Sometimes common sense goes a long way. Logically thinking through a situation can get you out of a bind that no amount of kicking and screaming would. The notion that eschatology, theology, or hermeneutics are common sense free zones, or we must somehow suspend logic and not believe our eyes is ludicrous on its face, but that’s the only move left on the chess board for some.
After that argument is exhausted, they tend to go full tinfoil hat where the king starts doing backflips and Aikido takedowns or gets superpowers from eating a magic raisin. No, man, you see, Jesus is coming back like three times total. First for the Jews, then for the gentiles, then to judge the earth. Then we each get our own planet and become little gods and then create our own universes and populate them, and on it will go until the multiverse is a reality that all fits tightly into a pocket dimension that God carries on a chain around His neck.
The most important thing, though, is the multiple trips to and from heaven because that’s the only way we can make our square theory fit into a sound theology. As though Jesus needs to fill out a punch card to get a special prize. Three visits, and you get a free snow cone! That’s marketing for you.
The idea that those who cling to certain illusions could be wrong is anathema to them, and so extreme measures must be employed. That’s how my daughters play chess too. No, I don’t let them win; that would teach them nothing. By the time they’ve got two or three pieces on the chess board, they get frustrated, and it all goes south from there.
One verse in particular from the entirety of Matthew 24 gets quoted most often. You know the verse I’m talking about, say it with me, “and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Yep, that’s the one. Well done! I have yet to sit in a church pew for longer than a month and not hear some rendition of that passage. Quick question; who will be doing all the preaching before the end comes? Are we going to outsource it? Will we be leaving post-it notes for the left behind? Are we going to get Alexa or Siri to preach a sermon or ten? Who exactly will be preaching the gospel of the kingdom to fulfill the prophecy of Christ regarding the coming end? If your counterargument is that the gospel has already been preached in all the world, why has the end not come yet?
I know; that question is like a fly in the ointment, but it gets worse. Whom is Jesus speaking to exactly when He says they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you? Whom is He referring to when He says to take heed that no one deceives you? The deceived are already deceived! Is He warning the deceived not to fall for false prophets lest they get more deceived? Deception is a zero-sum game, sort of like virginity. You either are, or you aren’t. There’s no partial deception or just a little deceived, so the question is a valid one. Whom is Jesus warning?
If the Olivet Discourse is chronological, then before the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world, we will have a front-row seat to everything from wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, false prophets, false Christs, famines, pestilences, lawlessness, and the love of many growing cold.
All these are the beginning of sorrows. If we have to go to Webster’s for every word, this will take a minute, but I’m assuming, given that you take the time to read these long-format musings, you know what the definition of the word beginning is. Just in case you don’t know what the word beginning means, it is defined as the point in time or space at which something starts!
What sets it off are the things certain individuals are hoping to avoid altogether by being prematurely airlifted to heaven. If this were the case, Christ’s discourse could have been much shorter. He likely could have done it in two verses.
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
“I come to snatch you away, then the world falls apart, but that doesn’t concern you because you won’t be here for any of it.”
On a serious note, what some have failed to understand regarding the Olivet Discourse is that it contains two interwoven prophecies. Jesus had just finished prophesying about the temple and how not one stone would be left upon another when His disciples came to him with questions.
Just as any curious kitten would, they didn’t just inquire as to the Temple’s demise but also about Christ’s return and the end of the age.
The first part of the prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD when after a protracted siege, the Romans set fire to the temple and destroyed it.
The second part, the part having to do with His return and the end of the age, is yet to be fulfilled. Common sense would dictate that if Jesus got the first part right, the second part would also be spot on. You might not like it, or you might bristle at it, but it will happen regardless of whether or not you prepare your heart.
Being the very picture of magnanimity that I am, it is at this juncture that I offer you the opportunity to cry uncle, and I’ll stop. It only gets worse from here. The ball, as the kids say, is in your court. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.