Truth is, there is a challenge at finding modern “end day” teachings in the Bible. The reason is the “telephone game”. Teachings are being “whispered” into the ear of each generation and they are not returning to the “first person” (Bible) to see what is actually said.

Some may be asking, “How then can they use Scripture and it appears to look so right?” Scripture has been pulled from context and twisted to look right. It’s actually a deception that was intentionally introduced. (See also:
History of the Message)

Once the teaching starts being passed from generation to generation, people put on the “glasses” they choose and study Scripture with those “glasses” on. In other words, they may have on “grandma’s glasses”, or their “denominational glasses”, or their “seminary glasses”, or the “glasses” of the evangelist they trust so much. This is true for almost all Bible study. People tend to go to Scripture with these “glasses” on and they can’t see Scripture how it was intended to be seen; they see Scripture through the eyes of someone else.

Once they see Scripture a certain way, they will always see it that way. For example, many people never see the arrow in the FedEx logo. Once they see the arrow, they can’t help but focus on the arrow any time they see the logo after that point.

If you’re coming here having never been raised under the modern teaching, you will see truth much easier than those of us who have the distortion ingrained in our heads. For those who’ve been raised with the modern teaching or even a denominational teaching, when we see something else in Scripture we tend to let our mind wander. When our mind wanders we fail to see what is being said, and sometimes just downright reject what’s being said; even though it’s confusing to what we’ve always believed. That’s the point; since the multitude has been taught in error, the confusion of the prophecies is magnified.

So, let’s clear your mind as well as possible. Try to look at Scripture as though you’ve never seen it; as though you’ve never heard it. In this study, I’ll refer to modern teachings periodically, but only to show a stark contrast in what is taught versus what Scripture is actually saying. Let’s look at prophecy through the words of Christ.

Matthew 24 and 25

CONTEXT

When talking about “end day” prophecy, Matthew 24 often comes up. I would like to add that Matthew 25 is also part of that conversation. If you have a red letter Bible, you will see that the conversation never has a break from chapter 24 into chapter 25.

The most common error in the interpretation of Matthew 24 is that people believe that Christ is ONLY talking about the end. Every statement made is made as if He was talking about today or a future event. For example, people look around and see the wars and rumors of wars and they say this is what Yeshua was talking about. Is this true; are the wars today what was being warned about in Matthew 24?

In order to rightly divide this conversation, we need to gather some context of exactly who Yeshua was talking to and why He started to tell these things anyway. Let’s look at why Yeshua started talking about these things.

We need to remember that Yeshua rarely just started talking off the hip. Usually, there was a people, questions, or an event that initiated the subject of His statements. To help grab this context, one needs to back up to the black letters before the red letters started; they need to back up and read what the narrator wrote about the incident before they read about what the Messiah said.

"Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.'" Matthew 24:1-2

The first temple had been destroyed and the people of Israel desperately wanted to rebuild the Temple; therefore, you could just imagine the pride in them when they pointed the Temple to Christ. They didn’t seem to get it. Here was the God of the universe walking right next to them and they are pointing out a Temple that they always saw as where the presence of God stayed. I’m sure the response of Yeshua was not what they expected. He did not brag about the building but rather told them it will be destroyed.

I want to pause a moment and have you notice the grammar. We say the building will be destroyed but Christ did not say it like that. When we study Scripture we need to remember how they phrase things. Many times it was not so simple as we do today. At the same time, people chose their words carefully, and the fact that Yeshua said not one stone would be left upon another was carefully chosen as a warning of how bad the destruction would be.

With Yeshua's response, the disciples had some questions:

"As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?'" Matthew 24:3

So, Yeshua is talking to His disciples and the conversation we are about to read answers THIER three questions. This is important because we often come to Scripture trying to answer OUR questions, this section of Scripture included, but we must look at the dialog with the understanding that Christ is answering the questions of the disciples and not ours. Those questions are destruction of the temple, signs of His return, the end of time.

This is a very important piece of context that virtually everyone ignores, including the big end days teachers. An advantage that we have is historical knowledge, from the twenty-first century, that they did not have in the first century. Since we know the destruction of the temple was in 70 AD, we have a historical presupposition before we read the answer Yeshua gives. We know that the answer to these three events will be fulfilled in two different times in the future of the disciples.

Now let's look at the audience.

When we look at the events before Yeshua starts talking, we see we have the disciples as the audience. Not just that, but the author makes sure that he tells us that this was a private meeting. The author of Matthew only does that twice in his whole book, and this is one of those two times; that makes this important. Usually, Yeshua would have crowds of people and Jewish leaders following Him as well, but here we have a private meeting with His disciples. This is important to understand how Yeshua is talking. When He talked to the religious leaders, He talked in a way that would convict them. When He talked to the crowds, He would talk in a way that would confuse them. But, when He talked to His disciples, He would talk in a way that would help them understand better. So, this is the manner in which Christ will be talking throughout these two chapters. It’s not going to be confusing to them. Parts will be confusing to us because there are certain language and cultural differences; this means we’ll have to employ our focus on literal statements and other Scripture to help us understand, at least, a little better.

It’s also important that we know Yeshua is talking to the disciples alone when we look at the pronouns and wording that our Messiah is using. He’s not incorporation the pronouns of everyone, all, or anyone, and the likes to associate all of His dialogs with people beyond the twelve He’s talking to. Obviously, some of the answers will affect those He’s talking to (i.e. the destruction of the temple) and other portions will affect those much later in the future.



TIME MARKER

Since we have three questions that we know are going to transpire at different future times, or historical in some cases, there must be a shift between the answers to those two times. The shift is there, but it does not make itself jump out because of an infiltration of bad interpretation in the end teachings today.

As mentioned earlier, when looking at these three questions, we have one that we know when it came to pass and how it came to pass. It’s their future but our history, and that is the distraction of the temple. The destruction of the temple was in 70 AD, and about 40 years after this conversation; and with that knowledge, we have a clear marker for what part of Yeshua’s story is answering what question.

When there are several passages that deal with a topic, some of which are clearer than others, or some of which are framed in language more literal than others, the less ambiguous, or more literal, are to be employed as the guiding force in the interpretation. This is the fundamental exegetical procedure.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." Matthew 24:32-35

When you look at Matthew 24:34, you see a clear, literal, statement from Yeshua that is relative to the events previously discusses. That means this text MUST be a prevailing guideline in the interpretation of this narrative.

Crucial to understanding this conversation, and the context overall, is the term “generation”. In the first century, a generation was listed as forty years. This was all known and why, in the 70’s and early 80’s, many end day’s teachers proposed that Yeshua would return by 1988. This was established by a misunderstanding of the fig tree reference, which we will look at in a moment and the founding of Israel as a nation in 1948. The thing we must remember is that Yeshua was talking to His disciples - PRIVATELY; and He was answering questions that included the destruction of the temple which was clearly in their generation. This is why Yeshua clearly indicated THIS generation; which is the generation that was alive during this conversation, would not pass away before ALL these things have happened.

It’s the fig tree reference that that caused Clarence Larken, of Dispensational Truth, to conclude that Yeshua was talking about the re-establishment of Israel; and the generation that would see this would see the return of the Messiah. There are a few problems with this; the most obvious that it was not true. The main reason that we know it was not true is the fact that the authoring of this study is 2016 - almost two first-century generations since Israel was re-established in 1948. This is one of many reasons why the book has been re-written four times, yet most all modern teachings of end days still come from this book. Where did the misinterpretation come from on the subject of this fig tree?

In most King James Bibles, the passages read, “Now learn this parable OF the fig tree...”. The New King James says, “Now learn this parable FROM at the fig tree...”. One little word can completely change a meaning. If the word is OF then the fig tree is the parable. If the word is FROM then the fig tree is telling the parable. So, which is it and why did Yeshua reference the fig tree?

The Greek word used there is ἀπό which is a primary particle of “off”; as in from something near. The word can mean from, of, after, ago, and many other things. That probably did not help much. Since we are trying to see if the “parable of the fig tree” is pointing to a particular time rather than pointing to the tree itself as telling the parable, we need to make sure we are looking at the Greek language and not that of an interpreted word into our language. In order to best accomplish that, so we are not spending years in learning the Greek language, we need to do is look at the word used for the use of something being OF something else for the purpose of time, and see if the same word is employed. This should be done as close to this statement, and by the same individual speaking, as possible. To accomplish this, we are going to move forward just a few verses to verse 36, “But OF that day”. The “of” incorporated here is the Greek word περί which means used in various applications, of place, cause or time (with the genitive case denoting the subject or occasion or superlative point.

So, different words were being used for “of” in “of that day” and “of the fig tree”. The word περί is pointing to something particular and cannot be used as “from” while the word ἀπό is not pointing to a particular item and can be used as “from”. In other words, if we apply the word ἀπό to today's language, we would say, “the statement of (περί) the fig tree is a statement of (ἀπό) Messiah Yeshua. “

This makes sense. We must remember that Yeshua was talking to His disciples alone, and He was answering THEIR questions. He was giving them warning ahead of time (Matt 24:25). We would also note that the pronoun “you” was used 14 times before His statement of “this generation” and only four times after. This would point to those He’s talking to rather than a group of people after.

So, He gives the parable that summer is coming when the branch is tender and bringing forth leaves. This is not a secret code given but rather an example. The next sentence begins with “So you also,” This is a comparative statement. Just as you would know summer is nearby the tender branches and leaves coming forth, so you know the destruction of the temple is nearby seeing the things just told.

We also need to note that this is not the first time Yeshua used the “this generation” statement to talk about the destruction of the temple. We actually have a “this generation” that was used just a few moments earlier; in the chapter before:

"Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." Matthew 23:36

The consequence of the rebellion of the Jews was going to happen before that generation was done, and those consequences, like so many times before, was the destruction of the temple and the loss of their land.

This then parallels the two statements in the consequences of the rebellion and the answer to the question of when the temple will be destroyed. Therefore, all things prior to the statement “this generation” will happen before the generation would be gone; the generation with which Christ walked the earth.

Therefore, based upon the parable of the fig tree, the Christians, of Christ’s day, could look for certain tell-tale indicators, detailed by the Savior, and “know” that the Lord’s judgment upon Jerusalem was near.

Notice, as we move to the next verse, how there is a stark contrast to what is now saying versus what’s He’s been saying. In answering the question of when the temple will be destroyed, He says this generation will see it. Then, in the very next breath, He starts working on the next question, “What’s the sign of your coming?”. Notice that they did not ask when He was coming back but they asked for the signs to know when He’s coming back. Yeshua’s answer… Only God knows. In other words, “You can know that the judgment upon Jerusalem will come within this generation and by noticing all these different events; but there are no signs of when I’m coming back; only the Father knows that”.

With their love for the temple and the hearing of its destruction, the disciples likely assumed that the destruction of the temple, and the end of the world, would occur at the same time. The Master sought to correct that impression, first, by discussing the Roman invasion (Matt 24:4-34), and then by commenting regarding his final coming to render universal judgment (Matt 24:35-51)

Now, let us look back to the beginning and see what is being said.


ANTI-CHRIST
"And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:4-14

“Christ” is the translated word for Messiah. So, Yeshua is saying that many will come saying “I am the Messiah”. Many people think that Yeshua is talking about the “antichrist” in verse five but the modern teaching of “antichrist” talks of one, not many as Jesus is stating here. Over time, there will be many people claiming to be the christ.

The earliest record of a person claiming to be the Messiah is in 4BC by a former slave of Herod the Great named Simon of Peraea. During the time of Yeshua, there was a shepherd turned rebel leader named Athronges in 3AD. This is just two people who claimed to be the Messiah before 70AD. in 135AD Simon Bar Kokhba founded a short-lived Jewish state before being defeated in the second Jewish-Roman war. In the mid 400 AD era, Moses of Crete persuaded the Jews of Crete to walk into the sea, as Moses had done, to return to Israel. The results were disastrous.

Point is, people claiming to be the Messiah has a recorded start at just before the coming of Messiah Yeshua and has continued since. These types of claims even moved into the church.

Now I’m not here to pick on any certain denomination, but we must point out the facts based on their own writings.

“The first record of the concept of the Vicar of Christ is mentioned in the Epistle to the Magnesians of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who was possibly a disciple of both John the Apostle and Saint Peter,[4] with a pastoral sense, written between the years 88 and 107 AD "your bishop presides in the place of God (…)”." Catholic Encyclopedia; New Advent. Retrieved 2010-01-27.

“The Pope holdeth place on Earth, not simply of the man, but of a true god” Source: “Decretals of Gregory IX” book 1, chapter 3

“No man outside obedience to the Pope of Rome can ultimately be saved. All who have raised themselves against the faith of the Roman Church and died in final impenitence have been damned and gone down to Hell.” Source: “Apostolic Digest, Book V: The book of Obedience” Pope Clement VI


Fact is, the term associated with the pope is called “vicar of christ” which means “representative of, or in the place of, Christ [or God]” (as we see from the first quote).

This is not saying that the pope is the
antichrist that so many teach about. This is merely showing a timeline of when people started calling themselves the Christ; and how many have come, after that point, saying, “I am the Messiah”, “I’m vicar of Christ”. I’m merely establishing a timeline.

I said that I don’t believe the pope will be the “antichrist”. In full honesty, I don’t believe in a man ruling in the end called “
antichrist”. In fact, the term “antichrist” has absolutely no association with “end day” prophecy; and absolutely no association with anyone who calls themselves Christ, or puts themselves in the place of Christ.

The title “
antichrist” is only used four times in the Bible; in First John and Second John. The letters of First, Second, and Third John were letters written to the Johannine church; probably in Asia Minor, as was written the book of Revelation.

Antichrist is not anyone proclaiming to be Christ but rather ANYONE who denies’s God and Christ, who does not confess Christ, anyone who says the Messiah did not come in flesh. People would be hard-pressed to find any other BIBLICAL definition of “antichrist” apart from these.

We’ll come back to John’s “this is the last hour” statement as we continue in Matthew 24. It’s safe to say that Yeshua’s statement of many saying, “I am the Messiah” is not about an end days ruler. In fact, it seems apparent that there is a reason Yeshua connected these men with the wars and rumors of wars.



WHAT NOT TO LOOK FOR

When reading the words of Messiah Yeshua, most believe that He is only concentrating on what to look for to know these answers. The fact is, Yeshua told what not to look for, what to look for, and what there’s no need to look for.

"And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:4-14

Going back to Matthew 24:6, Yeshua continued with the conjunction “and”. So there will be people who call themselves Christ AND wars and rumors of wars; therefore these will be together. Well, there have been wars and rumors of wars all through history. Of the 3,400 years of recorded history, only 268 of them have been in peace (about 8%). So, two timelines that are well established… wars, rumors of wars, and people calling themselves Christ. These things have always been. This would be why Yeshua said, “See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

Why must these things come to pass? If you look back to Genesis chapter three, you will see that sin entered the world. The “must” is not saying that they must happen before Christ can return, it’s saying they must happen - period. Because of the entrance of sin into the world, the love of people have grown cold, they fight each other; sin changed the planet and now the planet has turned against itself as with weather, pestilence, famines, etc. He says it’s the beginning of sorrows. This isn’t some kind of “code” like so many operate around. The world, creation, has been in sorrow since sin entered the world. Messiah Yeshua said it’s the “beginning of sorrows” and this type of language was used by Paul to the church in Rome and talked about creation moaning to be delivered from the sufferings from the subjection of sin (Rom 8:18-25).

So, Yeshua talks about wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes; and He said not to worry about these things. It’s so funny that these things are some of the most looked at signs of the end when Christ Himself said don’t look at these.



SIGNS TO LOOK FOR

Yeshua says, “THEN” (Matt 24:11). The word “THEN” means…. “after that”. After the wars, and pestilence, and such you will see, then “you”, being the disciples, will be delivered up and killed for the sake of Christ. Starting with Stephen and through all the apostles, including the Waldensians and Albigensians, from the reformers to the modern Chinese and Lebanese, these things have been. They started with the disciples, before the destruction of the temple, and they continue as always - nothings changed.

Yeshua then warns the disciples that they will be hated, arrested, and even killed. There will be people who are offended and who offend, people who hate and are hated, people who betray others. I’m not sure why modern teachers act like this is something that will be new. No one can say this is new… this has always been and will always be until Christ’s return.

Can you see where this timeline starts? Not today and not in our future but in our past; and it continues through today.

After all this stuff that is just the beginning, “THEN” false prophets will come. Well… what is the timeline for that?

To the churches of Asia Minor, in the first century, Peter wrote two letters (1 Peter, 2 Peter). In 2 Peter chapter two, Peter warns of false prophets that would be among them. In other words, among them in the first century.

So, false prophets then, false prophets now; people calling themselves Christ then, people calling themselves Christ now; wars then, wars now; pestilence then, pestilence now. It started then and continues today. The love of many will grow cold because of sin. Be faithful to the end, not the end of time as He’s talking to His disciples but rather to the end of life because they would be hated, arrested, persecuted, and killed.

The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world and then the end will come. Now surely He’s talking about our future here.

We can’t just jump to conclusions; especially since this statement is BEFORE the “this generation” statement; and we have not seen the answer to the destruction of the temple.

We must remember not to look at these statements from a twenty-first century American mindset. When people would travel across land and hit an ocean where no land can be seen, they reached the end of the earth. Therefore, since they knew nothing else of the planet, the whole earth was within the borders of the oceans that surrounded the large land mass in which they lived. This is not the only section of Scripture that shows how they viewed all the earth.

"if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister." Colossians 1:23

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world." Romans 1:8

"Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world." Psalms 19:4

"For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything." 1 Thessalonians 1:8




THE END

The fact that Messiah Yeshua is talking about the end before He talks about the destruction of the temple and before His statement of “this generation” causes some confusion to most people; especially if you’ve sat under the teaching of the modern theology of end days and their teachings of a seven-year tribulation period.

The first thing we need to make clear is “
the end” does not necessarily mean the exact stopping point. If we say it’s the end of the decade, we are not talking about the one day of December 31st. Typically, that term would relate to the last full year or two years at the end of a decade.

Besides this understanding we must ask the question, “what end?”. We generally think of “the end” as talking of the end of time, yet it can also mean the end of the Mosaic Law, or the end of the series of covenant’s made (Second being the last), or any other types of ends. We err in assuming that “the end” is just talking about the stopping point of time and the earth.

The teaching of a seven year tribulation period is very popular among modern teachers. The problem is that the Bible says no such thing as a seven-year tribulation period (We will look at this further in our Matthew 24 study). In fact, nowhere in Scripture is a timeframe given for the length of tribulation. So the belief, in the modern teaching of the “end”, in that it will start at the beginning of a seven-year tribulation or seven-year peace treaty with Israel does not actually work. The time of the end could be shorter or could be longer. I believe the Bible shows longer… much longer.

Remember John’s statement, in a letter before the destruction of the temple, that it’s “the last days”. Where would he get such an idea?

"But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end." Daniel 12:4

Well, certainly many are running to and fro but knowledge is not increasing on this particular subject and of salvation; it’s actually getting more muddled. Actually, God is not concerned with our carnal knowledge, He’s concern with our spiritual knowledge, which is Christ and righteousness. This term is a clue to the beginning of the end days. Also, let’s take a moment and look at the pattern of the words used here. The angel said, “until the time of the end” - He did not say, “until the end of time”.

If you turn the pages to the end of the Bible you’ll find the angel telling John this:

"And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near." Revelation 22:10

So it seems that John’s statement, in his letters to the Johannine churches, of this being the “last hour” was not John making a mistake but rather John repeating what was told to him by an angel of God. This makes things pretty solid as an angel of God, giving prophecy to John, would not be wrong on this subject.

There’s more evidence that the “end of time” started with the apostles. The best person to get accurate information from would be those closest to the source by which information was given. This is one reason the Bible is listed in the most accurate history book ever written… it’s written from eye-witness accounts.

With that understanding, what was Peter’s understanding of the time? On the day of Pentecost, after Christ died and the Spirit of God was poured out on those in the upper room, Peter said:

"But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’" Acts 2:16-21


Quoting from Joel, Peter said this, being the events taking place on Pentecost, was what was prophesied of the “last days”. And, in those “last days” God would pour out His Spirit. When was the Spirit of God poured out? On Pentecost in the days of the disciples; and that continues to this day.

When we look at what the angel told Daniel and what the angel of God told John, and we see what Peter knew of the pouring out of the Spirit of God at Pentecost, and then we look at the statement of Christ where He says “that generation” would not pass away before the end comes, it’s then that we realize that we’ve been in the end for close to 2000 years.



TRIBULATION
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather." Matthew 24:15-28

Let’s start with verse 21 and we will come back to the other statements. Yeshua is talking about a time of tribulation, yet He does not say how long. He says it will be “such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” BAM!! Right there is a clue to what question He’s answering.

Notice that He said that it will be worse than man will ever see in the future (“no, nor ever shall be). If Christ was talking about the end then why would He say it’s the worst anyone will ever see, even unto the end? That would be a given.

The great tribulation that Christ is talking about is not the end but rather the destruction of the Temple; after all, this is also post “this generation” comment.

We should remember that this is not the first time that Christ foretold the destruction of the temple. On, what we call, Palm Sunday he said this to the pharisees:

"And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.'" Luke 19:41-44

He then predicted the fall of Jerusalem when He was being led to the cross.

"And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’" Luke 23:27-30

Our only first-hand account of the Roman assault on the Temple comes from the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. Josephus was a former leader of the Jewish Revolt who had surrendered to the Romans and had won favor from Vespasian.

During the 143 day siege, there was mass starvation in which cannibalism widely occurred with, it is believed, some mothers even devouring their own children. Josephus claims that over 1,100,000 people were killed during the initial siege, of which a majority were Jewish. 97,000 were captured and enslaved, and many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. Later, there were even mass crucifixions to the degree that would eventually become unavailable. Most of the slain were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, and they were butchered where they were caught. The heap of corpses mounted higher and higher about the altar; a stream of blood flowed down the Temple's steps, and the bodies of those slain at the top slipped to the bottom.

Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, as there is "no merit in vanquishing people forsaken by their own God."

As far as the temple is concerned, when the Roman soldiers finally breached the walls of Jerusalem they were ordered not to destroy the temple. Yet, they were so angry they acted as if they did not hear their orders and burned the temple to the ground. The fire was so extreme that the gold and silver melted and ran between the cracks of the stones of the floor. It is said that the flames lasted for a week. When they finally cooled, the soldiers went in with large bars and flipped the stones of the temple in order to obtain the gold and silver than ran between them. And so, the foretelling of Christ was fulfilled, “not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Of the severeness of the event, Bible commentator, B.W. Johnston (1833-1894), stated,

'Matthew 24: 21. Great tribulation. The account given by Josephus, the Jewish historian who witnessed and recorded the war, is almost an echo of the predictions of Christ. Women ate their own children from starvation; the Jews within the city fought each other as well as the Roman army; on August 10, A.D. 70, the city was stormed and there was a universal massacre; 1,100,00 persons perished, and 100,000 survivors were sold into slavery.’

Lutheran theologian Philip Schaff (1819 – 1893), wrote,

'The forbearance of God with his covenant people, who had crucified their own Saviour, reached it last its limit. As many as could be saved in the usual way, were rescued. The mass of the people had obstinately set themselves against all improvement. James the Just, the man who was fitted, if any could be, to reconcile the Jews to the Christian religion, had been stoned by his hardened brethren, for whom he daily interceded in the temple; and with him the Christian community in Jerusalem had lost its importance for that city. The hour of the "great tribulation" and fearful judgment drew near. The prophecy of the Lord approached its literal fulfilment: Jerusalem was razed to the ground, the temple burned, and not one stone was left upon another.' (Schaff, History of the Christian Church p. 397-398).

C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), wrote,

'For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Read the record written by Josephus of the destruction of Jerusalem, and see how truly our Lord’s words were fulfilled. The Jews impiously said, concerning the death of Christ, "His blood be on us, and on our children." Never did any other people invoke such an awful curse upon themselves, and upon no other nation did such a judgment ever fall. We read of Jews crucified till there was no more wood for making crosses; of thousands of the people slaying one another in their fierce faction fights within the city; of so many of them being sold for slaves that they became a drug in the market, and all but valueless; and of the fearful carnage when the Romans at length entered the doomed capital; and the blood-curdling story exactly bears out the Savior’s statement uttered nearly forty years before the terrible events occurred.'

'The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God.' (Commentary on Matthew, p. 412-413).

Bishop William Newcombe, in his 'Harmony of the Gospels,' 1778, wrote,

'The calamities undergone by the Jews were unparalleled in their history, and will remain so. The many and great evils arising from their own distractions and intestine madness, were peculiar to this time. And Josephus asserts in general that no other city underwent such sufferings. In particular he says, that the number of captives, throughout the whole war was 97 thousand and that one million one hundred thousand perished in the course of the siege: To these must be added 237,490 of whom express mention is due by this historian, as being destroyed in other places; besides innumerable others, not subject to calculation, who were swept away by fatigue, famine, disease and every kind of wretchedness and violence. Thus did the awakened vengeance of heaven require of that generation, the blood of all the prophets, which had been shed from the foundation of the world.' (Harmony, p. 246).

In our own day, Gary DeMar has commented,

'The tribulation period cannot be global because all one has to do to escape is flee to the mountains. Notice that Yeshua says "let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Matt 24:16). Judea is not the world; it's not even the nation of Israel!' (Last Days Madness, p. 121).

According to Josephus, the large portion of Christian Jews was saved from the destruction because of a previous warning from God,

"But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella." (Book III, Ch. 5).

Alright, so we’ve established that the great tribulation was actually the destruction of the temple in 70AD, which then tells us that all the events prior to this account in verse 21 will be leading up to that destruction.

The Roman historian Eusebius writes:

But the number of calamities which everywhere fell upon the nation at that time; the extreme misfortunes to which the inhabitants of Judea were especially subjected, the thousands of men, as well as women and children, that perished by the sword, by famine, and by other forms of death innumerable—all these things, as well as the many great sieges which were carried on against the cities of Judea, and the excessive sufferings endured by those that fled to Jerusalem itself, as to a city of perfect safety, and finally the general course of the whole war, as well as its particular occurrences in detail, and how at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets, Daniel 9:27 stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire — all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus. (Church History, Book III, Chapter V)

Notice something else with this “great tribulation”. The modern teaching says there will be this great global tribulation with all kinds of wars, nuclear bombs, etc. Notice that Christ spoke of the tribulation very locally. He says, those in Judea, not the world. He says to flee to the mountains. What good are the mountains going to do in a nuclear attack? He said to stay on the roof-tops and not go down. Staying roof-tops will not save you from a great tribulation. Actually, in the day Christ was talking, those on the roof-tops can take the “roof-top road” out of the city; by jumping from one roof to the next and over the wall.

Notice the contrast between how Christ talks about the tribulation during the destruction of the Temple and Paul talks about the perilous times in the end. Yeshua talks about all this devastation and Paul does not say anything about devastation but rather about morality.

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Conclusion, Christ is not talking about this horrible time that so many are concerned about and looking for. Christ is talking about the destruction of the temple. Will there be another great time like this? No. He said it will never be that bad again to the end.



ABOMINATIONS OF DESOLATION

This brings us to the “abominations of desolation” which Christ referenced to from Daniel. The dispensational theory argues that the “abomination of desolation” is, from our vantage point, yet in the future. Supposedly, the prophetic focus is upon “the Antichrist,” alleged to be “a world dictator” who will “make the temple abominable” in the so-called “Tribulation” period just after or just prior to the Lord’s second coming. The problem with this view is this: Daniel connects the appearance of the “abomination that makes desolate” with the first coming of Christ, not the Lord’s second coming (Daniel 9:24-27)!

For greater understanding of this statement see also:
70 Weeks

The mere word “of” between the two would make some, most actually, believe that the desolations are abominations. Yet, understanding the two words, and looking at what Daniel says, tells us that is not true.

Desolations is defined as a state of complete emptiness or destruction, and anguished misery. Abominations mean a thing that causes disgust or hatred. Therefore, the “abominations of desolations” is better defined as the “abominations that cause desolation”. It’s the thing that was hated or of disgust to God that caused him to make the temple desolate.

Since we are looking at wording that is before the “this generation” statement, what abominations would have caused God to destroy the temple? We see some of this truth with Christ’s own words to the Jewish leaders who refused Messiah Yeshua as King and decided to crucify Him instead. The other thing that would be a disgusting act to God is for sacrifices to continue in the temple even after THE Sacrifice was made and the temple veil was torn. Yet, history tells us this is what happened. Therefore, to reject Yeshua as the Messiah and continue in sacrifices would be a slap in the face, a disgusting act, that would anger God and cause the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple.

In verses 23-26 Christ returns to people trying to point out other Messiah’s and then gives a contrasting statement. They are going to say he’s here or there but I’m coming like lightning, from the east to the west, so don’t believe anyone else.


SUN AND MOON
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matthew 24:29-31

There are many problems with the modern teaching of the end days; they are typically based on poor interpretation of Scripture. I’m not saying that I know everything here, but we need to, at least, be able to spot bad interpretation. So, let’s look at the blood moons in the Bible, modern teaching, and their modern hype behind them.

A
blood moon is only mentioned three times in Scripture. The fourth time it’s merely mentioned as the moon turning dark.

"The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes." Joel 2:31

"the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day." Acts 2:20


This is a quote from Joel.

"When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale." Revelation 6:12-13

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Matthew 24:29


Though this account of the moon, as spoken by Christ, is not blood but just darkened, many relate this account to that of Revelation and Revelation to that of Acts and Joel.

In Revelation we see the
blood moon fall within the sixth seal. In Matthew we see the dark moon placed IMMEDIATELY after the tribulation that Christ spoke of. Modern teachers parallel the tribulation in Matthew with what they call the four horse apocalypse. They claim that the first horse, the white horse, is the coming of the anti-christ. From here, we see the horse of war, the horse of economic downfall, and the horse of death. I’m not saying their teachings are true, I’m just stating the modern end day teachings here. When we look at the context of the other statements of the sun and moon, we will see that the seven seals are not what has been taught (not that it should be a surprise at this point).

So we have this pattern, as known by the numbers of the seals. And, we have Christ’s statement of the sun, moon, and star signs IMMEDIATELY after the tribulation.

In Acts, we see Peter quoting from the book of Joel. Before looking at Peter’s quote, let’s stop here for a moment and look at modern logic of the church.

While I’m not getting into a debate of Bible translations, many contemporary theologians, seminaries, evangelist, and the likes, have moved from the King James Version to the modern version because they believe the text which the modern versions come from is closer to the original writers. The reasoning has a very valid point. The closer we get to the original author, narrator, or speaker, the more accurate the information. I think we all can agree with this. So, according to Peter, the very one who spoke these words, a man who was from the tribe of Judah, a Israeli, who studied directly under the teachings of Christ, understood the culture, understood the original writings which we do not have today, what does he say about the timing of Joel’s statement about the
blood moon?

This statement was made during the filling of the Holy Spirit, in the upper room during Pentecost. They are speaking in other languages, and all the nationalities are hearing and understanding their words. Some, who could not fathom, or explain, what is going on, are mocking them and accusing them of being drunk. And, Peter stood...

"But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:" Acts 2:14-16

The Israel people knew the book of Joel was a book of symbology. It has not been until modern times that the belief had passed to the literal sense. In fact, all of Prophecy is symbology. We don’t expect to see a seven-headed beast rise from the sea and a woman riding a seven-headed beast. We understand that the statue of Daniel, the beast’s, the horns, and so forth are all symbols.

An error comes in with the modern definition of “The Great Day of the Lord”. There is a great and dreadful day of the Lord coming, but Joel and Peter are talking about a great and AWESOME day of the Lord. People, we are in this day. This is a wonderful, awesome time, which we fall under the sacrifice of the Lord - we are in that day.

What about Revelation and Matthew? Understanding that the categorization of the sun, moon, and stars are a symbol, we need to look at the other use of these symbols in Scripture.

"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Revelation 12:1

This prophecy is the depiction of a woman who is clothed in the sun, moon, and stars. In prophecy, the woman is the church, as God always depicts His people as either a bride or harlot, and the church is the bride of Christ. This prophecy is depicting the church that is the light of the world. Understanding what this is depicting, and understanding the sun, moon, and stars, are a symbol, what we are actually seeing is a prophecy to which the church will not be the light of the world any longer. This should not be a surprise to us.

"Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction," 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." 2 Timothy 3:1-5


Paul taught that the end days would come with a great apostasy in the church to which they will love the pleasures of the world more than God. They may have a form of godliness, but they deny the power of godliness due to their lust of worldly pleasures. This is a falling of the light of the world. Brothers and sisters, this day has come.

Some may be a little confused at this point. We look at the church around us, how the condition has fallen to the point that it’s no longer the light; how people are leaving the church in large numbers and marking the “none” box on religious affiliation and we think this is something that is new. We look at how Christ is talking about “the end” and how Scripture and history points “the end” to a starting point of about the first century and we start to get confused. Did the end start in the first century or is it starting with the falling away in the church? Ladies and gentlemen, the success of the church is not marked by the number of people making a confession of faith and it’s not marked by the number of people who check the “Christian” box in a poll or survey. The condition of the church is marked by the lives of those who profess to be followers of God. If they profess a following of God but do not do God’s will then the condition of the church is a condition of apostasy (1 John 2:4). Today’s apostasy of the church is not new, the specific condition is new.

We need to see history and understand that the fall to apostasy happened a long time ago and has continued through the ages. The means by which the church fell into apostasy was by conforming to the practices of paganism, to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the heathen. The apostle Paul declared, even in his day, "The mystery of iniquity doth already work." 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

During the lives of the apostles the church remained comparatively pure. But "toward the latter end of the second century most of the churches assumed a new form; the first simplicity disappeared, and insensibly, as the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, along with new converts, . . . came forward and new-modeled the cause."--Robert Robinson, Ecclesiastical Researches, ch. 6, par. 17, p. 51.

To secure converts, the exalted standard of the Christian faith was lowered, and as the result "a pagan flood, flowing into the church, carried with it its customs, practices, and idols." --Gavazzi, Lectures, page 278.


As the Christian religion secured the favor and support of secular rulers, it was nominally accepted by multitudes; but while in appearance Christians, many "remained in substance pagans, especially worshiping in secret their idols."--Gavazzi, Lectures, page 278.

Has this not continued in nearly every church, even those calling themselves Protestant? As the founders of the Protestant churches, the reformers, passed away, their descendants came forward and a presented a new model to the cause. Now, while blindly clinging to the creed of their fathers and refusing to accept any truth in evidence, the “children of the reformers” have departed widely from the example of humility, self-denial, and rejection of the world. Therefore, the first simplicity disappears and a worldly flood, flowing into the church, carries with it the worlds customs, practices, and idols.

When we talk about how the church has lost its light, we in America often compare that with the church of just a hundred years ago or more. The church has not become dark over the last twenty years; it’s merely changed its darkness. In fact, if I had a choice of darkness in the church I will take today's darkness over the darkness that existed a hundred years ago and more. Think about the church during that time - slave owners, members of the KKK; that was the criteria for being a member of the KKK - white, male, “christian”. I’ll take today's darkness over that any day. At least today's darkness is starting to separate, or weed out, the riffraff. Today there is a remnant standing up against the modern issues in the church.

It’s this age of darkness of the church that Christ is talking about; that darkness that would start in the end. The end that started near the first century; during the days of Peter, Paul, and John. It’s a darkness that arose as these men died and it’s a darkness that continues today.



COMING IN THE CLOUDS

Verses 30-31 is where things get a little more “foggy” because it falls before the “this generation” statement but sounds a lot like the end. Because it sounds a lot like the end, the actual second coming of Christ, many associate all of Yeshua’s prior statements to the end. Meanwhile, others, who understand context, attribute the events told here to Christ’s judgmental coming.

First, we must remember the context around the statements; and that Yeshua is answering three questions that range from 70 AD, immediately after, and His return. That understanding alone helps us realize that we cannot attribute Yeshua’s prior statements to a period just before His return. We must also remember that Christ said these things would happen before that generation would pass away.

Second, if Christ’s coming was to be His judgmental coming then why did His statement fall after His description, and time, of the judgment set on Jerusalem in 70 AD? After all, He talked about tribulation and then said: “immediately after the tribulation” the sun and moon will darken; and then He said... “THEN the sign of the Son of Man will appear”.

Do you understand this now? No... I’m sure not. It seems quite confusing until we bring in the context of language. The answer here is found in Genesis chapters one and two.

In Genesis one, we have the creation of the heavens and earth, and all the things on the earth; and man. In Genesis two we have a notation of the creation being finished and God resting. Then, we have a detailed account of the creation of man; whereas we had just an overview of Genesis one.

In Matthew 24:4-31, we have the answers to all three questions: When will the temple be destroyed, when is the end, and when is your return. Well, in actuality, Yeshua answers by way of the signs of the destruction of the temple, the time of the end based upon that, and what it will look like on the day He returns (not really when He’s coming).

So when we get to verse 29 we see the statement “Immediately after the tribulation of those days”. This is a reference back to the destruction of the temple and the tribulation mentioned in verse 21. He says, IMMEDIATELY after that, the sun and moon will turn dark. He is definitely talking about the church losing its light to the world figure. So, we have an adverb that is defined by instantly or without intervening time. So, immediately [instantly] after the tribulation of those days....

Notice the shift in adverbs used in Yeshua’s very next statement, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven”. Unlike the adverb immediately, which denotes a time frame that is instantly after something; then merely gives a statement of sometime later. So immediately after the destruction of the temple, the church loses it light but sometime later the Son of Man will appear; yet we are not given a time frame based on the other events. There’s a good reason why we are not given a more definitive time frame on Christ’s return... He doesn’t know (Mark 13:32).

It is directly after this statement that Christ talks of the parable from a fig tree and this generation will not pass away before all these things have happened. Then He get’s into detail of what His coming will be like.

So…. look at the parallels between Genesis one and two.

Again, Matt 24:4-31 are parallel structure with Gen 1:1-2:6. The statements of His coming in Matt 24:30-31 is likened to the statement in Gen 2:4 (This is the history of the heavens and earth). Just as Gen 2:4 is the conclusion of the creation Matt 24:30-31 is the conclusion to answers of all three questions. The statement of Matt 24:36 (But of that day…) is likened to Genesis 2:7 (And the Lord formed man…). Just as we were returned to give us detail of the creation of man we return to give detail of the day which Christ comes again.

Again, Genesis 1:1 - 2:6 is an overview of the creation of earth just as Matthew 24:4-35 is an overview of the destruction of the temple, the end, and Christ’s coming. Genesis 2:7-25 is a detailed account of the creation of man just as Matthew 24:36 - 25:46 is a detailed account of, not WHEN Christ is coming, but HOW He’s coming and HOW He’s going to judge the church.

So, we have the answer to the destruction of the temple (when you see the “abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (vs 15)). We have the answer to the end of the age (“gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations (vs 14)). And all this is supposed to happen before that specific generation would pass away (vs 34).



THERE ARE NO SIGNS
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only" Matthew 24:36

We looked at this earlier but I want you to notice the language here. He says, “But of THAT day”. Up to this point, Christ has been referring to days, as in plural but now He points out one specific day. Before He was talking about times of tribulation, times revolving around the destruction of the temple (which was days), and the likes thereof; but now He points to a specific day. He says, this generation will not pass away before all these other days have happened but this one specific day, no one knows when that will happen.

To get the context of this language, the word “that” was used as a pronoun in the exact same way in John 19:31. When talking about the day Christ died, the preparation day to Sabbath, he stated “for THAT Sabbath was a high day”. The word there is used to point to something that was already mentioned or previously known. Most people, in twenty-first America, look at the word “Sabbath” and automatically think of the weekly seventh day. Yet, John was pointing out something particular with THAT Sabbath. The difference was is that he was trying to distinguish between the weekly Sabbath and the High Holy Sabbath of Passover. Thus, in saying it’s preparation day for the Sabbath, he wanted the reader to be able to conclude that it was not the sixth day of the week (our Friday) but rather THAT Sabbath was a “High Day”; or THAT Sabbath was a particular day unlike the others you talked about or known of or are thinking of.

If you look closely, you’ll see the language changes abruptly at this point in Matthew 24:36. Before the generation passes there are all kinds of signs to tell of the time of the destruction and the time of the end but when it comes to His coming there are no signs… it’s like the time of Noah Matt 24:37-39) - it just happens suddenly. This makes it obvious that two different events are being talked about… one with signs and one without.

And if there was any question to how abrupt His coming will happen He continues to give examples of two men in a field, two women grinding, two men in a bed; each one is taken and one left (Matt 24:40-41)

We see these statements of Christ that no one will know and there will not be any signs… it will be a surprise but we typically reject that because we’ve always been taught that the Christians will not be taken by surprise. Part of that belief comes from a misinterpretation of Matthew 24 and misinterpretation of 1 Thessalonians 5.

"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness." 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

Look at the first two sentences of Paul. There’s no need that I write you, or tell you, of signs of the coming of Christ. For (BECAUSE) He comes like a thief. In other words, There's no need to tell you about the signs because there is none.

Since there are no signs then how will the day not overtake them as a thief (vs 4)? Because they are not in darkness. Verse five says they are son’s of the light, sons of the day. In other words, If you're a disciple of Christ, walking in a relationship with God, you don’t have to worry about the day.

So, looking at what Paul is saying, following on Christ’s conversation in Matthew 24, is while there are signs for the times of the end, for the coming of Christ there are none; the time is like a thief. But don’t worry, as long as your a disciple of Christ it will not overtake you as a thief because you are ready.

"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Matthew 24:42-44

Again, here’s a contrasting statement. In verse 33 Yeshua says you can know the time is near because of the signs. Yet in verse 42 He says to watch because you don’t know what hour He’s coming.

An argument could be made that Yeshua is showing signs for the general time but stating the specific hour is unknown; yet, how long do you plan to live in the mountains (vs 16)? How long are you going to live on the rooftops (vs 17)? If they are in the field they are told not to go back and get their clothes (vs 18); shall they wander again in the wilderness? These warnings are of a specific time, a specific event, which Christ is giving instruction on how to handle. In verses 36-44, Christ is saying there is nothing you can do. It’s going to be too much of a surprise; which is clarified in Yeshua’s statement that “the Son of Man is coming in an hour you do not expect” (vs 44b).

This is why Yeshua talks about a homeowner. It’s highly likely that it’s this story that Paul used as instruction to the Thessalonians. Christ said, if the owner of the house would have known the thief was coming, he would have watched and not allowed it to happen. The thief breaking into a house is like the coming of the LORD upon the sinner. Therefore, we need to watch and be ready. Be disciples of Christ, in a relationship with God, not allowing this day, the day that is coming when we least expect it, to overtake us like a thief.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 24:45-51

Now he enters into a parable that warns us about watching and continuing in that which has been entrusted to us. Again, this is a parable, it’s analogies that help us understand what he’s talking about.

This could play out a couple different ways. Some believe the servant is pastors of churches. There are wise and faithful pastors and evil pastors. Now the condition is true but I don’t believe this is the analogy given. This will become clearer as we look at the consecutive parables of Christ’s coming.

We are all priests (1 Peter 2:9), and we’ve been given a job (Acts 1:8). This is not saying we are saved by works but we are created unto good works (Eph 2:8-10). If someone says they are saved but do not do good works they are not saved because their faith is dead (1 John 3:17-18; James 2:14-26).

When looking at parables, sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint different analogies. The context of culture and language is missing. Even if your going to try and pinpoint analogies used, look at the overall picture and ask, “What is the point?”. What is the purpose of the parable?

In this parable we have two servants. One servant cared for his fellow servants and one was selfish and cared only for himself. The one who cared for himself and his own kingdom was wicked and the one who cared for others and his master's kingdom was faithful.

If we are not careful, we will place ourselves in the position of the faithful servant. If it’s true, it’s not bad, but if it’s false, we can bring damnation upon ourselves. The easiest way to judge which servant you are is to look at your spare time and money. In other words; you must work and there is a level of time needed to spend with the family. Yet, how much time do we spend on Facebook, TV, sports, hobby’s, etc? How much money do we spend on nice things that are not needed? Then compare that with the amount of time and money we spend on reaching the lost, helping the widow, the poor, the orphan. This is the picture that Yeshua is going to move into.

As I said at the beginning, Yeshua’s conversation did not stop at the end of chapter 24; the “red letters” just kept on going into chapter 25. Through a series of four parables, starting with this one of the faithful and evil servants, Yeshua is painting a picture by building one parable upon another. While we look at each parable separately, we need to step back and look at all four as a whole. We need to look at each one and ask why Yeshua told these parables and told them in the order He did.

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Matthew 25:1-15

As we are going through these parables I want you to notice that Yeshua is not comparing the church to the world. All the examples are people in the profession of God but two different conditions of those people. In the last parable we had servants of the master. In this parable we have all virgins waiting for the bridegroom. In the next parable we have all who are given “talents” (or money). In the parable of the sheep and goats they were all together; and all responding to the statements of Christ. Therefore, we need to understand that we don’t place ourselves in the position of the wise just because we go to church or made a confession of faith. It’s just as easy, if not easier, to actually be guilty of those who are wicked in the church than those who are wise. Remember that Christ said FEW will follow the narrow while MANY follow the wide. This is to say that the majority of those professing to follow actually are associated with those called “wicked” in these parables.

So we have ten “virgins” waiting for the return of the Bridegroom, or Yeshua. Notice they are all sleeping. In the last parable we were told to stay watching but, like the disciples in the garden, these had problems staying away. Just because they were all sleeping does not parallel all ten to the wicked servant in the last parable; the five without oil would be the parallel.

I use to think the oil was the Spirit of God but the problem with that is that the oil is obtained from us and not given to us. The five wise told the five foolish to go buy some; which would be the other reason I do not believe the oil to be the Spirit of God. If we, having the heart of God, wish to seek and save that which is lost then it would be wicked to deny the Spirit of God to others. I believe this oil to be righteous acts because the three other parables we are looking at, in this sequence, deal with the truth of the condition of those following God based on their actions.

Without trying to muddy the picture by trying to understand every little detail, we ask, “What is the point of this parable?”

They all slumbered, the church is asleep today, and they were all taken by surprise because of the slumbering. The church may be slumbering but some live their lives for others while some live for themselves. The last parable showed this truth and this parable builds upon that, showing how the oil is the righteousness, or lack thereof, of those who did faithfully or foolishly in the last parable (1 John 2:28-29).

"'For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’" Matthew 25:14-30

In this third parable we have three servants who were given something. In the first parable they were given authority over the “house”. In the second parable they obtained the oil. In this parable they are given “talents”.

I’ve heard several things taught of the “talents” Some teach that it’s the special abilities that God gives us. Some teach it’s God, His Grace, His knowledge, etc. Some teach it’s people. What we do know is that we are supposed to make an increase for the “master”, for God. It’s hard to increase talent, God, and His Grace. These are things given to us. We can increase knowledge, yet what will that do for the “Master”?

I believe the prayer of Paul to the Ephesians explains this best:

"For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints," Ephesians 1:15-18

Paul is praying for God to give the “spirit of wisdom” and understanding in the “knowledge of” God. Why would God do this? THAT makes this a purpose statement. So, why would God give us wisdom, knowledge, and open eyes? THAT we would know the hope of His calling. We’ve all been called and we all have a job to do. We are not saved for our own good, we are saved for God’s good and the good of others. If we believe God deserves all praise from all people and we love our neighbor, we will praise God to them; we will make sure we are living a life worthy of the Gospel, and in drawing others into praise of God we then accomplish His calling. And, that we would also know the riches of His glory of His inheritance. What is God’s inheritance? The riches of God, “His inheritance”, is in the saints. People are God’s inheritance. People are the riches of God. Talents, in the Bible, is money; that was the name of their money. We were given the riches of God and we are to pass that on to others, causing an increase.

There are a couple who had an increase and one who buried his wealth of God. Why? Because he was afraid. Basically, selfish motives. Why should I put myself out there? I’ll just stay to myself and live in my nice little home in a gated community with my 2.5 kids. I’ll make them wear helmets where ever they go and put on sunscreen, because the sun is bad. I’ll stick to myself and never do anything crazy for God. I’ll go to church each Sunday and drop a few bucks in the plate; maybe help in the children’s ministry. They never had compassion for the sick, the poor, they never love their lost neighbor enough to step out of their comfort zone to bring them into the kingdom; and that is called “wicked and lazy”.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46


The parable of the sheep and goats is probably one of the most taught parables. Again, we are not going to get in-depth but look at a few truths and see what the point of the parable is.

First, notice how the beginning of the parable starts: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory…”. All the other parables were talking about the “Kingdom” and this one focus' straight to the coming of Christ. All the other parables apply to today, to right now, and the parable of the sheep and goats is a warning of what will be looked at in the future. This parable sums up the other three parables.

In the first three parables we had two groups of people in the church. One got hateful and selfish as it seemed like the coming of Christ would never come. The second had another apparent delay and the church fell asleep. In their slumber some in the church fail to do any righteous acts. What many fail to see is that it’s the righteous acts of the saints that make up our white robes (Rev 19:8). In the third parable some were fearful to do anything for God and so they buried the priceless gift of God in hope to preserve themselves.

Now we have this parable that sums it all up and shows us that judgment will be based on what we do. All the judgments we have seen before hinge on this parable. What was the wickedness of the servant over the house? Look at the goats of this parable. What was the lack of oil? Look at the goats in this parable. What was the lack of creating interest in the talent? Look at the goats in this parable.

Notice though, while the sheep did well in what they did, they did not realize what they were doing. Their response to Yeshua was, “When did we [do this]?” Many do things because it is written to do it, but our action should be to do because God deserves the praise. If we are not careful, we will receive and accept praise for that which God should be receiving praise for. This is when we have a good reputation to those around us but we are actually dead in the eyes of God (Rev 3:1-6).

The crux of these parables is that we are judged based on what we do and not upon a confession of faith. What we do proves our faith in Christ. There are some in the church who love others more than themselves and there are some in the church who rather build their own kingdom and are concerned only with themselves rather than others. While we do not know when Christ is coming, there are no signs to warn us, we need to be sure we have the heart of God, and act upon the heart of God, that we love others more than ourselves; BECAUSE this is what we will be judged upon.