WHEN JESUS RETURNS
Christís Coming Ready or Not
Jerry A Collins
ō What is the meaning of the parable of the fig tree?
ō Why are the days just before Jesus return like Noahís day?
ō How should a believer be prepared for Christís return?
1. This whole discourse is an answer to the disciples† question of vs 3.
2. Jesus then told of six birth pains which occur in the 3 1/2 yrs prior to His Second Coming (deception, wars, worldwide devastation, deliverance, defection and declaration 4-14).
3. These events contemporaneous with rise of Antichrist or abomination of desolation of vs 15 taking His seat in the temple worshipped as god (2 Thess 2:3-4; Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11).
4. In Judea people must flee to the mountains not stopping, retrieving anything. Many signs associated with this abomination and launches 3 1/2 yrs of great tribulation (Rev 6-19) while they must not believe false messages (15-28).
5. When Christ appears every eye shall see it with total darkness and sky split open as He returns in glory and power (29-31).
6. Now this generation is told to anticipate that return and be prepared for it (32-51).
1. THE FIG TREE SPEAKS 32-35
~Here is something to learn meaning that it is something you can apply to your life.
~A parable has one point to it and is a parable if it is stated to be. It uses a story from common life to illustrate the truth conveyed.
~Because a fig tree, common in Israel, produce fruit first and then its leaves meaning that the leaves appearance indicates summer with harvest near. In Matthew harvest means judgment (3:12, 10; 9:37-38; 13:30).
~So when these signs all these things vs 33 appear He has been describing, the time of His return and judgment are very near (birth pains, abomination, flee, upheaval). The emphasis is on ALL. While various events in history have been pointed to as the fulfillment of this prophecy, clearly all these things have never occurred and yet future.
~These signs will be fulfilled during the same generation living in the end when Christ returns. They will witness the birth pains as well as the birth!
~What Jesus predicted will not fail to come to pass. It would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for Christís words to fail.
2.† LIKE THE DAYS OF NOAH 36-41
~Altho there will be observable and unmistakable indications of His coming just before it occurs, the exact time will not be revealed in advance. The general time period will be known but not the precise day or hour (24:42,44,50).
~Neither will the supernatural world, angels, know the precise time of His coming.
~Not even Jesus knew the time when He was on earth. He obediently restricted His knowledge to those things the father wanted Him to know during in His humanity.
~To illustrate the approximate time of His coming Jesus spoke of the time of Noah. In at least two respects these time will parallel.
~First, they will not be expecting His return vs 37-39. Then people were enjoying the normal pursuits of life while they watched the ark being built. While Noah built the ark he also preached (2 Peter 2:5). But they were unconcerned about both the building and the preaching. They had never seen rain before because until then the earth was apparently covered and watered by a vapor canopy that provided the moisture necessary for life to flourish (Gen 1:7, 2:5-6). For 120 yrs Noah built and preached but not until they were in the ark and the flood came did that generation understand the truth.
~Unfortunately, the tribulation generation will neither heed the warnings signs nor the appeals of Godís witnesses up until the very moment the Son of Man appears to confront them.
~Second, they will be taken away in judgment vs 40-41. In keeping with the illustration of the time of Noah, the ones taken away are the unbelievers. The individuals left are believers who will then remain on the earth to populate the kingdom of Jesus Christ. At the rapture of the church it is believers who are taken and unbelievers left. The reverse happens at the second coming.††
3. THREE ATTITUDES BELIEVERS MUST HAVE THEN 42-51
~The first attitude is alertness42-43. The tribulation period will have a definite beginning and ending but the people living then will only know the general timeframe. Therefore watchfulness is important. There should be a continual expectation of His return.
~The second attitude is readiness vs 43-44. If a person who knows the approximate time a thief may come to break into his house, he takes precautions and prepares accordingly. Jesus is comparing His coming to the stealth and unexpectedness of a thiefís coming (Luke 12:35-40; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 PT 3:10; Rev 3:3, 16:15). Since both the day vs 42 and the hour vs 44 are unknown, for this reason be ready, spiritually prepared to meet Christ as Lord and King rather than judge.
~The third attitude is preparation vs 45-51. This is illustrated by the faithful servant vs 45-47. The believer who is faithful to the Lord, carrying our His will while Christ is away will be rewarded for that service when the Lord returns. Every person holds his life, possessions and abilities I trust from God whether he acknowledges God or that trust. A faithful servant then can expect that he will be rewarded in the kingdom to follow.
~The evil slave are unbelievers who determine that His master will not return soon and so feel free to indulge themselves in whatever sins and pleasures they desire. So he can take advantage of others , live wickedly and assume there is no accountability with God for this.
~Like the wicked people of Noahís day he was unaware of the sudden coming judgment vs 50. The Master will not come as Savior and King but as judge and executioner vs 51. It will be a judgment of destruction, death, separation dealt with as hypocrites who pretend to have faith and suffer torment. Each time Matthew refers to weeping and knashing of teeth (8:22, 13:42,50, 22:13, 25:30) it is judgment on sinners before Millenium established. Sorrow, grief, physical agony. This dreadful prospect must motivate people to escape it! By way of application:
Three things to strive for in your ministry if you want to be rewarded in the kingdom of heaven.
1. To be faithful God with your decisions and your provisions. Do not focus on appetites as they were doing in the days of Noah. Before 1960 appetites were something seen to be controlled now something to be served.
2. To be sensible not foolish in that you are alert and ready to face Christ when He returns. Have an eternal focus for your life. Dont mortgage the future for the present.
3. To be doing so when Jesus comes. Determine to finish better than you started. Strive to move toward the heart of God not away from and still please him† †