So, we are continuing our journey through this teaching of Jesus about the end of the age. Last, week to recap, we saw how the disciple seeing the majesty of the Temple in Jerusalem asked Jesus what he thought of it and he said that it is not going to last. In fact, he predicted that it would all be destroyed within one generation.
So, the disciples asked him two questions in Matthew 24:3;
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
We looked at Jesus’ answer to the first of these questions; which is when will the temple be destroyed last week and Jesus’ answer was within one generation, to which he got it absolutely right. In AD70 the Romans came in and utterly destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. In terms of the answer to the second question; well Jesus answers a little more cryptically in verse 36
Matthew 24:36 New International Version (NIV)
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father.
Verse 42 states the same thing:
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
Jesus cuts at our need to know and we will get into it in this, but he does this because we want to know for all the wrong reasons. We want to know the details of the end and when this happens for selfish reasons. The disciples did and so do we. The disciples wanted to know when Jesus was going to come into his kingdom because they thought of it as just another power. They had no concept that the kingdom of God is connected to the cross.
So, when will the age of the end happen? No one but the Father knows. So, if anyone tells you they know when Jesus is returning, tell them that they then claim to have greater knowledge that Jesus. And just leave it at that.
Jesus continues his lesson though in verse 37
Matthew 24:37-41 New International Version (NIV)
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
So, no-one knows when this is going to happen, however, when it does it will be all “left-behind” like. Planes falling out of the sky, cars crashing, because of the Rapture. Well. Let’s look at the text carefully and see what is being described here. Because, most scholars agree that this passage is not talking about a rapture at all. Rather it is Jesus commending his disciples to faithfulness. What do I mean here? Well, let’s look at what Jesus is communicating. He states that no one will know when Jesus comes. It will be like the days of Noah. Now we need to ask a few important questions regarding this illustration. Firstly, what is Jesus bringing when He comes again? And secondly who was left behind in the flood narrative? To answer the first question; Jesus is bring judgment. He is bring his justice. This is so important because it is a continuance of why Jesus came in the first place. You see why did Jesus come to earth? Why was Messiah promised? He was promised to bring God’s justice. To deal with evil once and for all. Now, you might be sitting there thinking that there is still a lot of evil and injustice in the world. Did Jesus come to bring justice? You might be thinking, I thought Jesus came to die for sins. And at that question I would answer yes! But why did Jesus need to die for sins? He needed to die for our sins because we have all sinned, and therefore are due to receive the righteous justice of God; we all deserve to be condemned. Not one of us would be able to stand up to the perfect scrutiny of God’s justice. Meaning that if Messiah came to bring justice; we all would be on the receiving end of that justice. We would have to all endure His wrath. But Jesus came to defer that wrath upon himself, so that those who believe in Him would receive the mercy of God.
Now, this is important, because at the death of Jesus justice happened for all those who believe in Jesus, in other words, our sins were dealt with, once and for all time. “He will remember our sins no more”(Isaiah 43:25) and “if we confess our sins to Him he is faithful and just to forgive all our wrongs” (1 John 1:9). For the Christian justice has happened, judgment has happened. This is why we can look forward to the coming of King. But for those who are not in Christ, justice still awaits, they still await the verdict of the Good King of creation; and so they with terror await the coming of the Good King of creation. This is the illustration that Jesus uses in terms of judgment in the days of Noah, those who are taken away are the ones judged. Look at verse 39;
39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Now ask, who were the ones taken away, that Jesus is saying this is how it will be at the coming of the Son of man. It was the wicked who are taken away, you according to this passage do not want to be taken away at the coming of the Son of man!
This all leads to the point of Jesus’ message here as we read in verse 42-51
Matthew 24:42-51 New International Version (NIV)
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
What Jesus says here is the main application of the question that of faithful expectation. I guess the main problem with having predictions about the end is that it misses the whole point. If we are worried about knowing the details of exactly when Jesus returns so that we can be ready, we have to ask ourselves if we actually are expecting the King, or are we hoping to essentially trick him into letting us into paradise. What do I mean by this? Well, let’s think of it in terms of faithful relationship with say my wife. If I am worried when she will return home, so that I can act faithful to her when she is with me, am I being faithful? No! If I am only obedient when I think it matters, I am not obedient. This is what Jesus is trying to illustrate here. God doesn’t want our obedience so that we get into heaven. He wants our obedience because we love Him. We are hypocrites if we only obey God for the rewards. We must obey him because we love him!
If you are only obeying God so that you can get into heaven you have not understood what is being offered to you in Christ. God doesn’t offer us heaven in Jesus (I mean that is thrown in) but the true reward of those who believe is the restoration of the relationship that was lost when humanity sinned. We are made for relationship with God, he is the fuel that the engine of our soul was meant to run on. His love and acceptance is what has been driving our frantic seeking in this life; we know this deep down, but our sinfulness keeps us from seeking him. Jesus’ doesn’t offer us a hack to make it into heaven. Jesus offers himself so that we can fall in love with the one who created us, who we were created for.
God, I believe purposely has hidden the facts and details about the end of days; he has made them intentionally obscure within Scripture so that we don’t fall into the trap of thinking I will get my life right when I see things are coming to a close. This is not what Christianity is about. It doesn’t say in John for God so desired that the world get saved and go to heaven, that he gave His only son. No, It is God so loved the world. God want a relationship with us, a love relationship. Do to that it cannot be let me get my life right at the end. Let me have my fun and then I will sort my life out with God. That mentality only has you in mind. God wants to be your focus, your love your everything. And the Joy is, the absolute wonder is that we don’t have to “get our lives right” we are welcomed back by faith in Jesus Christ. He has done it all. When we get that reality, when we understand the gospel in that light we are instantly welcomed back and made right and given a new heart that longs to live with expectation for his coming.
You see church, Jesus came and established the justice of God, he stood in God’s wrath for us, and received the full judgment of what we deserve so that whoever believe in Christ it is as if they have been judge already. Every sin that you have ever committed and will ever commit has been judged in Christ. They are paid for. This means that when Christ comes again, for us, judgment has already happened, we will simply receive the reward. A reward we do not, nor could ever, deserve. For everyone else, for all who do not believe, the justice of God is still coming. It will be them that are swept away in the judgment.We live now between two judgments; the one of grace, that Christ lovingly endured for our sake and the one to come at the end of the age, where every deed will be held to account. Every single deed.
This does mean that every sin that has ever been committed, every sin that you and I have ever committed, will be accounted for. The grace of God is that we who are in Christ will have our sins accounted for in the life of Christ.
Where are you tonight, on which side of the judgment of God do you stand? I pray that you by faith step into the grace that He secured for you in Christ Jesus. When we do that the day and the hour does not matter because we already live in the hope of the new life. We simply await its confirmation.