Matthew 23-25

End Times

In the previous study we looked at why Jesus taught in parables. As He continued to teach in the Temple many people gathered around Him to listen to His teaching. In Chapter 23 Jesus turns to the people who have gathered and His disciples and warns them about the religious rulers and has some harsh words for them. To the people He is speaking plainly now.

At this time Israel is in the sixty-ninth week of the seventy weeks spoken of in Daniel 9:24-27. In Daniel 9:26 we read that the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. That will certainly seem to be the case when Jesus is crucified, but Israel has one more week (seven year period) to complete and God will see to it that they will complete that week and also complete the task He has given them recorded in Daniel 9:24.

In Chapter 24, as Jesus and His disciples leave the Temple, the disciples are impressed with the size of the stones used in the construction of the Temple which began in 20 BC and was not fully completed until 64AD.  Jesus tells them that the Temple will be destroyed.  This took place in 70 AD when Rome took Israel and the people were scattered. At that time Israel no longer existed as a nation. Jesus had told the religious rulers that the kingdom of God will be taken from them and given to another nation to produce fruit for God. This “other” nation is the Church and the time that has passed since the end of the sixty-ninth week and the beginning of the seventieth week is known as the Church Age. With the comment of Jesus about the destruction of  the temple the disciples asked Jesus about His return as King and the signs of His coming. Jesus explains it in Chapter 24 which started with the destruction of the temple and continues through the Great Tribulation.

In Chapter 24 Jesus warns that there will be false prophets and people who claim to be the Christ who will come during this time. There will also be wars and other events that will be taken by people as signs that the end is near. These will capture the attention of many people but these are not the end.  Jesus does warn of one sign they are to act on starting in verse 15. This sign will mark the last three and one half years of the Great Tribulation. At this point Israel will have no one to turn to but Jesus. Those who trust in what He says here and act on His word will be protected. Revelation 12:1-6

However, there will be deceivers, so again, Jesus warns of those who say He has come and is in various places. Starting in verse 27 Jesus gives the signs of His coming. Beginning in verse 32 He describes the conditions to look for which begins with the rebirth of the nation of Israel in their Promised Land. In the world lawlessness will abound and even permeate the Church as described in 2 Timothy 3. At this point the Church will be taken out in the rapture. 

No one knows when the Church will be taken out or when Jesus will return although verse 48 hints that it could be a long time.  What is important is that no matter how long it will be before Jesus returns we are to be faithful to do the work and ministry we have been given and we are not to be distracted from that work by false prophets and false christs or the lawlessness of the world. Jesus will come and we will be accountable for how we served Him. This brings us to Chapter 25 where Jesus tells three parables regarding Judgement.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is the first parable. This parable speaks of the rapture of the Church. The Church is the Bride of Christ. In those days when a couple became engaged the bridegroom would go to his father’s house to prepare a place for he and his bride to live before the wedding took place. Wedding plans were made, people were invited, but no one knew on what day the wedding was going to take place. The time and date of the wedding was up to the Father who had to give his approval that the new home and everything for the celebration was ready.  Then the wedding party would go through the streets blowing a trumpet.  This would be the announcement to those invited to come and join the celebration which would last 7 days. The Rapture of the Church marks the end of the Church Age and the beginning of Israel’s seventieth week. It also marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

The next parable is the Parable of the Talents. This parable deals with the work of the Church during the Church Cge. The Apostle Paul also describes it in 1 Corinthians 3. Those who are faithful to serve the Lord will be rewarded. Those who are not will be judged. We are all called to serve the Lord in whom we have put our faith. We have all been gifted by God with various gifts to accomplish the work God has for us. Like Israel, who entered into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai, we the Church, have done the same thing when we gave our life to Christ Jesus and were born again. God sees these covenants as a covenant of marriage; God’s definition of marriage not the definition of marriage that we see in the world today. Matthew 19:4-6

Giving our life to Christ is not to be treated as a “get out of hell” free card. Nor are we to be casual in our commitment to our Lord. When we gave our life to Jesus we made a commitment to serve and glorify our Lord and Savior. He has specific things for us to do and He has provided everything we need to accomplish the task(s) He has for us.

The third parable is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. This judgement will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation. The nations will be gathered and judged based on how they treated Israel as they endured the persecution during the Tribulation. Please note two things in this parable. In verse 34 before the foundations of the earth were put in place there was a kingdom prepared for people to spend eternity with God which we call heaven. In verse 41 we read that hell was created for the devil and his angels. It really wasn’t intended for man but if a person wants to follow the devil and reject God then hell is where that person will spend eternity. It is the choice of the person where they will spend eternity not God. Because of our sin nature death is pursuing us but so is God. He is doing everything He can to get us to choose Him so we can spend eternity in heaven, but again, the choice is ours. We are not robots.  We have free will and that means we have freedom to choose where we end up.  

At the three and one half year mark of the Great Tribulation Israel will turn to the Lord trusting in His word. At this point they will call Him Lord and finish the task God gave them as described in Daniel 9.

It is never too late to turn to the Lord. God is in pursuit. I hope everyone reading this has been caught.

God’s pursuit of us can be summed up in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:1-6.

Pastor Dave