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104: The End of the Age–Part III [Timing]

May 15, 2009

Major Text: Matthew 24:32-41

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 24:32-41      Mark 13:28-32      Luke 21:28-33

Key Verses: Matt. 24:35-36

Outline:

  1. Consider Israel Matt. 24:32-34
  2. My Words are True Matt. 24:35
  3. Only the Father Knows Matt. 24:36
  4. It Will be Sudden Matt. 24:37-41

Context/Discussion/Comments:

This short section of scripture is a transition between the signs given in Parts I and II and Jesus’ message of being watchful, patient, and faithful in Part IV. Jesus addresses several subjects as seen in the Outline.

The first has to do with Israel. You will recall that Jesus had cursed the fig tree Monday and by Tuesday morning it had withered. Now it is Tuesday evening and Jesus refers to it again saying that it will come back to life. The end is near when Israel comes back to life and the previous signs given will become more evident and more frequent [Part I]. Israel will be back to life when the signs of Part II take place. Today Israel is back to life [1948] and it is “summer”. Soon it will be fall, harvest time [the 144,000 Messianic Jews and the rapture], and then winter when all becomes “desolate”.

Jesus says “this generation” will not pass away until all signs have happened. The word for “generation” can refer to an era or even a nation. It obviously refers to something greater than 40-80 years. I originally favored “an era” referring to the “time of the Gentiles” or Church era. But I have now changed and believe it refers to the nation Israel. [See also my notes on Mark.] This interpretation fits the context. This also shows how important chronological context is to interpretation.

In the midst of answering the disciple’s questions on how to discern the end of the age, Jesus very clearly reminds them that He speaks the Truth in those matters and that they should listen carefully. Evidently they did because we have a significant amount of scripture devoted to this subject. He goes on to explain that ONLY THE FATHER KNOWS THE TIME.

Let me add some other thoughts concerning the “time”. First refer back to Lesson 50 and Matt. 16:13-20 where Jesus states “what is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven and what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven”. This came right after Jesus stated that His disciples had the “keys to the Kingdom”, the Gospel. And let me refer you also to Revelation 2-3 and John’s prayer in Revelation 22 to “Come, Lord Jesus”. It is my understanding and belief that the “Church age” will be as long as the Church is effective in proclaiming the Gospel. God wants as many people as possible to place their faith in Him [II Peter 3:8-9]. When the Church is no longer effective [Laodicea], God revitalizes Israel’s heart [spring and summer of the fig tree]. Jesus comes and raptures His believers before His wrath has been released to defeat His enemies. The rapture is not a big event because most Christians will have died naturally or have been martyred during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. Jesus returns in glory to rule on King David’s throne [see Part V] for 1000 years [Rev. 20:1-6] before all is destroyed and we Christians reside in the New Heaven eternally. So what I am saying is that we as Christians have a say in when the end of the age comes based on our faithfulness and effectiveness in proclaiming the Gospel. Only God the Father knows the time of the end of the age. But the end is not based on a certain date but on the faithfulness of His Children in carrying out their responsibility. Therefore, we are ministering under tension, wanting the Lord to come quickly and yet being responsible for proclaiming the Gospel to all who will listen.

It is my conclusion that verses 37-41 refers to the rapture and not when Christ returns to defeat His enemies and set up His millennial reign. But regardless of which view you prefer, His return will be sudden and unexpected. People will believe they are in control/sovereign when really God is Sovereign.

Lessons/Applications:

You now Know the Signs,

But

Only God Knows the Time.

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