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Matthew 25

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, APRIL 28

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25

The last part of this chapter and the last part of this section that we call The Olivet Discourse is a difficult section at best.  It is difficult to comprehend all that Jesus is teaching here.  And it is difficult to come to grips with what we can comprehend.  But this is worth tackling.

The judgment that begins in verse 31 appears to happen at the Second Coming of Jesus.  As a result, we know it is not a judgment of Christians.  All Christ followers are “judged” at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10)  We also know it is not the final judgment or Great White Throne Judgment because that occurs at the end of Millennial Kingdom.  (Revelation 20:11-15).  No one that stands at that judgment will inherit the Kingdom.

So what judgment is Jesus talking about?  It is a judgment that appears to occur at the Jesus’ Second Coming.  It is a judgment of sheep and of goats.  It is a judgment that will end with some inheriting the Kingdom and others inheriting eternal fire.  In verse 32, it is a judgment of the nations.

I want you to focus on that last statement for just a moment.  The concept of nations here does not refer to geo-political boundaries the way we think about nations.  This “nations” that Jesus speaks of is literally a reference to Gentiles or all other peoples except for the Jews.  Verse 32 also indicates that this will not be a national or large group judgment.  It will be an individual judgment.  By the way, all of God’s judgments are individual.  We will be held accountable for ourselves not for a group.

Since this judgment occurs at Jesus’ Second Coming, it may very well be that Gentiles who were able to live through the Great Tribulation are the ones being judged here.  From that perspective it appears that there will be some Gentiles (Sheep) who will serve others in admirable ways during this difficult time.  Verse 40 may actually indicate that much of that service will be done to help Jewish people.  The other group (Goats) will not have done any of that for anyone else.

We have to be careful here.  Jesus is not teaching that entrance into heaven is based upon our works.  To teach that would be to teach against the clear Scriptural truth that faith is the means for any and all of us to be saved.

Instead these works are born out of who these folks were.  In other words, because they did these things Jesus didn’t call them sheep.  Or because they didn’t do these things, Jesus didn’t call them goats.  It is instead, because they were sheep they did these things and because they were goats, they did these things.

At the end of the day, then this judgment is just like all the others.  God’s final judgments are based upon our identity not our efforts.  Now our efforts are important and are necessarily proof of our identity.  But the main thing is who we are.  Who we really are at the core of who we are.

Thankfully, when Jesus saves us, He changes us at the core of who we are.  When we are saved, our identity is changed.  When we are saved, we become new creatures.  Our entrance to heaven, then is not based upon what we did or did not do on earth.  Our entrance to heaven is based upon our new identity in Jesus.  Woo Hoo!

Posted by Joe Ligon with 0 Comments

Matthew 24

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

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.

 

Posted by Joe Ligon with 0 Comments

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