Matthew 24:35 - 25:46 - The Third Question
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 (Matthew 24:3)?
After asking questions pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and about the coming of the Lord into his Kingdom, the disciples asked the Lord Jesus about the end of the world. Probably all Christians have wondered about the end of the age and when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to the earth. What a wonderful time that is going to be for the saints that have died and the saints that are alive when he comes. I, for one, am tired of the suffering and pain of this life. I am tired of death. We have our duty to perform while we are here, and there are certainly good experiences mixed in with the bad times, but my heart says today: even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Eberle and Trench show us in their book, Victorious Eschatology, that they did not arbitrarily choose verse 35 as where the Lord began talking about the end of the world. In verse 34, the Lord said that everything preceding that verse would happen in that generation. Then we read in in Matthew 24:35:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
So the Lord made a statement about the end of heaven (not the third heaven, obviously) and the earth, then it is recorded that he immediately said:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
The Lord would go on to compare that coming day with the judgment of the flood in Noah’s day (24:37-39), with two men in a field (24:40-41), a thief coming in the night (24:42-44), a master returning and demanding that his servants give an accounting of their actions (24:45-51), a groom returning for his bride (25:1-13), and a master returning and evaluating how those he had given certain resources to had used them (25:14-30). In Matthew 25:31-46 the Lord, speaking of himself in the third person, spoke of the Son of man coming in glory with all the angels, and the nations being gathered before him.
As cited by Eberle and Trench, Charles Spurgeon said:
“There is a manifest change in our Lord’s words here, which clearly indicate they refer to His last great coming to judgment.” The Gospel of the Kingdom, 1974, p. 218
Simply stated, the great day of the Lord is going to be a surprise. Even the Lord Jesus did not know when that day would come (I assume that the Lord knows now, and also that it is not necessarily a day that is set in stone). Only the Father knew when that day and hour would come. As for the answers for the first two questions, remember how signs and time related events were provided in the answers. Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, there would be a time to preach the gospel and then armies would surround the city. Concerning the time when the Lord would come into his Kingdom, the Lord said the sign would be that Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed. But when it came to the end of the world, the Lord said that no one knows the day or the hour except the Father. The timing of the Lord’s return will be a surprise.
Matthew 24:37-39 - As the Days of Noah
Like people in Noah’s day, people will be living their lives like normal (certainly that looks different for different people), eating and drinking, getting married, raising families, etc., and the Lord will arrive.
Matthew 24:40-42 - Two Men in a Field
People will be going about their business, whatever that may be, and then the Lord will appear.
Matthew 24:43,44 - A Thief in the Night
As a thief arrives without warning, so the Lord will arrive without warning.
Matthew 24:45-51 - A Master Returning
After reading these verses, we are again reminded that the Lord will return with no warning, thus we must be diligently serving God and living righteously.
Matthew 25:1-13 - As Ten Virgins Waiting
Five of the virgins were foolish and were not ready when the groom arrived, while the other five were prepared. Once again, we see the importance of being ready for the Lord’s return because we don’t know when he will come.
Matthew 25:14-30 - A Servant with Talents
A man gave five talents to one of his servants, to another he gave two, and to another he gave just one. When the master returned each had to give an account of how he had used the talents and each were rewarded based on their deeds.
It is worthy to note that in Matthew 25:19, the Lord said that the master returned “after a long time.” Surely, many of us have wondered why the Lord has tarried. So much suffering has filled this earth and our hearts long for a better day and a better way. Those of us who love the Lord hate evil, and we are ready for his righteous rule. All I can guess is that the Lord has tarried because of the longsuffering and mercy of God. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Do all come to repentance? Assuredly not, but this does not stop God from drawing people to himself. My assumption is, he works on some individuals for years, influencing them to repent, and some do repent and some do not. While working in their lives more people have been born and he is also working in their lives, thus his work continues. We know the day is coming when God will say to this world – it is enough – but we don’t know when that day will come. Let us love God and our neighbor and seek to win souls to Christ while we are waiting.
Matthew 25:31 – 46 - The Great Day of Judgment
The Lord is going to return, though there are scoffers that ridicule the message. He will return to judge the unrighteous and the righteous.
In conclusion, according to the partial preterist view, which is highly persuasive to me, we are not looking for signs. We are not waiting for something specific to happen with the State of Israel. We are not waiting for an antichrist to rear his ugly head, in fact there are many antichrists, and all of them are capable of using the power of the State to wreak havoc across the world. We are to be serving God – not ourselves, not the State, not the religious establishment - no matter the circumstances or the consequences. I find it concerning that the focus of many is on an antichrist, when they should be looking for Christ and focusing on him instead.
May the Lord correct us all where we need it, and may we give him our best until he returns, or until we close our eyes in sleep.