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Mat 24:3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
So joyous is the prospect of Christ’s return, that Jesus knew His followers would become almost eagerly impatient for it to happen. In such a state of mind, because of their humanity, and short-sightedness, Jesus knew that His disciples could at times fall prey to the false signs of His second coming; and to the many false teachers that were to arise, and who could entirely spoil all of their hard work in preparation. And so Jesus started out His Olivet Discourse with a warning to us against being deceived:
Mat 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.”
And Jesus certainly would know the Proverb that tells us “hope deferred makes the heart sick;” (Proverbs 13:12). Jesus cautioned us clearly but tactfully, that there would be a delay. He would not, in fact, be coming again; at least not right away, as some were hoping for. Nor would Jesus be coming in the manner that many, including His own disciples of the day wer expecting Him to.
Jesus told a story about two supervisors (masters) and one of them said the following: “My master is delayed,” (Mat 24:48), and then in the famous parable of the talents, Jesus described the master as returning “after a long time.” (Mat 25:19). In the similarly famous parable of the ten (sleeping) virgins, Jesus likened Himself to a Bridegroom and said quite clearly: “As the Bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.” (Mat 25:5).
Hints of this delay in the second coming are implied in other texts as well: “you will hear of wars and rumors of wars…but the end is not yet.” (Mat 24:6). And “Many will fall away…” (Mat 24:10). “They that endure to the end shall be saved.” (Mat 24:13). “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world; as a testimony to all nations; and then the end shall come.” (Mat 24:14). In scripture, the delay is clear enough. And it would also follow that because of this, the preparation for the second coming is made even clearer.
Now its very important to note that the cookie-cutter evangelism thats out there has no idea what it means to say “the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world.” They just don’t have a clue what that means. Many almost tritely say “Oh the modern technology has connected everyone and there is hardly a corner anywhere in the world now where they have not heard about Jesus.” But does hearing the doctrine or the teaching, or the commandment really fulfill this event, or there a wider process? How can the gospel of Jesus Christ be preached anywhere when everywhere we look, even in the church, no one wants to reflect His character? “I am saved” they fetidly proclaim; rather than, “I needed help; and I found it in Jesus…” Rather than “Jesus saved me;” its all-too commonly held that “I am saved,” and usually because of supposed right doing or right thinking.
I am saved. Or Jesus saved me? We must each decide. Which will it be in the buffet style religion of our “modern-age?” And so for the true “gospel of the kingdom” to be verily “preached in all the world” the world must see something in God’s people that they all too often do not see now, at all, whenever they look at professing Christians.
The Olivett Discourse was given after dark on a Tuesday. It had been a very hard day. For many hours, Jesus had labored and reasoned with over-flowing crowds in The Temple Courts. Enemies of the gospel, to include religious leaders of the day, repeatedly hammered away at Jesus, with what we would call today, “baited” or “loaded questions.” If you read the account for yourself, you will see how some of the people seemed to genuinely appreciate what Jesus said; but Jesus knew that most; even amongst His disciples, were still looking at Him as some sort of military king, that was to set them free by temporal force of actions. NO ONE was willing to see Jesus as “The prince of Peace.” Everyone wanted Jesus to conquer the Romans, and no one was asking how to know Him. (see John 17:3). How many there are today who do not want Jesus to conquer their hearts. Isnt it easier, they say, if He would just destroy the devil? Mat 22 & Mat 23 will tell you more about this.
Because it is “Easter Weekend;” I wanted to focus more closely on Sacrifice; because this is really what the reason for the season is, this time of year. Are we, God’s people, willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to really know Jesus in our daily walk, and in carrying out “the great commission?” The one, great, central truth in the study of the Scriptures, is/should be “Christ; and Him crucified.” (Gal 6:14, Psalms 111:10); and all other truths in your Bible are invested with power and influence, according to their relationship to this theme.
As I am sure many are aware, world events are changing rapidly and dramatically, and affecting most of us even at the local levels, and in our own homes. Covid-19, wars and rumors of wars, all manner of disasters, famines, and pestilence. It seems impossible to escape from at least some of the effects of these events as they unfold rapidly before us. Sadly, we have people who say they are “preaching the third angel’s message,” and all they ever do is talk about “the mark of the beast,” almost as if deliberately adding fuel to the fires of current-day events. In the entire Bible, this mark is only mentioned 7 times. It would be safe to say that Bible writers mostly mentioned it almost parenthetically, and that it was never the main focus of a single Bible writer anywhere. That third angel’s message from Rev 14 is really not a message, without the other two messages from the first and second angels of the same passage. It is far more accurate and in context, when we call those three angel’s messages, together, concurrently, as “the everlasting gospel,” (Rev 14:6) so that people can think of all three as one, unified message. The Three Angel’s MESSAGE.
Earlier today, I got my dearly belated wife delivered to me in a small box. Seven pounds of ashes. $3000.00. She died of cancer. I have asked myself, if this “everlasting gospel” is in fact THE end time message for today, then HOW does it relate to what has happened to me, even just over the last 5 days or so?
I would just sum it all up by saying that if I cannot see Jesus, and experience His light in the darkness, (John 1:5, Micah 7:8, etc), then I don’t really know Him very well and I need to get moving on that right away. As we can read in Rev 12:11, God’s end time people, which we may very well be, shall “overcome the devil by the blood of The Lamb, and by the Word of their testimony,” [about that blood, applied to their life today].
Eph 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
While we can know something of God, and “whom He has sent,” (John 17:3) by just reading the Bible, and learning doctrines, but we can only learn a very small fraction in that way, compared to another method that is mentioned often in scripture.
Consider carefully, the following verse:
2 Pet 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
2 Pet 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
2 Pet 1:4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
The Bible is clear: Grace and peace is “multiplied” as we learn more of Jesus, the knowledge of Jesus gives “to us all things pertaining to life and godliness, and this is all done by His “precious promises,” to the end that we are “partakers of the divine nature.” Now the Pantheist would say: “we are little Gods” because of this verse, but it has nothing to do with physical divine Substance. Nothing at all. The divine nature is the character of Christ, and as we realize His promises, in response to our prayers and our needs; then we really do get to experience a personal friendship with God and we will see our future as friendly, because we have taken Jesus at His express word, and our felt needs.
Mat 24;30 of the Olivett Discourse tells us that everyone in the world “will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” But how many of us see Jesus in the clouds of our personal experience? There is light in every cloud and as God’s people, we must know Him so well that we just expect it; much like we do the sun or the rain. I recall, sometime ago now, visiting someone on their death bed. They were dying of cancer. On the bedside table there was a shoe box. I was really curious and kept wondering what was in it. So of course, I eventually asked, and they said it like this: “This is my promise box. When people visit me, I get them to either write one out on a scrap of paper, and put it in the box, or they can just take one from the box and read it to me. I am not sure now why i responded the way I did, but I asked “can I take one out and read it?” The piece of paper I took out of that box had the following quote from The Great Controversy written on it:
“We should acquaint ourselves NOW with God, by proving His promises!” (pg 622). My friend died just a few hours later.
Even the clouds of death, do not hold any Christian in the prison of sin.
I wonder, how many of us are willing to make that ultimate sacrifice, to really know God, and to make Him known? (see 1 John 1:1-3).
How many of us see “Light In The Clouds?”
Do I, personally, see Jesus in my clouds?