Scripture Reading: Luke 16:1-13
“And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”
“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches.”
We are examining the teachings of the Lord Jesus in order that we may “see” Him more clearly. (John 12:21) The Lord Jesus lived in a world that, like our’s today, required money. Money was necessary to provide food items that could not be grown, working implements that could not be fabricated, and to purchase livestock for helping with labors or for food provisions. When the Lord Jesus was traveling through the land of Israel during the days of His earthly ministry, money was needed for the provisions required for Himself and for those traveling with Him. Some of the women that traveled with them actually helped by providing some of those much needed finances. We read, “And Joanna the wife of Chuza. Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.” (Luke 8:3) Money was needed.
What was Jesus’ philosophy when it came to finances? The parable that we read today gives us an idea of just what He thought on this subject. The Bible speaks much on this topic. For instance, in Proverbs we read, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:6-11) While it is true that the Bible condemns greed (Luke 12:13-21) and such practices as dishonesty for the purpose of achieving riches, it always placed a high priority on industrious labor and financially planning for the future. This parable before us reveals our Lord’s feelings on this very topic.
The word “mammon” means wealth or riches. In the parable, the steward was wise in dealing with the finances of his employer, and was commended for that wisdom. Jesus used that to teach His own the necessity of being wise in the area of finances. “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness….” Simply put, the Lord was speaking about money. Why call it “mammon of unrighteousness?” This was in contrast with “true riches,” which speaks of the riches of grace, righteousness and godliness. His logic was, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Paul wrote of “filthy lucre” in 1 Timothy 3:3 when dealing with the qualifications of the pastorate. He wasn’t saying that the pastor should not have money, or that he should not need money. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, Paul admonished the church to make sure that the financial needs of the pastors were supplied. Having said that, of a certainty he also taught that the pastor should not be greedy when it comes to “filthy lucre.”
The Lord Jesus knew that His apostles, and all of His followers for that matter, would have financial needs. It is just a reality. In this parable, He taught His own the need for being wise when it comes to finances. We live by faith, but our Lord expects and demands for us to be wise in this area. The next time you go to the grocery store, and pick up a small handful of items, and the person at the check out counter says, “That will be $98.73,” just reply, “I am trusting by faith for the Lord to provide that need.” Do you think you will be walking out the door with those groceries? I don’t think so! The next time you need some heating oil, or some fuel for your car, just go to the appropriate business and say, “I would like to have my tank filled, please, and I will pay you with faith.” Now, you already know this, but beloved, that just won’t work. What the Lord was teaching His own was, “Be wise when it comes to your finances. Plan ahead. Budget. Don’t be foolish in your spending. Make sure before you make a big purchase that you really cannot afford. And please, don’t lunge forward financially on a big extravagant expenditure, and just trust by faith that God will supply all. (Even churches do this. Here read Luke 14:28-31) His reasoning was, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Makes sense to me. How about you? May the Lord help us to glean from His great wisdom in all areas of our lives, even in the area of “unrighteous mammon.” Amen!
Scripture Reading: Luke 16:14-31
Universalists believe that God loves and accepts all, that all will be saved. They reject the doctrine of the eternal punishment of the unsaved. Jesus Christ did not believe or preach such a doctrine as held by the universalists. Of course, universalists also reject the doctrine of the Deity of Jesus Christ, insisting that He was a great teacher, and worthy of being imitated, but that He is not God the Son.
Jesus repeatedly warned His listeners of judgment and of eternal damnation. In fact, He dealt with those difficult subjects more than He did of the glorious doctrine of heaven for the redeemed. Please examine the following passages: Matthew 5:22-30 10:28; 18:7-9; Mark 9:42-50; Luke 12:4-5; Revelation 20:11-15. In none of these passages did Jesus speak of eternal punishment in terms that could be interpreted as symbolic, only as literal and pending for those who die unprepared to meet God in judgment. Incidentally, the only means of being prepared for that literal and inevitable event is through the Lord Jesus Christ. (See John 14:1-6)
The doctrine of eternal damnation is certainly a Scriptural doctrine. The passage we read for today is not a parable. Parables did not provide personal names as found here. These men literally existed. The “rich man” literally died and found himself in “hades,” the abode of the departed dead, in that portion referred to as the “place of torment.” Notice the times the word “torment” is found in these verses: 23, 24, 25, 28.
We read in Revelation 20:13 that the day will come when those detained in “hades” will be delivered up to face the Lord in judgment at the Great White Throne. These will then be “cast in the lake of fire,” the place of eternal judgment for the unsaved. What a terrible fate awaits the unsaved! Why did the Lord Jesus speak these words? Because of their literal reality, and the need for people to be saved that they might escape eternal loss. Are you saved! If not, trust in the Lord Jesus and call upon Him this very day. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10-:13)
Scripture Reading: John 11
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities….” (Hebrews 4:14)
In this great chapter we find the shortest first in the Bible; “Jesus wept.” Those two short words speak volumes of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we are examining the request made by the Greeks to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus,” John 11 provides a great glimpse of the One they sought to see and know.
There were people who were closer to Jesus personally than others. Note the words of Verses 3 and 5; “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” This family was obviously special to the Savior. Of course, all are special to Him, but in His humanity, Jesus had a special relationship with Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary.
Upon hearing the urgent message that Lazarus was sick, Scripture notes that Jesus intentionally “abode two days still in the same place where he was.” This tarrying was by design for a great work would be wrought for this family, a miracle that would reveal to all “the glory of God.” (Verse 40) The “glory of God” would be manifest through the Son of God miraculously raising Lazarus from the dead. This is one of the most notable miracles performed by the Lord Jesus, and it was done so in order to exalt the Lord Jesus, and to bolster the faith of all of Christ’s followers. Keep in mind as you read this Chapter that this happened just a matter of a few days before Jesus was crucified. This manifestation of His glory and power would be a source of great strength fo His own that would be so sorely tested in the days ahead.
Let’s notice some of the things said by our Lord in this Chapter that help us to more clearly “see” Him and understand His thinking toward His own. First, the Lord Jesus said the following to His disciples just before they left to go to Bethany, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us to unto him.” All believers endure times of difficulty, testing and sorrow. It is simply a fact of life. However, the Lord orchestrates all events in the lives of believers for their good and for His glory. Notice the phrase, “for your sakes.” Sickness and death is a natural part of life on this sin-cursed planet, but the Lord Jesus would use this incident for the “sakes” of those dearest to Him. It would also be an incredible blessing to the family that was experiencing this time of difficulty and sorrow firsthand. The events of Chapter 11 would be with Martha, Mary and Lazarus for the rest of their lives, and would be shared countless times as they told their story of their suffering and the response of the Lord Jesus to their need. Beloved, it is true that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) However, that is really never fully understood until it has been personally experienced. These dear sisters and their brother were proof that this truth is a reality. Beloved, hold to the truth expressed in Romans and know that our Lord is in charge of every aspect of our lives. He taught His own this in John 11, and the Holy Spirit recorded it in the eternal Word of God for our benefit.
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” There is perhaps no greater challenge or cause for grief in our lives than that of death. While typing these words I was notified of the death of a Christian brother from the COVID virus, something that has been repeated all too often of late. Martha and Mary were broken, and were grieving in their hearts for their loss of their dear brother. They had faith in the Lord Jesus, and expressed that faith by saying, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou will ask of God, God will give it thee.” They believed that the Lord could have healed their brother, and even believed that He could raise their brother from the dead. Jesus words to Martha are full of significance. “Thy brother shall rise again.” There is hope that goes beyond this life, hope in the resurrection. Job asked the question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” The answer is a resounding ‘YES,” the saved that die in the Lord shall “live again.” Jesus was affirming this to Martha when He said, “Thy brother shall rise again.” He then proceeded to give her the basis of hope in this promised resurrection when He said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead ye shall he live….” In a world that is filled with the sorrow and hopelessness of death, these words of hope and peace are sorely needed. Then, Jesus followed this with these words, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Just in my lifetime, I have personally witnessed the death of many dear saints of God, watching them as they took their final breaths. How then can this be reconciled with the promise and statement of the Lord Jesus to hurting soul? Death for the child of God is not a cessation of life. It is not an end, but a beginning. Paul wrote, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) When the believer closes mortal eyes in death, immediately that blessed soul is in the presence of the Lord in heaven. “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord…We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6,8)
Through these blessed truths we see that the Lord Jesus wants to instill the hope in the hearts of His own of a blessed future beyond this life. We sing the song, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see, when I look upon His face, the One Who saved me by His grace….” Jesus wants His own to have hope, peace and assurance in their hearts in every situation, even in times of death.
Before we leave this blessed Chapter, look at the question addressed in Verse 40, a question that is actually an affirmation of the benefits and blessedness of faith: “Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Is that an intriguing thought to you, child of God? Would you like to see the “glory of God” in your life, in your world and in your personal experience? Then, just keep believing! Keep trusting the Savior and looking to Him. You might lose sight of what lies around the next bend in your life, but you can know that our Lord is in control and that nothing will befall you outside the perimeter of His Divine will. And, you will be assured of the fact that you will be blessed to behold the glory of God in your life because of your faith. Keep looking up! Keep trusting and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ! Don’t take your eyes off Him, for He is Almighty, He is gracious and He is in control of all the affairs of your life. Just keep looking for the “glory of God” to be manifest in your situation! May God help us to do so! Amen!
Scripture Reading: Luke 18
There is a truth that is expressed repeatedly in God’s Word. Ezekiel 33:11 said it as follows; “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel.” Then, in 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Paul wrote that the Lord, “…will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) The very purpose of the condescension of the Lord Jesus Christ announced loudly so that all around the world could hear the message clearly, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Our Lord wants people to be saved; for men, women, boys and girls to be “justified.” For this, God’s people “ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
The account of the “certain ruler” that came to Jesus inquiring, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life” reveals much about the heart of our Lord. It unfortunately reveals much about the hearts of many when it comes to a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus. This “ruler,” who obviously had a respect for God’s Word and a desire to insure that he would “inherit eternal life” was rich. In fact, he was “very rich.” In the eyes of many, this man was certainly blessed. He had a reverence for God and His Word, cared for his immortal soul, was respectful to the Lord Jesus, and on top of all that he was “very rich.” Some would quickly have attributed his riches to God’s hand of blessing on his life. He seemingly had all any could ever want, but the account tells a different story.
The rich ruler came to the Lord inquiring, “Good master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Look carefully at Jesus’ answer. “Thou knowest the commandments….” Jesus then proceeded to quote six of the Ten Commandments. Notice that each of these commandments had to do with the ruler’s relationship with other people. The law was broken down into two divisions; the first having to do with man’s responsibility to God, and the latter having to do with man’s responsibility to man. This division can be clearly seen, and was noted by our Lord. Once He was asked what was the great commandment. To this He replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” There is clearly pointed out the two divisions of the Ten Commandments. When Jesus answered the rich ruler’s question, He referred only to those commandments dealing with the ruler’s responsibilities to his fellow man. To this the ruler quickly and without hesitance responded, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” Honestly, it is rather doubtful that anyone could say that truthfully, but that was not really the ruler’s most pressing problem.
Why did Jesus intentionally skip the first four commandments; those having to do with the ruler’s responsibility toward God? The response to Jesus’ next comments reveals why. When the ruler affirmed his faithful keeping of the six commandments Jesus, Jesus responded, “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” Now please know this, nowhere did Jesus ever teach that a vow of poverty was essential for a person to “inherit eternal life.” That was not the message here. The reason Jesus did not mention the first four commandments dealing with man’s responsibility to God was that this “rich ruler” had a false god, his riches. The account reveals that he would not have been willing to lay those aside for anything, not even his immortal soul. “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” He walked away from the Lord, and from the hope of “eternal life” because he was not willing to give up his false god of wealth. Incidentally, this story has been repeated countless times through the centuries. People have held on to their gods rather than having a relationship with the true God; gods of fame or fortune, gods of pleasure or sensuality, gods of extreme wickedness or hypocritical self-righteousness. The result has been the same as here. They walked away from God because they were unwilling to lay aside the false god that had them bound.
The next sentence is of the utmost importance. After the “rich ruler” was reported to be “very sorrowful” upon hearing the words of the Lord Jesus concerning his false god, as he walked away we read; “And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful….” Thayer’s Bible Dictionary points out that the Greek word used here literally means, “overcome with sorrow so much as to cause one’s death.” There is another time the Lord Jesus can be seen overwhelmed with sorrow. Looking down upon Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives He wept and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” He was “exceeding sorrowful” because of their refusal to come to God in repentance and faith. Jesus was “very sorrowful” as He watched this “rich ruler” throw away his opportunity to be made right with God through faith. How many times do you suppose our Lord has been made “very sorrowful” over the centuries?
When seeking to “see Jesus,” one must not miss this most outstanding characteristic of His Person; He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” All that He suffered in His First Advent was for this purpose. Everything He said, all of the great lessons He taught, and all of the provisions He made were designed to bring people to saving faith. The great charge He gave to His followers was for this Divine purpose: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commended you….” To “see Jesus,” is to see One Who loves souls, died on the Cross for souls, and longs to see souls saved from the wrath to come.
We read that when Jesus looked upon the multitudes, He was “moved with compassion.” What emotion do you suppose fills His heart today when He looks upon the multiplied billions of lost souls groping in a world of darkness “as sheep having no shepherd?” Surely it makes Him “very sorrowful.” Let us pray together for the salvation of lost souls! Let us join His heart’s desire to see people assured that they know that will enjoy the blessings of “eternal life” through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:1-15
The family has really taken a beating in our generation. Motherhood has been belittled and degraded, and so has fatherhood. I was raised in the fifties and sixties, a time when the family unit was not just the accepted norm, it was revered and cherished. The last decades have really witnessed an erosion of that sentiment. And, sad to say but true, this downward trend is gaining momentum daily.
Jesus extolled the central and most important part of the home, of the family unit, that being the union of husband and wife. Today our society is trying to present as normal and desirable any type of “family unit” made up of any combination. From the beginning this was not so.
Certain segments of the sect of the Pharisees were extremely liberal and unscriptural in the area of marriage and divorce. Divorces could be granted for any reason, and remarriage had no restrictions. Sounds like Hollywood. It was perhaps members of that sect that presented Jesus with the question of our text. His answer to their question reveals the mind of God on the importance and sanctity of the relationship between husband and wife. The only stipulation Jesus gave granting divorce and remarriage is in the case of unfaithfulness and sexual evil. That is expressed in the word, “fornication.” Jesus said, “Whosoever shall put away (meaning divorce) his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another , committeth adultery….” That is a simple, straightforward and non-debatable clause established by the Lord Jesus.
Why does our Lord place such an emphasis on the family unit, and upon the heart of that unit, husband and wife? He does so because of the importance of that unit to society, and to His Church. His Church is only as stable and well grounded as are the families that constitute it. That was true two thousand years ago, and it is still true today. When the Greeks asked, “Sir, we would see Jesus,” they would have learned from a close look at our Lord the importance He placed, and places, on home, family and the relationship of husband and wife. Satan’s efforts to destroy that family unit has seen much success. Let’s pray that God would strengthen our families and overcome Satan’s efforts.
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in the tree, and He said,
Zacchaeus you come down,
For I’m going to your house today.
This is a children’s song that has been sung countless times in Bible Schools, Sunday Schools and children’s programs for years, but its message is certainly not childish. As we are continuing our attempt at “Seeing Jesus” as the Greeks that confronted Philip was desiring to do, we can learn much from this incident in the life of our Savior as He was heading to Jerusalem for the last time.
Jesus knew the name of this man who was “little of stature,” for He called him by name as He passed beneath the sycamore tree. Jesus may have met the man earlier, but that does not seem to be the case. Someone near might have pointed up in the tree and said, “Look at that publican Zacchaeus. He’s climbed up in the tree.” This could have been the way the Lord knew his name, but then there is also the fact that Jesus said earlier, “…he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep…and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” (John 10:2-3) As the “all-knowing” Son of God, Jesus knew this man’s name in eternity past. “Zacchaeus…come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “This day is salvation come to this house….” And, Jesus is salvation to all who will look to Him in faith believing. The saved who are reading these words had a similar situation as found in this passage. The Savior called your name and you responded through faith. You may not have climbed up in a sycamore tree, but He passed by you one day, called your name and brought you to Himself. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” For the unsaved reading these words I admonish you to listen carefully. He may just call your name today. If He does, follow Him. Amen!
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:11-27
Some who were following Jesus toward Jerusalem were convinced that He was going there to free Israel from their servitude to Rome and set up His kingdom. They were right in part of their thinking, but wrong in their timing. He will return someday, and He will come to deliver Israel and set up His kingdom. On this occasion, however, Jesus was going to Jerusalem for a completely different reason, that being His death on the Cross. Knowing their thoughts concerning the kingdom, Jesus gave the teachings in the passage we read today.
The “far country” Jesus referred to in His parable is not of this world. After His death on Calvary, and His resurrection, Jesus walked among His followers for an additional forty days. After that, He ascended back into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. This is the “far country” of this parable. Speaking to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-24, Jesus said the following, “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Jesus will remain in this “far country,” as the kingdom is being prepared through the preaching of the Gospel and the building up of His Church.
In this parable, the Lord Jesus expressed His desire and plans for His followers when He said, “Occupy till I come.” The thought expressed in the word, “Occupy” is that of busying oneself in carrying on a business. Followers of the Lord Jesus, therefore, should ever be anticipating the return of their Savior to this earth. Along with that anticipation, they should be busying themselves with the service of their Lord. The “pounds” in the parable represent the talents, gifts and opportunities given them by the Lord for their service for Him and His kingdom.
What a tremendous invest the Lord Jesus has made in and for His own! May He ever impress upon our hearts the reality of our responsibility in assuring He receives a worthy return for that blessed investment!
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:28-40
The “Triumphal Entry” of our Lord into Jerusalem was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9; “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” This Messianic prophecy was connected to the David Covenant in which the Lord promised David that one of his sons, his greatest Son, would sit upon his throne ruling an everlasting kingdom. (See 2 Samuel 7:12-17) When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, He was officially offering Himself to Israel as their King. They rejected His offer. Just a few days later, the spiritual leaders of Israel screamed out to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar. We will not have this man to reign over us.”
When Jesus began His Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem, “the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” In the prophecy given by Zachariah, these were viewed in prophetic vision jumping up and down, spinning around in jubilation, and shouting to top of their voices praises to the King. Some of the Pharisees present in Jerusalem on that day were offended by this display. They came to Jesus saying, “Master, rebuke thy disciples.” “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should old their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Creation praises the Savior, the Creator of all things (See John 1:1-3), and it is His desire that those that have trusted His salvation lift their voices and hearts in praise and adoration of their Redeemer.
Praise should be done in private. (Psalms 63:1-11) It should be done in public, (Psalms 116:19) and should ever be the privilege and duty of God’s people. (Psalms 66:8; 67:3-5) Jesus allowed His own to praise Him because He was worthy and because He knew that their praising Him met a need in their own spirits. May He help us to praise Him with all of our hearts! We certainly do not want the “rocks” to do our jobs. Amen!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-49
The importance of the Temple to Israel’s spiritual life cannot be overstated. It was the center of their world, especially in times of spiritual wellness. Unfortunately, when Israel departed from a condition of obedience and devotion to God, this backslidden state was reflected in the Temple and all of its functions. In fact, during times of Israel’s idolatrous departure from the Lord, shrines and altars to false gods were erected in the very Temple area. During the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus, He cleansed the Temple twice; once in the very beginning and then again in the closing days prior to His crucifixion. The Temple and its operations had greatly departed from what was originally intended, becoming a most lucrative business for the priests, and especially for the High Priest. Money was made through the sale of sacrificial animals, and through the exchange of currency in order to purchase those animals. Jesus’ actions in cleansing the Temple revealed God’s distaste and judgment against those who would turn His work into a lucrative business. This is a lesson that many would do well to learn today.
We are looking at the words of the Lord Jesus, and in this account of the cleansing of the Temple, His words reveal much. “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?” The Temple was to be a spiritual oasis, a place where people could approach God with their praises, their adoration and worship, and where they could call upon Him in prayer. It was to be a place where the deepest spiritual needs of His people could be met. In Jesus’ day, that original intent had long been forsaken.
What is the Lord’s desire and plan for His Church today? As with the Temple, the Church is to be a place where the truth of Scripture is advanced, where the Triune God is honored and worshipped, and where God’s people are spiritually nurtured and instructed. It is to be a “house of prayer,” and certainly not a “house of merchandise” or a “den of thieves.” While it does take money for the Church to function and perform its intended duties, money should never be the driving force, and certainly should never become the reason for the Church’s existence. Let’s pray that the Lord would help our Church to ever be a “house of prayer” where Christ is honored and proclaimed.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-26
There are actually two major lessons that can be gleaned from this event. For today’s devotion, we will examine the first of those lessons. The Lord Jesus was in His final week of ministry, just days away from the “hour” for which He had come, that being His crucifixion. While all of His words were of the utmost importance, those words and instructions given in those final days have a special emphasis.
On the morning after cleansing the Temple, Jesus returned to the city of Jerusalem and “he hungered.” “And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only….” That particular type of fig should have had fruit if it had leaves. When it did not have fruit, our Lord said, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.” “And presently the fig tree withered away.” Now, understand this, our Lord did not lose His temper and speak these harsh words in anger. He did not condemn the fig tree in a fit of rage. He was teaching us a lesson, a much needed lesson.
He was in Jerusalem. He had offered Himself as Israel’s promised King, and had been rejected. The Lord had gone to the Temple and had cleansed it. Now, entering once again into Jerusalem, He came upon this fig tree that was fruitless. Israel was represented by the fig in the Old Testament, along with the vine and the olive. All three of these plants were representative of God’s people. The cursing of the fruitless fig tree was full of meaning, for it spoke of God’s displeasure with Israel for their refusal to bear fruit for His glory, and for refusing His dear Son. Notice the following prophetic words found in Isaiah where Israel is referred to as a vine; “What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” (See Isaiah 5:1-7) Israel’s fruitless greatly displeased the Lord, resulting in judgment.
In John 15:8, Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” His will for His own, for His Church, is that they produce outwardly the evidence of the grace that has been experience in their hearts through the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s be fruit bearing Christians!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:21-22; Mark 11:20-26; Matthew 7:7-11; 18:19; 21:22; John 14:13; 15:17; 16:23-27
The disciples were amazed when they saw how quickly the fig tree withered after the Lord’s pronouncement concerning its fruitlessness. Peter said, “Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedest is withered away.” This resulted in our Lord teaching His disciples lessons they would greatly need, lessons on faith and prayer.
“Have faith in God.” What a simple, yet profound statement. These disciples would need this throughout the rest of their lives. They would be brought into situations where faith would be their only resource. There would be times that no other avenue would present itself other than simple faith in God and in His Word. “Have faith in God.” Once our Lord asked the question, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Hopefully He will among those who name Him as Savior and Lord.
He then taught these disciples a lesson on prayer that all need to take special note of. “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not…it shall be done.” “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” The Lord made this promise to His own that prayers prayed in faith receive answers. Now, beloved, if we compare Scripture with Scripture, the Lord does not always answer our prayers in the way we think He would or should. He does, however, answer the prayers of faithful believers in a way that is best for them and most honoring to Him. Believer’s prayers are not simply ignored. They are not forgotten. That “whatsoever” is full of meaning, and full of hope. When we earnestly seek our Lord’s face and favors, and do so filled with faith and belief, we can always know that He has heard us and will address those needs that we have presented to Him.
The Lord was thus teaching His disciples what to do when faced with needs, and He was letting them know that such needs presented to Him in faith would find answers. The thing that we must remember is that our Lord always knows what is best, and therefore we should ever, “Have faith in God.”
Scripture Reading: Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-25
Upon completion of the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin said, “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” When our government continues to overspend its income, I can’t help but think the tax bill is going to ballon, and it will have to be paid. This is not just a problem faced by this generation. Even our Lord was questioned concerning the paying of taxes to Rome. This was a hot topic, for the Jews greatly resented being in bondage to that heathen empire, and those who advocated loyalty were considered traitors. Thus, the question posed to Jesus was a trap laid to ensnare Him in His words. If He acknowledged that Jews should pay their taxes to Rome He would have been accused of being a traitor. If He answered in the negative, He would have been accused of being an insurrectionist. Only the Lord could answer such a question that would silence His accusers.
He requested a coin; a Roman coin that would have been used for financial transactions. When “they brought it…he saith unto them, Whose is the image and superscription?” “And they say unto him, Caesar’s.” They were spending Caesar’s money. Jesus’ response revealed His genius, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” His logic was simple. If they were using Caesar’s money, and that money represented the Roman government, they were to honor that government by paying taxes on the Roman money they were using.
That, however, was not the real lesson. He said the following, “…and to God the things that are God’s.” Just as Caesar’s image had been stamped on those coins, those speaking to the Lord bore the image of God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….” (Genesis 1:16) Every person, therefore, bears the very image of God, and as such has a responsibility to “render to God the things that are God’s.” Every living being in the truest sense of the word belongs to God. All do not honor Him, or even believe in Him, but He is God nonetheless. Having said that, surely those who claim to be His followers belong to Him, and are responsible to “render” to Him the things that are His. This was the deeper lesson Jesus was teaching.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:22-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40
The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection after death. Some have said that this was why they were “sad, you see.” They endeavored to trap the Lord with a foolish question concerning the Law of Moses, and life after death. To understand this question read Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The purpose of this law was the protection of the inheritance of the land to the tribes of Israel, and to the families that made up those tribes. It was a foolish question, much like many foolish questions individuals pose today to belittle God, or faith in God.
To understand the Lord’s answer to the Sadducees, note first what He was not saying. He was not saying that in the eternal day human relationships of the past will have no meaning. Paul wrote, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) When Elijah and Moses appeared with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, they were recognizable as Elijah and Moses. While in the eternal day there will be no procreation, or replenishing of populations, former relationships will not be forgotten, nor will they lose any measure of importance.
My wife became my sweetheart when I was 15 years old. She became my wife when I was 19 years old, and as of this writing we have been happily married for over 49 years. Was the Lord letting us know that in heaven this relationship with be all but forgotten, and will be of no importance in the eternal day? No! Jesus was not telling His adversaries that in heaven such relationships will be forgotten and non-existent.
Jesus was endeavoring to get those Sadducees to see that they were wrong in their belief and in their reasoning; “ye therefore do greatly err.” They erred in their doctrine and unbelief. They erred in their disrespectful treatment of the Word of God and in their effort to trap the Lord Jesus in His teachings. They erred in their foolish approach in making the Word of God say something that it simply did not say. Beloved, our world is filled today with those who thus greatly err! Don’t allow their error cause you to question God’s Word!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 23
Although the scribes and the Pharisees were considered some of the spiritual heavyweights in Jesus’ day, the cream of the crop of the religious world, they surely did not impress our Lord. In fact, He pronounced 8 “Woes” upon them. These “woes” were proclamations of great grief and sorrow. They bid the common people to “observe and do,” but they did not do that themselves. They did most of what they did in the exercise of the religious beliefs “to be seen of men.” The Lord Jesus detested that. These religious leaders longed to be honored, to be called “Rabbi” and “Master.” They were “hypocrites,” so noted by the Lord several times in this one address. His words were harsh, and were intended to both warn the scribes and Pharisees, and to let the people know that this was not His idea of spirituality at all.
Religious hypocrisy definitely brings “woes” upon those who practice such acts, and sadly upon those who are influenced by them. This hypocrisy not only leads souls astray, it turns many away from truth. Unfortunately many want to group all professed believers into the same category as those who, like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day, are nothing more than “hypocrites…fools and blind.” The most severe warning of all came in the following words, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Such awaits all who follow these pernicious ways!
In the closing verses of this chapter, we see the emotion of the Lord Jesus concerning the blindness of the majority of the Jews in His day, and especially in light of the coming judgment such unbelief brings. Jesus is seen weeping over Jerusalem as He considered what He would have been willing to do had they only turned to God in faith and repentance. “…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” So it is with all who are offered the salvation provided through the Lord Jesus Christ. And so is His emotion of sorrow and grief over their rejection. The Lord revealed such through Ezekiel, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live….” (Ezekiel 33:11) Don’t allow religious hypocrisy keep you from a true relationship with Jesus Christ!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:1-8
Biblical prophecy is amazing. Over one fourth of the Bible was prophetic when written, so to ignore prophecy is to ignore a vast amount of God’s Holy Word. Our Lord Jesus spoke words of prophecy in our passage; actually in all of Matthew 24 and 25. Over the next days, we will be examining these prophetic truths.
Before we begin this look into Jesus’ prophetic teachings, let something be established from the beginning. The safest was to interpret prophetic Scripture is to do so literally; that it, unless the passage clearly warrants a symbolic interpretation. There are symbolic passages in the Bible. None could deny that. However, to spiritualize and symbolize every passage dictates that the interpreter be the authority when it comes to what the Word of God is saying. This method of spiritualizing and interpreting symbolically when unwarranted has led to many doctrinal errors. The best rule of thumb when it comes to interpretation of Scripture is to allow the Bible to say what it means and to mean what it says.
These prophetic teachings were stirred by questions posed to Jesus by His disciples. They had come “to shew him the buildings of the Temple.” This, of course, was Herod’s Temple that had been built on the same location as Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. This occasioned the first prophecy of the destruction of that Temple which would take place approximately 40 later when the Roman General, Titus, attacked Jerusalem. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” It was this question from His disciples that resulted in Jesus giving the great prophetic teachings of Chapters 24 and 25.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” This warning issued by the Lord indicates that one of the prevalent problems of the “end times” is that of spiritual deception. Please examine the following passages: 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Ephesians 4:14; 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1; and Revelation 20:3,8. Spiritual deception is an “end time” reality.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:4-8
Note carefully the question that occasioned the prophetic teachings we are considering. “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world.” “The sign of thy coming,” speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to this earth. Later in our examination of Christ’s teachings we will look more closely at this event. When they asked concerning the “end of the world,” the Greek word used is “aion,” which means a period of time of significant character. It carries the thought of an age. Their question was not concerned with the end of the world as we know it, but rather the end of the age, or specific period of time. We are currently living in the day of grace, Paul referred to as “the dispensation of grace” in Ephesians 3:2. This day of grace is also referred to as the Church age by theologians, that specific era of time in which the Lord Jesus is building His Church. (Matthew 16:18) The disciples were asking signs of when the age they were entering would be ended; “Tell us…what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
As discussed earlier, one of the signs of the coming of our Lord that He spoke of was spiritual deception. One element of the deception of the “end time” is the fact that “many shall come…saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” Over 35 individuals have claimed to be Christ just in the 20th and 21st centuries. Characters such as David Koresh, Jim Jones and even Charles Manson claimed to be Christ. One particular “Christ” was Arnold Potter. In attempting to “ascend into heaven,” potter was killed when he jumped off of a cliff in 1872. Just in the past 21 years, many have come forward claiming to be the Christ, a phenomenon Jesus warned of in His prophecy. Sadly, many have been deceived by these “false Christs.” Upwards of 2 million people are still associated with the Unification Church started by Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah, in 1954 in South Korea. Sadly many millions are deceived, just as our Lord prophesied.
The fact that we are seeing increased numbers of false Christs, true believers are compelled to be well read in Scripture. Please read the following passages: Matthew 24:11, 24; John 5:43 (perhaps antichrist); Acts 5:36-37; 8:9-10; Revelation 13:8; 1 John 4:1-6.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:6
In Verse 6, the Lord Jesus declared that one indicator of His Second Coming would be, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars….” War has been a reality since the beginning of time, and many wars and military conflicts are referred to in the Bible. The history of this world is one of one war after another, with hardly a generation since Adam being exempt from war’s horrors and tragedy. According to our Lord, this would increase noticeably in the final days preceding His “coming.”
John F. Kennedy said, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to humanity.” Unfortunately, that will never happen until the day that Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom upon this earth. (See Isaiah 48:22; 57:19-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4) Mankind has sought peace, but peace has alluded them, and all efforts have been in vain. This generation has lived to see the disappointed efforts of world leaders and the United Nations, and the pleas of the vast majority of humanity for peace only fall upon deaf ears. War is even more of a reality today than it has been in the past. In fact, it has been said the more people where killed in military conflict in the 1900’s than in all the history of the world combined. Just two wars, World War I and World War II accounted for the loss of nearly 90 million lives. I read this past week, as our forces are leaving Afghanistan, that over 250,000 lives have been lost in that 20 year long war.
One would think that as the world has gotten smaller through technology and advanced means of travel, and in light of the united efforts around the world to attain an end of war, we would find ourselves in a blessed era of peace. This has not happened at all. Jesus warned us of this just before His death on the Cross when He gave these prophetic teachings to His own. The Second Congo war that ended in 2003 resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people; the Chinese Civil War that ended in 1950 had over 8 million casualties. The Russian Civil War, 1917-1922, caused 9 million deaths, and the list continues. What does this tell us? It tells us that one of the “signs” of our Lord’s coming has been, and is being fulfilled before us. (Please study the following: Mark 13:7-8; Luke 21:9; Psalms 27:1-3; 46:1-3; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:1-3.)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:7
“…and there shall be famines….”
A sad reality is that often a time of famine follows war. Actually, many things cause famine; i.e. weather patterns, government upheaval, mismanagement, etc. The twentieth century experienced unprecedented times of famine, and the lives lost during that time made up an incredible number. Below you will find an amazing list of famines during that era, along with the lives that were lost.
The famine of China: 1958-1962, where up to 30 million died.
The famine of the Soviet Union: 1921-1922 costing 9 million lives.
The famine of Ukraine: 1932-34 where 7 to 8 million died.
The famine of NW China: 1927 with 3 to six million deaths.
The famine of Henan, China: 1943 killing 5 million.
The famine of N Korea: 1959-1999 taking up to 3.5 million.
The famine of India: 1943 resulting in the loss of 3 million.
The famine of Human, China: 1929 with 2 million deaths.
The famine of Ukraine and Belorussia: 1946-47 taking 2 million.
The famine of Cambodia: 1979 killing upwards of 2 million.
These numbers are staggering. It is said that now in the beginning of the 21st Century, over 20 million people are facing death by famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen from drought and war.
Jesus prophesied that one of the signs of His Second Coming would be “famine.” One would think that with all of the world’s combined wealth, its technology and advancements that have been made in modern farming that famine would be a thing of the past. Actually there is enough food thrown away each year to feed all of the hungry of the world, but famine is a harsh reality.
See the following passages: Ezekiel 14:1-23; Mark 9:13:29. Signs are simply indicators. The question was, “…what shall be the sign of thy coming…?” If we could only see one of the many “signs,” we might say that it was only coincidental. But when all of the signs given are coming to pass, we must “look up” and know that our “redemption drawers nigh.” (See Luke 21:28)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:7
“…there shall be…pestilences….”
As I write these words, we find ourselves in the throw of a pandemic that has plagued the world for going on two years. The Covid 19 virus has infected an estimated 215 million people, resulting in nearly 4.5 million deaths. The problem is that it is showing no signs of even slowing down.
Could this possibly be one of the “signs” of the coming of Christ? The word “pestilence” means disease, and when a “disease” strikes the entire planet, effecting every living person and wreaking havoc on the world’s economy, one would have to come to the conclusion that Almighty God is telling us something. That something just could be, “Lift up your heads, redemption draweth nigh.” Another interesting observation is that, while there have always been “pestilences,” and some of these have been more devastating to the world that Covid 19 (At least so far), this particular “pestilence” is coming at a time when so many other indicators seem to be appearing.
The Spanish Flue is reported to have killed as many as 200 million people worldwide, at a time when the population of the planet was somewhere around 1.8 billion. Somewhere between 75 and 200 million people died during the “Black Death” from 1347 to 1351, and at that time the population of earth was somewhere around 450 million. So, as you can see, thus far Covid 19 has not been as destructive as those. If an equal percentage of earth’s population perishes as a result of this pandemic, the figure would be in excess of 3 billion lives lost. Does that seem unthinkable? Read Revelation 6:8. In this one “seal” judgement, one fourth of the world’s population will be slain “with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Now read Revelation 9:18 where we read of “the third part of men killed….” These two judgements will take the lives of billions of people during the Tribulation Period. This past couple of years has not been pleasant to say the least, but it has stirred the hearts of God’s people when the words of Christ are remembered, “…there shall be…famines….” The Lord is coming! Keep looking up, child of God!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:7
“…and there shall be…earthquakes, in divers places.”
Earthquakes have been a fact of history since the beginning. One is spoken of in 1 Kings 9:11, another in Isaiah 29:6. In Amos 1:1 we read, “The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.” Zechariah 14:5 speaks of the “earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.” Earthquakes are mentioned at least 11 times in the New Testament. So, it is safe to say that earthquakes have shaken this planet throughout the centuries. However, of the ten most destructive earthquakes in the world’s history, six of those have happened in the last one hundred years. Some say that earthquake activity has increased in recent years, while others insist that the only reason for this is the increase in the number of instruments that measure seismic activity. One reputable authority stated that tremors that register 2 or greater on the Richter scale quadrupled in 2020, and that the world is on track to exceed that number in 2021.
Perhaps this is the creation groaning and travailing as Paul mentioned in Romans 8:22. The reason for this “groaning” was given in Verses 19-21; “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the feature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Adam’s sin effected, or infected, the whole human family, and it also effected all of creation. Remember the words of the Lord as He spoke to the erring first couple, “cursed is the ground for thy sake….” (Genesis 3:17) When Paul spoke of the creation “groaning,” it was doing so in anticipation of being delivered from the curse. That deliverance will come when the Lord makes all things new. (Revelation 21:5) The quaking of the earth is just another indicator that the Lord Jesus is coming again, and that He is coming soon. The next time you feel or hear of an earthquake, just look up. The trump may be sounding soon! Amen!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:1-8
“All these are the beginnings of sorrows.”
Beloved, it is true that no one knows the day or the hour when the Lord Jesus will come again. “It may be a dawn, when the day is awaking..,” but no one knows when. We do not know when, but we do know He is coming.
We believe that the Lord Jesus will return in the clouds to “catch up” His Bride, the Church, removing her from this earth and taking her to heaven to be with Him. (See John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:52-57; 1 Thessalonians 3:13-18; Revelation 4:1-3) Immediately following the “catching up” of the Bride, the world will enter into that era of time known as the Tribulation Period. At the end of that seven year period of time, the Lord Jesus will return to this earth and set up His kingdom. Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven…and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:29-30)
In Verse 8, after giving the signs of His coming, Jesus said, “All these are the beginnings of sorrows.” I personally believe that this “beginning of sorrows” speaks of those events leading up to the “catching up” of the Church, and that from Verse 9 forward we are looking at prophesies concerning the Tribulation Period leading up to, and including, the Second Coming of Christ to earth.
While it is true that this events are causes for “sorrow,” they are also causes of great rejoicing and hope. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is called our “blessed hope.” Paul wrote, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) Child of God, the evening news today can bring you discouragement, depression and fear, but do not allow it to do so. Our Lord is still in control of all things, and He is coming again. The pieces are being put in place now that will lead to that glorious event. We should join in with John when on Patmos he wrote the following words, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Amen!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:9-12; Jeremiah 30:7; Revelation 12
While the Tribulation Period will “come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth,” (Revelation 3:10) it is the time of “Jacob’s trouble.” When Israel rejected the Savior, God judged the descendants of Abraham with spiritual blindness. Paul wrote, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25) Some Jews have and will trust Jesus Christ as Savior, but the majority continue to reject Him to this day, and have been “blinded” to the truth. When the Church is “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air,” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) the Lord will once again revert His attention to Israel. During the Tribulation Period, the warning words of the Lord Jesus in the passage we read today will be strongly applicable to the Jews. More than just Jews will be saved during that seven year period of time, (See Revelation 7:9-17) Most of those who will come out of the Great Tribulation will do so by being martyred for their faith. Although the Lord will be drawing people from every nation to Himself, the Great Tribulation will be a time when Israel will see Him “whom they have pierced,” (Zechariah 12:10) and be saved. They will be saved through faith in the Lord Jesus, but will doubtless suffer much during that era, especially during the last half of the seven years.
As can be imagined, the prophesies of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24 and 25, along with those found in Daniel and Revelation, will be of great importance to the Jews during the Tribulation. The promises given to them will be dear to their hearts as they long for Him to come in power and great glory to free them of their persecution and set up His kingdom upon this earth. It is then they will realize the prophesies and promises of the coming Messiah that had been given to them throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.
For the past two thousand years, God’s chosen people have suffered extreme persecution. This actually seems to be on the rise in our day. Antisemitism will continue until the Tribulation Period, and will only intensify during that era. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” (Psalms 122:6)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:13-14
The Bible speaks of the Gospel being preached to “all nations” on two occasions, both of extreme importance. First, the Gospel was preached on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, when “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:5) They were there for the observance of the Passover Feast. There they heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and three thousand souls were saved. The other time in Scripture when the Gospel will be preached unto “all nations” will be during the Tribulation Period, before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to this earth. We will say more in future studies concerning those who will be proclaiming that glorious message. Beloved, the most important and most needed message for all around the world is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our world is reeling today, filled with fear and confusion. People are concerned about the current statistics and horrors of the COVID 19 pandemic. Nations around the world are on edge when they consider what is going on the Middle East, and in other other places of contention. What is the answer? The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is what the world needs most in the troublesome hour.
Notice the words found in Verse 12, “But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” When we get to Verses 15-24, we will be discussing the antichrist, his mark and the demand for all to receive his mark and worship him. Those who do not will suffer greatly, both Jews and Gentiles. For those who will be saved, they will be required to “endure” much. If they do not “endure,” receiving the mark of the antichrist and worshipping him, they will not be saved. It is as simple as that. Thus we read Verse 12. During the present dispensation of grace, salvation is available to all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in faith. See the following passages: Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16; Romans 10:13. Salvation is not based upon endurance, but it is based on simple faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) John implied that the truly saved will “endure,” (See 1 John 2:19) but endurance is not the requirement for salvation. It is faith. While faith in Christ will result in the salvation of any who come to Him during the Tribulation Period, it will be required of them to “endure to the end” of that terrible time, or until martyred for Christ.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:15-22; Daniel 9:24-27
Jesus’ statement concerning “the abomination of desolation” was a reference to Daniel’s prophecy in 9:24-27. There the great prophet gave one of the most fascinating prophesies in all of Scripture. It was a prophecy concerning Daniel’s people, and upon the holy city of Jerusalem. The prophecy spoke of seven things that would happen, with the final event being the anointing of “the most Holy,” which referred to the crowning of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lord over all the earth. (See Verse 24)
Daniel’s prophecy was a time oriented one, with several time markers that need to be understood. The “weeks” of which he wrote are weeks of years. It was similar to saying a dozen when meaning twelve. The week was a span of seven years. Therefore, the seventy weeks was referring to a period of 490 years, or 70 x 7 years. Notice carefully the following time markers, events of great importance that note a specific event that was coming at a specific time:
1. “From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem….” This command, or decree, was made by Artaxerxes in the year 445 BC. Therefore, this decree was the beginning point of the 490 year prophecy.
2. “…unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks….” “Messiah the Prince” is the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. “Seven weeks”, or approximately 49 years after 445 BC, therefore, is the second time marker, in which an important event would take place. That event was the closing of the Old Testament revelation with the completion of the Book of Malachi. At that time, the world entered into an era of silence from heaven; the 400 years of darkness between the Old and New Testaments.
b. “…threescore and two weeks…” or 62 weeks of 7 years each, which totals 434 years, is the next time marker. This marked the time in which Messiah the Prince, the Lord Jesus Christ, would come as prophesied. The Old Testament was closed 49 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was made, and 434 years after that was when the Lord Jesus presented Himself to Israel as their King in the Triumphal Entry.
c. The next time marker is found in Verse 27, with the signing of a “covenant with many for one week.” This begins the final week of seven years.
d. The final time marker is found also in Verse 27 where we read, “…and in the midst of the week,” or 3 1/2 years into the final 7.
The “70 weeks” was a prophecy of a 490 year period of time, dealing with the children of Israel and events that would greatly effect them. It began with Artaxerxes signing a decree permitting the reconstruction of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. 49 years later, the momentous occasion of finalizing the Old Testament occurred. 434 years later, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to offer Himself as Israel’s King. They rejected Jesus, and He turned His focus on the building of His Church. (Matthew 16:18) God’s time-clock for dealing with Israel stopped at that time, and will not resume until the Church is removed and a covenant is signed “for one week,” or for a 7 year period of time. This covenant will be signed by the antichrist, who is spoken of as “the prince that shall come.” At the mid-point of the 7 year period, antichrist will stand in the reconstructed Temple and declare himself to be god, requiring all to worship him. Jesus referred to this in Matthew 24:15. This will take place half way through the 7 year period of time, which by the way is the time of the Tribulation Period. From that point, the antichrist will continue his campaign of power for 3 1/2 years, or “forty and two months” as referred to in Revelation 13:5. And, all of this amazing prophecy was made far in advance through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit.
Some have rejected this amazing prophecy, claiming that it was actually written at a much later date. The Dead Sea Scrolls silenced that claim forever. God’s Word is forever settled in heaven, and we praise the Lord for a Book that we can read, trust, and base our eternities on.