BLOCKBUSTER BIBLE (PT. 1)

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Isn’t it exciting when we read or hear something that boggles our minds, and, sometimes, even stretches our imaginations, leaving us in a sense of wonder and awe? Of course, it is. This is why we read books, watch movies or television, or play video games—it is a mental escape from the here and now; a vacation into the wonders of the creative mind.

This is also the case in some aspects of the word of God. There are some things at which we marvel, being stunned to the point of awe-inspired admiration and anticipation. However, this love of marvelous things and thirst for mind-boggling, even entertaining, things can—does—lead to potential error.

Notice the prophecy-warning the apostle Paul gives to his beloved brother Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2ff:

“[P]reach the word; be urgent in season, out of season;…for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.”

One popular doctrine comes to mind in this regard in especial—the interwoven doctrine of the “rapture,” “armageddon,” and the millennial reign of Christ on earth—all better known as “premillennialism.”

This false doctrine is in existence today, in part, because of man’s itching ears, and man’s desire to be entertained (among other things)—they want something exciting! The Bible is not an objectively exciting Book, one may validly say. It was not the purpose of God for His word to excite people with exciting earthly events, such as the “rapture” and “Armageddon”! Such goes against every single letter of every single word that Jesus ever spoke.

Let us break down these doctrines and see how they stand up against the testimony of Scripture.


“THE END IS NEAR”

One of the main things involved in this blockbuster concept is the claim that the Lord’s “Parousia (His “second” coming) is nearvery near. Why do they claim it is so imminent? Why, all one has to do is turn on the news or open up the newspaper and one will see a shocking match of the description of the “SIGNS” in Matthew 24, or so says the lust in their hearts. What they fail to take into consideration (besides the very words of Jesus later in the very same chapter) is the fact that these “SIGNS” are occurring today because they have been occurring since the beginning of time! Here is the fundamental failure of all premillennialists in Matthew 24—they do not use one of God’s gifts to human beings: logic.

First of all, Matthew 24 is Jesus’ answer to some questions His disciples had asked Him, which were in response to a statement He made a little while earlier. The Lord had just finished delivering a blistering rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees at the temple site, and was leaving the premises. His disciples began to marvel at the glory and beauty of the temple to Him (as all Jews were so full of pride and love for their blessed temple), which He took as a perfect opportunity to inform them of a vital truth regarding God’s plan and His imminent kingdom:

“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” (Matt. 24:2).

After walking for a little while, and reaching the Mount of Olives, His disciples then asked Him three*different questions (a fact of which even they were most likely unaware):

  1. “When will these things be?”
  2. “What will be the sign of your coming?”
  3. “And [the sign] of the end of the world?”

It is absolutely imperative that one understand this if he is to have any fleeting hope of correctly interpreting Matthew 24; for, beginning in v. 4Jesus begins to answer the first of these questions, which lasts until v. 35.**

Notice and mark this crucial statement in His conclusion to these first two questions:

“Truly…this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (34).

Recall their first question: “When will these things be?” (3). What are “these things”? What “thing(s)” had Jesus just mentioned to them? That the temple would be destroyed. Thus, everything Jesus said from v. 4 up to v. 34 has had absolutely nothing to do with the end of the world, but of the destruction of Jerusalem! This is made all the more clear in light of the point He is making in this verse: “These things are going to occur in this generation.” A generation is generally considered to be about forty years. Today, we are almost 2,000 years removed from this statement of Jesus, and the end of the world has still not come. However, when did the destruction of Jerusalem occur? A.D. 70, almost exactly forty years after Jesus said this.

That leaves us, then, with vv. 36-44, which is the part of Matthew 24 that premillennialists have torn from their Bibles. Notice the very next words of Jesus in v. 36:

“But concerning THAT day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

“Now wait a minute! Hold up, Lord! You just spent thirty verses telling us about when it is going to happen and detailing the signs for us to look for so we know when it is near! And now you’re going to say that no one knows the day or the hour? What’s going on here?”

Well, here is what is going on: Jesus is now answering their other question, “concerning that day”—not the day about which He has been speaking this whole time so far, but the other day about which they had asked: the day when He will returni.e., the end of the world. Concerning the time of that day, He says, “no one knows,” not even Himself!


Jesus is now answering their other question, “concerning that day”—not the day about which He has been speaking this whole time so far [in vv. 4-34], but the other day about which they had asked: the day when He will return (i.e., the end of the world).


“But what about the signs? Maybe no one knows now when it will be, but if You will tell us what the signs will be, we will be able to detect them, and then we will know when that day approaches.” The Lord speaks to this, as well:

“As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man [see question #2 above—SM]. For as in those days before the flood… they were unaware until the flood cameso will be the coming of the Son of Man… Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming… Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (37,38,42,44).

In other words, Jesus says the day of His return is unknown (i.e., unknowable), and that the moment of His return will be unexpected (i.e., undetectable).

Thus, Jesus spends thirty verses talking about “the signs,” and then follows that up with another fifteen verses (including two parables in ch. 25) explaining to them that there will be NO signs; thirty verses explaining what to expect when that day comes, only to then declare to them that that day will be utterly unexpected and unpredictable; thirty verses about how they can know when the day is near, followed by an extended illustration that there is no way of knowing when the day is near! Clearly, Jesus is answering two different questions in this chapter. To suggest otherwise is to make Jesus a fool.

Below is a hopefully useful summary of some crucial keys to “unlocking” Matthew 24.

  1. MATT. 24:4-35—DIVINE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM VIA ROMAN ARMIES
    • Key Verses to Note and Mark in Your Bible
      • v. 3 (“these things”);
      • vv. 15-20 (“when you seeflee…”);
      • vv. 23,27 (Paraphrase: “Do not believe anyone who says I have come; it will be unequivocally false every single time. Trust Me, you will know when I returnyou will not need anyone to tell you.”
      • v. 34 (“…this generation will not pass way until all these things take place…”)
  2. MATT. 24:36-51—THE “SECOND” COMING OF CHRIST/END OF PHYSICAL WORLD
    • Key Verses to Note and Mark in Your Bible
      • v. 36 (“but of that day”—i.e., “that other day about which you asked Me” [see v. 4]);
      • vv. 37-39 (“…as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man… they were unaware until the flood came…”);
      • v. 42 (“…you know not on what day…”)
      • v. 44 (“…an hour you do not expect…”)
      • v. 50 (“…in a day he does not expect, and an hour he does not know…”).

* One could, really, interpret these three questions as being really two, or two and a half. The difficult part is determining if question #2 belongs as a part of #1, or of #3. It could be a reference to “His coming” to execute “these things;” or it could be a reference to “His coming” at the “end of the world.”

**  It is possible that vv. 29-31 are an exception to this; it is certain that vv. 29-31 are quite difficult.



Questions? seth@hwycoc.com.

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