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Teachings of Jesus:

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Kingdom of Heaven: marriage supper (Mat 22:1-14)

A certain king made a marriage for his son. Now, as we look at these verses, let's remember that this is a "parable". With parables we only take the "surface" issues. Don't try to connect the dots regarding every last little detail. It's not intended to teach complex doctrine. But to give a "big picture". This parable does not address the son's "bride". Israel was considered as God's "wife". (Hos2,etc) And the Church is Christ's "wife" (Rom7:4,Eph5:32,etc)

However, it does talk about Israel and Gentiles; not as "brides", but as to their -entrance- into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is continuing the same theme He has been talking to the rulers about.

Notice: "And he sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they WOULD NOT come." (vs3) When God commissions Ezekiel, notice how He says of Israel, "..whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, for they are rebellious." (Ez2:7) Israel was God's own special people, as Peter writes to the Believers of the Israeli dispersion, "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.." (1Pt2:9) They had been called, "kingdom of priests." (Ex19:6) The O.T. is full of remembrances of how God had led Israel, done special signs and wonders on their behalf. But they rebelled at every turn. But "with many of them God was not well pleased.." (1Cor10:5) As He said, "They shall not enter into My rest." (Heb3:11) The underlying cause: their "unbelief." (Heb3:19)

Their attitude was that they WOULD NOT come. They insisted "we -WILL- do" what we want...we -WILL-NOT- listen to God. (Jer44:16-17)

And "he sent out other servants..." (vs4) as He did so "rising early and sending them." (Jer25:4,44:4) And they had excuses of all their earthly cares; and furthermore they mistreated the messengers. So, the king sent his troops and destroyed all those invited. (vs8) And scattered them [Israel] to the winds like stubble. (Jer13:24)

Well, the king needs guests to fill his banquet hall. Those he desired were unworthy. (vs8) So he sends out his servants to find anybody that will come, "both bad and good." (vs10) You see, it's "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." (Tit3:5) There is no such thing as self-WORTH. Those who had been "first choice" rejected Him. So, as Gentiles come in, it is not because we are so wonderful. We are of the "wild olive tree" variety. (Rom11:17) Of no value, except as we are grafted in to Christ. (Jn15)

When we consider the matter of the "timing" of the Rapture of the Church, one of the elements of that date is the "filling" of the wedding hall. How many people does it take? The "king" knows. But Israel's "blindness" will continue until that number, the "fullness", has come in. (Rom11:25b)

Also, notice the necessity to get there the right way. Observe the verdict on the one who didn't have the wedding -garment-. How did you get past the ushers without the right clothing? (vs12) He was "speechless." "..that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be under judgment before God." (Rom3:19) When a sinner stands before God, not having been justified by Christ's blood, he will not have any answer to give. Salvation comes at God's invitation, and according to His mercy and cleansing.

Jesus invites, "whoever will, come after Me." (Lk8:34) On another occasion when Jesus told a variation of this parable, after the outcasts were invited, there was still "room" for more, so the king sends the servants to "find more" and to "compel" them to come. (Lk14:23) His desire is "SO THAT MY HOUSE MAY BE FILLED."

Israel rejected. God invited the Gentiles. He continues to invite people. If you reject Him, it will be -your- loss. God will continue compelling people until the "Kingdom of Heaven" is "full". If you reject after He invites you, He will find somebody else...

And you will lose out! "Bind him hand and foot and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

For many are called [invited], but few chosen [enter]." (vs13-14)

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Pharisees taunt: Caesar or God? - (Mat 22:15-22)

Hey! What's going on here! We're trying to corner Him, and He just keeps coming out 'swinging' demolishing us. He's condemning us, and telling us our authority is flawed, and that somebody else will become the religious elite. Why... He's even suggesting that we won't even get into heaven, that we are not "saved". We need a new strategy! Since He "spots" us right away as being 'evil', let's send somebody in to "pretend to be rightous." (Lk20:20) Let's be real clever, and snare Him in His words, and then we can hand Him over to the Roman authorities. After all, He claims to be the "Son of David". -We're- "in charge" around here! The Romans won't think too kindly of someone claiming to be "king".

"Master, we know that you are true, and that You teach the way of God in truth. Nor do you care for anyone [You don't care what anybody thinks about you], for you do not regard the person of men [You don't play favorites nor are you bigoted]." (vs16) We just luuuuv your ministry, and say "amen" to everything you say. We just get such an absolute blessing from your teaching, and we can't wait each day as we 'live' for your next e-mails, and we forward your postings to all our friends, and they all love them, too. The Lord is just -blessing- your ministry...

Therefore, what's your opinion? "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?" (vs17) We want to hear what you have to say on this...

"Why do you tempt Me, you hypocrites?" (vs18)

Oh, but... Jesus! You are so harsh to them. Weren't You listening? They just said they "agree" with Your teaching, and they "respect" You. Why do You insist on name-calling?

As their mouths opened with their first words of schmaltz, before they ever got to their first breath or finished their first sentence, He -knew- their "wickedness". When this kind of stuff comes as e-mail, you who think you're so 'clever', understand that the Spirit of God pops up the "red flag" even to us who are not "Deity" as Jesus was, but are children of God; because we "have [been given] the mind of Christ." (1Cor2:16) We may sometimes "sense" that something is not -quite- right with your correspondence and will 'wonder' about it, as we may humor you for a few exchanges. We are not able to discern your "soul and spirit" (Heb4:12) like Jesus does, but eventually your 'true colors' are amply manifest. I don't know what others in ministry do, but, while -genuine- encouragement from fellow-Believers is certainly appreciated, many who send these kinds of comments this direction will often be exposed back to themselves as "hypocrites" (as Jesus did) or whatever the occasion calls for.

OK, you want an answer? "Show me the tribute money." (vs19) They bring Him a coin. "Whose image and inscription is this?" (vs20) Caesar's. "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (vs21)

What?? If You're the "Son of David", our "king", You should be leading us to rebel against Roman occupation and rule. After all, we are a "theocracy". If you are the Son of God as you claim, You should be only "heavenly minded". And "taxation without representation is...!" You mean Rome is Rome, and God is God?

The Jews always rebelled against God. When they were autonomous as a nation they resisted His will. When He put them under Roman authority, they rebelled against that. But it was Rome's "authority" for that time. As Paul would say, "there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God." (Rom13:1) If the governing authority says to pay tax, pay tax. (Rom13:6) If a philanderer occupies the country's highest office, we may reject the -man- as evil, but we still "honor" the -office- he represents (vs7), even if he doesn't.

Equally, give to God what belongs to God. (vs21b) (Which is something you don't do, either.)

"When they heard these words, they marveled..." (vs22) Rats!! He got us again!!

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Sadducees taunt: resurrection - (Mat 22:23-33)

Well then, here's a good one....

According to Moses, if a man died without children, his brother was supposed to take his widow and give her children, to continue the dead brother's good "name" and "seed".

Well, as it so happens, there were seven brothers. (A nice 'godly' number, right?) The first married a wife, and died. No children. The next married her. No children. Eventually, all seven married her, with no children. Finally, the woman died. Sooo, now, in the resurrection (which we as Sadducees don't believe in, but You say exists) whose wife will she be of the seven, because they all slept with her? (vs25-28)

Jesus answered, "You err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." (vs29)

Now, Jesus! Just wait a minute! Don't You know it's not 'nice' to tell people they're "wrong"? If they actually -are- in error, which hasn't yet been confirmed, You should be more 'diplomatic' with them, so You don't hurt their feelings, or wound their sensitivities. You're basically telling them, flat out, that they, seminary graduates, don't know their Bibles; that they are ignorant. And they, like the pharisees, are not "saved". You should have a little more 'respect' for them with their degrees after their names. Maybe -dialogue- with them. Perhaps if you give them a chance, You'll discover that there are "gray areas" that need -exploring-. And perhaps, You could learn from them, too...and you can all learn from each other. After all, how can we know 'for sure' in matters where there are 'no absolutes'? We shouldn't be so 'proud' as to proclaim that "I'm right and you're wrong." After all, You might be wrong, too, You know. Think of all these people that hang on Your every word, and where You are leading them. That's an aweful responsibility. Why can't You just be open to change...

"In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in Heaven." (vs30)

I think Billy Graham forgot about this verse when he suggests, "..Everything you ever wanted for happiness will be there [Paradise]. People say that the Bible teaches there's no sex in Heaven. If sex is necessary for our happiness and fulfillment, it'll be there...If certain other things that we think are pleasurable - it'll be there. ["Graham's Hedonistic Paradise" Calvary Contender, Feb,99 re: Larry King interview] I do know that this verse made me wonder, years ago, how badly I would -really- want to be in heaven, if I couldn't also be married to (what I discovered later to be) my unequal yoke.

Whatever things are like in heaven, sex won't be necessary. And, while I'm sure it's hard to imagine such a thing now, we apparently won't even miss it. "..the things before will not be remembered, nor come to mind." (Isa65:17) If gold, a most prized earthly possession, is the substance of the streets to be -walked- on; by comparison, our pleasure and joy in God's presence will be so great, that marriage relationships will be an incompatibility with our new state. What we consider as pleasures in this life, will be as sorrow in comparison to what God's presence offers.

Now, as for the resurrection, God does not deal in "death". That is Satan's domain. (Heb2:14) Death is the result of sin. (Gen2:17, Ezek18:4, Rom6:23) But God is righteous. His blessing is "life forevermore." (Ps133:3)

If God is the God of "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", they must be "living". Their bodies died. (Gen25:8, 35:29, 49:33) We know that. But if God is a God of the "living", then these three must be living, and their bodies will be resurrected.

Jesus has already -proven- the 'possibility' of -a- resurrection, by raising Lazarus a few days earlier. (Jn11) As He had also done on other occasion/s. (Lk7:15,22) And He, Himself, in a few more days will become the "firstfruit" of those who -will- rise from the dead. (1Cor15:23)

There is a difference between the soul, spirit and body. When a Believer has Christ in them, the "body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Rom8:10) When Jesus' body died on the cross, He gave up His spirit to the Father. (Lk23:46)

Thus, we can understand Jesus' seemingly contradictory words. "I am the resurrection and the Life! He who believes in Me, though he die, yet he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." (Jn11:25-26) Even if a Believer dies (physically), he will live because of Jesus at the resurrection. And yet, on the other hand, a Believer never dies (spiritually).

Another interesting thought some people derive from these two verses: the Believer who dies will be resurrected. And at the moment of the resurrection, whoever is living at that time as a Believer will not ever die physically. Which certainly agrees with what Paul says, "we shall not all fall asleep [die], but we shall all be changed." (1Cor15:51) The term coined as the "Rapture".

But the resurrection is a certainty, because God deals in -Life-.

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Lawyers taunt: the greatest commandment? - (Mat 22:34-40)

Well, the Sadducees had no success. But His answer was rather "lawyeresque". A different approach...

"Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (vs36)

Jesus is walking all over them. He's condemned them. Has answered their questions with skill, and left them speechless. He has even handled the esoteric ones. Well, let's get right down to business now. Get down to the nitty gritty, and pick Him apart. If we ask Him about the Law, we can certainly wrangle with Him, and find flaws in His 'logic'. And, Heh! Heh! ..with the Law, there's so many of them that tradition has added over the years that we can't even keep track of them all, ourselves.. He can't possibly, either... And, whatever He answers, we can come back with, "Well, what about...??"

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment." You didn't ask for it, but there's more... "The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (vs37-40)

Any question you want to counter with, can be answered by these two.

Think about it... if you truly love God totally, you will do those things that please Him. You will not do anything to disobey. If you truly love your neighbor as yourself, you will not do -to- him anything that you wouldn't want done to yourself; and as you would hope people would look out for your interests, you will do likewise on their behalf.

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I've got one for you: whose son is He? - (Mat 22:41-46)

OK! My turn again.... (vs41)

The Messiah [according to your understanding of the prophets]... Whose son is he? (vs42)

David's.

Well, by the moving of the Holy Spirit David says, "Jehovah [Father] said to my Lord [Son], Sit on My right until I make Your enemies Your footstool for your feet" (vs44)

Question: If Messiah is God's "begotten" (Heb1:5,Ps2:7), the "Lord", Who exists prior to David; how is He to be David's "son" at some -future- date?

No answer. "..nor did anyone -dare- from that day to question Him any more." (vs46)

The religious rulers have attempted to scrutinize Jesus, the One proclaimed as the "Son of David", which title He authenticates with the miracles. Politics and pride are at work. If He is here 'now' as "king" that means Rome will no longer recognize -their- "authority". If He truly is Messiah, that means -their- clout over the people is also gone. They will no longer be looked up to by the people.

They have tried to discredit Him every which way they can think of. But every time, He circumlocutes their purpose to "try" Him and bring Him down; and instead, He is putting them "on trial". Remember the fig tree He looked for fruit on, on His way to these meetings earlier in the day? As He had said, "..shall He find faith..?" (Lk18:8) The Lord and Creator of the universe has just tried them, and found them wanting. They keep coming up speechless. They are "under the law" and their mouths have been "stopped" (Rom3:19) as they have been interrogated by God's Son.

When it comes time that they crucify Him, it will be obvious that He is guiltless; but that they are sinful. They will think they have been "successful" in killing Him; but this will have been the precursor of Him "giving Himself" into their hands. (Is50:6) He has answered all their questions, and pointed out Truth to them; and thus, judged them. When they come to take Him, He will further demonstrate that He is "giving" Himself to them, when He bowls them over backwards with His power (Jn18:6-8) illustrating that if He so chose, they would have no power over Him at all.

However, with the interrogations, they will not be able to claim "ignorance". They have received all the signs and wonders and explanations necessary for them to know Him as Messiah. They can't answer Him; but neither are they believing in Him. (Jn12:37)

"And if any one hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him, for I do not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My words has one who judges him; the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." (Jn12:47-48)

This, now, ends the questions and interrogations between the Jewish rulers and Jesus for the day.

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Rabbi/teacher: be a servant - (Mat 23:1-12)

Well... Jesus has publicly humiliated the religious rulers. They're supposed to be the "big shots" around there, but He has made mince meat out of them. It's "stinging" a bit. They are rather "ticked off", to put it mildly. And they are plotting how they might do what to Him. But they fear the people. (Lk22:2)

Suddenly an "ally" shows up from a most unexpected place. Judas, one of Jesus' followers. Judas sees an opportunity to make some money out of them. And he offers to help them find Jesus away from the crowds. (Lk22:6)

But now Jesus turns His attention to the "crowd and to His disciples." (vs1)

OK, people! The rulers "sit in Moses' seat." (vs2) By Jewish heritage and lineage, these people hold the proper "authority". In Jewish culture according to O.T. law, they were both religious and administrative/judicial authorities. Just as we pay taxes to Caesar, "whatever they [these rulers] tell you to observe, observe and do." (vs3) People, submit to them. They -are- God's representatives to lead you.

Jesus was making it quite clear that He was not there to "take over". To instigate and lead a rebellion or uprising. Remember? He had come -this- time as "Savior". (Lk2:11) Not as ruler with the "rod of iron". (Ps2:9)

So... -do- what they tell you. But don't follow their examples. They don't practice what they, themselves, preach.

They make all sorts of rules and regulations for -others- to keep; but they remain aloof. The good works they do, they do to be noticed. In previous studies we have noticed how they would sound trumpets ahead of themselves to announce their good deeds. And they know how to pray long and vehemently and are skilled in KJ-eze. They're always seen up on the platform. And since they are "men of the cloth" people notice them immediately, and they love to be called "Rabbi! Rabbi!" Father! Reverend! (vs4-7)

But don't be like them. Don't clamor to be called "Rabbi" because you have One Teacher, Christ. And when He goes back to the Father, Jesus said, the Holy Spirit "will guide you into all truth." (Jn16:13) That because of this "anointing" He "teaches you concerning all things." (1Jn2:27) Don't call anyone "father, papa, pap, pappus" (whatever the language). The "catholic" family of churches calls their leaders "father", and the "reformation/protestant/baptist" family call them "reverend". And if someone is way -high-up- there, it's "holy father" or "the very most reverend". There is only -one- "Holy Father" (vs9, Jn17:11) Who is above all. (Jn3:31,Eph4:6) If a -person- accepts the label "Holy Father" he comes dangerously close to being like 'the one' prophesied, "who...exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself forth, that he is God." (2Th2:4) And, indeed, the world renouned -person- with this label -is- looked to by "THE CHURCH", as Scripture and Jesus Christ are rejected, usurped and supplanted.

"But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant." (vs11)

Unlike the rulers, Jesus practiced what He preached. Although being the Son of God and Creator of the universe, He "took on the form of a servant, and humbled Himself to death" (Phil2:5-8) Although being the Creator, and thus "Owner" of all things, He had "nowhere to lay His head." (Lk9:58) And although He was the "Honored One" at the last supper, He performed the lowly servant's job of washing the disciples' feet. (Jn13)

Whoever exalts himself will be abased (humiliated), and he who shall humble himself shall be exalted. (vs12) And this, Jesus was example to, as well. The high-n-mighty rulers had just been humiliated, and in a few more years, would find themselves dead, and their nation dispersed into the world.

But God "has highly exalted [Jesus], and has given Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil2:10-11))

Therefore, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Do not let each man look upon his own things, but each man also on the things of others. For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." (Phil2:3-5)

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Woes: condemnation of hell - (Mat 23:13-39)

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES!

    You close up the kingdom of Heaven to men! You don't go in yourselves. And you don't allow others who -want- to go, to get in. (vs13)

    Before the more perverted versions have been available in recent years, the catholic "church" has forbidden the reading of Scriptures by its parishioners. Their popes and priests have told them It was too difficult to understand, and so they taught them falsehoods and error, which, if a person believes, they will -NOT- get to Heaven.

    Others, like Thomas Nelson publishers, require royalty fees for people to have the privilege of reading their NKJV translation, when there is a desire to post it for public reading, thus, eliminating a certain segment of people who might have otherwise had access to God's Word.

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES!
    You devour widows' houses, and pray at length as a pretense. (vs14)

    'Granny' over here has been a widow for years, but she has this little retirement "nest egg". But your church needs some new fixtures, and you need money to start "your" new radio ministry and to support the staff necessary to do it. We can talk Granny into parting with some of those funds, because we'll persuade her that it's "for the Lord's work" for -her- church.

    A church member has been 'recently' widowed, with large debts, and several small pre-school children to try to figure out how to raise on her own. Pastor comes along, "why don't you sell the farm, and then, you could give that money to -our- church." So much for caring for "widows and orphans"!! (Jas1:27)

    These same pastors are fluent in KJ-eze, and their Sunday morning prayers last at least 5-10 minutes, because they are "so close to God" and "so spiritual" and they believe in the "power of prayer".

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES!
    You compass sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves (vs15)

    You "call" a young man fresh out of Bible school to work in your church for you. He's young, naive and moldable. You teach him to run your programs for you. He hangs on your every word because you appear at first to be a Bible teacher; that when you go into your personal witch-hunts, you have a ready-made "amen-corner" to whom you can look during your sermons and elicit a positive response to bolster your agenda. And he learns to go out and "do exploits" after your 'footsteps' and become another "in your own likeness". But when he finally "wises up" to you, because he 'actually' -is- a Believer, and has fellowship with the Lord through the Scriptures and comes to realize that what you are all about is wrong, and confronts you with it; you kick him out of 'your' church, with the instruction that if he ever wants to be reinstated, he must come on bended-knee to -you- in repentance.

    You have the name "conservative, fundamental, evangelical" and built a name for yourself. You then became the president of a leading seminary with the stated -purpose- as you took on the new position, to soften the school's firm stance on the foundation of Scriptural doctrine, in favor of New Age psychology. In so doing you betray the trust of all those thousands of people who looked to you for solid Scriptural Exposition. The seminary that used to be known for strict adherence to Scripture now produces graduates who no longer know how to be saved, having abandoned the Scriptures as their sole means to God's Truth. As a result, naturally, the people in their churches are on their way to hell.

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES!
    You pay tithes of [little tidbits], but ignore the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy and faith...Blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (vs23-24)

    After service one Sunday, someone tunes the organ for your church, while you push the keys for him. (It takes all of about 10 minutes to do) You later "apologize" to him for having condoned and participated in such "work" on the "Sabbath"... [well, you call it the "Lord's Day" but you 'keep' it like the Sabbath.] But on another occasion when -you- wanted some similar technical help for your phone on the "Sabbath" and you were refused by him, based on your previous -apology- for the previous occasion, you become angry. After all, -you- know all the fine points where to draw the line...especially if -this- time is to your benefit. In -your- case it was "ministry". The other time it was "work". [On the Sabbath tuning an organ is 'work', but sorting out your phone isn't.]

    You argue as to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but when people say you need to join with pagans for religious unity, and lay doctrine aside in order to do so, you join right in, and become a ring-leader.

    "Whoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever shall swear by the gold on the temple, he is a debtor. Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? ...whoever shall swear by Heaven swears by the throne of God, and by Him who sits on it." (~vs16-22)

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES!
    You cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and excess. Blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the ouside of them may be clean also. (vs25-26)

    Because of "purity" and forsaking "lust" you have scolded women and girls under your care if their attire did not meet up to your standards. You have even soundly warmed the bottoms of girls who -accidently- let their skirt rise above their knee. You preached morality and purity to everybody else, and condemn those whom you think to be less than your proclaimed standards. But you, yourself, have a dark secret. You have cheated on your wife, and when confronted with it, you have denied it and attacked your accuser/s, telling them that it is none of their business.

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES!
    You are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (vs27-28)

    A cemetary can be a beautiful, peaceful place. Well-manicured lawns and beautiful flowers, and shiny polished grave stones. I sometimes ride my bicycle at one locally that also overlooks a river valley below, to have some calm and peacefulness. But one does not want to dig up the graves. What's under the ground is grotesque.

    When they preach love, grace, and unity, they do so with pious expressions, within nicely decorated and lighted buildings, with comfortable padded pews. They even pump you up to feel good about yourself, boosting your self-esteem. It feels wonderful. But when they exclude the message of the need for repentance, you end up like those bones, because that's what -they- are. Dead and rotten. "..for their worm will not die, nor will their fire be put out.." (Is66:24)

WOE TO YOU, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, HYPOCRITES!
    You build the tombs of the prophets, and decorate the tombs of the righteous. (vs29-32)

    You claim that you would never do what -they- did centuries ago, when they persecuted Jeremiah, and killed Zechariah. You "love God!" And yet, Jesus knows that -these- He is talking to will be the ones to stir up the people to ask for Barabbas' release, and to crucify Jesus. (Mt27:20) And they will cry out, "let His blood be on us and on our children." (27:25)

    But, "Christians" would never do this today, surely! When a True Believer is politicked and ostracised out of a "church", who usually does it? Pastors and leaders. Who conducted the inquisitions? That which called itself "The Church". Oh, but that was/is "Catholic". Surely -Evangelicals- wouldn't do such things? I periodically read little snippets of comments by people in organizations like Promise Keepers, Moral Majority, Kingdom Restorationists, etc. that there is a growing mentality amongst their leaders to the effect that anybody who stands contrary to their agenda might need to be taken out of the way of their 'progress'. They find Scriptures, out of context, to condone their ideologies.

SERPENTS! OFFSPRING OF VIPERS! HOW CAN YOU ESCAPE THE CONDEMNATION OF HELL?
    Therefore, behold I send prophets and wise men and scribes to you. And you will kill and crucify some of them. And some of them you will scourge [whip] in your synagogues [churches] and persecute from city to city. (vs34)

    These leaders cast the blind man, whom Jesus made to see, out of the synagogue, even while He was still there. (Jn9) And Jesus said to the disciples just before His crucifixion, "They shall put you out of the synagogue. But an hour is coming that everyone who kills you will think that he bears God service." (Jn16:2)

    You see, just as it was then, the same rhetoric exists today; and will grow, particularly after the Rapture. And these things will happen "because they have not known the Father nor [Jesus]." (Jn16:3)

While we have attempted to draw some parallels between Jesus' day and our own with these little examples of things that have actually occured at some point in time in the past, by/to specific people (in some cases, if I inserted names, you would all recognize them), Jesus was heaping up condemnation on the rulers of Israel.

He is on display for Passover. He has come looking for fruit and found them wanting. And now He has proclaimed their true nature and judgment. All the persecution their predecessors have inflicted will be accounted to -them-. (vs36) They will crucify Jesus. And after He leaves He says one of the functions of His followers is IN ORDER THAT they will persecute and martyr them, too. (vs34) As they will shout in a couple days, "His blood be on us, and on our children." (27:25) All the persecution Israel inflicted on any Believers throughout their history was being account to -them-. At that time. This certainly gives augmented understanding to Paul's expression about his own sufferings, "..and I fill up the things LACKING of the AFFLICTIONS of Christ in my flesh.." (Col1:24)

Did Jesus 'enjoy' this? Was this some sort of 'power trip' for Him? 'Hey, I'm in charge now, and I'm gonna zap you all!!"? No! He weeps over them, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!" (vs37) He was always full of "compassion" for them. This railing He has just done on the rulers backs up His understanding about the rest of Israel, of being as "sheep without a shepherd." (Mk6:34)

He says, "Behold, your house is left to you desolate." (vs38) These woes He has just pronounced, follow up the woes Jeremiah had proclaimed. "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture, says the Lord." (Jer23:1) While God certainly judges Israel for their rebellion, His judgment is harshest against the leaders. The word "Woe" appears eight times in this discourse. More than the traditional "perfect seven." Judgment will be poured out. "Lavished" upon them. Perhaps this explains the historical plight of the "wandering Jew" and such atrocities as this century's "holocaust"!

But He also promises yet to care for the sheep. "I will gather the remnant of My flock...and I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them." (Jer23:3-4)

But for 'now' it is condemnation. You're tested and found wanting. You are going to crucify Me. And, you know what? Next time you see Me you will be proclaiming "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" (vs39) And you will mourn as you "look on [Me] Whom you pierced". (Zech12:10)

"And Jesus went out and departed from the temple." (24:1)

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Olivet Discourse: when will these things be? - (Mat 24:1-8)

It must be getting along into the afternoon, approaching evening on Monday. Jesus has been 'on display' in the temple area as God's Passover Lamb, and He is now "[leaving] the temple." (vs1) During this day He has been questioned by the rulers; speaks to the people, telling them to obey the rulers; and then denounces the rulers for their hard-hearted hypocrisy.

Now, as He leaves the temple area He is with His disciples. They admire the temple's grandeur, and He foretells its destruction. They question Him, and He then proceeds to describe the future. But notice that this is a more 'intimate' discussion. Not with the crowds. Not with the rulers. But just those who are following Him... Believers. He has just been blasting away at the rulers. Now, with His followers, a time of calmer reflection. During these days Luke (ch21) tells us that He would spend the days teaching in the temple, and at night would stay at the Mt. of Olives. They have now reached the Mt. of Olives and he sits down (vs3); no doubt, tired from the day's debates and teaching; and the disciples gather around Him. Thus, this following teaching (chs 24-25) is often called the "Olivet Discourse".

The disciples ask three questions: 1) When will these things be? 2) What is the sign of Your coming? 3) and of the end of the age? He answers in a different order, and in a different way.

When will these things be? What things? He has just foretold the destruction of the temple. There will be stages to the 'future'. Jerusalem is also going to be destroyed, again. If you have visited the "Morsels" section at the website, you will notice a group designated as "Day of the Lord". If you follow them through, in sequence, or remember when they were mailed out week after week, there is a progression, beginning with the prophets who foretold Christ's coming, His coming to die, His return in vengeance, His rule during the coming peaceful millennium, His destruction of the heavens and earth and bringing about the New Heavens and New Earth. All of these things are called, "the Day of the Lord". The Day of the Lord extends from when He was first born as a human baby, for around 3000 years, until that time when He hands everything back to the Father when the Father will be uplifted as being "all things in all". (1Cor15:28)

There are people who take these following passages and try to construct a year-by-year 'timeline'. But if we understand that Jesus is roughly sketching out the next 3000 years here, in what Matthew records in two chapters (ch24-25) and Luke in one (ch21), we must open our eyes to the realization that Jesus is painting this 'picture' with a 'broad brush' and 'large strokes'. He speaks in generic terms like "this generation" (vs34), "it is near at the doors"(vs33), "those days"(vs19,22), "in an hour you think not"(vs44), "delays his coming" (vs48), "a long time"(Lk20:9). Many people "strain at gnats" with these passages like a person quality-checking a circuit board under a magnifying glass in an electronics production plant; where, what Jesus is presenting is an "impressionistic" painting. If you are up 'too close', you cannot tell what it is. But if you step back, and look at the 'whole', you see the overall picture more clearly.

As we spend the next couple months of lessons on these passages let us never forget that we cannot "set dates" from them. Jesus said, "But as to that day and that hour, no one knows, neither the angels of Heaven, except My Father only." (vs36) In fact, if somebody comes along claiming expertise and says, "the time has come!" (Lk21:8) Don't go after them. There have been many pied pipers who have made predictions, and those following them have sold everything, climbed a mountain to 'jump' at the prescribed moment...but they were disappointed. Other cults have committed mass-suicide over the matter, to "meet up with" Christ, traveling in a UFO in comets; and all other such stuff.

Some things are sequential. Some overlap. In some cases, some events will happen right in the middle of other generically-progressing events. Many sequential events are known from other Scriptures like Ezekiel, Daniel, 1Cor, 1Ths, Revelation, etc. Other than additional support for what is commonly called by many the "pre-trib rapture", these two chapters don't actually progress necessarily sequentially, except in the very broadest of senses. Thus, we will not treat them as such.

But let us observe one example to prepare our understanding of this "broad" concept; so that when we see similar things in this study, we will understand the prophetic "precedent". Isaiah 61:1-3 outlines in 'broad strokes' the 3000 year period of the Day of the Lord. It begins with Jesus preaching the gospel, healing people, saving people; and continues along with the "day of vengeance" and goes along into the restoration of Israel during His rule, where mourning is turned to joy, and Israel is healed and built back up out of the ashes. The Jews of Jesus' day assumed the -whole- passage foretold of a "specific time" in the generic prophetic timeline. But Jesus read up to "..to proclaim the acceptable year of Jehovah.." and closed the scroll (Lk4:19-21) and sat down to teach and explained how that portion He had just read was -then- being fulfilled. He came to heal and save at -that- time. But He was not yet fulfilling the words about "vengeance" and of Israel's restoration and His kingdom rule. That was Jesus' own explanation of that prophecy; thus, we know it is true.

However, as Jesus came to establish a new covenant with Israel by fulfilling the Passover, they "broke the covenant..[and] acted like traitors..." (Hos6:7) And thus, Hosea speaks of Israel's restoration after 2000 years of being "stricken" (Hos6:1) as they are then raised up "in the third day".(vs2) And so, while there is 3000 years to the Day of the Lord, only the first part of Is61:1-3 was fulfilled 2000 years ago; even though the whole 3000 years is foretold in those three short verses.

Please remember this example as we progress in Matthew 24-25.

So... the first thing Jesus begins with is, "See that not any leads you astray." (vs4) This is quite important. The wolves and false prophets taunt any Believer who seeks to beware, by accusing them of being "judgmental" and of a "critical spirit". But John warns, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world." (1Jn4:1)

"..many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ..." (vs5) Throughout a majority of the past 2000 years there has been a "church" whose leader claims to be "in the place of Christ". His "vicar". The deception has been so great, that when a faction (protestantism) split off from it, many followed after the faction, assuming that since it was a break-away from the false, that -it- was Christ's "Church". But they were merely two sides of the same coin. And the churches from this second lineage follow many of the same patterns established by the first; including the exaltation of the one who inhabits the "altar" area, and various symbolisms and rituals. Whatever he says, goes. And in some cases, this -man- from the altar area expiates the sins of the whole congregation, in view of the title "Reverend" which he possesses. As though he were Christ. Thus, both sides are false. And so, people are deceived, because many of the faction's leaders are considered to be "great men of God"; thus, people read -their- writings instead of Scripture.

You see, that is the most clever form of deception; to have what is quite clearly false, and then contrive something which appears to be in contradistinction to that false thing, thus, persuading people that it (the new entity) 'must' be the truth. When, in reality, it is just as false as the original entity it claims to expose. But, because the deceptions are more subtle and -contain- truth, they are more difficult to see and expose. They proclaim "Sola fide", justification, propitiation, grace, etc. All the basic correct doctrines...but have closed up the 'door' which gains a person access to those doctrines... "repentance". [Ed: As review of this concept, please see the Aug,99 commentary "The Gospel of Jesus Christ..? a most clever deception"]

"..you are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See, do not be terrified. For all things must take place, but the end is not yet." (vs6) Throughout this time there have been wars, inquisitions, rebellions, revolutions. Even during WWII, many said that Hitler was the antichrist. Well, like Jesus said, that wasn't yet "the end" was it.

"..famines, plagues and earthquakes.." (vs7) The "potato famine" of Ireland, the "black plague" of earlier years. There was polio. Today it's Aids. And at various times during the past century, even, there has always been -some- part of the world where people are starving to death by the multiplied thousands. And in spite of modern technology, there are new strains of viruses that have developed themselves to be immune to medicines, and there are no cures. Earthquakes are proliferating.

Jesus said that all these things "must take place." But "all these are a beginning of throes." (vs8) What does that mean? It's like birth pangs. Paul speaks of judgement/wrath coming like "travail to the pregnant woman." (1Th5:3) The woman experiences pregnancy for 9 months. She gets bigger and bigger. There is discomfort of various forms and intensity along the way. And finally, it's "time" to give birth, and the -real- 'sorrow' (vs8 mkjv) comes. But when the final judgment comes, all that led up to that moment will be as nothing compared to the "throes" (spasms, agony, struggles) of the moment. The pangs of birth, and everything associated with it, are so severe that some women die in the process. And so Jesus says about the time that is coming, "..except those days were shortened, not any flesh would be saved.." (vs22)

Thus far since Jesus spoke these words, the world has had a 2000-year 'pregnancy'. The 'birth' is yet to come!

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Olivet Discourse: tribulation - (Mat 24:9-22)

"Then they will deliver you up to affliction and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name." (vs9)

This word "then" has caused many to suggest that the persecution in vss 9-10 is some future event. That the Church-age goes up to vs8, and then the "tribulation" starts at vs9. That -we- as the "Church" need to get prepared for the 'coming' persecution. However, when we see Lk21:12, we see that "before all these" (wars, famines, earthquakes) is when this persecution occurs. Remember our introduction to these passages as being like the 'impressionistic painting'. As though to say, "over here we have ??. And 'then' over there is ??" Or, put another way, "Here we have this section, and 'then' there's this other section." The word "then" not necessarily indicating "-now- something occurs, and -then- [after that, in time] the next thing occurs." But more the idea of, "Let's look at this...then...let's look at that."

If we look at history, and read books like Fox's "Book of Martyrs" we can see clearly that events like these have already occurred during the few centuries after Christ spoke these words. And even when the catholics and protestants were fighting amongst themselves centuries later, they -both- were persecuting True Christians and Jews. While we "Christians" look at these words as being "Christian persecution", let us not forget the "Jewish" part of the equation. Who, more than the descendents of Israel, have been despised by "all nations". Jesus was speaking to His 'Jewish' disciples, who were asking about the destruction of their 'Jewish' temple. He is answering their 'Jewish' questions.

When we read Lk21:12, we see a foretaste of what actually happened later in Acts. The apostles were dragged before the Jewish religious leaders in the temple. As the (Jewish) missionaries travelled about, they always first went to the synagogues to proclaim Christ. And it was the -Jews- from those synagogues who continually chased Paul around, harassing him, beating and stoning him. And it was Paul who appealed to Caesar, and in the process of getting to Rome, spoke before various "kings and rulers". And in more recent times, when a missionary goes into an area, who do they often communicate with? Village -chiefs-, and other such rulers. But the fact that persecutions is an ongoing thing is obvious.

We see vs11-12 today. Many false prophets rising and causing many to err. That's what the whole charismatic prophetic "new revelations" is all about. And "lawlessness shall have been multiplied, the love of the many will grow cold." (vs12) That's precisely what we see today. Mothers putting their own babies in plastic bags and smothering them to death. Tying them in cars, and driving the cars into lakes to drown them. Just recently (as this is written in the beginning of October) in my city, a mother killed her own child, in her driveway, with a kitchen knife. People have been killing people since Cain slew Abel. But now, that which has always been considered the strongest bond, of "mother and child"... that love is "cold". And why not! They've been killing the unborn for decades by the millions!!

But Jesus interjects a little note of encouragement. "But the one who endures to the end, that one will be kept safe." (vs13) Notice how most Rome-based translations have the "enduring" -resulting- in "BEING saved". We know that salvation is by "grace through faith..not of works." (Eph2:8-9) Paul affirms God's safe-keeping of His own, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution...for I am persuaded that [nothing]...will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord." (Rom8:35,38)

I receive periodic e-mails from "baby" Christians, or ones who are just now realizing the nature of the apostasy, and are coming out of it. They express the "confusion" from all that they are bombarded with. Some receive taunts and abuse for holding true to God's Word. I think about how many years I've been a Christian, and think to all those years I was deceived within the system, and within my own spirit I 'shudder' to consider what it must be like for some of them. I was well-versed in the Scriptures, and yet was deceived...they are just now getting started in God's Word.

But notice Jesus' encouragement. It is not necessarily the one who knows it all, but the one who "endures", remaining "firm, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord..." (1Cor15:58) Not caving in to the deception and being led away. Happily, the Lord knows the heart. (Heb4:12) So He is able to keep the pure one, providing the necessary support. (Heb2:18) When the going gets rough, if you turn tail and run, and deny the Lord, He has promised to also deny you. (Mt10:33) But if you remain true to Him, no matter what, you will be "kept safe". Now, if He was promising "being killed"(vs9), this "kept safe" is for Eternity, isn't it! "Everlasting life" (Jn3:16) "And you should not fear the ones killing the body, but not being able to kill the soul." (Mt10:28a)

Now, this, could refer equally to past, present and future.

And then, "this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end." (vs14) However, this, now, appears to be future. We do not presently preach the gospel of the "Kingdom". The "gospel" Paul proclaimed, which we preach, is the "Gospel of Jesus Christ". (1Cor15:1-4) While modern missionary efforts are to be commended as they fulfill the 'Great Commission' (Mt28:19-20), I do not believe they are what Jesus is talking about here. This is the gospel of the Kingdom. A "Jewish" entity. Could it be that the 144,000 who are sealed of the tribes of Israel (Rev7:4;14:1-5), and the angel "having an everlasting gospel to proclaim to those dwelling on the earth" (Rev14:6-7) are the fulfillment of this little bit?

"Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (the one reading, let him understand), then let those in Judea flee into the mountains..." (vs15-16)

There is a belief called "preterism" that maintains this has already been fulfilled; and thus, -all- these prophecies have been fulfilled. That when Roman came in 70AD and desolated Jerusalem, and people fled, some even holding up in Masada until 73AD, that all prophecy has been fulfilled, and we have now been living in the 'spiritual' kingdom.

In considering the "abomination of desolation" many thought that Antiochus IV Epiphanes ("god manifest"), who stopped the sacrifices in 169BC was the one prophesied (Dan11:36), which Paul amplifies with "proclaiming that he himself is God." (2Th2:4) Or that Pompey entering the 'Holy of Holies' in 63BC was the one "standing in the holy place". And in at least one of these occasions (or both?), the invaders actually desecrated God's altar by sacrificing an ("unclean") pig on the altar.

But, the fact that there is yet a future element to this -has- to become obvious, because they fail to notice one aspect of Daniel's prophecies. He speaks of "seventy weeks" (Dan9:24) regarding Israel and Jerusalem. The 69th week was completed when Jesus was crucified. (9:26) And then 26b tells of Jerusalem's destruction in 70AD by the Romans... "the people of the ruler who SHALL COME.." And then, that ruler will "confirm a covenant with many for one week". (9:27) According to the previous verses, that week is a group of 'seven years'. The "70th week" of the "seventy". And notice that it is "in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease.." and he goes on to speak of the "desolating abomination"

There has never yet been such a period of time, of "seven years". Thus, we have to understand that there will come another surrounding of Jerusalem when its inhabitants will flee for their lives. Which matter is confirmed for us in Rev12:14, where it speaks of Israel's safe-keeping in the "wilderness" for three and a half years. Masada was only about two or three (?) years, and they all committed suicide.

While Lk21:24 seems to point to 70AD, where Israel was scattered "into all nations"; Mt24:15 in referencing Daniel, points to the future. Again, remember that 'impressionistic painting' we illustrated, and the fact that this entire passage is covering 3000 years with broad brush strokes. It is talking about "Israel". The destruction of Jerusalem at 70AD, and the coming 70th week, if we remove the intervening years of the gentiles, and put them together...overall, they look to be close together in a prophetical sense. So, Jesus could easily have been talking about -both- in the same sentence. Again, remember Is61:2.

The fact that the primary thrust is -future- is borne out.. "For there will be great affliction, such as has not happened from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever will be." (vs21) It will be the worst time of affliction the world will ever experience. Certainly Jerusalem's demise in 70AD was tragic, but such things had happened previously, and to many nations since. We might think the Holocaust during WW2 was worse, thus, 70AD was not it. Whatever it is, the nature of it is so terrible that, if God did not put a stop to the events as they will unfold, "not any flesh would be saved." (vs22) This word "flesh" referring to -all- living creatures, man and animal.

It will be a time when "the powers of the heavens will be shaken." (Lk21:26b) The time when the "dragon" is cast to the earth, and wreaks havoc in "great anger" (Rev12:12) as it is proclaimed "Woe to the ones dwelling on the earth...because the Devil came down to you.." When one reads in Revelation, putting the several accounts together, one realizes that before all is said and done, over half the earth's population will have been annihilated.

Even of Israel, only a third will survive alive. (Zech13:8-9) But -because- of Israel, God's "elect" (Mt24:22), God has "shortened" those days. Israel will have been purified as gold, as God will again call them "My people". (Zech13:9)

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Olivet Discourse: His coming - (Mat 24:23-31)

"Then if anyone says to you, Behold, here is the Christ! Or, Here! Do not believe. For false christs and false prophets will rise up. And they will give great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I tell you beforehand." (vs23-25)

What could be greater than the "Moving of God!" The "outpouring of the spirit" as it "flows over the world!" People coming under the "annointing" and "power" of "the Lord" as they "yield themselves" to him. And as all this happens, "God's power" is manifest as "He does new things" in ways not done before. What we need to do it step aside and see what new things "God" is working. We -know- it is the "Holy Spirit" because we can "feel" it. "He" lays us flat as we are "slain in the spirit" and we receive our "heavenly language". People are healed, and covered in the gold of the annointing. The ones who lead in this are being raised up as "apostles and prophets" ...so-ordained by "the Holy Spirit".

There are various ones who have been rising up, calling themselves "Christ" returned in the flesh. There are apparitions of all sorts. All sorts of things in the realm of the 'miraculous'.

All the "signs and wonders". All that we are seeing today is merely the beginning of what will be. With all these miracles happening around the world, how can it -not- be the hand of God?! People have -seen- it. They've -experienced- it. If it has been -experienced-, it must be so... right? They said the same thing about Simon, the conjurer, "This one is the power of God, which is great." (Acts8:10)

Jesus says, when all these things happen "Do not believe." Those who follow these things are being "led astray". And Jesus warns, "Behold, I tell you beforehand." You are forewarned. Do not be deceived.

For all of these miracles that proliferate, nothing will be like when Jesus -actually- comes. "For as the lightning comes forth from the east and shines as far as the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man." (vs27)

Now, to be sure, satan will be imitating that, too. Recently someone sent an e-mail account of one of these false-prophet meetings. During the service, the people inside the building saw a great thunder storm, dark clouds, lightning, and rain. But when the service was over, and people went outside, there was no sign of it having rained outside. No indication that there had been a thunderstorm during that time. You see, the antichrist will also be imitating Christ's coming. The "beast" "..even causes fire to come down out of the heaven onto the earth before men. And it deceives those dwelling on the earth because of the signs which were given to it to do..." (Rev13:13)

When Christ comes, there's going to be lots of "dead bodies" (vs28) with birds gorging on the 'feast'. (Rev19:17) The nations will have all been gathered at Israel (Rev16:14-16), and Christ will come like lightning and "zap" them all. (Rev17:14,19:11-21)

You see, also, when Christ comes there's going to be astronomical upheavals happening with the sun, moon and stars. (vs29) Whatever causes all this will cause the oceans to heave. (Lk21:25) And such a large earthquake like has never been before (and there have been some big ones) that all the islands will sink out of sight. (Rev16:20) These are the days foretold by Joel, "blood, and fire, and columns of smoke." (Joel2:30) In that day, "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low...and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken." (Is40:4-5) And when the world sees it "[all] together" I seriously doubt it will be via TV or internet; as Pat Robertson made a boast a few years ago about having his TV cameras at the Mt. of Olives as he "welcomes" Christ back. All those media will have been destroyed by that point. If He comes and appears like lightning; if we understand that light can circle the earth seven times in a second, it is so fast...it will be as nothing for the Lord to encircle the earth in such a way that all humanity can see Him at the same time.

When Christ comes in the way He does, all these other false signs and wonders will be as 'nothing'. He will come "with power and much glory". And "all the tribes [all humanity] of the land will wail." (vs30)

Christ will be coming "and all the saints with You." (Zech14:5) "Saints" are "holy" ones. Those who have, prior to this occasion, believed into Jesus Christ (including the Church). And so He comes, sends His angels to "gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the heavens to their ends." (vs31) The ones being "gathered" are obviously -different- from the ones coming -with- Him. These elect ones are not -yet- believers. They are God's "elect" ...Israel.

When He comes, He will gather Israel yet in unbelief. He "foreknew" Israel in their unbelief, and preserved them, not "thrusting them away". (Rom11:2) He foreknew -them- and elected -them-. "..for Israel My elect, I entitle you. I name you, but you do not know Me. I am Jehovah, and there is none else; there is no God except Me. I will clothe you, though you do not know Me," (Is45:4-5)

It is -Israel- that was scattered "as the stubble that passes away to the wilderness wind." (Jer13:24) Thus, Jesus uses the same terminology regarding collecting them, -Israel-, back from those "winds" to which they were scattered. And we are told, further, that while God is gathering them in unbelief, God is going to "cut a new covenant with the house of Israel...I will put My law in their inward parts, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Jer31:31-33)

No! Mt24:31 is -not- the rapture of the "Church".

Further Clarification: "Resurrection and Christ's Elect"

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Olivet Discourse: when will it happen? - (Mat 24:32-35)

Learn the parable of the fig tree: When its branch becomes tender and it puts out leaves, you know that the summer is near; so also you, when you see all these things, know that it is near at the doors. (vs32-33)

OK. We're back to the question the disciples asked originally. Remember how He begins by saying that all the bad stuff was only the "beginning of throes." (vs8) But that "the end is not yet." (vs6) In the next chapter He is going to talk about the duties of His followers during the "long time" (Lk20:9) that He is away, "preparing a place". (Jn14:2) They thought, because He was there 'now', that the "kingdom of God was immediately to be revealed." (Lk19:11)

So He says, essentially, Yes, things will be quite rough for a long time. But it's not yet -the- "time". And then paints various parts of that 'painting' we spoke of previously. We know what the 'continual' conditions will be: wars, rumors of wars, famines, etc. Then, we know what His return will be characterized by. The parable of the fig tree is a lesson in how things progress. We know the seasons by observation. When plants are budding and putting forth leaves, we know we are in the spring time, going into summer. When leaves turn yellow, red and brown, we know that fall is here, and that winter follows soon. When will the first 80-degree day occur? We don't know. But we can know it's soon as we watch the plants grow. When will the first snow fly? We don't know the date, but as the trees are all bare of their leaves, and the winds are blowing cold, we know we had better have the house prepared for winter. And as we stick our nose out the door, we can "smell" that storm coming, feel the 'crisp air' and we know it's "soon".

In the same way, as we read the Scriptures, read all the prophecies of what is to come, and see how the world is progressing and lining up with Scripture, we also know that Christ's return is close, "at the doors." We're not going to discuss at this point in the study what all these indicators of His "soon" return are; we have done so numerous other times.

But -come- they will. And His return is -sure-. What can be more sure than the sun rising every morning and setting every evening? Well, Jesus says that "the heaven and the earth will pass away." (vs35) And Peter tells us how this will be so, with great noise and heat as they are burned up. (2Pt3:10)

"..but My words will not pass away, never!" (vs35b)

And 'when' will these events occur? "In no way will this generation pass away until all these things have occurred." (vs34) What does "generation" mean? It can mean anything from "the whole of humanity" to specific periods of years, as represented by the time from father-to-son, and from that son to the son he fathers; generation after generation. Some view a generation as 30-33 years. Others, 40 years. Gen15:16 seems to indicate a period of 100 years.

Somehow it doesn't seem to make sense that He would be saying the "whole of humanity" because these events include and involve humanity. It would be somewhat silly to suggest that judgment of humanity is going to occur, if humanity is already gone.

Some sort of time-frame would -seem- to make more sense. But 'how long' a generation is He speaking of? And at what date does "this" generation begin? If we don't know the "day and hour" (vs36) of His return, we can't very well know when that generational period begins, either, can we. But we do see ourselves living during a time when Israel has become a nation again, in their original geographic location. We live in a time when "knowledge [has] increased" (Dan12:4) and people "run to and fro." All the things written in Revelation have all the preparations 'in place' and 'ready-to-go'. We hear the rumblings almost daily as nations are getting situated for Gog/Magog (Ezek38-39) and the "kings from the east". (Rev16:12) As we observe the "fig tree" it seems -quite- apparent that we, now, are part of -that- 'generation' when these things will be fulfilled.

But as we are in that generation, Jesus assures... It WILL happen!

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Olivet Discourse: watching for His return - (Mat 24:36-44)

"But as to that day and that hour, no one knows, neither the angels of Heaven, except My Father only." (vs36)

Back to that 'painting'... I'm not an artist, but I find it fascinating to watch artists do chalk drawings or paintings. Invariably, as the artist has the finished product in mind, they will often have these "blobs" sitting some place, with "no apparent reason" for its being there. Particularly, if the artist is telling a story while drawing, like missionary chalk artists would do, they will purposely leave that "blob" and work all-around it, keeping the suspense up as to "what will become of that blob". Until the final touches are laid down, that blob seems "out of place".

Prophetically we have Daniel speaking of "70 weeks". (Dan9) We know there is yet a period of "seven years" which is somehow divided in the middle. We know that from the middle of those years there will be 1290 & 1335 days. (Dan12:11-12) We see similar types of numbers in Revelation dealing with three and a half years. (Rev12:14) And 42 months. (Rev11:2,13:5) And so, if a person knows when the man of sin "confirms the covenant" and sees the "desolating abomination" in that context, then, all they have to do is count the days to when Christ returns. It's kind of a "no brainer".

But Jesus says, "as to that day and that hour, no one knows..." (vs36) Notice the wording carefully. Notice that He doesn't say that no one knows when the judgments He's just been talking about, will occur. "..that day and that hour.." What is -that- day? What is -that- hour? (What is -that- "blob"?)

He is talking about "the coming of the Son of Man" (vs37) and "what hour your Lord comes." (vs42) Up until this point Jesus has been talking about 'them' and what's happening 'out there' ...to the world. How the "tribes of the earth" and "they" will see His coming "with power". He has warned His followers not to be deceived 'by -them-' (false prophets).

But now He is talking to the disciples about "-your- Lord". This is easily a companion passage to Jn14:3, "..I am coming again and will receive -you- to Myself.." As we have noted on other occasions, two different events; His "appearance and His kingdom". (2Tm4:1) When He comes "with power" it will be to set up His "kingdom". The "gospel" that will have been proclaimed just prior to that will be the "gospel of the kingdom" (vs14) But He is now talking about the culmination of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1Cor15:1-4) That's the Gospel the Church proclaims; the Church, being His bride. (Eph5:32) In the midst of this 3000 year 'painting', here is this 'blob' often called the "Rapture".

We know this is so, because the focus has changed. Up until now He has been speaking of all sorts of catastrophes and carnage. Now He's talking about Noah going into the ark, where he and his family were 'saved' out of the flood. (vs38) He speaks of being "counted worthy to -escape- all these things which are about to happen.." (Lk21:36) He tells the "faithful church" that He will "keep you out of the hour of trial which is going to come on all the habitable world in order to try those dwelling on the earth." (Rev3:10) Try "those"... not "you" the -faithful- Believers.

This is the event we don't know the "day and that hour". It will occur when the rest of the world seems to be going along "as usual". "Eating, drinking, being married." These things the world finds most important to its existence. (vs38) It is in this context He describes, "Two will be [doing whatever they do]" and "one is taken away, and one is left." The Believers will simply be "caught up..in the clouds to a meeting with the Lord in the air.." (1Th4:17) Sodom had nary a clue that they were about to be destroyed. They continued in their debauchery, even to not recognizing the angels who came to rescue Lot, wanting to include them in their perversions; they engaged in commerce and farming, as usual. Lot and family were dragged out to safety, and THEN destruction came. (Lk17:29)

We are instructed to "Watch, then, for you do not know in what hour your Lord comes." (vs42) If we are Believers, why do we need to watch? Why does it matter, if we don't know 'when' it will be? If we are Believers, whenever He 'gets around to it' He will come and take us. Big deal! ..??

He illustrates the "thief" who "digs through" into the house. In this case the thief is not coming right in the front door, and breaking in the windows. He's sneaking in from underneath, trying to be undetected. Coming through the "foundation". This is another warning against deception. Remember how the false prophets will be so clever with their Christian "look-alike" signs and wonders, if it were possible to deceive "even the elect." They are digging through the "foundations" of Scriptural doctrine. As they dig through, they are "casting aside" what they dig. Throwing it away, trying to get -at- the true Believers; trying to steal away and destroy what they have.

If you still hold to "once saved, always saved", please understand what Jesus is saying here, and rethink your position. Why do you suppose Jesus says so often to not be deceived,(vs23) if it doesn't matter? God's "eternal security" is effective upon those who "endure to the end". (vs13) He has saved them "by grace through faith" (Eph2:8) and "not by works of righteousness..." (Tit3:5) They will be "kept safe". But He warns against being "led astray". (vs4) Paul repeatedly warns in his epistles about not being deceived.

As it draws closer and closer to the time when the Lord returns for His Church, you can be sure that satan also can see the "fig leaves" and he knows what season we are approaching. He continually "digs" and pushes and tries every which way to pull Believers away from God. But even he doesn't know that "day or hour".

Therefore Jesus uses the word "watch". (vs42) This word does not mean, merely, to be 'standing at the windows, waiting to -see- Him appear on the horizon'. "Do you see Him yet? Is He here yet?" Like the children eagerly waiting for Grandma and Grandpa to drive up the driveway. No. The word means to be "on guard". Watching like a sentry. Being "ready". (vs44) We are in warfare against "the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenlies." (Eph6:12b) As all the 'signs and wonders' proliferate to attempt to lure us away from God's Word, we are to "test the spirits, whether they are from God.." (1Jn4:1) Guarding our "house" that it not be broken into; and that when the floods come along, the foundation is still in tact so the house does not fall. (Mt7:24-27)

By the way...
For those of you who have been following the false prophets who proclaimed that 1993 was the date, on the White House lawn, when the "covenant" was signed between Israel and the PLO, and are expecting Jesus "second coming" in 2000... that obviously was not it was it. There wasn't anything for three and a half years where Israel was hiding out in the wilderness right now. But for the rest of you, were it to be the case that the Lord should come in 2000 to receive His own (in the rapture), you can be sure that these false prophets will resort to their interpretations, and proclaim that the "wicked" ones were the ones -taken-, and those going into the "kingdom" were -left-.

Do not be deceived!

Q/A -Second Coming - Rapture
Q/A -Taken/Left vs Wheat/Tares

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Olivet Discourse: faithful servants - (Mat 24:45-51)

"My brothers do not be many teachers, knowing that we will receive greater judgment." (Jas3:1)

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his Lord has set over His household, to give to them the food in season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord shall find so doing when He comes." (vs45-46)

Most of Jesus' warnings are about the "false prophets" who come as "wolves in sheep's clothing". (Mt7:15) And as Paul convened a conference near Ephesus, he warns the same thing. (Acts20:29) He says these wolves will come both from the outside (vs29) and "from your own selves". (vs30) And Paul's warnings were "night and day with tears." (vs31)

And as they warned, so do we. Typically, people don't like so much "negativity". They want to be "happy, happy!" But a good portion of Scripture is "warning" against being led astray.

Jesus is talking to His disciples. Having a 'private' conversation. These men in a few weeks will become the leaders of what becomes the "Church". So He's giving them some pastoral exhortation. Paul warned the conference near Ephesus, "take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased through His own blood." (Acts20:28)

What is the duty of the 'shepherd'? To "grow a church"? To oversee the construction of fine buildings? To organize campaigns and programs?

Paul says, "feed the church of God." Jesus says "to give them the food in season." What is this "food"? "..preach the Word, be urgent in season, out of season, convict, warn, encourage with all long-suffering and teaching. (2Tm4:2) "Until I come, attend to reading, to exhortation, to teaching." (1Tm4:13) Give attention to yourself and to the doctrine; continue in them, for doing this, you will both deliver yourself and those hearing you. (vs16)

What an awesome responsibility God's ministers have! It is not something one goes into because they think it will be a "cush job". It is something God calls a person to do. And if we consider that he is to feed, teach, convict, warn, encourage...we see the warnings given to Ezekiel of the "blood" that is on one's hands, depending on the kind of warning given.(Ez33) Paul writes that ministers of Christ are "stewards of the mysteries of God" and as such, the primary quality of such a servant that is required, is to "be found -FAITHFUL-." (1Cor4:1-2)

Faithful to whom? Who is his "boss"? The church council? The church's denominational hierarchy? No. The servant is one "whom his Lord has set over His household." (vs45) It is the Lord's flock. It is the Lord's call upon the servant. And... it is the Lord's -message-. Jesus sets out the nature of the rewards to the faithful servant. (vs47)

However, there is a stern warning for the unfaithful (wicked) ones. Notice the context of the "wicked servant". (vs48) Notice the -message- the wicked servant proclaims. "My Lord delays to come..."

And, indeed, this is what we see today! Aside from the whole set of charismatic doctrines that are the foundation for the false signs and wonders, there are two essential doctrines being maligned in these days. They are not proclaiming "repentance"; and they are saying that the Lord's return will not be as He said it would be. They are proclaiming that the Lord is -not- coming to take His Church, but rather, that they are preparing the church for the Lord to come and rule over...a church of -their- contrivances. You see, Christ foretold today's error in this warning. Not only does He have it all planned as to 'when' He is coming, He also has already told us what errors to watch out for before He does come.

This rejection of what is commonly called "pre-trib rapture" is a -tide- of apostasy. -MANY- of those occupying the pulpits, who used to proclaim it, are now "falling away". It is of epidemic proportions! Many excuse their unbelief by saying things like, "I'd rather be safe than sorry" ...thus, preparing "just in case" the 'pre-trib rapture' was wrong. Such attitudes highlight the person's unbelief. But it is important enough that Jesus made a special point of warning us against this -specific- error! Notice: the "crown of righteousness" goes to the "ones loving His appearance" (2Tm4:8) Not, the "kingdom" (2Tm4:1)

If you know better, and are having troubles accepting the fact of His appearance, reverse-logic would suggest that which is in your heart. "You will know them by their fruits." (Mt7:16a) "Fruits" can include a whole host of things besides -just- those things listed in Gal5:22-23. When Jesus promises to come to receive the Believers to Himself (Jn14:3), and a person says they don't believe it, and are preparing to go through God's judgment, such "works" (Jas2:18) pretty much declare the person's heart as being in Unbelief!

Many of -you-, reading this, are ones who proclaim and teach. Some of you have been deceived, and need to confess and return to faithfulness to God's Word.

Others of you know better. You are false prophets. For some reason you seem to think you are a "Christian" and on your way to heaven... eventually... after you've been "refined" (contrary to Scripture) in the coming time of judgment and wrath. But hear what Jesus says is in store for you...

"the Lord of that slave will come in a day in which he does not expect and in an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in two, and will appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (vs50-51)

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Olivet Discourse: getting into Heaven - (Mat 25:1-13)

Since this passage was already addressed back in January, 97 as a Commentary, "5 Wise - 5 Foolish", I'm going to insert that writing here in this series, and make a few modifications for this study.

Let us take a brief look at Jesus' parable of the 10 virgins. And, as is appropriate with parables, we look at the primary surface (obvious) issues illustrated, not attempting to teach doctrine from all of its little details. [Ed: ...like we began our understanding of chs24-25, of the "broad brush" strokes of the 'impressionistic painting'.] He's not describing the "bride" or the Jewish traditions of who the virgins might have been. This parable talks about getting into heaven, and what it takes to "get in".

All 10 virgins had lamps. They had the label that they "belonged." They all APPEARED to be "Christians."

But you notice, only 5 had oil with them. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The 5 foolish, "taking their lamps, did not take oil with them"(vs3), were Not Christians. "Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." (Rom8:9b)

The announcement was made, "Behold the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!" Jesus said, "Now when these things BEGIN TO happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."(Luke 21:28) What are "these things?" To anybody with open eyes, we see prophecy being fulfilled right and left as things are prepared for what is to happen, as foretold, during the time of God's wrath and judgment upon the world.

So, the 'proof' of having the Holy Spirit (oil) is when the wick can be brought to flame. Jesus said of Believers, "you are the light of the world". (Mt5:14) How do we know there is true faith? When something is manifest in the outworkings. (Jas2:17-18) And so, as the Lord returns for His own, the outworkings are tested to see of what sort they are. (1Cor3:13) In the case of a lamp, if there is -no- oil, there isn't going to be any flame, is there. There is -no- "work", good or bad, to manifest the Faith. There is no work, because there is no Holy Spirit. But there is the -perception-, because they are carrying the lamp.

When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, it says that the appearance was like "tongues of fire". (Acts2:3) Can you grab a 'tongue' of fire and put it in a box? Can a flame be contained? Jesus explained the Holy Spirit like the "wind blowing". (Jn3) You cannot see the -actual- wind. You cannot take a 'piece' of wind and put it in a container. But you see it is there, because the grass is leaning, flags are fluttering and you wrap your jacket around you tighter to keep warm. If the flag isn't fluttering, there is no wind. If a flame cannot be ignited in a lamp, there is no oil. The person is minus "light". If all you have is a lamp, but no Holy Spirit, your "light" is no -light- at all; you might as well be carrying a flashlight without any batteries, all the good it will do you. When a person is minus the Holy Spirit "..how great is the darkness!" (Mt6:23)

The wise keep preaching to the foolish to "get oil"; "repent and believe in the gospel" (Mk1:15) and "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts2:38b) Now, in our 'impressionistic painting' the way people back then could get oil, was to go "buy" it. Jesus says to today's "church" "..I advise you to buy from Me gold having been fired by fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, and your shame and nakedness may not be revealed. And anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see." (Rev3:18) And so, people go about "buying"; stock-piling -physical- supplies to "go through the tribulation". But you see, what Jesus offers "for sale" is "with no price". (Is55:1) It is "a gift of God, not of works." (Eph2:8-9)

You see...these people have heard the midnight cry, and rather than having the Holy Spirit, and looking for Christ, are back in the villages buying up what they think they need. And while they are thus engaged, the Bridegroom comes (appears) and the Wise (with the Holy Spirit) follow Him in to the banquet hall.

"And the door was shut." (vs10) And then the foolish come along, discovering they were wrong, and too late. And the Lord says, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you."(vs12)

So... you were wrong, and the Rapture happened, and you are left behind? You might think, "Oh, I can always 'get saved' ...THEN."

SORRY, FRIEND!! It doesn't work that way! When the "lawless one" comes he will display "signs and lying wonders..with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they DID NOT receive the love of the truth [when they had the chance]. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned WHO DID NOT believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness"(2Ths2:9-11)

Yes, many will be "saved" during the Tribulation. (Rev7:14) But, if you knew the Truth before the Rapture, and refused to believe, don't count on any "second chances" when all hell breaks loose!

For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:2)

The ones with the lamps will come and say, 'See?? We have lamps. We're christians. Didn't we do all sorts of wonderful things "in Your name"?

"Then surely from their fruits you shall know them." If their lamps have oil, they will glow with a flame; if not, they won't. "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but the ones who do the will of My Father in Heaven." (Mt7:20-21) And "This is the work of God, that you believe into Him whom that One sent." (Jn6:29)

And if you truly believe into Christ, you will also believe His promises when He said that He would come to "receive [us] to Himself". (Jn14:3) And so, He exhorts, "Therefore, watch [be prepared and vigilant], for you do not know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man comes." (vs13)

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Olivet Discourse: individual rewards - (Mat 25:14-30)

"For it is as if a man going abroad called his own slaves and delivered his goods to them..." (vs14)

What is the "it" that Jesus is talking about? That which He has been talking about ever since the middle of chapter 24. That "hour your Lord comes." (24:42) When He said He was "going to prepare a place" (Jn14:2) He did not leave us to sit here 'twiddling our thumbs'. He gave us work to do.

Now, the disciples continually had it in their minds that Jesus was imminently -then- going to set up His kingdom. (Lk19:11) Even after the crucifixion and resurrection, as they are going to the Mt. of Olives where Jesus is about to be taken away into Heaven, they are asking Him, "do You restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?" (Acts1:6) When He is giving a variation of this parable He also says that the land owner is gone for "long periods of time". (Lk20:9) Certainly, 2000 years could be considered "long periods" of time.

Anyway, after "much time, the lord of those slaves came and took account with them." (vs19) " So then each one of us will give account concerning himself to God." (Rom14:12) On what basis?

First of all, notice that the 'man' delivers "his" goods to the servants. The property and ownership is the Lord's. You that are pastors, remember this. The congregation you shepherd is -NOT- "yours". Moses discovered the hard way, the task he would be taking on to lead Israel out of Egypt was not 'his' task. When he tried to "take" the job, he failed miserably. But 40 years later when -God- 'called' him, he then did exploits. How many pastors haven't I heard use terminology like "my church" or "my ministry". And if somebody starts to show them Scripture, the attitude becomes, "how DARE YOU mess around with "MY"....?"

Notice also, that the Master gives out the responsibilities "to each according to his ability". (vs15) Not everybody is a 5-talent slave. Some are 3, some 2...and some are only 1-talent servants. If you are a 1-talent servant, do not envy the 5-talent slave. "Oh, just look at him! ...Oh, I just can't do anything...mumble, mumble, mumble." In the military some people fly the airplanes, and others pump the gas. They each do their job to the best of their ability. If the fuel pumper messes up, the pilot crashes when he runs out of fuel, and the war is lost...and the 'pumper' looses his freedoms that the pilot was flying to protect. Like Paul writes about the "body" which is "fitted and compacted together.." (Eph4:16) No body part is less important than the next. They each, all, function together, doing the jobs as "God set the members, each one of them, in the body, even as He desired." (1Cor12:18)

A 1-talent servant should not envy a 5-talent one, nor should a 5-talent slave despise and judge the 1-talent servant. "To his own Master [each one] stands or falls." (Rom14:4)

And so, the Master returns to have each one "give account" of what he has done regarding his duties. How has he been building? His work is tested, to see of what sort it was. (1Cor3:13)

The primary criteria is "faithfulness". (1Cor4:2) Those who were given 5 talents, and those given 2, equally faithful to the degree they were entrusted and their unique abilities, -equally- receive commendations.. "Well done, good and faithful servant...enter into the joy of your Lord." (vs21,23)

But the one who received 1-talent, in this parable, was only given one talent because the Lord knew his heart. But "let's see if he will amount to anything. Let's give him a chance to redeem himself."

Now, this one has a bad heart. He is rebellious against the Lord. Does not accept His authority. Is not willing to submit to His lordship. He doesn't even fit into the category of "wood, hay, stubble". (1Cor3:12) He has done -nothing-. He doesn't even have anything -to-be- burned up. As the master says, hasn't even invested it to receive interest. (vs27) He is not even saved "so as through fire." (1Cor3:15)

He's called a "slave". Is he a -pretend- slave, only merely carrying a 'lamp', but with no oil? One for whom, when he is found wanting, it proves out that he "never was -really- a slave?" (1Jn2:19) Or was he one of the seed scattered on the rocks or among thorns, that temporarily sprang up with 'life', but due to various reasons, withered up and died? (Mt13)

Whatever the case, he receives judgment. He is cast out "into outer darkness [where] there will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth." (vs30) In other words, the judgment of one who is not a Believer into Jesus Christ. One who is not "saved".

Again, he had the -appearances- of being in the "church". He 'looked like' a "Christian". But when the Master came and assessed his faithfulness, he came up empty. Was a fake. On the 'outside' after the door was shut. And Jesus says, "I never knew you; depart from Me, those working lawlessness!" (Mt7:23)

Q/A -Jesus teaching "works"?

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Olivet Discourse: judgment of nations - (Mat 25:31-46)

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all the nations; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And indeed He will set the sheep off His right, but the goats off the left hand. (vs31-33)

This is, yet, another -new- occasion. He is not coming "like a thief" (Rev3:3) like He promises the "dead church" of Sardis, in an hour "you do not know". (Mt24:42) Thus, this is not the Rapture. He is not coming back to His "slaves" (vs19) to take "account" with them. Again, not the Rapture. He is not coming to "receive" His own to be with Him. (Jn14:3) His own that He -previously- received are part of the group that comes with Him. "And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with You." (Zech14:5b)

Reading in Zechariah ch14 we see Jehovah going out to "fight against those nations, like the day He fought in the day of battle." (14:3) That is the occasion when the great earthquake, likely the same one that sinks the islands into the oceans, levels all the mountains, and raises the valleys (Is40:4), splits the Mt. of Olives (where Jesus and the disciples are sitting as He foretells all this) in two, creating a huge valley between the two new parts. (Zech14:4-5) And it says Jesus' "feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives.." (vs4a) Fulfilling what the angels will be telling these same disciples in about 40 days, "This Jesus, the One being taken from you into the heaven, will come in the way you saw Him going into the heaven." (Acts1:11) This is the occasion where it is declared, "The kingdoms of the world became our Lord's, even of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever." (Rev11:15b) This will be the culmination of the 7 years of the 70th week, where the nations will have given up their autonomy to the "beast" and with "one mind" they will "make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and the ones with Him are the called and elect and faithful ones." (Rev17:12-14) Notice again, the ones coming -with- Him are the "elect and faithful ones". Again... this is -not- the Rapture. Believers have -already- been "received" to Him -before- this event.

But as Jesus goes forth, He does so with the title "Faithful and True". (Rev19:11) "And He judges and wars in righteousness." He goes out to battle dressed in a "blood-dipped" garment, with the name "The Word of God." (Rev19:13,Heb4:12) His heavenly armies follow Him, and He will "smite the nations" with the sword of His mouth. Apparently, as He -spoke- the creation into existence, He will -speak- the destruction of the world's armies. And the "wrath of God Almighty" will be trodden in His "winepress", as the "birds flying in mid-heaven" are invited to "the supper of the great God" of all the dead slain in that final battle. Jesus, with the title "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev19:16)

It is after -these- events, when He is sitting on His throne, that He will issue judgment upon the nations. This is most likely not judgement of -individual- people, but of 'nations'. These are the national entities which will be required to pilgrimage to Jerusalem "year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." (Zech14:16)

What is the criteria for judgment? What 'evidence' will be considered? Treatment of "one of these, the least of MY BROTHERS.." (vs40,45) Who are His "brothers"? Who are "His own" (Jn1:11) that He came to?

In Ps22 is the prophecy of Jesus' crucifixion. And He says, "I will declare Your name to My brothers; I will praise You in the midst of the assembly. You who fear Jehovah, praise Him; all the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; all the seed of Israel, fear Him." (Ps22:22-23)

National treatment of Israel. As far down into the gutter as my country, the USA, has sunk into immorality; SO FAR, its one redeeming factor has been its friendship and support of Israel (in spite of the current administration!). There are also other nations that have supported Israel. And then, there are other nations whose sole reason for getting up out of bed every morning, is to try to annihilate Israel.

Those who supported Israel will be invited, "Come..inherit the kingdom prepared for you..." (vs34) And those having been contrary to Israel will be judged, "Go away from Me, cursed one, into the everlasting fire having been prepared for the Devil and his angels." (vs41)

Now... this matter of -nations- receiving rewards and eternal punishment, I do not fully understand. How -national- judgments differ from -individual- ones. Even these "blessed" nations who enter the kingdom, at the end of 1000 years when satan is released, will be deceived, and the ones who rebel will be judged. (Rev20:8-9) If I were to try to speculate and proclaim, I would be like the false prophets who speak, but God "did not send them" (Jer14:14) about "things they do not know.." (Jude10)

But let us just notice another reference about "nations" that has a bit of mystery to it. About the new heavens and new earth, and the "holy Jerusalem". It says, "and the nations of the ones saved will walk in its light; and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it." (Rev21:24) "And all the profaning may not at all enter into it..." (vs27)

And then, we see the image given at the end of Isaiah. After God has executed vengeance on the world, the sons of Israel will be brought back. Notice in Is66:19 the nations from where they come; the English speaking nations, Russia, Asia and "the far away coasts that have not heard My fame nor seen My glory." You see, they will come from the "four winds, from the ends of the heavens to their ends." (Mt24:31) One problem Israel has, currently, is the tracing of genealogies to find properly qualified people to serve in the priesthood. Notice God says, "I will also take some of them for the priests, for the Levites, says Jehovah." (Is66:21)

But then, another mystery I don't claim to understand at this time. It is written as though being in the same context as the "kingdom" age, where it says, "And they shall go out and see the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against Me; for their worm shall not die, nor shall their fire be put out; and they shall be an object of disgust to all flesh." (Is66:24) In this judgment of nations, the "goats" are sent to the "everlasting fire.." (vs41)

Now, while these judgments are based on treatment of His "brothers", -Israel-, there is another entity by which judgment will occur. "Prophets, just ones, disciples." (Mt10:41-42) Jesus speaks of rewards for "receiving" a prophet or Believer. This word "receive" does not indicate a receiving of Jesus Christ as 'Savior'. It is a different word than one finds in John. In Jn1:11-12 the person is "joining with and becoming of one mind with" Christ. But in this case, the person is being cared for. If they are in adversity, they are being rescued or aided. Notice that Jesus includes something so simple as giving "a cup of cold water to drink." (Mt10:42) This is where a Believer is being detained due to his Faith in Christ, and usually being physically tortured and neglected. As Mt25 speaks of "hunger, clothing, sickness, imprisonment" (vs35,42-43) and being ministered to. Throughout history there have been people who have done what they could to help such people, and ease their suffering to whatever extent they could. Or, if they were "on the run", provided shelter (hospitality) against their enemies; "receiving" them into their homes. We think often of various ones who have risked their own lives to help Jews in this manner. There have also been those who have done so for Christians.

When Jesus comes, and judges, these will be rewarded. What is the nature of their reward? These nations get to "live" in the kingdom. Not executed.

There is an error that proclaims the accumulation of "good deeds" to get one into heaven. And they recite, "just a cup of cold water...he will not lose his reward.." (Mt10:42) But we know that salvation is a "gift of God" (Eph2:8) and "not by works of righteousness which we have done." (Tit3:5) Since it is speaking of people aiding someone because they "are of Christ" (Mk9:41), it would be obvious that the person would not necessarily be "of Christ" themselves. Many non-believers aided Jews during the Holocaust...but it does not assure them of eternal life. They do not know Christ, and salvation comes by no means other than the "name of Christ". (Acts4:12) Thus, we must understand these rewards in the -physical- context of the -earthly- kingdom Christ sets up, going into the millennium of peace.

But for those related to taunting of the Church, the "just ones", those "faithful" to the Lord from the "church in Philadelphia" He makes a promise. All those pretend-christians that have been harassing you? Those "out of the synagogue of Satan those saying themselves to be Jews, and they are not, but they lie. Behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they shall know that I loved you. Because you kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep you out of the hour of trial which is going to come on all the habitable world in order to try those dwelling on the earth. [Again: 'pre-trib' rapture] Behold, I am coming quickly. Hold what you have that no one take your crown." (Rev3:9-11)

Christ's judgment goes through and sorts the nations out. The good from the bad. Just like the fisherman who "gathered the good into containers, and..threw out the rotten." (Mt13:48) And as we step back and overview our 'broad-stroked' -generic- 'impressionistic painting', perhaps there is also an element of the -individual- in this word "nations" as "groups of individuals"...?

The evil ones "go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life." (vs46)

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