THURSDAY, APRIL 27
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 24
This chapter is just full of eschatology. Eschatology literally means last words or last things. It is the word that we, in the church world, use to refer to the last days. Since there have been books and volumes of books written on this subject, it is virtually impossible for me to completely deal with any aspect of this chapter much less the entire chapter. But there are, perhaps, a few things that we could take a look at that might help with this chapter.
Before I lay any of those out for you, it is important that you know my view of the last days. I hold to a premillennial, pre-tribulation rapture view of the last days. I know there are other ways to view the last days but I am convinced this is the right one. If you want to disagree with me, feel free. But I won’t fight about it
The reason the previous paragraph is important is it actually informs my understanding of this chapter. I am convinced that this chapter is written from a Jewish perspective to a primarily Jewish audience. When you stop to think about who Jesus was actually talking to at the moment, the Jewishness of this is obvious.
Although there is a lot in play here, my view of the end times would dictate that all that we read in this chapter will occur after the rapture of the church. I realize the concept of the rapture of the church may be new for some of you. So, let me give you a brief explanation. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is a good place to read about this event. But basically, the rapture of the church is when Jesus comes back to the clouds (not the earth) and calls up all Christ followers from all ages. The spirits of those who have already died will reenter their bodies and will rise first and be caught up to heaven. Those of us who are alive will also be caught up to heaven.
This rapture is what launches the world into the Great Tribulation which is a seven year period of the worst troubles this world has ever seen. This seven year period will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ.
The chapter we have before us today explains part of what will happen during the Great Tribulation. That ends in verse 28. A description of the return of Jesus begins in verse 29. Beginning in verse 32 we are given some more basic but important information about these last days.
Verse 36 has always interested me. First, the day and the hour of the Second Coming of Jesus have already been established. God knows exactly when this will happen. I understand why the angels wouldn’t know that. But why Jesus wouldn’t know. After all, He is God the Son. How could He not know?
Part of the answer lies in the fact, that although Jesus was fully God and fully man when He walked upon the earth, He voluntarily laid aside some of His privileges as God. (Philippians 2 speaks to this.) For example when Jesus took on flesh, He voluntarily laid aside His privilege of being omnipresent, being everywhere at once.
There is some evidence in the Gospels that Jesus even chose to limit His omniscience or His knowing all things. For example, Luke 2:52 says Jesus increased in wisdom. And John 15:15 says Jesus made known to His disciples what the Father made known to Him.
However, now that Jesus has ascended back to heaven, there is no reason to believe that He doesn’t know the day and the hour of His return. He is after all now omniscient in every sense of the word.