YOU and TIME
JESUS DEPARTED from the temple area and was going on His way when His disciples came up to Him to call His attention to the buildings of the temple and point them out to Him. But He answered them, “Do you see all these? Truly I tell you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age? Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place; All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish].
Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved.
And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end. So when you see the appalling sacrilege [the abomination that astonishes and makes desolate], spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy Place–let the reader take notice and ponder and consider and heed [this]–
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; Let him who is on the housetop not come down and go into the house to take anything; And let him who is in the field not turn back to get his overcoat. And alas for the women who are pregnant and for those who have nursing babies in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation (affliction, distress, and oppression) such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now–no, and never will be [again]. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would endure and survive, but for the sake of the elect (God’s chosen ones) those days will be shortened.
If anyone says to you then, Behold, here is the Christ (the Messiah)! or, There He is!–do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (God’s chosen ones).
See, I have warned you beforehand. So if they say to you, Behold, He is in the wilderness (desert)–do not go out there; if they tell you, Behold, He is in the secret places or inner rooms–do not believe it. For just as the lightning flashes from the east and shines and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever there is a fallen body (a corpse), there the vultures (or eagles) will flock together.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not shed its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and beat their breasts and lament in anguish, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory [in brilliancy and splendor]. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect (His chosen ones) from the four winds, [even] from one end of the universe to the other.
From the fig tree learn this lesson: as soon as its young shoots become soft and tender and it puts out its leaves, you know of a surety that summer is near. So also when you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of a surety that He is near, at the very doors. Truly I tell you, this generation (the whole multitude of people living at the same time, in a definite, given period) will not pass away till all these things taken together take place. Sky and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For just as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, [men] marrying and [women] being given in marriage, until the [very] day when Noah went into the ark, And they did not know or understand until the flood came and swept them all away–so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
At that time two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the hand mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Watch therefore [give strict attention, be cautious and active], for you do not know in what kind of a day [whether a near or remote one] your Lord is coming. But understand this: had the householder known in what [part of the night, whether in a night or a morning] watch the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be undermined and broken into.
You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. Who then is the faithful, thoughtful, and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household to give to the others the food and supplies at the proper time? Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is that servant whom, when his master comes, he will find so doing. I solemnly declare to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant is wicked and says to himself, My master is delayed and is going to be gone a long time, And begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunken, The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour of which he is not aware, And will punish him [cut him up by scourging] and put him with the pretenders (hypocrites); there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”
We’ll get to what Jesus is saying here in the next session. First, how we read what He is saying and, for that matter, all Scripture, needs to be dealt with.
Our illusion of time can be a distraction from the work of being ever looking for and hearing what Jesus says. We must establish in our minds that God does not live in our perspective and understanding. That means we cannot perceive His perspective or understand His thoughts based on our perspective or thoughts. He is so outside this world He has created for us to be tried in, that He likens it, in Isaiah 55, as the difference between the ground you stand on and the extreme extent of the sky or Cosmos. That means the two absolutely can not possibly be compared. Practice making that clear to yourself every time you open His Book. He is speaking to you from outside our little reality to help us be renewed in our minds, giving us glimpses and tastes of the world we were born for. Practice reminding yourself, THIS ISN’T IT! This is just the qualifying round for the Main Event.
This issue of time is a very interesting one. There’s no use trying to nail it down. Yet there are a lot of people who are so obsessed with it that they assume the authority to dictate to their whole environment, people and non-people alike, based on their assumption that time is somehow a static, solid boundary. Nowhere in history, and less as we progress in technology, has Man been able to define or confine time. Even Bible scholars seem to miss the glaring fact that the narrative of God’s revelation of Himself contains only vague designations of time. The historical record, something to be taken in a sort of time-line, says such things as, “In the beginning,” “In the third year of Ahab’s reign,” or, in the Prophets, “a time, times and a half time,” When that record is resumed after the “blank” years in the writings of the Apostles, there are even less clear designations. The modern translators have calculated the references against historical calendars and throughout the whole Book interjected the approximate date accordingly.
I say all that to shake us loose from our obsession with “what [we think] we know,” so that we might discern God’s perspective in the text we are reading. When that thought first dawns in my mind, I am powerfully stricken with the terror that I might read His holy Words and be drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirit, God’s very voice, with my own assumptions. Then, I remember that He has said in clear English to me, “If you ask for wisdom, I’m right there ready to give it.” I also am reminded that if I am reading along with ears to hear, asking for wisdom, the Holy Spirit will have the prerogative to arrest my attention and pull me into His confidence.
OK! Feel a little looser grip on your illusions of time or any other personal dogma? This life is really wonderful, if we are able to practice this loose-grip/easy-return-to-sanity dance with the Holy Spirit. It actually becomes possible to laugh at ourselves. What a comedy! We must cause a real uproar in Heaven sometimes. We must work toward letting go completely. These Jesus Words in Matthew’s record are a key disclosure to anyone who would be Jesus’ disciple. If we are not able to let go, we will be bogged down in trying to get the, “When is that?” and “Wait! Which time is that?” questions worked out, very much like the disciples would have been doing until the Counselor was given to them on Pentecost. That’s when they were changed from Jesus’ disciples [talmidim] to His emissaries, because all the questions were suddenly either answered or swept aside by the Present Reality of His Spirit in them. And, by the way, they didn’t have Matthew’s Gospel to go back to and read the account again. What they did have was the “Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, Who will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have spoken to you.” AH! That’ll do!
If you have gotten to this point in this recall of the Jesus Words, there’s a good chance that He, the same Holy Spirit, is in you. So, when you read His Word, hear what the Word made flesh is saying to you. Don’t worry so much about neatly packaging it in your memory. Just let it have its rightful place as it is entered into that most phenomenal computer ever created and depend on His Spirit to bring it to your remembrance in the situation He has put it there for. Your job is to just keep entering it and getting better at actually hearing what Jesus is saying, rather than arranging it in a clever little dogma.