“ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES”
“When Shall These Things? Matthew 24: Part2…January 2008
We are indeed thankful to God for his loving kindness to us, and his grace so freely given. We have come through 2007 which, to many of us was a turbulent year. So many people have lost their homes in foreclosures that it breaks the heart to listen to their stories. I am standing on that threshold myself! I have an adjustable rate mortgage that will begin to adjust come November 2008. It was locked in for 3 years but I must soon find a fixed rate plan while lenders are putting new restriction on borrowers and it is becoming harder to qualify. We watched in horror as Southern California burned, and saw home owners walking up driveways that used to lead to their homes that took a lifetime of labor and sweat to build. They stand and gaze at nothing but ashes! When we stop to count our blessings, we quickly discover that many others are worse off than we are. We don’t have to search far and wide to find something to be thankful for; it is all around us in abundance. And yet, as a nation, I think we have taken so much for granted and have become unthankful. So in my own way, I have to remain thankful for every little bit of blessing that God has bestowed upon me, and for my friends of many years.
There are so many popular concepts from Matthew 24 floating around that I hardly know where to begin in this second installment of our study, but let us remind ourselves that Mark and Luke present a narrative in which Jesus was asked; “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? For reasons explained in my previous letter, I don’t believe that they asked about the “end of the world” because they knew from the teachings of Jesus that this is a world without end, even though we will experience culmination of ages. For instance, Paul said in Ephesians 1;10, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” Notice that Paul refers to a moment when the ages culminate and all things go back into Christ. Hallelujah! Isn’t that something to wait for and to be excited about? Thank you Jesus!
Two things stand predominant among “Dispensationalists” who vigorously promote the belief in a Rapture when teaching Matthew 24. The Rapture is presented as a vehicle on which people take a seat and when it’s fully loaded, they blast off to a place called heaven. The second subject of choice among these folks is The Great Tribulation Period, which is already featured in many maps and charts being used by many church groups. The question of paramount importance is, what does Matthew 24 actually teach? and of what tribulation did Daniel speak?
When we put the Rapture under the microscope as it is being taught from Matthew 24, we are left with many lingering questions that just don’t make sense. We are left with many loose ends to which there are no candid answers. Let us reach into this basket of assorted beliefs and pull out the Rapture theory. First of all, we know that this doctrine as we know it began in 1830 in Scotland and it was brought to America in about 1833 or 1844 by John Nelson Darby, a notable scholar. He impressed C.I. Scofield so much that soon thereafter, Scofield began to incorporate the Rapture theory in his bible footnotes. We are going to take it verse by verse to determine what Matthew was actually saying, or rather, what Jesus was saying to his disciples and recorded many years later by Matthew. We are going to play devil’s advocate for a while and put the hardest test to what’s written to try and bring out the real truth.
The Rapture theory is based on the idea that two shall be in the field, the one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Matt.24,40-41. As we asked in my previous letter, “did Christ say that the good person will be taken and the evil person left behind? Of course not! But somebody ran off with a big idea that this is a physical catching away and it has to be the good person, because they are taken up in the clouds to go away with Jesus to heaven. But in reality, Jesus did not say so, Mark did not infer that Jesus said so, neither did Luke in his gospel.
During my first visit to America, I preached up in the Bronx on 125th Street and stayed in Brooklyn. I was in the bathtub after 2.00 A.M. one morning and I said, Lord, You have called me to preach and I want to preach the truth. What is the truth about the Rapture? He said to me, “Go and read Matthew 24 again.” I read the chapter until I got down to where two were in the field and grinding at the mill, one is taken and the other left. I asked, Lord, who was taken and who was left? He said now read verses 38 and 39. “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark. And knew not until the flood came and took them all away; He said now add to that--so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
I quickly discovered that it was the wicked that were taken away by the flood, and the same flood that destroyed the wicked was the very thing that saved the righteous. I went into Luke 17, 36-37 and found this: “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? (In other words, where will they be taken to?) And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is (that is, where ever there is a dead body) thither will the eagles be gathered together. So those taken were not taken to heaven, but rather to a dump heap as it was back in ancient Israel; they had a dump heap outside the camp where the burning of carcasses went on day and night. I looked into Psalm 37;10-11, “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” In keeping with the idea of the bad taken rather than the good, we read: “But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” Pro.2,22.
I remember being in a bible class in London back in about 1968 and we were discussing Matthew 24. The verse said; “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” verse 19. When asked what it means, a fellow evangelist with whom I was working back then said he believed that at the Rapture no expectant mother will be saved. The next question was simple; “What has winter got to do with it?
“Pray that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Verse 20. Again! What has winter or the Sabbath got to do with a Rapture? So what answers do people invent? They twist and bend verses here and there to try and underscore their vague and unfounded beliefs upon scripture.
In answer to the disciples’ questions, Jesus began by saying that there would be false christs, wars and rumors of wars, but the end is not yet. Many ran off saying Jesus meant the end of the world. He meant no such thing! He referred to the end of the Jewish economy and Jewish society as known before Titus came and leveled the city. Many don’t see it in this light, because they believe that Jesus was answering the question about the end of the world. But as we pointed out before, the question was “when shall these things be, and what will be the sign when these things be fulfilled?” Jesus gave them a roadmap to guide them away from the destruction that the Romans would bring in about 37 years hence.
Matthew 24,15-16 said: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.”
Religious leaders, authors, bible analysts, commentators, and highly recognized theologians use these two verses to herald the Anti-Christ taking to the world stage. They turn out books with charts and maps of Israel, alluding to a temple that is yet to be rebuilt exactly on the piece of ground where the Dome of the Rock Mosque now stands. Built in the seventh century, the Dome of the Rock Mosque is the oldest surviving example of Islamic architecture and today remains one of the most beautiful. Even Jews in Jerusalem are not permitted to visit this Mosque and it is not open to the public.
But here is a little taste of irony! The enduring belief is that Anti-Christ of whom Daniel spoke will make his way to this rebuilt temple and their offer sacrifices upon its altar in disdain for God’s laws and thus profane the temple. Bear in mind that the Arabs hold the sight where the temple is to be “rebuilt” and any attempt to wrestle it from the Arabs will result in a blood bath of unimaginable proportion. Ignoring all of these facts, there are religious leaders who vigorously announce the imminent return of Christ in mid-air to catch away his waiting Bride. Soon after this event, Anti-Christ is to enter the temple and profane it. So can Christ return in a Rapture long before there is a rebuilt temple? So many things that these people believe and teach are out of place, yet like a broken record they keep playing the same tune over and over again.
Did Luke think that Daniel spoke of an Anti-Christ coming on the scene to pollute the temple? Here again is what Luke wrote: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter therein.” Luke 21; 20-21. It is obvious that Luke did not think that Daniel alluded to a forth coming Anti-Christ—simply to Roman armies! What can we learn from history regarding this very thing? Here is what happened! Months before Titus and his armies came and laid siege to Jerusalem, his brother Vaspasian came and laid siege against the city. After a while and without any resistance from within, he pulled up stakes and left. Upon seeing this, the Christians remembered the words of Christ and fled the city to beyond Jordan to Pella. It is said that not a single Christian perished when Titus leveled the city and the temple.
So what Daniel wrote about in his prophecy concerning Jerusalem had its complete fulfillment in A.D.70, but we are being told by experts with money to be made in selling their books, that “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Matt.24;15) is some future event that will engulf the whole world. Question! To whom was Daniel’s prophecy directed? Under what circumstance did Daniel receive the things of which he wrote? And what Daniel’s frame of mind when he received instructions from the angel?
Let us begin at Daniel 9, 2-3: “In the first year of his reign (the reign of Darius the Mede) I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah (see Jer.25: 11; 29:10.) the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” While Daniel continued in his supplications, the man Gabriel who was made to fly swiftly, touched Daniel about the time of the evening oblation. His message was a clear and distinct answer to the prophet’s prayer. We will need to pay keen attention as to what people, nation, or city the angel’s message was directed.
Let’s listen to Gabriel speak to Daniel! “O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Now listen to this carefully folks! Seventy weeks are determined (meaning cut off or set aside) upon THY PEOPLE and upon THY HOLY CITY, to finish the transgression (remember Jesus said in Matthew 23:32, “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.”) and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (or seven years) and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Dan.9:22-27.
This entire passage is the source of great confusion and varied doctrinal issues. First of all, please bear in mind the fact that the angel spoke to Daniel about his people and his city. For us to go in among these verses and build a belief that Daniel spoke of a universal tribulation that will envelop the whole world cannot be justified in these scriptures. The seventy weeks are equal to 490 years of time as we know it. We begin to count this time from the joining forth of the command to rebuild Jerusalem, but there were at least 3 such commands and opinions differ as to which one is correct.
Lest us take into account that Messiah shall be cut off in the middle of the week. This brings us to realize that Jesus could not have been buried on Friday evening, rose early Sunday morning thus fulfilling his very words that as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and 3 nights so must Christ be in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. We have followed the Good Friday tradition without taking time to count and see how wrong that it. No he was crucified in the middle of the week which is Wednesday and buried that evening before the Sabbath the next day, which was not a weekly Sabbath, but a yearly Sabbath that occurred every 7 years and it happened to fall on Thursday this time. From Wednesday evening to Saturday morning gives us 3 days and 3 nights. So Jesus rose from the dead early Saturday morning, but the disciples went to his grave early Sunday morning—it does not mean that he arose on Sunday morning just before the disciples came to the gravesite. We know that Jesus ministered for 3 ˝ years which is half of 7 thus fulfilling the prophecy that he would be cut off in the middle of the week. So Jesus fulfilled the middle of the week prophecy both in terms of days of the week and the seven year period.
Daniel’s prophecy that we just read said nothing about the Anti-Christ or even the Great Tribulation that so many love to attribute to Daniel. Once again, let me reiterate the fact that Gabriel spoke to Daniel about his people and his holy city. To ignore that truth and to bring it forward 2000 years to our day is to do a disservice to the angel’s message, and it is an affront to divine truth.
The seventy weeks that we are now considering must not be mistaken to be the seventy years captivity of which Jeremiah had spoken. That period was now drawing to a close, and Daniel now in old age, is told of another seventy-week period, which in terms of years amount to four hundred ninety, broken up into three parts. From the going forth of the command to rebuild Jerusalem unto the coming of Messiah will be seven weeks, (49 years) and three score and two weeks (434 years): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. Let us break this down a bit more! The rebuilding of the city walls and streets will take 49 years; after another 434 years Messiah will appear on the scene, making a grand total of 483 years. The pages of history attest to the accuracy of these fulfillments as we shall see.
To show the accuracy of the prophecy of 49 year to build the city and walls, Jesus remarked in John 2: 19 that he would “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” verse 20. This number of years is well within the context of Daniel’s prophecy. The coming of Messiah would be around 62 plus 7 weeks, equal 69 weeks or 483 years. Many bible historians claim that Jesus was baptized in the year 27 A.D. but Luke 3:23 said: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age.” This was just after he was baptized by John in the Jordan! How are we to understand this? We count our birthdays after we have already lived the year. For instance, let’s suppose that my 60th birthday is March 20; on that date I get together with my friends to celebrate my 60th birthday. Cards and friends all congratulate me for becoming 60 years old. But in truth, I began to be 60 at 12.01 a.m. March 20, the previous year, and now I have just completed my 60th year. I have already lived my 60th year. So right after Jesus’ 29th birthday, he began to be 30 years old. It was in the Jordan when the Holy Ghost as a dove descended upon Jesus that he became the Messiah, the anointed One. So as a matter of fact, this moment marked the fulfillment of Daniel’s 69 weeks, that is 62 weeks plus 7 weeks=69 weeks!
We learn that “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The TIME IS FULFILLED, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15. John had been preaching a gospel unto repentance and announcing the forth coming kingdom, but his gospel was not the gospel of the kingdom of God. There are some who will gladly accept that two parts of Daniel’s prophecy were fulfilled up to this point, even though some bring the 69 weeks of Daniel up to the crucifixion. But in truth, Jesus was not made the Messiah at Calvary because Messiah means to be the anointed. It was then that the Father spoke and endorsed Jesus and revealed him as Messiah to Israel.
What were the tasks put in place to be accomplished along with the coming of Messiah? To make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Daniel 9:24. Many will accept the story so far, and agree that we have accounted for 69 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy, but then we hit a road block set up by those who insist on bringing the 70th week forward to our time. Jesus said: “Verily I say unto you, THIS GENERATION (the one he spoke to) shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” Matt.24:34
In order to bring all of this to our doorsteps, preachers on television with charts and pointers tell us that when we begin to see earthquakes in divers places, hear of wars and rumors of wars, famine and pestilence, then, that generation (meaning us) will not pass away till all of what Jesus foretold is come to pass. Why do the do this? Because if they agree that Jesus referred to the people of his day, that they would not pass away till all of his sayings be fulfilled, these preachers will be left with a big hole in their theology. But it’s like sleeping with a blanket that is too short. You pull it up to cover your head and your feet are left out. You cover your feet and the upper body and head are left out.
These same people possibly agree with the 69 weeks being fulfilled as predicted, but they cut asunder the 70th week and place it in the future even of us who are alive right now. To fill in the gap, they tell us that when the Jews rejected Christ’s offer of the kingdom, God stopped the time clock at the 69th week and brought in 2000 plus years of church history of which the prophets of old knew nothing, and when the Church is taken up in the Rapture, God will again start the time clock for the 70th week.
To be continued...
Royce O. Kennedy