before getting at the sheep. He is thus both shepherd and door. The shepherd’s job is to lead his sheep in and out for pasture so that they might have abundance of life, as well as to protect them from danger. All of this is in contrast to the hirelings, the rulers or shepherds in Israel. Read the entire 34th chapter of Ezekiel for God’s appraisal of these false shepherds, and for God’s plan for the restoration of His flock and fold.

The interpretation of this portion belongs to Israel, as is evident from both the 34th and the 37th chapters of Ezekiel. The traditional interpretation makes the other sheep of vs. 16 to be the Gentiles, which are to be incorporated with Israel into the Church. This mistake has been partly due to a failure to recognize Old Testament prophecy and partly to the inaccurate rendering both in the Vulgate and the A.V. of the words for flock and fold. These two translations ignore the differences between these two words.

The A.V. entirely ignores the distinction between aule, fold, and poimne, flock. The latter word is found in Matt. xxvi. 31; Lk. ii. 8; 1 Cor. ix. 7, and always distinctly meaning a flock, as does also the diminutive poimnion, little flock (Lk. xii. 32; I Pet. v. 2, etc.). Render as Rev., one flock, one shepherd. So Tynd. Compare Ezek. xxxiv. 23. We are not, however, to say with Trench (‘Authorized Version of the New Testament’), that the Jew and the Gentile are the two folds which Christ will gather into a single flock. The heathen are not conceived as a fold but as a dispersion. ‘Nothing is said of one fold under the new dispensation’ (Wescott). It will readily be seen that the incorrect rendering fostered by the carelessness or the mistake of some of the Western fathers, and. by the Vulgate, which renders both words by ovile, fold, has been in the interest of Romish claims.28

Thus, vs. 16 should read: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold (aules): them also I must lead out, and they shall become one flock (poimne), and one shepherd.”

The Gentiles are nowhere in Scripture represented as being a sheep fold. Instead, it is evident from Ezek. 37 in the sign of the two sticks, that Israel’s one fold became divided into two folds when the northern ten tribes split off from the southern two tribes and became two nations. The prophet was told to take two sticks and write the name of Judah on one and Ephraim on the other, and then to join the two sticks together into one stick. This was a sign of what God was going to do:

Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel: and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all;… And David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd…and the heathen (Gentiles) shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore (Ezek. 37:21,22,24,28).

Here the one shepherd is over the two folds of Israel which have been united into one flock in contrast to the Gentiles. By refusing to interpret literally the Old Testament prophecies and by refusing to recognize the mystery character of the Body of Christ which had not been revealed while Christ was on earth, traditional theologians have applied this passage in John to the Gentiles of the present era. The great blunder of the Church has ever been to identify itself with Israel, appropriating to itself the Israel promises, and leaving only the curses to the Israel to whom the promises were made.

While it is true that Jesus is Israel’s Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep, we know that at the same time God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Here we need to distinguish between the dispensational and the doctrinal aspects of Christ’s life and ministry.

In laying down His life, Christ made it plain that no man could take His life from Him. He had the power to lay it down and to take it again. This is another evidence of His Deity. The truth of John 9:39 is seen again, in that His words caused a division among the Jews, some claiming He was demon possessed and others asking if a demon could open the eyes of one born blind.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

THE IDEALIST OR TIMELESS VIEW OF THE ANTICHRIST

Idealist+View+of+Revelation

One way of looking at the predicted events in Scripture is to interpret them in a non-literal manner. Many have applied this interpretive technique to the Book of Revelation. This is known as the “Idealist View,” or the “Timeless View.”

THE ISSUE: INTERPRET LITERALLY OR NOT?

The key issue in answering this question concerning the subject of the beast, the Antichrist, as well as other events contained in the Book of Revelation, is whether or not we should interpret the Bible literally.

Literal interpretation will lead one to believe the Antichrist is a person who is still to come on the scene of history.

On the other hand, spiritualizing or interpreting the persons and events in a non-literal manner will cause one to see Antichrist as something nonpersonal.

Those who have an idealized view of the Book of Revelation basically see the entire book as a simple description of the ongoing fight of good versus evil. The Book of Revelation teaches we are going to win in the end but there are no time markers to tell us when the victory will be won.

It is a timeless struggle. Indeed, according to idealism Scripture gives us no time references whatsoever with respect to the future. Consequently, they see it as a mistake to attempt to understand the various references as literal events about a literal person who either has already arrived in history, or will come at some time in the future.

Therefore, they will usually assume the Antichrist is an evil force, or some evil system. The references to the beast and his actions will be interpreted in a non-literal, symbolic manner. Everything is symbolic.

THERE IS NO PERSONAL ANTICHRIST IN THE IDEALISTIC SYSTEM

This being the case, should we understand Antichrist as an evil influence or an evil religious system? There are those who argue for either of these.

However, they insist that we should not be looking for an actual historical person, or historical religious system to fulfill what is written about the Antichrist, the beast. The Book of Revelation is not meant to be understood in that manner.

SOME PROBLEMS WITH THE IDEALIST VIEW

There are a number of objections which are raised against the idealist view. The main ones can be summed up as follows.

  1. Idealists Interpret Inconsistently

For one thing, they are not consistent in their interpretation. Idealists will interpret most of the Book of Revelation symbolically. Yet they will literally accept the passages which speak of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. They do believe that He will literally return.

However, once it is admitted that some of the passages are not symbolic, but are meant to be interpreted literally, then one must give explicit reasons as to why these other passages should be understood in a nonliteral manner. Idealists have never done this in a convincing manner.

  1. Words Do Not Mean What They Say

Furthermore, it becomes difficult to hold to the position that words do not really mean what they clearly seem to mean. According to idealism, “days” do not mean days, the “twelve tribes of Israel” do not mean the twelve tribes of Israel, the number “one thousand” does not mean one thousand, the “temple” does mean the temple, the “two periods of three and one half years” do not really mean three and one half years, the “two witnesses” are not really two people and the “beast, the Antichrist” is not really a person, etc.

Idealists do not believe these can be seen as actual places, times and persons in history. These references are viewed as symbols that may refer to various places, persons and events throughout history, but they do not refer exclusively to any particular place, person or event in history.

The problem with this is determining what they do mean. This is the fatal problem with idealism. Nobody can agree what these symbols actually represent. Instead of coming to some consensus about the meaning of these symbols, commentators contradict one another. This reveals how meaningless such a method of interpretation is. If a symbol can be used to mean anything and everything, then ultimately it means nothing! This is what one ends up with in the idealistic system.

Therefore, God’s communication, the Bible, is now left in the hands of each reader to provide their own meaning to the text. It is no wonder that no consensus can be reached among interpreters who view Bible prophecy in an idealistic manner.

  1. There Is A Literal Object Behind Every Symbol

Nobody discounts the fact that there are symbols in Scripture. However, when someone says that a passage is symbolic, the question which should be asked of them is, “Symbolic of what?” The symbol has to mean something.

The issue of course is this: what does it mean? The fact that those who hold the idealist view cannot come to any consensus on the meaning of these symbols makes their method of interpretation highly suspect.

ANTICHRIST SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD AS A LITERAL PERSON WHO IS STILL TO COME

The conclusion is that idealism is not the way to interpret the New Testament references to the beast, the Antichrist. We are dealing with a coming person, not a symbol or idea.

Therefore, idealism provides no real answer as to the question of Antichrist.

SUMMARY – THE IDEALIST VIEW

Those who hold the idealist view of the Book of Revelation do not believe that a personal Antichrist has come in the past, or will even come on the scene of history in the future. They view Revelation as a timeless struggle. The terms used in the book such as the beast, 144,000, two witnesses, false prophet, Armageddon, etc. are not to be understood in a literal manner, but rather symbolically. They are symbols of the timeless struggle of good versus evil. Hardly anything in the Book of Revelation is to be understood literally.

Consequently idealists believe that it is wrong to see the events in Revelation as having been fulfilled in the past or that they will be fulfilled in the future. Therefore, there is no such thing as a personal Antichrist who has come, or who is to come. Antichrist is a symbol.

Idealism has been criticized on a number of fronts. For one thing, it does not take seriously the many literal references in the Book of Revelation.

In other words, things do not mean what they clearly appear to mean. To say days do not mean days, persons do not mean persons, and specific places do not specific places, does injustice to the words of the Lord. The fact that idealists cannot agree among themselves, as to what these symbols are symbolic of, further shows the meaninglessness of their comments.

There is a better answer as to the way the subject of the Antichrist should be viewed. The better way is to assume a personal Antichrist is still to come.

(Source: The Final Antichrist – Don Stewart)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (24)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VI (CONTINUE)

Final Period of the Galilean Ministry (Continue)

13. Discipline in the Church and Forgiveness
Reference: Matt. 18:15-35

This is the second time in Matthew that Christ has spoken about His Church. As we have seen in ch. 16:18,19, this Church is associated with the Messianic Kingdom. While it is true that the Kingdom had not yet been established, Christ was in the process of calling out His people for that Kingdom, and that is the meaning of the word “church,” a called out company. The rules He gives here for dealing with a sinning brother are similar to Paul’s instructions for members of the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 5:3-5; 6:1-5; Gal. 6:1; I Tim. 5:19,20). The binding and loosing on earth and in heaven means that the results of such scriptural proceedings here on earth are approved in heaven. It should be remembered that the Lord was addressing His apostles who were to be judges in Israel.

This fact needs to be remembered also in connection with the promise, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” This prayer promise cannot be isolated from all of the other promises and instruction which Christ gave to His Kingdom apostles. Christians may make two serious mistakes about prayer. One is taking in an unqualified manner the prayer promises for the Kingdom and applying them to the present divine economy, and the other is isolating one particular promise from all of the others. We do not believe that Jesus ever intended to leave the impression that His disciples could ask anything for themselves in prayer without any qualifications whatsoever, with the promise that the Father would grant their request. We have record of a number of things which the disciples asked, which were not only refused, but the disciples were rebuked for asking such things (cf. Matt. 20:21,22; Lk. 9:54). Our Lord laid down several conditions for prayer. It had to be in His name, and that involved more than merely tacking on those three magic words at the end of the prayer. The disciples had to abide in Him and His words abide in them (John 14:13; 15:7). James, who was a Kingdom disciple, surely didn’t believe in unconditional prayer promises (cf. Jas. 1:5-7; 4:3). John likewise lays down conditions (cf. I John 3:20- 22; 5:14). And we surely find no so-called unconditional prayer promises in Paul’s letters to members of the Body of Christ.

This section ends with a discourse on how often we should forgive a brother who sins against us. Peter thought seven times was sufficient, but the Lord said, “Seventy times seven.” The Lord reinforced this teaching with the parable of the King who freely forgave his servant an enormous debt of 10,000 talents, and then the self- same servant refused to forgive his fellow-servant a paltry debt of 100 pennies and had him cast into prison. We cannot estimate the magnitude of the debt of sin which we owed to God and which He has freely forgiven through the death of His Son; therefore we should “forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us” (Eph. 4:32). Does the command that we forgive mean that we must forgive in a sort of automatic way? Luke gives these words of Jesus which show that forgiveness is conditioned upon repentance: “if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Lk. 17:4). This is a most important principle which many people forget. God does not forgive unless there is a change of mind on the part of the sinner, and He does not ask us to forgive those who wrong us and who remain adamant in their sin.

14. Christ Attends The Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem
Reference: John 7:1-52

In the introduction to this lesson one is reminded of Joseph and his brothers in the Old Testament, for they did not believe in Joseph, even as the brethren of Jesus did not believe in Him (“not believe” is imperfect – they were habitually unbelieving). They urged Him to leave Galilee and go to the feast in Jerusalem and show his works openly if He was what He claimed to be. But Jesus would not go into Judea, for He knew the Jews there were seeking to kill Him. He let His brothers go up to the feast first and then He went up rather secretly. The Jews at the feast were all looking for Him and inquiring about Him and expressing their beliefs and disbeliefs concerning Him. Then in the middle of the feast which lasted seven days (Lev. 23:34), and came in early autumn, He entered the temple and began teaching. This resulted in many questions being raised by the crowds. “How is it that this unschooled man has such learning?” “Isn’t this the man whom they seek to kill? But lo, he speaks boldly and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Messiah?” “What is he talking about: Ye shall seek me and not find me; and where I am ye cannot come? Where will he go that we cannot find him? Will he go to the dispersed Jews among the Gentiles and teach the Gentiles?”

Jesus answered some of their questions and asked some of His own. He told them that His learning, His knowledge, His doctrine was not His own, but God’s who had sent Him. He asked, “Why are you plotting to kill me?” They said: “No one’s plotting to kill you; you must be demon possessed.” Jesus asked: “You circumcise a man on the sabbath day that the law of Moses be not broken, then why are you angry at me because I have completely restored to health a man on the sabbath?”

The culmination came on the last day of the feast, which was the most important day. Edersheim, an authority on Jewish antiquities, graphically describes the liturgy performed on that day, which greatly enhances the Scriptural account. Space does not permit quoting all of the preliminary celebrations, sacrifices, chanting of Psalms by the priests, etc. The priest had filled his golden pitcher with water when the temple procession had reached the Pool of Siloam and then returned to the temple to pour out the water at the altar. Edersheim states:

We can have little difficulty in determining at what part of the services of the last day, the Great Day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried: If anyone thirst let him come unto me and drink! It must have been with special reference to the ceremony of the outpouring of the water, which as we have seen, was considered the central part of the service. Moreover, all would understand that His words must refer to the Holy Spirit, since the rite was universally regarded as symbolical of His outpouring. The forthpouring of the water was immediately followed by the chanting of the Hallel. But after that there must have been a short pause to prepare for the festive sacrifices (the Musaph). It was then, immediately after the symbolic rite of water-pouting, immediately after the people had responded by repeating those lines from Psalm cxviii given thanks, and prayed that Jehovah would send salvation and prosperity, and had shaken their lulabh towards the altar, thus praising with the heart, the mouth, the hands, and then silence had fallen upon them – that there arose, so loud as to be heard throughout the Temple, the Voice of Jesus. He interrupted not the services, for they had for the moment ceased: He interpreted, and He fulfilled them.

What an electrifying sight that must have been, as that Voice rang out in the midst of this great celebration: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (and John explains “this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified”). There was a mixed reaction among the multitudes. Some said, “Of a truth this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But others objected: “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Doesn’t the scripture state that the Christ will come of the seed of David and from Bethlehem?” And there was a division and the ones who had been sent to arrest Him returned empty-handed to the chief priests, who asked, “Why did you not bring him?” and they answered, “Never man spake like this man.” Whereupon the Pharisees replied, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the Pharisees believed on him? The common people don’t know the Law; they are accursed.” But there was one Pharisee who secretly believed on Him and he enquired, “Does our law judge any man before it has heard him and knows what he has done?” Nicodemus who had interviewed Jesus at night in secret, and who had been a secret believer, later came openly with Joseph of Arimathea and begged for the body of Jesus from Pilate and prepared the body of Jesus for burial (John 19:38-42). One who is a true believer cannot remain in silence and secrecy forever. When the crisis arises he must speak out and declare his faith.

Jesus’ time had not yet come and the Sanhedrin was again thwarted in their attempts to take Him and put Him to death.

15. The Woman Taken in Adultery
Reference: John 7:53-8:11

After the feast of Tabernacles we read that “they went every man to his own house, but Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives,” where He spent the night and early in the morning He crossed back over the Kidron valley to the Temple and sat down and taught the crowds of people which surrounded Him. The scribes and Pharisees, still looking for some trick whereby they might catch Jesus in their trap, had found a woman who was guilty of adultery and felt sure if they brought her to Jesus, and He let her off with perhaps a rebuke instead of sticking to the law of Moses and inflicting the death penalty on her, they could accuse Him of violating the Law.

It would be interesting to know what it was that Jesus wrote with His finger on the stone floor as He stooped down, while they continued asking Him. Perhaps He hesitated just long enough to make these religious bigots think they had surely trapped Him this time. But then He looked up and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” How quickly Jesus had turned the tables on them. They all knew they were sinners, and that was one of the reasons they wanted to get rid of Jesus, because of His preaching against sin. Who of them would have the gall to pick up a stone and hurl at the woman, when everyone in the crowd knew he was guilty of sin, perhaps the very sin of which they were accusing this poor woman.

And so the crowd evaporated, beginning with the oldest, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. It is most instructive to see the divine wisdom with which He then dealt with the woman. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t any man condemn you?” He asked. “No man, Lord,” she replied. Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” If we had been dealing with the woman we probably would have preached a long sermon to her, telling her what an awful sinner she was and thus humiliate her as much as possible. But the woman knew she was a great sinner and that she had come very near to being stoned to death, but she had been saved by the gracious and loving act of Christ, and although we are not told, it is our belief that this woman never again became involved in this sex sin.

Jesus did not condone her sin. It was not His business to enforce the law. He merely showed that the rulers whose duty it was to enforce it, were all as guilty as the woman, and therefore unable to enforce it, because the law required at least two witnesses and none remained to prosecute her.

16. Discourse on The Light of the World
Reference: John 8:12-30

Jesus calls Himself “the Light of the World.” Light is a characteristic term in John’s Gospel and in his first Epistle it portrays the manifestation of the life of God in the person of Jesus. John the Baptist was called a burning and shining light (John 5:35), but there the word is “luchnos,” a lamp. Here the word is “phos.” In John 1:7,8, it is said of John: “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Phos that all men through him might believe. He (John) was not that Phos, but was sent to bear witness of the Phos.” John was a luchnos, a hand held oil lamp, lighted by Another, in whose brightness men might rejoice for a season and which would ultimately be extinguished. Christ is the True Phos (John 1:9), in antithesis to John, the Eternal Light which never needed to be kindled and which will never be extinguished. Light occurs 23 times in John’s Gospel. God is light essentially (1 John 1:5), and in Him is no darkness, the opposite of Phos. Paul says that whatever makes manifest is light (Eph. 5:13). Light is an emanation which requires an organ adapted for its reception. Light is not apprehended where there is no eye or there is blindness. Man is naturally incapable of receiving spiritual light because as a sinner he lacks the capacity for spiritual truth.

It is illuminating to note that Jesus spoke these words in the Treasury, where there were four golden candelabra, with four golden bowls filled with oil, which were lighted on the first night of the Feast. This may have provided the backdrop for Jesus’ words. Isaiah in four places speaks of the coming Messiah as the Light (cf. 9:2; 42:6; 49:6; 60:1-3). Malachi calls Him “the Sun of righteousness who will arise with healing in his wings,” (4:2). “Wings” refers to the sun’s rays.

This discourse is one of the clearest defenses which Jesus made for His Deity. As the Light of the world He was one with the Father, for only God is Light. He claimed that even if He did bear witness of Himself, His witness was true. He knew where He came from, from the Father, and where He was going. He said He was going to a place where they could not come. He said He was from above, and unless they believed He is the “I am” they would die in their sins. The translators have added “he” to the “I am.” But “I AM” is the covenant name of God in the Old Testament (Ex. 3:14 cf. also John 8:28,58; 13:19; and 18:6). Who else but the great I Am could say, “If ye believe not that I Am, ye shall die in your sins?”

17. The Discourse on True Freedom
Reference: John 8:31-59

The last verse of the preceding section stated: “As he spake these things, many believed on him.” The first verse of this section states: “Jesus then said to those Jews which believed on him.” The A.V. has missed the distinction in the Greek. The latter statement should read: “The Jews which believed him.” There is a difference between believing on and simply believing. Within this group which believed Him were some which truly believed on Him. The following context brings out this fact. He told them if they continued in His word, they would be His disciples indeed. And as we continue, we see these very ones who believed Him arguing that they were Abraham’s seed and had never been in bondage to any one, although they had been in bondage to the four great world empires, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and now Rome. And finally Jesus has to tell them that instead of having Abraham as their father, the Devil is their father. (Refer back to our comments on John 2:23-25.)

Then the Jews called Him a demon-possessed Samaritan. When Jesus claimed that one who kept His saying would never see death, the Jews responded: “Now we know you have a demon. Abraham and all the prophets are dead. Are you greater than Abraham who is dead?” Jesus replied, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” “Why, you are not fifty years old and have you seen Abraham?” they responded. Then Jesus made another claim to Deity: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” By this time some of these who had previously believed Him took up stones to kill Him, but Jesus hid Himself, slipping through the multitude, and went out of the temple.

The freedom and bondage Jesus spoke about had no reference to political or physical conditions, but to sin and deliverance from it. Israel had been promised both political and spiritual freedom, but the spiritual had to be experienced first, and they are here rejecting it. The unsaved today boast to being free men, just as the Jews did, but Jesus says they are bondslaves. Only those who have been delivered from the guilt and power of sin are sons, and therefore free.

Universal Reconciliationists who teach that ultimately every created intelligence, including the Devil, will be reconciled to God, in reality make God to be the author of sin and therefore justice demands that He finally save everyone. They base this teaching partly on John 8:44, where Jesus stated that the Devil was a murderer “from the beginning.” They make this to mean that the Devil was created as a devil; that he was always a devil from the very beginning of creation.

But there is more than one beginning in the Bible. John 1:1 says that the Word was in existence at the beginning, and that beginning goes back before the first creative acts of God. There was a beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth. But the beginning of John 8:44 cannot be that earlier beginning, for the word “murderer” is actually in the original, “manslayer.” There could be no manslayer until there was a man to slay. Therefore the beginning from which the Devil was a manslayer was the beginning of the human race. This does not prove that Satan was not the Devil before he caused the human race to fall, but it does destroy the argument that the Devil was created as a Devil.

And besides, there are numerous passages which speak of the fall of Satan (Lk. 10:18; Isa. 14:12; Ezek. 28:15). The teaching of Jesus that these unbelieving Jews were of their father, the Devil, contradicts the liberal’s teaching of the universal Fatherhood of God. God is presented in the Bible as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as the Father of all who believe and have thereby been born again into the family of God.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

THE RAPTURE SERIES 15: THE BELIEVERS’ LAST BATTLE (PART 4 OF 4)

0 RAPTURE

END OF SERIES – CONCLUSION

“Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:8-11).

These marvelous words reveal to us that not only is Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, but all things will be put under His subjection. Jesus, the Living Word of God, has created all things and “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things” including our perfect salvation! It is both literally and physically impossible for me to fully comprehend the last line of this verse, “he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” However, my admission does not change the fact that we have indeed become His brethren, sons and daughters of God. We are so much a part of God’s family that no earthly family can ever compare. The final answer to the Lord’s high priestly prayer is yet to be fulfilled, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23).

If we as believers would realize just a fraction of the glorious things God has wrought for us, we would not take ourselves too seriously. We would worry much less about things we can’t change and while we remain on earth, our lives would be filled and overflowing with the peace that passes all understanding.

I wanted to convey these few words of encouragement to you in my conclusion of the Rapture series.

Throughout this study, we laid down some indisputable facts regarding the reality of the Rapture—facts which cannot be moved or removed by any interpretation. Jesus said that He will come again to take us to Himself. In order for that to happen, certain events in history had to first take place.

We must never be so naive as to think that such events as the uproar of the nations, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, floods, fires, pestilences, and others take place coincidentally. That is far from the truth because these phenomena serve only one purpose: to call out a people for His name. God does not make mistakes, nor does He need to apologize. His resolutions are eternal because He is from everlasting to everlasting.

When we understand God’s plan for mankind we shouldn’t have much difficulty comprehending the words of Amos 3:6, “… shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6). When we grasp these things spiritually, we see that we do not need to worry about the frightening events taking place in the world today. In holy reverence, we can sing with the hymn writer, “He’s got the whole world in His hands….”

Calling Out of His People

We have thoroughly discussed the relationship between Israel and the Church. God chose Abraham, from whom He brought forth a nation, Israel. She in turn brought forth the man-child Jesus, “… who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 10:5). Jesus: Son of God, and Son of man. On Calvary’s cross, He accomplished the greatest redemptive work in history when He cried out, “It is finished.” Since then, the final selection process has been progressing. From Israel and all the nations of the world, God is gathering a new people, born again of His Spirit, for His heavenly kingdom. This selection is no longer limited to Israel, who received a distinct promise of territory. Today, anyone who, by the grace of God, has an ear to hear may respond to the message, believe it, and as a result, be added to the innumerable host of heavenly citizens comprising the Church of Jesus Christ.

The selection process has been taking place since 33 A.D. and will be completed when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, at which time the Rapture will take place.

In the Bible, God has given us many examples of His intention to save mankind. One example was the salvation of Noah and his family. Only those who entered the ark by faith were saved from the flood. The same principle is valid today; those who enter the heavenly ark through the door (Jesus Christ) are saved for eternity.

Light And Darkness

During these many centuries, God in His grace has not sent destructive judgment upon the powers of darkness, but He has permitted darkness to exist parallel to the light. Every person born on planet Earth either continues in the way of darkness or comes to the Light. John testifies of Jesus when he says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). It is the job of the children of light to exemplify the way to the Light to those in darkness, which is why Jesus said to His Church, “ye are the light of the world.”

Darkness includes all things on earth. Everything we see, hear, or touch outside of the Gospel is subject to darkness. Every nation and every government on our planet is subject to darkness. The god of this world, the prince of darkness, rules the earth, as evident in 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” This dark force cannot destroy the children of light because, as we illustrated earlier in the series, light is stronger than darkness. However, God in His counsel has determined that darkness will eventually cover the entire world. We concluded that this cannot take place while the Church is still present.

The Great Tribulation

The prophets of both the Old and New Testaments, as well as Jesus Himself, prophesied that the Great Tribulation would come on planet Earth and that it would be a time such as has never been experienced before, nor will it be repeated. In those days of darkness mankind will voluntarily believe the great lie, that salvation may be obtained through good behavior and does not depend on any particular form of religion. This philosophy is accepted today as “politically correct.” The continuous success of the world in relation to peace and prosperity will reinforce humanity’s belief that they should be centered on themselves instead of the Savior.

Second Thessalonians 2:9-10 says, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” The truth is that man cannot save himself; he is lost. He’s not lost because of the bad deeds he may have committed, but because he is a sinner by birth. To the question, “What must you do to end up in Hell?” the answer is nothing! Everyone from birth is destined to Hell. For that reason, God the Father sent Jesus so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Just as a person does not have to do anything particularly bad to remain Hellhound, the same applies to a person who wants to go to Heaven but does not have to do anything to get there other than believe.

Virtually all religions, including much of Christianity, are proclaiming that man must either work for his salvation or at least contribute his part so that he may qualify. That is the great deception of Satan. Those who embrace that belief do not love the truth. Continuing in verse 11, we read, “for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

The great contradiction of the present day is the existence of the Church. Within the Church, there is a light which stands in opposition to darkness. As long as this light remains on Earth, the Great Tribulation, the epitome of darkness, cannot take place. The moment the Church is removed, darkness will prevail and the lie will be accepted as truth, which has been clearly and thoroughly addressed in this series.

The Spirit Must Depart For Jesus To Return

Israel’s salvation cannot take place as long as the Church is present on earth. We find support of this in Jesus’ response to the disciples, “. ..It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).

Plainly, Jesus was saying that if He did not depart, the Comforter would not come; but when He did depart, the Comforter would indeed come.

Now this will take place in reverse. Jesus cannot literally and physically come back to earth as long as the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] remains on earth.

The Comforter dwells in the heart of the believer! Therefore, it is impossible for Jesus to come back with His saints unless they are first taken out of the way so that He can come back to earth with them!

What Are You Waiting For?

Please allow me again to ask, “What are you waiting for?” If you are waiting for the Great Tribulation, then you cannot be waiting for Jesus. If you are waiting for the appearing of the Antichrist, then you cannot be waiting for Jesus. If you are waiting for better times, for peace and prosperity, then you cannot be waiting for Jesus. If you are not waiting for Jesus, you are not a child of God.

If you are not a child of God, at this point you should be asking yourself, “How can I become a child of God?” It is almost too easy to be true, yet it is true! Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved! Right after you have read the last lines of this series, get down on your knees and confess to God that you are a sinner. Admit that you cannot save yourself. Realize that you are in need of redemption. Someone else must pay for your sins; you can’t do it yourself. If that is the case, you are on the right track toward salvation. You may pray a simple prayer: “Dear God: I realize that I am a sinner and I believe that Jesus Christ paid for my sins when He died on Calvary’s cross, pouring out His blood as full payment for my sins. I now consciously and deliberately ask Jesus to save me from my sins, come into my heart and make me a child of God.” When you sincerely pray this, then the prophetic Scripture will be fulfilled, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” And the wonderful promise of John 3:36 will be instantly fulfilled in your life: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life!”

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

UNDERSTANDING MATTHEW 24 & 25 – ACCORDING TO JOHN WALVOORD

download

A DOWNLOADABLE PDF VERSION IS POSTED AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE

Chapter 24

The Signs of the End of the Age

Introductory Considerations

The discourse of Christ on the Mount of Olives is one of the four major discourses of Christ and should be compared in its content to the Sermon on the Mount, dealing with the moral and ethical principles of the kingdom (Mt 5-7); the discourse on the present age; the kingdom in its mystery form while the King is absent (Mt 13); and the upper room discourse, dealing with the church as the body of Christ in the present age (Jn 13-17). By contrast, the discourse on the Mount of Olives contains Christ’s teaching on the end of the age, the period leading up to the second coming of Christ to set up His kingdom on earth.

The Olivet discourse was delivered after Christ’s scathing denunciation, in Matthew 23, of the hypocrisy and false religion which characterized the scribes and Pharisees, closing with His lament over Jerusalem, where the prophets of God through the centuries had been rejected and martyred.

Prediction of Destruction of the Temple, 24:1-2

After delivering the denunciation of the scribes and the Pharisees, Christ left the temple, according to Matthew 24:1-2; and as He left, His disciples pointed out the magnificence of the temple buildings. The temple had been under construction since 20 B.C., and, though not actually completed until a.d. 64, its main buildings apparently were largely finished. To the disciples, the temple seemed an impressive evidence of the solidarity of Israel’s religious life and of God’s blessing upon Jerusalem.

When the disciples pointed out the temple, according to verse 2, Jesus said, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” The disciples apparently received these solemn words in silence, but their thoughts were sobering. The temple was made of huge stones, some of them many tons in size, carved out in the stone quarries underneath the city of Jerusalem. Such large stones could be dislodged only through deliberate force. The sad fulfillment was to come in a.d. 70, only six years after the temple was completed, when the Roman soldiers deliberately destroyed the temple, prying off stones one by one and casting them into the valley below. Recent excavations have uncovered some of these stones.

Questions of the Disciples, 24:3

As they walked from the temple area through the Kidron Valley and up the slope of the Mount of Olives, the disciples, no doubt, were pondering these solemn words of Christ. Matthew 24:3 records that when Christ sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples then came with their questions. According to Mark 13:3, questions were asked by Peter, James, John, and Andrew.

Matthew 24:3 records, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The disciples had in mind, of course, that the destruction of Solomon’s temple, in 586 b.c, preceded the time of captivity. How did the temple’s future destruction relate to the promise of the coming kingdom and their hope that Christ would reign over the nation of Israel?

The discourse that follows depends for its interpretation on the question of whether these prophecies should be interpreted literally. Amillenarians, who do not interpret literally any prophecy concerning a future millennial reign of Christ, tend to take the prophecies in this discourse in a general rather than a particular way, and frequently try to find fulfillment in the first century in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem. Postmillenarians, following the idea that the gospel will gradually triumph over the entire world, have to spiritualize it even more, because this discourse indicates a trend toward increasing evil, which Christ will judge at His second coming.

Liberal interpreters consider this discourse as only a summary of apocalyptic ideas current in the first century, presented here as if taught by Christ but probably not actually uttered by Christ. M’Neile, for instance, states, Some predictions of Jesus concerning the nearness of the End probably formed the basis upon which a Jewish-Christian writer compiled a series of sayings, many of them couched in the conventional language of Jewish eschatology. This theory of a Small Apocalypse is widely accepted in various forms by modern writings.

After citing Moffat, B. Weiss, J. Weiss, Zahn, and others, M’Neile adds, “The compiler of it gave some doubtless genuine sayings of Jesus, and also some that reflect a later date when Christians had begun to realize that some delay must be expected before the Parousia.”

Those who take the Olivet discourse literally, of course, not only reject the liberal interpretation, but also the amillenarian view of this discourse. Premillenarians, accordingly, interpret the discourse as an accurate statement of end-time events, which will lead up to and climax in the second coming of Christ to set up His millennial kingdom on the earth.

Some variations, however, may also be observed in pre-millennial interpretation. Those who believe that the rapture, or translation of the church, occurs before the time of trouble at the end of the age usually do not believe that the rapture is in view at all in this discourse, as the rapture was first introduced in John 14:1-3, the night before Jesus was crucified, sometime after the Olivet discourse. Those accepting the posttribulational view, that the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ occur at the same time, tend to ignore the details of this discourse in the same fashion as the amillenarians do. For instance, G. Campbell Morgan skips over Matthew 24:15-22, which is the most important portion of Matthew 24.

If the details of this discourse are observed and interpreted literally, it fits best with the view that the rapture is not revealed in this discourse at all, but is a later revelation, introduced by Christ in John 14 and revealed in more detail in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. There, the “blessed hope” that Christ will come for His church before these end-time events overtake the world is revealed.

The period climaxing in the second coming of Christ to the earth, according to many premillenarians, begins with the rapture, or translation of the church, and is followed by the rapid rise of a dictator in the Middle East who makes a covenant with Israel. As a result of this covenant, Israel enjoys protection and peace for three-and-a-half-years. Then the covenant is broken, and the final three-and-a-half years leading up to the second coming of Christ is a period of great tribulation and time of Israel’s trouble.

The second coming of Christ begins His millennial reign of one thousand years, which in turn is followed by the new heaven and the new earth and the eternal state. The Olivet discourse, accordingly, is in some sense a summary of the same period described in Revelation 6-19.

In Matthew 24:3, the disciples had asked three questions: (1) “Tell us, when shall these things be?”; (2) “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”; and (3) What shall be the sign “of the end of the world?” Matthew’s gospel does not answer the first question, which relates to the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. This is given more in detail in Luke, while Matthew and Mark answer the second and third questions, which actually refer to Christ’s coming and the end of the age as one and the same event. Matthew’s account of the Olivet discourse records that portion of Christ’s answer that relates to His future kingdom and how it will be brought in, which is one of the major purposes of the gospel.

Course of the Present Age, 24:4-14

Expositors have taken various approaches to the introductory remarks of Christ. G. Campbell Morgan, for instance, regards the whole section of Matthew 24:4-22 as already fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. Morgan states, “Everything predicted from verse six to verse twenty-two was fulfilled to the letter in connection with the Fall of Jerusalem within a generation.” Alfred Plummer goes a step further and includes verse 28 as fulfilled in a.d. 70.

Both Morgan and Plummer ignore the identification of the “great tribulation” in Matthew 24:15, 21 as a specific future period of time, and also ignore the details of the prophecy, not even attempting an exegesis of most of the verses.

Accordingly, if the interpreter of this section wants to take the prophecies literally and find a reasonable explanation of the predictions, he must limit the introductory section to Matthew 24:4-14. While variations in interpretation occur, H. A. Ironside expresses a plausible view that verses 4-8 give general characteristics of the age, and that verses 9-14 emphasize the particular signs of the end of the age.

Other premillennial interpreters, however, prefer to take Matthew 24:4-14 as a unit, describing the general characteristics of the age leading up to the end, while at the same time recognizing that the prediction of the difficulties, which will characterize the entire period between the first and second coming of Christ, are fulfilled in an intensified form as the age moves on to its conclusion. If Matthew 24:4-14 deals with general signs, then verses 15-26 may be considered as specific signs. The second coming of Christ is revealed in verses 27-31, which should be compared with the more detailed prophecy of Revelation 19:11-21.

In Matthew 24:4-14, at least nine major characteristics of this general period are described. These characteristics may be itemized as follows: (1) false Christs, 24:4-5; (2) wars and rumors of wars, 24:6-7; (3) famines, 24:7; (4) pestilence, 24:7; (5) earthquakes, 24:7; (6) many martyrs, 24:8-10; (7) false prophets, 24:11; (8) increasing evil and loss of fervent love, 24:12; and (9) worldwide preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, 24:13-14.

In general, these signs have been at least partially fulfilled in the present age and have characterized the period between the first and second coming of Christ. They should be understood as general signs rather than specific signs that the end is near.

As stated in verse 8, these are the beginning rather than the end of the sorrows which characterize the close of the age.

Accordingly, through the centuries, there have been many false religious leaders or false Christs. War, famine, and pestilence are still with us. There is some evidence that there is an increase in earthquakes, and, of course, Scriptures record that the greatest earthquake of all time will occur just before the second coming of Christ (Rev 16:18-20). There have been many martyrs through the centuries and probably more in the twentieth century than even in the first century. False prophets and false teachings have plagued the church and the world. The increase in iniquity and loss of fervent love are all too evident in the world, and are detailed, for instance, in Christ’s message to the churches of the first century in Revelation 2-3.

Throughout the age also there is the announcement of the coming kingdom when Christ will reign on earth, which, of course, will be preached in intensified form as the end approaches. The age in general, climaxing with the second coming of Christ, has the promise that those that endure to the end (Mt 24:13), that is, survive the tribulation and are still alive, will be saved, or delivered, by Christ at His second coming. This is not a reference to salvation from sin, but rather the deliverance of survivors at the end of the age as stated, for instance, in Romans 11:26, where the Deliverer will save the nation Israel from its persecutors. Many, of course, will not endure to the end, in the sense that they will be martyred, even though they are saved by faith in Christ, and the multitude of martyrs is mentioned in Revelation 7:9-17.

Taken as a whole, the opening section, ending with Matthew 24:14, itemizes general signs, events, and situations which mark the progress of the age, and, with growing intensity, indicate that the end of the age is approaching. These signs, however, by their very characteristics and because they have occurred throughout the present age, do not constitute a direct answer to the question of “the sign” of the coming of the Lord.

Sign of the Great Tribulation, 24:15-25

This portion of the Olivet discourse is crucial to understanding what Christ reveals about the end of the age. The tendency to explain away this section or ignore it constitutes the major difficulty in the interpretation of the Olivet discourse. In the background is the tendency of liberals to discount prophecy and the practice of some conservatives of not interpreting prophecy literally. If this prediction means what it says, it is referring to a specific time of great trouble which immediately precedes the second coming of Christ. As such, the prediction of the great tribulation is “the sign” of the second coming, and those who see the sign will be living in the generation which will see the second coming itself. Accordingly, the interpretation of G. Campbell Morgan, which relates this to the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, and the view of Alfred Plummer, which relates it to the second coming of Christ as if fulfilled in the first century, are unjustified interpretations, if the passage is taken seriously.

The fact that the book of Revelation, which practically all expositors date after the destruction of Jerusalem, coincides so exactly with this presentation makes it clear that Christ was not talking here about fulfillment in the first century, but prophecy to be related to His actual second coming to the earth in the future. William Kelly states it concisely, “The conclusion is clear and certain: in verse 15 of Matthew 24, our Lord alludes to that part of Daniel which is yet future, not to what was history when He spoke this on the mount of Olives.”

The sign of the future tribulation is identified with what Christ calls the sign of “the abomination of desolation” (v. 15).

Jesus said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (vv. 15-16). The event is so specific that it will be a signal to the Jews living in Judea at the time to flee to the mountains. What did Christ mean by the expression “the abomination of desolation”?

This term is found three times in the book of Daniel (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Its definition is found in Daniel 11:31 in the prophecy written by Daniel concerning a Syrian ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned over Syria 175-164 B.C., about four hundred years after Daniel.

In his prophecy, Daniel predicted, “They shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate” (11:31). As this was fulfilled in history, it is comparatively easy to understand what Daniel meant. Antiochus Epiphanes was a great persecutor of the people of Israel, as recorded in the apocryphal books of 1 and 2 Maccabees. In attempting to stamp out the Jewish religion, he murdered thousands of Jews, including women and children, and desecrated the temple of Israel, which precipitated the Maccabean revolt.

Antiochus, in attempting to stop the temple sacrifices, offered a sow, an unclean animal, on the altar, to render the Jewish temple abominable to the Jews (cf. 1 Mac 1:48). According to 1 Maccabees 1:57, the abomination of desolation was actually set up, and a statue of a Greek god was installed in the temple. For a time, the sacrifices of the Jews were stopped, and the temple was left desolate. The action of Antiochus in stopping the sacrifices, desecrating the temple, and setting up an idol in the temple is going to be repeated in the future as the signal of the beginning of the great tribulation.

This future abomination is described in Daniel 9:27: “He [the prince that shall come] shall confirm the covenant with many [Israel] for one week” (literally, “one seven,” meaning seven years, as practically all commentators, even those who are liberal, agree). The prophecy continues, “And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate.” The prediction is that a future prince will do just what Antiochus did in the second century B.C.

Further light is cast on this in Daniel 12:11, where it states, “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,” or approximately three-and-a-half-years preceding the second coming of Christ. H. A. Ironside summarizes it, “Our Lord tells us definitely here that His second advent is to follow at once upon the close of that time of trouble; so it is evident that this day of trial is yet in the future.”

The New Testament, in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, describes the same period, with the ruler setting himself up as God in the temple. Revelation 13:14-15 also records that an image of the ruler will be set up in the temple. These events did not take place in the first century in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, and are closely related to the future fulfillment on the second coming of Christ.

These predictions have raised questions concerning the meaning of Israel’s present occupation of the city of Jerusalem. If sacrifices are going to be stopped in a Jewish temple in the future, it requires, first, that a Jewish temple be built, and second, that the sacrifices be reinstituted. This has led to the conclusion that the present possession of Israel of the temple site since 1967 may be a divinely ordered preparation, that in God’s time, the temple will be rebuilt and the sacrifices begun again.

Although this is difficult to understand in view of the fact that the shrine, the Dome of the Rock, is apparently on the site of the ancient temple and hinders any present erection of such a temple, many believe that, nevertheless, such a temple will be rebuilt and these prophecies literally fulfilled. If upon this revival of their sacrificial system such a future temple is suddenly desecrated, it would constitute a sign to the nation of Israel of the coming time of great trouble just preceding the second coming of Christ.

The sign is so specific that on the basis of it, Christ advised the children of Israel to flee to the mountain without hesitation when it occurs. His instructions were dramatic, as recorded in Matthew 24:16-20. They were to flee immediately to the mountains of Judea, not return to take clothes or other provisions, and pray that their flight will not be in the winter, when it would be most uncomfortable, or on the Sabbath, when their flight would be noticeable. Especially difficult would be the lot of those with small children. Christ summarizes these predictions in 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

The great tribulation, accordingly, is a specific period of time beginning with the abomination of desolation and closing with the second coming of Christ, in the light of Daniel’s prophecies and confirmed by reference to forty-two months. In Revelation 11:2 and 13:5, the great tribulation is a specific three-and-a-half-year period leading up to the second coming and should not be confused with a general time of trouble, such as was predicted earlier in Matthew 24:4-14.

Jesus also predicted that the period would be “shortened” (v. 22), literally, terminated or cut off (Gr. ekolobothesan). This does not mean that the period will be less than three-and-a-half years, but that it will be definitely terminated suddenly by the second coming of Christ.

That the period would be a time of unprecedented trouble is brought out clearly in Revelation 6-19. One of the various judgments, the fourth seal (6:7-8), predicts a fourth part of the earth perishing. In Revelation 9:13-21, the sixth trumpet refers to a third part of the world’s population being killed. These are only part of the great catastrophies which fall one after another upon the world and which will climax in a great world war (16:12-16). The final judgment just before the second coming, described as the seventh bowl of the wrath of God (vv. 17-21), consists in a great earthquake, which apparently destroys cities of the world, and a hailstorm, with hailstones weighing a talent, or as much as eighty pounds. Putting all these Scriptures together, it indicates that the great tribulation will mark the death of hundreds of millions of people in a comparatively short period of time.

Because the great tribulation is unprecedented in history and consists largely in judgments of God on an unbelieving world, many interpreters have come to the conclusion that the church will not have to go through this period. If the church must endure the great tribulation, the chances of survival are quite remote as it is obvious that many who do turn to Christ in that period perish as martyrs. They are described as “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Rev 7:9), referring to both Jews and Gentiles who will die in the great tribulation. The possibility of rapture for the few that survive is not “the blessed hope” which is held before Christians in the New Testament.

Our hope is not the horrors of the tribulation, but the blessed expectation of Christ’s coming for His own (cf. 1 Th 4:13-18). Having introduced the specific sign of the second coming, which is the great tribulation, Jesus then described other details of the period. Just as there have been false Christs throughout the age, so there will be an intensification of this at the end of the age. Jesus stated, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Mt 24:24). He went on, in verse 25, to state, “Behold, I have told you before.” Here, He was refering to His frequent mention of false prophets (cf. Mt 7:15; 15:3-14; 16:6-12; 23:1-36; 24:11). While false Christs and false prophets have always been in evidence, they will be especially prominent at the end of the age in Satan’s final attempt to turn people from faith in Christ.

Second Coming of Christ, 24:26-31

One who believes the prophetic Scripture will have no difficulty identifying the second coming of Christ, because it will be a public event. Accordingly, Christ, in 24:26, stated, “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Unlike the rapture of the church, which apparently the world will not see or hear, the second coming of Christ will be witnessed both by believers and unbelievers who are on the earth at that time. Christ described it in verse 27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Apparently, the heavens will be ablaze with the glory of God. According to Revelation 1:7, “Every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”

This declaration is supported by a cryptic statement in Matthew 24:28, “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” The meaning is that the glorious coming of Christ is the natural sequence to blasphemy and unbelief, which characterizes the preceding period. Just as when an animal dies, the vultures gather, so when there is moral corruption, there must be divine judgment.

This is further described in verses 29-30, “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.” The frightening display of divine disruption of the heavens, which precedes the second coming described graphically in Revelation 6:12-14 and in many other of the judgments of God described in the book of Revelation, will be climaxed by the glorious appearing of Christ in heaven (cf. Rev 19:11-16). This will be a coming of the Lord to judge and subdue the earth and to bring in His earthly kingdom, and is in contrast to the rapture of the church, which is an entirely different event and with a different purpose.

His second coming to the earth is nevertheless a gathering of all “his elect” as stated in Matthew 24:31. Some believe this has a particular reference to the nation Israel as an elect nation. Probably the reference is to all those who are chosen, that is, the saints of all ages, whether in heaven or on earth, for all these will converge upon the millennial kingdom scene. While Matthew mentions only the elect of heaven, Mark 13:27 also mentions those on earth, referred to later in Matthew 25:32.

Taken as a whole, the second coming of Christ is a majestic event, not instantaneous like the rapture, but extending over many hours. This perhaps explains why everyone can see it, because in the course of a day, the earth will rotate and the entire world will be able to see the approach of Christ accompanied by the hosts of heaven, which will descend to the earth in the area of the Mount of Olives (Zee 14:4).

The entire passage from Matthew 24:15-31 is the specific answer to the disciples of the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, with the climactic sign being the second coming and the glory that attends it, and will fulfill the prophecy of Acts 1:11 that Christ will return as He went up into heaven, that is, His return will be physical, gradual, visible, and with clouds.

Matthew 24:31 brings to a close the first doctrinal section of the Olivet discourse, and what follows is a series of applications and illustrations.

Parable of the Fig Tree, 24:32-33

In interpreting the illustrations which follow, while there may be secondary applications of the truth to the church awaiting the rapture, the laws of exegesis would dictate that the illustrations should relate to the doctrine of the second coming of Christ. Accordingly, while this passage may have a general application to saints in the present age, it will have a particular application to those who will await the second coming of Christ to the earth. Accordingly, in interpreting illustrations, the question should be raised, What does the context indicate?

This is especially appropriate in consideration of the fig tree. In 24:32-33, Christ stated, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” A very popular interpretation of this passage considers the fig tree as a type, or illustration, of Israel. According to this view, the fact that Israel in the twentieth century is back in the land constitutes a budding of the fig tree, and may be taken as conclusive proof that the Lord’s return is near.

Commentaries which try to refer this entire passage to the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, of course, pass it over with no comment, as do G. Campbell Morgan and Willoughby C. Allen, or apply it to the destruction of Jerusalem, as does R. V. G. Tasker.

Actually, while the fig tree could be an apt illustration of Israel, it is not so used in the Bible. In Jeremiah 24:1-8, good and bad figs illustrate Israel in the captivity, and there is also mention of figs in 29:17. The reference to the fig tree in Judges 9:10-11 is obviously not Israel. Neither the reference in Matthew 21:18-20 nor that in Mark 11:12-14 with its interpretation in 11:20-26, gives any indication that it is referring to Israel, any more than the mountain referred to in the passage.

Accordingly, while this interpretation is held by many, there is no clear scriptural warrant. A better interpretation is that Christ was using a natural illustration. Because the fig tree brings forth new leaves late in the spring, the budding of the leaves is evidence that summer is near. In a similar way, when those living in the great tribulation see the signs predicted, they will know that the second coming of Christ is near. The signs in this passage, accordingly, are not the revival of Israel, but the great tribulation itself. Lenski, accordingly, is correct when he states that “all these things” mentioned in Matthew 24:33 refer to the preceding context.132 That Israel’s presence in the holy land is a dramatic evidence that the age is approaching its end may be supported by other passages, but this is not the point here.

Christ further commented in verses 34-36, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

What is the meaning of the expression this generation? Some have cited this as an illustration of an error on the part of Christ, for a generation is normally from thirty to one hundred years, and obviously, the prophecy of the second coming was not fulfilled in that period. Commentators offer a variety of opinions. Some refer “generation” to the nation Israel.133 The meaning, then, would be that Israel would continue as a nation until the second coming of Christ. Some take generation to refer to an indefinite period of time. Arndt and Gingrich, while offering the possibility that generation means nation or race, prefer age or period of time, and, accordingly, take it as instructing the disciples that the age leading up to the second coming will not end until the event of the second coming itself.134 A third explanation is that the word generation means what it normally means, that is, a period of thirty to one hundred years, and refers to the particular generation that will see the specific signs, that is, the signs of the great tribulation. In other words, the same generation that will experience the great tribulation will also witness the second coming of Christ.

In any case, Christ points out that while prophecy is absolutely certain of fulfillment, the day of the second coming is not revealed, although the approximate time will be known by those living in the great tribulation.

To illustrate this approximate time of the second coming, He used the historic flood in the time of Noah. While those observing Noah building the ark could anticipate that a flood was impending, it was obvious that the flood could not come until the ark was completed. So also with the second coming. Unlike the rapture, which has no preceding signs and therefore could occur any time, the second coming of Christ to the earth to set up His kingdom cannot occur until the preceding signs have been fulfilled. When the ark was completed and Noah and his family and the animals were in it, those observing could anticipate that the predicted flood could occur any day. But even then, they could not predict the day nor the hour.

Like the days of Noah, the time of the second coming will be a period of judgment on the earth. Just as the flood came “and took them all away,” referring to the judgment of unbelievers, so at the second coming, some will be taken away. According to Matthew 24:40-41, “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Because at the rapture believers will be taken out of the world, some have confused this with the rapture of the church.

Here, however, the situation is the reverse. The one who is left, is left to enter the kingdom; the one who is taken, is taken in judgment. This is in keeping with the illustration of the time of Noah when the ones taken away are the unbelievers. The word for “shall be taken” in verses 40-41 uses the same word found in John 19:16, where Christ was taken away to the judgment of the cross. Accordingly, no one can know the day nor the hour, but they can know that when the second coming occurs, it will be a time of separation of the saved from the unsaved.

Emphasizing the necessity of watchfulness for the Lord’s return, He used the illustration of the good man of the house who, anticipating the possibility that a thief would come, kept careful watch. Just as one cannot know when a thief may come, so the servants of God who live in the great tribulation should expect Christ to come (cf. 1 Th 5:2).

In addition to watchfulness, however, there should be careful service and preparation. This is illustrated in the parable of the servant, beginning in Matthew 24:45. Having been left in charge of his master’s household in the absence of the master, the servant was challenged to do his duty well and not to live carelessly, thinking that the lord would not be coming soon. The careless servant will be severely judged as an unbeliever, in contrast to the good servant who will be rewarded by his Lord.

An unfaithful slave could be put to death and punished severely. So will Christ judge a wicked world that does not look for His return.

While these illustrations, beginning in verse 32, have as their primary interpretation and exhortation the situation immediately preceding the second coming of Christ, there are parallels to those living today in expectation of the rapture.

Believers today also need to be faithful, to be recognizing the signs of the times, and to be living in such a way that they are ready for the Lord’s return. Even among those who differ in their basic interpretation of prophecy, there is this constant unifying note of being ready for the Lord’s return. John Calvin, for instance, in commenting on 1 John 2:18, states, “It behooves us to comfort ourselves at this day, and to see by faith the near advent of Christ … nothing more now remained but that Christ should appear for the redemption of the world.”

Martin Luther likewise anticipated the early return of the Lord, stating “I think the last day is not far away.”136 He also adds, “The world runs and hastens so diligently to its end that it often occurs to me forcibly that the last day will break before we can completely turn the Holy Scriptures into German. For it is certain from the Holy Scriptures that we have no more temporal things to expect. All is done and fulfilled.” So today, even though we may not understand all the prophetic Word and may not interpret it alike, believers should be looking for the coming of the Lord. As stated in 1 John 3:3, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

Chapter 25

Judgments at the End of the Age

Parable of the Ten Virgins, 25:1-13

The familiar illustration of the ten virgins, as presented in Matthew 25, is a further effort by Christ to drive home the necessity of watchfulness and preparation for His second coming. An oriental wedding had three stages: first, the legal marriage arranged by the parents of the bridegroom and the bride; second, the traditional ceremony, when the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, would proceed from his home to the home of the bride and claim her as his own; third, the marriage feast held at the home of the bridegroom.

The illustration presumes that the legal marriage has already taken place and can reasonably be identified with the marriage of Christ and the church already consummated at the rapture. When Christ returns at His second coming, He will bring His bride with Him. The five virgins who bring oil in their vessels illustrate those that are ready for His return. The five foolish maidens, although outwardly prepared, are not really ready. When the time comes for the marriage feast, they are not prepared to enter into the procession and join the feast.

Although interpretation is not given in this passage, oil may be taken here as representative of the Holy Spirit and His work of salvation. When Christ comes to earth with His bride, only those prepared by new birth will enter into the wedding feast, which seems to be fulfilled in the millennium or at least the first portion of the millennium. Some commentators desire to apply the ten virgins to the church in the present age. The fact that the word then is used in 25:1 seems to refer to the second coming of Christ to the earth.

Although worthy expositors can be cited in support of this view,138 it is preferable to interpret it strictly in the context of the second coming of Christ. Actually, the bride, the church, is not in view specifically. Although the Syriac and Vulgate versions of verse 1 read that they “went forth to meet the bridegroom and the bride,”139 it is questionable whether this addition was in the original text, even though it is true that Christ will bring His bride with Him. The important point here, as in the preceding illustration, is that preparation should precede the second coming of Christ and that it will be too late when He comes.

What is true of the second coming is, of course, also true of the rapture, and believers today can derive a secondary application of this passage for their own need. In our modern world, where superficial religion is all too evident, this passage reminds us once again that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the oil, no one is ready for the coming of the Lord.

Parable of the Talents, 25:14-30

The familiar parable of the talents in Matthew 25 is the sixth and final illustration Christ used in regard to preparedness for His second coming. Here, the emphasis is on serving rather than watching, as in the parable of the virgins.

As was customary in the ancient world, the master of the servants was pictured as turning over his property to his servants because he was going on a journey. He divided his property to his three servants according to their ability, giving five talents to one, two to another, and one talent to the third.

A talent was a large sum of money, varying greatly in value according to whether it was silver or gold, and could weigh from fifty-eight to eighty pounds. A silver talent could be worth as much as $2,000, and a gold talent could be worth as much as $30,000. With the rise in price of these metals, today the value would even be higher. When taking into consideration that a man’s wage in Christ’s time was sixteen cents a day, the purchasing power of this amount of money was very large. At maximum, the five-talent man could have received as much as $150,000, a fortune, which would be worth millions today in purchasing power.

In the absence of his lord, the five-talent man doubled his money. In like manner, the two-talent man also doubled his money. The one who had received the single talent, however, buried his money in the earth and did nothing with it.

In the illustration, the lord of the servants, upon his return, called in his servants for their report. The five-talent man was able to report proudly that he had doubled his money. The two-talent man did likewise. It is significant that both the five-talent and the two-talent man were given precisely the same commendation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (25:21). The principle that rewards are given according to faithfulness is illustrated well in this parable.

The one-talent man, however, had to report that he had done nothing but bury his money. He offered the lame excuse, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine” (vv. 24-25). Whether or not the servant’s accusation was true, it was only an excuse at best. If the servant had actually believed what he had said, it should have made him all the more diligent. His lord, accordingly, answered him abruptly and denounced him as a “wicked and slothful servant.” He pointed out that the least he could have done was to put his money in the bank where it would have received interest.

An interesting question that is not directly answered in the text is why the one-talent man did not put it in the bank. Most expositors are rather vague in their explanation of this detail. The explanation seems to be that this wicked man had the same kind of cunning that Judas Iscariot used when he accepted the money for the betrayal of Christ. Judas had reasoned that if Jesus was indeed the Messiah, his betrayal would not matter, and he would be ahead thirty pieces of silver. If Jesus was not the Messiah, he at least would have the silver. So, the wicked one-talent man likewise reasoned: If my lord returns, I will be able to give him back his talent and cannot be accused of being a thief, but if he does not return, there will be no record that the money belongs to him, such as would be true if I deposited it in the bank, and then I will be able to use the money myself.

His basic problem, like the problem of Judas, was a lack of faith. The one-talent man did not believe that it was sure his lord was coming back. It is therefore clear that his basic problem was that of being an unbeliever, not simply being unfaithful in service. Accordingly, the conclusion of the illustration, “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (v. 29), refers to everyone who has faith or who is lacking faith.

Here, as elsewhere in Scripture, while works may be an evidence of salvation, they are never the ground of salvation. The one-talent man, while deficient in works, was condemned because of his lack of faith. Accordingly, the one-talent man is not an illustration of a backsliding Christian, as no Christian justified by faith and declared righteous by God could ever be cast into the outer darkness. A person who really believes in the first coming of Christ will also believe in His second coming and for the same reasons.

Taken as a whole, the illustrations, which interpret the doctrine of the second coming and make practical application of the truth, emphasize the two themes of watching and serving. What is true for those anticipating the second coming is also true for those who anticipate Christ’s coming for His church.

Judgment of the Nations, 25:31-46

The third section of the Olivet discourse begins with 25:31. The first section, 24:4-31, had answered the questions of the disciples concerning the signs of the end of the age and the coming of the Lord. The second section, 24:32-25:30, presented interpretations and applications of the truth of the second coming of Christ. Beginning in 25:31, Jesus went beyond the questions of the disciples to describe the period following the second coming.

Although conservative expositors agree that this is a judgment related to the second coming of Christ, there is extensive disagreement as to the nature of the judgment and its relation to the total prophetic plan. Amillenarians, who deny a future millennial reign of Christ, believe that this is a general judgment of all men that ushers in the eternal state. Lenski, for instance, states, “The whole human race will be assembled for the final judgment.” Other amillenarians, such as R.V.G. Tasker, likewise picture it as a judgment “of all nations.”142 Postmillenarians likewise agree that it is a judgment of all men.

Even Henry Alford, a premillenarian, states, “We now come to the great and universal judgment at the end of this period, also prophesied distinctly in order in Rev 20:11-15— in which all the dead, small and great shall stand before God.” Liberal writers, like A. H. M’Neile, agree. These commentaries, however, correctly hold that this is not a parable, as the preceding illustrations of the virgins and the talents, but a literal prophecy.

A strict exegesis of this passage, however, does not support the conclusion that this is a general judgment. There is no mention of resurrection of either the righteous or the wicked, and “all nations” seems to exclude Israel. The conclusion that this is a final judgment is necessary to the amillenarians’ point of view, but it is not taught in this passage. Accordingly, if the view that there is a kingdom of Christ on earth for a thousand years after His second advent is supported by other Scriptures, this passage fits naturally in such a prophetic framework, and, as such, constitutes the judgment of the living who are on earth at the time of the second coming of Christ in respect to their entrance into the millennial kingdom. This judgment therefore should be contrasted to the judgment of Israel (Eze 20:34-38) and the judgment of the wicked (Rev 20:11-15) which comes after the millennium has concluded. This passage, more precisely than any other, describes the judgment of the world at the beginning of Christ’s millennial kingdom.

The time of the judgment is stated to be the period following the second coming of Christ, Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.” This judgment, therefore, should be distinguished from the judgment of the church in heaven, the judgment of the wicked at the end of the millennium, and the judgment of Israel.

At this judgment, “all nations,” better translated “all Gentiles,” are gathered before Him and are described as sheep and goats intermingled. In the judgment, the sheep are put on His right hand and the goats on His left. The sheep are invited to inherit His kingdom, and Christ will address them: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (vv. 34-36). When the sheep reply, in verses 37-39, asking when they did these deeds of kindness, the King will reply, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (v.40). In mentioning “my brethren,” He is referring to a third class, neither sheep nor goats, which can only be identified as Israel, the only remaining people who are in contrast to all the Gentiles.

The King will then address the goats and dismiss them into everlasting fire, declaring that they have not done these deeds of kindness. When they protest, asking when they omitted these deeds, the King will reply, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (v. 45). The passage concludes with the goats dismissed into everlasting punishment and the righteous entering into the blessings of eternal life.

This judgment fits naturally and easily into the prophetic program as usually outlined by premillenarians. The throne is an earthly throne, fulfilling the prediction of Jeremiah 23:5. Those who are judged are Gentiles (Gr. ethne), which, although sometimes used for Jews (Lk 7:5; 23:2; Jn 11:48, 51, 52; 18:35; Ac 10:22), is more characteristically used of Gentiles as distinguished from Jews, as for instance in Romans 11:13; 15:27; 16:4; Galatians 2:12; and is used in contrast to Jews in Romans 3:29 and 9:24.

If the evidence sustains the conclusion that this applies to Gentiles living on earth at the time of the second coming of Christ, a further problem is introduced by the nature of the judgment. How can deeds, such as giving the thirsty to drink, clothing the naked, and doing other deeds of kindness, form a basis for salvation? Ephesians 2:8-9 makes plain, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, that any man should boast.” The Bible clearly teaches in many passages that salvation is by grace and by faith alone and is not based on works (Ro 3:10-12, 21, 28). The answer to this problem is that works are presented here, not as the ground of salvation, but as the evidence of it, in the sense of James 2:26, where it is declared, “Faith without works is dead”; that is, it is not real faith unless it produces works. While this solves the problem in part, the question still remains whether such deeds of kindness are sufficient to demonstrate salvation.

The answer to this problem is found in the context of this passage. Those described here are people who have lived through the great tribulation, a time of unparalleled anti-Semitism, when the majority of Jews in the land will be killed. Under these circumstances, if a Gentile befriends a Jew to the extent of feeding and clothing and visiting him, it could only mean that he is a believer in Jesus Christ and recognizes the Jews as the chosen people. Accordingly, in this context, such works become a distinctive evidence that the Gentiles described as the sheep are those who are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

This judgment, which results in the goats being cast into everlasting fire, is in keeping with the previous prediction of Christ in the parable of the wheat and tares and the parable of the dragnet (Mt 13:24-30, 31-43, 47-50), and is also clearly taught in Revelation 14:11 and 19:15. No adults who are not converted will be allowed to enter the millennial kingdom. The judgment here is not a final judgment, but is preparatory to establishing the kingdom of righteousness and peace, of which many Scriptures speak.

The passage, while not dealing specifically with amillennialism or postmillennialism, clearly gives these views no support whatever. The postmillennial dream of a gradually improving world is not revealed here. Instead, Christ comes to a world that is basically anti-Christ and worshiping a man satanically empowered. A judgment like this does not fit into the amillennial interpretation either, because there is no basis here for concluding this to be a judgment of all men living and dead. It is quite different than the judgment of the great white throne (Rev 20:11-15), which takes place in space, whereas this judgment takes place on earth.

Although the question of whether Christ will come for His church before the tribulation (the pretribulational view) or at the time of His second coming to earth (the posttribulational view) is not dealt with in this passage, the implications are clearly in favor of the pretribulational view. If the rapture and translation of the church occur while Christ is coming from heaven to earth in His second coming to set up His kingdom, and the church meets the Lord in the air, it is obvious that this very act would separate all the saved from the unsaved. Under these circumstances, no judgment of the nations would be necessary subsequent to the second coming of Christ, because the sheep and the goats would already be separated.

The implication of this passage in Matthew is that no rapture of living saints occurs at the time Christ comes to set up His kingdom. This implies that there is a time period between the rapture and the time Christ comes to set up His kingdom, during which a new body of saints, both Jews and Gentiles, is created by faith in Christ.

Furthermore, when these saints are judged, they are not given new bodies, but enter the millennium in their natural bodies, in keeping with the millennial predictions of Scripture which describe the saints as bearing children, building houses, and otherwise having a natural life (Is 65:18-25).

A proper exegesis of this passage, accordingly, tends to support both the premillennial and the pretribulational point of view, even though this is not the main purpose of this prophecy. It is an interesting fact that posttribulationists generally ignore this passage in their treatment of the rapture question, and that amillenarians who attempt to harmonize it with their point of view ignore the fact that the passage does not state what they read into it.

Taken as a whole, the Olivet discourse is one of the great prophetic utterances of Scripture and provides facts nowhere else given in quite the same way. In it, Christ, the greatest of the prophets and the master Teacher, described the end of the age as the climax of the troubles of earth in a great tribulation. The time of unprecedented trouble will be terminated by the second coming of Christ. The saved and the unsaved will be separated, and only the saved will enter the millennial kingdom. This is the final word, which Matthew brings in answer to the leading question of this first gospel, concerning the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament of a glorious kingdom on earth. Matthew states clearly that while Christ, in His first coming, suffered and died and was rejected as both King and Saviour by His own people, He will come again and, in triumph, will bring in the prophesied kingdom literally, just as the Old Testament prophecies had anticipated. There is postponement but not annulment of the great prophecies of the kingdom on earth.

It is clear that the disciples did not understand these prophecies at the time. In the few days that followed, they were to witness the death and then the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were to ask again the question of when the kingdom would be brought in on the day of the ascension of Christ (Ac 1:6). As further revelation was given in the writing of the New Testament, and the disciples pondered the words that they had not understood before, they gradually comprehended the truth that Christ was first coming for His own in the rapture of the church, but then that there would be a fulfillment of the predicted time of trouble. This, in turn, would be climaxed by the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the kingdom. Not one prophecy will be left unfulfilled when history has completed its course and the saints are gathered in the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and the new earth.

DOWNLOADABLE PDF:

UNDERSTANDING MATTHEW 24 & 25 – JOHN WALVOORD

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

THE RAPTURE SERIES 14: THE BELIEVERS’ LAST BATTLE (PART 3 OF 4)

0 RAPTURE

5) THE BATTLE OF SILENCE

We have explored four important battles thus far and have now come to the final, most difficult one: the battle of silence. This battle is contrary to all that we are and diametrically opposes our sense of righteousness, our desire to justify ourselves, and our inexhaustible need to prove that we are “somebody.”

We begin this subject by reading from the prophet Isaiah in chapter 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” This is one of the most shocking verses in the entire Bible. Twice we read that, “he opened not his mouth” Jesus suffered in silence!

Incidentally, Isaiah 53 is also the most difficult chapter in the Old Testament for a Jewish person who does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Isaiah 53 is a clear documentation inspired by the Holy Spirit over 700 years before the birth of Christ. Jewish rabbis often refuse to read this chapter in the synagogue because it reads like a script straight out of the New Testament trial, condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus.

The Silent Lamb

Who was this Lamb led to the slaughter who did not open His mouth? Why was He seemingly powerless before His executioners? Verse 8 answers this question beautifully, “…for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” It makes no difference if you are the most learned Bible scholar, or whether you are a Christian or Jew; no one can come up with any identity other than Jesus Christ.

Some people have said that this chapter is talking about the suffering of the Jewish people throughout the centuries; however, verse 5 contradicts this theory when it says, “… the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” What about verse 6? “… the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Or verse 8? “…for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” We are clearly reading about a person, not a group of people. Verse 9 unmistakably identifies this person as the Lord Jesus Christ, “… neither was any deceit in his mouth.”

The apostle Peter later testified, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1st Peter 2:22). In a very precise manner, Isaiah 53 describes the work, the life, and the death of the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the world.

His Grave Was Not His Own

We read of the proclamation in verse 9 that, “… he made his grave with the wicked.” The New Testament confirms that He was crucified between two criminals. His body was laid in the borrowed tomb of a rich man, Joseph from Arimathea, which corresponds with Isaiah’s account, “… with the rich in his death.”

Without Sin

The verse concludes, “…neither was any deceit in his mouth.” While confronting His enemies, Jesus challenged them to find any sin in His life. He never spoke too much, or too little. He said what had to be said and did what had to be done. He was the perfect Man, who became the perfect sacrifice for an imperfect, corrupt, and lost humanity.

Silence Before His Accusers

Christ stood wrongly accused by wicked men and false witnesses. However the Bible says, “.. Jesus held his peace” (Matthew 26:63). He stood before Pilate, the Roman authority who challenged him, “…Answerest thou nothing?” and “…Jesus yet answered nothing…” (Mark 15:2,5).

In Luke 23, we read that King Herod “questioned with him in many words.” How did Jesus react? “… He answered him nothing” (verse 9).

Indeed, He was led silently like a lamb to the slaughter.

Intercession For Sinners

When they crucified Him, Jesus cried, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do… ” (Luke 23:34).

Seven centuries before that prayer, Isaiah gave the following details, “…he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

Greatest Of All Works

We are all familiar with the wonderful works that Jesus did among His people and the miracles He openly demonstrated confirming Himself to be the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world. The greatest of all works was when the Son of God remained silent, when through the hands of wicked man, He was nailed to the cross where He died.

Matthew described His death in this manner, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:50-51).

The work Jesus accomplished as the silent suffering Lamb touched the universe. The Bible reports that darkness covered the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour. The moment He died, the veil in the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn from top to bottom, opening up the way to God through the death of Jesus.

The rocks of the earth could not hold their peace, for “the earth did quake and the rocks rent.” These world-shaking events affected those who stood by, “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

Following Jesus

The fact that Jesus did not defend Himself and permitted sinful men to lead Him to His death is something that the world does not understand, and unfortunately, many Christians don’t either.

For the average Christian, it is much easier to fight, stand up for your rights, oppose the wicked, stand for the truth, and let others know what you think. But that, dear friends, is the battle of the flesh, which has no promise whatsoever, and will lead only to defeat.

I am reminded of the words Wim Malgo used to say, “The greatest fight for a Christian is not to fight.” How true these words really are.

Jesus went before us; He showed the way; He walked the way; and He finished the way in total obedience to His Heavenly Father. We are admonished to follow Jesus.

The Real Task Of The Church

Of course, it is a noble gesture to fight for civil rights or support moral causes. We are justifiably insulted when we see, for example, how Sodomites not only demand recognition for their practices, but openly demand special assistance from the tax-paying public. To fight against such immorality is as natural as a flower that needs water to survive. To join picket lines and protest marches against the abominable murder of the unborn is most certainly a good and noble thing to do.

To oppose the propagation of pornography needs courage and is expected of every moral person.

What about fighting for a righteous government? Surely no one can deny that one of the most important items in a functioning civilized society is an honest government.

Investing time and energy in Christianizing the laws, the courts, governments, and institutions is most certainly commendable.

But in light of these good works, we must ask ourselves, “Is this the task of the Church of Jesus Christ?” Based on the verses we have just read, there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus planned for His followers to change the world morally, politically, or economically. Why not? Because He specifically stated “My Kingdom is not of this world.” His focus was to fish for men, calling those who voluntarily wanted to follow Him, because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Only His Kingdom Counts

He accepted the occupational Roman government of His country, and with regards to morals, He clearly told us that things would get worse.

We have quoted part of John 18:36, but let’s read it again, “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

Jesus came to bring salvation to man; whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. He does not reject sinful men and women; for His original intention to establish “on earth, peace, good will towards men” is yet to take place.

In this verse, Jesus specifically emphasized, “But now is my kingdom not from hence.” At that time, He did not come to establish His kingdom. Therefore, any attempt by the Church to do a task which the Lord has not entrusted us with will only lead in the opposite direction; to the establishment of the kingdom of Antichrist!

Secure In The House Of God

That is a lesson we should learn in our daily walk with the Lord. As long as we are hidden in “the house of God,” we are spiritually untouchable by the enemy. What does it mean to be in “the house of God”? Simply put, whenever and whatever you do, if you do it in the name and for the glory of Jesus, you are in “the house of God.” If your thoughts are influenced by dishonesty, lusts of the flesh, and the like, then you are not in “the house of God” and you are in extreme danger. The apostle Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1st Peter 5:8).

Where can we find a safe place to hide from the devil? Jesus revealed that safe haven to us when He said, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:23). Ask yourself, “Do I really love Jesus?” If your answer is yes, then you are in holy territory, “the house of God,” and the evil one cannot successfully accuse you.

The closer you are to Him, the safer you are. However, the further you distance yourself from Jesus, the more you place yourself in danger of being devoured by the wicked one, the adversary, the devil.

Our Battle Is To Stand

We should always remember the New Testament’s admonition to, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:11-17).

We are not to attack the powers of darkness, we are to stand in faith grounded on Calvary.

We are warned however, to be fully aware of the intention of the principalities of darkness. As long as we remain in the Light, we are able to clearly identify the works and intentions of the adversary.

Second Corinthians 2:11 cautions us, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

As long as we continue to stand in the Light darkness cannot overcome us. We are to stand based on the already accomplished victory of the Lord Jesus. In order to properly stand, we must be prepared as we are so clearly instructed in the above verses.

Moving back to our text in Ephesians we find the content of the real battle, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Whenever the powers of darkness attempt to discourage or oppress you, stand in faith on the already accomplished work at Calvary. You may oppose any and all attacks from the world of darkness when you consistently believe with all of your heart that Jesus fully accomplished victory over the devil when He exclaimed “It is finished!”

Only with the proper spiritual attire are you able to withstand the fiery darts of the wicked one. When you clothe yourself in the armor of God you will be able to continue to proclaim the Gospel of peace to people everywhere; whether it be done through testimonies, the preaching of the Word, sending forth of missionaries, or distribution of tracts. All things work together for the building of His Church. We are admonished to continue in prayer so that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will not be hindered.

Jesus Lives!

What a tremendous message we have to announce, “Jesus lives!” We don’t need to fear the enemies; nor should we be afraid of the government or those who wish to eliminate the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our task is the same as it was almost 2,000 years ago; to proclaim the Gospel, telling people everywhere that salvation is available through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, arose victoriously on the third day, and is coming again.

This message of salvation has been declared for almost two millenia, and an uncounted number of souls have responded to the call and now herald the reality of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00