PREPARING FOR END TIMES

by Clay Watts

"Parallel End Times Passages In The New Testament"


Introduction

These parallel passages compare some of the important verses relating to end times in the New Testament using Matthew 24 as the reference point. They are intended to show God's love for his people by demonstrating how he is faithful to deliver us from the wrath that is coming on mankind as judgment for unbridled sin.  Just prior to this, in the two days of Matthew 21-23, Jesus has gone from triumphal entry to throwing out the money changers, to confronting the skeptical religious establishment (Pharisees and Sadducees), even to the point of pronouncing seven woes on them and condemning them to hell.  In Matthew 24, then, we should focus not on timing or sequence, but on the larger picture of God's love and grace toward his people as they witness this climactic global judgment.


Matt 24:1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.

Mark 13:1 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"

Luke 21:5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said,


The temple, representing at once the best and worst in the Jewish religion, may also be a type of the church. While in the temple, Jesus saw it as God’s ordained design for the redemption of his people. But from the outside, he sees it as an object that is too often adored for its outer trappings rather than for what it represents.

Just as Jesus severely critiqued the religious leaders, and Paul held the churches accountable to walk their talk, so we should constantly review our religious activities to ensure they are not mere traditions of men, but that they measure up to God’s holy standard. Let us pray that Jesus does not have to leave the established church to get our attention.


Matt 24:2 "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

Mark 13:2 "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

Luke 21:6 "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."


As usual, Jesus responds in a totally unexpected way.  He prophesies an astounding event that comes to pass in about 40 years with the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD.  It is at once his judgment on unbelieving Israel as well as a warning to his true followers. 

Nowhere else in scripture is there such a dramatic passage that is so unbelievable.  Some of the stones of the temple were 70 by 10 by 8 feet high.  The disciples must have been shocked.  Even the event itself was almost an accident.  Titus, the Roman general, had wanted to save the city and the temple, and begged the people to surrender.  When they wouldn’t, he ordered both destroyed.  The Jews themselves actually started the first fire and Roman soldiers finished the job in a frenzy, not realizing that Titus had given orders not to destroy it at the last minute.   But God’s word will be fulfilled, in spite of the intentions of man. 

Keeping in mind the principle of double reference, or near/far fulfillment, is it possible that the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s words have yet to occur?  For example, Titus had ordered that 3 towers be left and part of the western wall, which still stands today.  So perhaps this could also refer to a later time, should the temple be rebuilt, as some other prophetic passages seem to indicate.


Matt 24:3 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?"

Mark 13:3-4 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"

Luke 21:7 "Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?"


Jesus’ dramatic statement about the temple was spoken publicly, perhaps to a number of people.  However, only four of his closest disciples wanted to know what this really means.  This was a typical teaching technique of Jesus.  He would give general, difficult to understand, statements publicly, and then explain them to a few of his disciples later when they were alone.  This is a model for how we can communicate with him.  His words fall on many unbelieving or unknowing ears, but if we approach him privately, and with the right motivation, for more clarity, he will not disappoint us.  We may still have to stretch to understand what he’s saying, but we know that he will not withhold anything we need.

The disciples were eager to know what Jesus could possibly mean.  Some commentators think they were frivolously pointing out the temple buildings to distract him from his harsh words to the Jews.  But, coming from the disciples’ perspective, I suspect instead that they were simply excited that he was coming against the Jews, since it would bring him closer to establishing his own earthly kingdom at the religious establishment’s expense.  So when he also predicted the destruction of the temple, they were all ears, figuring that it must be soon.  They sure didn’t want to miss that.  Matthew even uses the word “parousia” for Christ’s coming, relating it to a king coming to his subjects in majesty.  This would certainly be the end of the Jewish age as they knew it! 

 


Matt 24:4-5 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

Mark 13:5-6 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many.

Luke 21:8 He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them.

Rev 6:2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.


Now Jesus astounds them once more.  They have nothing more to say, since what follows is absolutely incomprehensible to them and does not fit their idea at all of his quickly coming into the kingdom.  Remember, two days ago he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling a major prophecy, which related to the conquering Messiah.  Then he tore the established religious leadership structure up one side and down the other. But now he warns them to not pay any attention to false Christs claiming to be him.  What?  How could that be possible while Jesus is going to be there for all to see, coming in his glory?  It may have begun to slowly dawn on them that this was not going to play out the way they were thinking, but there is plenty of evidence that they just didn’t get it until much later, as was shown on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24:25-27 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?"  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

This is one of the most controversial topics in prophecy. What exactly is the deception Jesus warns us about? Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, even in the following forty years, there have been many claiming to be the Christ, some deluded by demonic influences, others intending to profit in some way. Some of these have been, and will be, very convincing, to the point that believers could conceivably be deceived. This is hard for us to understand, and we probably would prefer to think that Jesus is addressing unbelievers or nominal Christians. However, Jesus is speaking to his closest disciples, so we should not take the warning lightly. Perhaps the deception is much more subtle than we could imagine, hence Jesus’ stern warning. The key is to watch. We must constantly be on the alert and not let our guard down.  For more on this topic, see the study Avoiding the Great Deception.

The rider on the white horse in Revelation is often associated with Antichrist, who is also frequently named as the ultimate deceiver claiming to be God. 


Matt 24:6-8 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Mark 13:7-8 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

Luke 21:9-11 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

Rev 6:4-5 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand.


There has certainly been no lack of fighting between and within nations, as well as earthquakes, famines, and disease over the centuries since Christ spoke these words. Many analysts claim that the frequency of these events has been increasing, especially in the last century. However, in contrast to the warning about being deceived, Christ is specifically telling us not to be frightened about these terrible events. In fact, we should see them as a harbinger, comparable to a woman experiencing early signs of labor. Rather than be tempted to fear, we need to focus even more closely on what we know about end times, and be prepared for whatever surprises await us.


Matt 24:9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

Mark 13:9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.

Luke 21:12-13 "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them.

Rev 6:9-11 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.


Mark 13:11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Luke 21:14-15 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.


Matt 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,

Mark 13:12 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.

Luke 21:16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.


Even if God's people are called on for the ultimate sacrifice, God has a purpose in it and it will be a witness to the world. We should be prepared for this and not be afraid if we are put in very difficult, and even life-threatening, situations. Particularly challenging will be the betrayal of even close friends and family. No matter what happens, however, we must be ready to defend our beliefs, not in our own power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit within. This can only come through making up our mind beforehand not to worry about circumstances but to depend solely on God for direction and ultimate deliverance.

These verses are an example of the danger of preconceived ideas about the timing and sequence of end times events.  If one believes that these applied only to first century Christians, or if one believes that these occur after the rapture, then one might be caught unprepared for such contingencies.


Matt 24:11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.


Again, we are warned about deception from seemingly Godly people who probably appear to have all the answers.


Matt 24:12-13 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Mark 13:13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Luke 21:17-19 All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.


The key in these verses is not to look to others, whether they appear to be Godly or not, but to stand firm in our devotion to God himself.


Matt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.


 This powerful incentive has inspired many missions groups to evangelize the world’s peoples. It is a good example of the responsibility God’s people have to help hasten the coming of the Lord.


Matt 24:15-16 "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel-- let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Mark 13:14 "When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong-- let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Luke 21:20-21 "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.

II Th 2:3-4 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.


Luke 21:22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.


Matt 24:17-18 Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.

Mark 13:15-16 Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.


Matt 24:19-21 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-- and never to be equaled again.

Mark 13:17-19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now-- and never to be equaled again.

Luke 21:23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.


Luke 21:24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.


The “Holy Place” can be Jerusalem, the temple, and the altar area.  The “abomination that causes desolation” is mentioned in Daniel 9:27 and 11:31.  It is often associated with near fulfillments such as Antiochus Epiphanes’ desecration of the temple in 168 BC and the Romans’ destruction of the temple in the 70 AD.  However, it is also likely that there is a yet future fulfillment with the Antichrist as depicted in Revelation 13:1-8.

The key event here is the revealing of the Antichrist for who he really is. This signals God's people to leave to avoid the punishment of Jerusalem. This is an example of how knowledge of end times scripture must be complemented by action.  When the Roman siege was lifted briefly, after Jerusalem was surrounded, the Christians, aware of this prophecy, fled and were saved from certain death.

This is also one of the more controversial passages in terms of near/far fulfillment. Many believe that these events were completely fulfilled with the Romans’ destruction of the temple and the dispersion of the Jews. However, we must be open to a potential future fulfillment as well, especially regarding the embodiment of the Antichrist. While there have been many foreshadows, there has apparently not been a complete fulfillment of the nature and acts of the ultimate Antichrist as depicted in the entire Matthew 24 passage.


Matt 24:22-23 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it.

Mark 13:20-21 If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it.

II Th 2:1-2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.


These verses seem to point to the far end times, demonstrating again the mixture of near and far prophetic perspectives woven throughout this passage.  The “elect” have been taken to be Jews only by some, Christians only by others, and also both Jews and Christians.  The phrase “those days will be shortened” is interpreted by some to support the pre-trib and pre-wrath views, implying that the elect will be spared by being taken away from the devastation.  However, it is also interpreted to support a post-trib view, saying that the elect among the world’s population will be spared along with the others by the shortening of the devastation period.


Matt 24:24-28 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-- if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

Mark 13:22-23 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect-- if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

Luke 17:22-25 Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

Luke 17:37 "Where, Lord?" they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."

II Th 2:6-12 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.


In the midst of these tribulations, the Antichrist and other hirelings will perform miraculous signs of false hope that will tempt many to follow them, but God's people are warned not to give in to such temptations. When Christ comes on the scene, there will be no doubt as to his authenticity and his right to punish evil.  His coming for all to see is a clear indication of a future, ultimate fulfillment.  The picture of the vultures gathering around a carcass is from a Hebrew saying that means “moral decay requires divine judgment” and is confirmed in Ezekiel 39:17-19 and Revelation 19:17-18


Matt 24:29 "Immediately after the distress of those days "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

Mark 13:24-25 "But in those days, following that distress, "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

Luke 21:25-26 "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

2 Pet 3:10-14 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.


His coming will be announced by major disruptions in nature as depicted in the sixth seal of Revelation 6:12-14 and Satan being cast out of heaven in Revelation 12.  In the first century, this would have been interpreted as ending the Jewish age (stars) and destruction of the Jewish leadership (sun and moon).


Matt 24:30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

Mark 13:26 "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Luke 21:27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Rev 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.


Everyone will see him coming.


Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."


This is the hope that will sustain God's people through the times of tribulation.


Matt 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Mark 13:27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

1 Cor 15:51-53 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

1Thes 4:13-18 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Rev 14:14-16 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.


The gathering of God's people seems to be tied directly to his visible return. But this passage does not seem to refer to his return to earth to set up his kingdom; rather, the emphasis seems to be on the gathering of the elect--while Christ stays seated on the clouds. Just how and when this will happen is still a mystery. The succeeding verses warn against trying to figure it out too precisely ahead of time.


Matt 24:32-35 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Mark 13:28-31 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Luke 21:29-33 He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.


Matt 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Mark 13:32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.


Christ will come unexpectedly--it is useless to try to figure it out. We need to be familiar with the signs, though, so we are not discouraged by tribulations and are not deceived by the Antichrist.


Matt 24:37-42 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 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; 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. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

Luke 17:26-37 "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left." "Where, Lord?" they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."


The lesson of Noah and Lot is that we should not get caught up in the cares of the world. Is this saying we could "miss the rapture" if we are not ready? There have been many interpretations of these verses, but it is clear that, like Noah, we must diligently prepare long before the crisis comes suddenly on us.  Noah took 120 years to prepare, but  he only had seven days’ warning at the end.  If he had not been diligent in preparation, in spite of the naysayers, he would have been swept away with the others.

Lot was also warned at the last hour, but because of his lack of diligence in preparation, he had to leave everything behind.  It’s better to prepare way ahead than depend on your relationship with God to pull you out at the end.  You may escape, but could be much loss as well.

Note the women at the mill, men in the field, and people in bed – all times of the night a day, indicating a simultaneous, world-wide event.

What is taken away and what is left?  “Taken” is normally used to show favor on the one taken, and thus some say it represents the rapture.  It means to receive and join together, as in John 14:3 where Jesus is coming back to take us with him to our mansions he has prepared.  But the word is also used to describe Jesus’ arrest, and some say it represents those taken for destruction, as the wicked who were swept away in the flood.  “Left” means to go free, to let survive, to let escape, which would support the interpretation of “taken” as being destroyed.


Matt 24:43-51 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. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. "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? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 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. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mark 13:33-37 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back-- whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"

Luke 21:34-36 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Luke 12:39-46 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 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. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.


Like the steward, God is encouraging us to be responsible to do the tasks he has given us before his coming.

Who is the thief?  Some have a hard time relating this to Jesus.  But could it be Christ coming into the house of Satan to steal his Bride from the end times Deceiver?

Also, note that Christ commands us to “be ready,” not “get ready.”  We should be doing the work that he’s assigned us to do, like Noah, but our primary goal is to be the Bride, and let Christ do the rest.  If we get distracted with the cares and temptations of this life, we are all too susceptible to abusing even our fellow servants.  God forbid.



Conclusion

The many New Testament authors paint a consistent picture of God's grace in warning his people to prepare that they might not be caught off guard and that they might escape the wrath poured out on unbelievers. It is a mystery, but there appears to be a very important reason for this preparation, as if those who do not take it seriously will be distracted and then surprised when the final moment comes. This moment can come for any of us at any time. Will we be prepared to hear "Well done, faithful servant"?



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