End-time events, part 2

Jesus’ end-time prophecies:

Signs of the times in Matthew 24.

There are many who harass the Christians who are waiting for the second coming of Christ. They say that we are waiting for something that will never happen, because ever since the days of the apostles, Christians have believed that Jesus’ return is imminent. For almost 2,000 years, Christianity has been scouting the eastern sky to see the sign of Jesus’ coming. However, there is a clear distinction in God’s time management, and that is that there is a clear distinction between prophetic time and end time. During prophetic time, time plays an important role in relation to the prophesied events that take place there with an exact start and end point, while time does not matter during the end time as it says that … there should be time no longer, ( Revelation 10,6). What God has set in his perfect plan must be accomplished, and since there are erring people who perform many of the tasks that lie in God’s plan, it must necessarily take time. But the end, with Jesus’ return, it comes. We have the word of God on that. In Habakkuk 2,3, God says through the prophet: For the vision [is] yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Matthew 24 is a special chapter. After Jesus and the disciples had left Jerusalem for the last time before the crucifixion, they stopped on the way up the Mount of Olives, and Jesus showed the disciples the magnificent buildings that made up the temple and told that this should be demolished, there should not be left one stone upon another. When they had arrived, the disciples asked Jesus about two things that they obviously equated: … Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? The disciples believed that the destruction of the temple must be the same as the end of the world. Jesus did not correct them but gave them an answer that stretches from Jesus’ time to His return. We find this answer in chapter 24 from verse 4 onwards through chapter 25, and which consists of two main parts, 1) prophecies and 2) parables which all tell something about what will happen in the last time, and that the time we live in is a time to prepare and get ready for Jesus’ second coming. We can again divide these two main parts into 12 smaller parts

1) The prophecies:

a) A general prophecy about the signs of the times and the end of this age, verses 3-14.

b) The fall of Jerusalem and the most important signs, verses 15-20.

c) The great tribulation, verses 21-28.

d) Signs of heaven before the return of Jesus, verse 29.

e) The return of the Son of man, verses 30-31.

f) The Son of Man will not come until all signs are fulfilled, verses 32-35.

g) No one knows the day or the hour, verses 36-39.

h) Watching and preparing is important, verses 40-44.

2) The parables:

i) The faithful and unfaithful servant, chapter 24 verses 45-51.

j) The wise and foolish virgins, chapter 25 verses 1-13.

k) The parable of the talents, chapter 25 verses 14-30.

l) The Son of man shall judge the peoples, chapter 25 verses 31-46

a) A general prophecy about the signs of the times and the end of this age, verses 3-14.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these [are] the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

As mentioned, Jesus gives an answer to both questions that were: when shall this things be? which relates to the temple destruction, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and the end of the world? which relates to the return of Jesus. However, it is not uncommon for the same prophecy to deal with two similar events in one and the same prophecy, as in this prophecy. That this sequence covers the entire period from the destruction of the temple to the return of Jesus is clearly expressed in verse 14 which says that when the gospel is preached in all the world then shall the end come.

This is not a coherent prophecy, even though many seems to believe it today. Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and the final destruction of the earthly temple, and this is what Jesus will tell his disciples, and this is also the content of the first two verses. Then follows the disciples question in verse 3 about when this will happen and what the sign of Jesus coming, and the end of the world is. It is then that the general prophecy in verses 4 to 14 is given, and which roughly outlines what events will happen, and that most important of all, Jesus’ warning, with which he begins his answer in verse 4, and which he repeats three more times in verses 5; 11 and 24: Take heed that no man deceive you.

Now, there are many ways to seduce people, and Jesus gives some examples of how people will be seduced. In verse 26 Jesus say Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. This applies to the very return of Jesus. But we also have other kinds of seductions, such as making fire come down from heaven. This is a spiritual deception that takes place in charismatic Pentecostal churches around the world, where pastors, among them Kenneth Hagin who claims that he breaths the Spirit on the congregation, Kenneth Copeland who jumps around and behaves like an obsessed, his wife Gloria Copeland rocks around like a laying hen and says we can stick the Holy Spirit up behind! Jesse Duplantis says he belongs to Satan and Benny Hinn says that on the fruits we should know if he has his power from God. At a party at Benny Hinn’s home, he walks around handing out drugs (opium) to his guests and as a result, someone dies of an overdose the same night at his home. Walter Veit shows us this in a video located on Amazing Discoveries under the tab Total Onslaught, program 225 Strange fire. Fast forward 1 hour and 23 minutes and watch 20 minutes (until 1 hour and 43 minutes). (Feel free to watch the full video.)

Jesus points a finger at us and says that he has told us this beforehand. In other words, we have no excuses for making mistakes and believing in seduction. Both before and just after Jesus was here, there were many who called themselves the Messiah. We see the same thing today. There are more and more people who call themselves the Messiah, and who have many followers. We can perhaps call it a perpetual fulfilment from the time of Jesus, up through the Middle Ages and into our time. Many false Christs and prophets have appeared, and this statement goes directly to the next that begins with: Immediately after the tribulation of those days… (verse 29) which is clearly related to the end times. If we look at verse 11, it says that: And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.

In the autumn of 2019, my wife received a flyer in Oslo. This flyer proclaims that Mirza Ghulam Ahmed is the promised messiah. It is precisely such false prophets and messiahs that Jesus warns us against in Matthew chapter 24. To justify that Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad is the Messiah, they refer to Daniel 8,13-14; Matthew 24,43-44 and to the Qur’an Al-Saff 7, (Al-Saff is chapter 61). I do not know how many prophets deceived the people just before the destruction of Jerusalem or in the Middle Ages, but it is certain that it was many. Now, however, we see more and more often that both messiahs and prophets appear here and there, who are also able to lead astray by performing miracles and signs during their spiritualistic meetings. There is every reason to wonder what spirit is behind such miracles and signs.

  • Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad (13 February 1835 – 26 May 1908) was an Indian religious leader and the founder of the Islamic Ahmadiyya movement. He claimed to have been appointed as divine and as the promised Messiah and Mahdi – who is Jesus’ second coming in the metaphorical sense (mathīl-iʿIsā), as a fulfilment of Islamic end-time prophecies

b) The fall of Jerusalem and the most important signs, verses 15-20.

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: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

This prophecy was fulfilled to the letter when Jerusalem was destroyed, and the temple laid in ruins in the year 70 AD. The special thing about this story is that the Christians in Jerusalem all miraculously escaped. The Roman soldiers withdrew suddenly, and for no reason. This was seen by the Jewish leaders, and they took the opportunity to attack the Roman forces. This came as such a surprise to the Roman soldiers that they were taken by surprise by the Jewish attack and were about to lose the battle. In the midst of this confusion, Christians saw their chance to flee Jerusalem. Those who knew of Jesus’ prophecy were just waiting for such an opportunity, now it came, and all the Christians escaped the city without any of them being killed.

As soon as the Christians left town, the Romans managed to recover from the shock and crush the Jews, went into Jerusalem and destroyed both the city and the temple. This is a picture of what will happen to God’s people in the end times. When the persecutions and trials are greatest, God will miraculously deliver His people.

c) The great tribulation, verses 21-28.

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Three different tribulation periods are mentioned in the Bible:

1) The first tribulation is the one that took place in the time just before and during the fall of Jerusalem. This was a local tribulation, but it was cruel to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Eventually, the food supplies ran out in the city, and many people went outside the city walls sheltered from the darkness to find edible plants and herbs. Well inside the walls again, many of them were killed for the few herbs they had managed to find in the dark. Eventually there was so little food to be found within the city walls that mothers ate their own children. (See Jeremiah 19,9.)

2) The next tribulation is the one we find here in verses 21-29, and this extends over the time period we have become so well acquainted with, the 1260 years from 538 to 1798, when the Roman Church ruled with unrestricted power for most of the period. Although the Reformation came in the early 16th century, the Roman Church continued its persecution. There are no exact numbers of those who had to pay with their lives during this period, and the number varies, but we can assume that there are millions and millions of people, some say 50 million and others say as many as 100 million, or close to 1/3 of Europe’s estimated total population in this period.

3) The last of these three great tribulations is the one that will come in the absolute end time, just before Jesus returns, and which we find in Daniel 12,1. This is going to be the worst tribulation in human history. We do not know everything that will happen, but we do know something. God’s faithful remnant will, when the time comes, be subjected to the most cruel persecution, and they will suffer the threat of the death penalty because they will not submit to the Sunday laws implemented at this time. The wicked will then put the blame on God’s faithful remnant for the calamities that befall the world, but do not affect this small group who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus, (Revelation 12,17). Even though the remnant of God has been sealed with the seal of the living God, and thereby are beyond the reach of the evil one, they still will experience a real fear and will go through an unparalleled tribulation.

d) Signs of heaven before the return of Jesus, verse 29.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Here Jesus gives us a clear description of what kind of signs we should be able to see in heaven before He returns. This prophecy is strongly related to the previous prophecy that we find in verses 21-28, in that Jesus says immediately after the tribulation of those days…. This verse is also a clear parallel to Revelation 6,12-13 which says: 12there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. The signs given here however we must divide into two. Since these signs come between the great tribulation in verses 21-28 and the return of Jesus in verses 30-31, it is reasonable to believe that much of this verse is fulfilled through:

  • a great earthquake: the earthquake in Lisbon on November 1, 1755, probably the strongest earthquake recorded by humans (earthquake see verse 7). the sun became black like a sackcloth of hair: the day when the sun was darkened in a supernatural way, on 19 May 1780. the moon became as blood: the following night when the full moon turned red like blood, May 19-20, 1780. the stars of heaven fell unto the ground: the meteor shower over North-America on November 13, 1833.

The first part is thus the part that is fulfilled, while the second part is waiting for its fulfilment. The last paragraph of verse 29, … and the powers of heaven shall be shaken is still not fulfilled and will not be fulfilled until Jesus is on his way to earth in all the glory and splendour to deliver his faithful ones. This is the same as we find under the sixth seal Then the heavens shrank as a scroll is rolled up, and every mountain and every island were moved away from their place, Revelation 6,14

I believe we have the same prophecy in Matthew 24,29 and Revelation 6,12-14. Although there are nuances in the text of Matthew 24,29 in relation to Revelation 6,12-14, it can be argued that the same prophecy is mentioned in both places, despite the fact that Jesus in Matthew 24,29 does not mention earthquakes something Revelation 6,12 does. Jesus already mentions earthquakes in verse 7, and earthquakes can be seen both as a general sign and as an end-time sign. But Jesus himself says that earthquakes are just the beginning of birth pains, (NIV 1984).

Earthquakes should then be considered a general sign along with war, disease and false christs. In verse 24,29, Jesus continues with more special end-time signs that are unique and that will follow the events under point c)

Matthew 24

Verse    Event

7            Earthquake

29          The sun is darkened

29          The moon shall not give light

29          The stars will fall from the sky

29          The forces of heaven are shaken

Revelation 6

Verse     Event

12          Earthquake

12          The sun turned black

12          The moon became as blood

13          The stars fell to the ground

14          The sky shrank like a scroll

However, there has been a drastic change in the number of earthquakes and their magnitude. Admittedly, our measuring instruments have improved over the years, so more earthquakes will be able to be detected. But the Earthquake Observatory in Strasbourg, France, has set up a table of earthquakes, and has written evidence that earthquakes have been recorded as far back as the thirteenth century, and this shows an exponential increase. There are also statistics that show strong earthquakes, with a magnitude of more than 7,2, but the most interesting is the exponential increase we have seen in the last twenty years.

Century                Number of earthquakes in total

13.                        84                                       

14.                        115                                     

15.                        137                                     

16.                        174                                     

17.                        258                                     

18.                        378                                     

19.                        640                                     

20.                        2400     

2000-2009          17569

2010-2019          17811

Period                  Number of strong earthquakes

Before 1900       1 earthquake on average per decade

1900-1949          3 earthquake on average per decade

1950-1959          9

1960-1969          13         

1970-1979          56

1980-1989          74

1990-1999          125

2000-2009          149

2010-2019          159

The energy released in an earthquake with a magnitude of 7,2 corresponds to 250,000 tonnes of TNT. For comparison, it can be mentioned that the Oslo earthquake which occurred on 23 October 1904 and which had a magnitude of 5,4 on the Richter scale, corresponding to just under 500 tonnes of TNT, and the earthquake on Svalbard on 21 February 2008 had a magnitude of 6,2 Richter scale, equivalent to 1,900 tonnes of TNT. And the earthquake that hit the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004 had a magnitude of 9,2. This corresponds to as much as 290,000,000 tonnes of TNT, and Australia moved 25 cm. away from the epicentre. The aforementioned earthquake in Lisbon on 31 October 1755 must have been considerably stronger than the one in the Indian Ocean in 2004.

e) The return of the Son of man, verses 30-31.

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Sometime after these signs are fulfilled, the Son of Man will return. We have a guarantee for this through the prophecies that have been fulfilled. When Jesus returns, he will gather his faithful ones and take them to heaven. Jesus’ return is described as follows in verse 30: … And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

This is mentioned four times in the Bible. The first time is in Daniel 7,13 where it says: … the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days … Further in Matthew 26,64 and in Mark 14,62 which is about the trial against Jesus, where Jesus says: … Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven. And of course here in Matthew 24,30. The sign of the Son of Man is obviously His coming in the clouds of heaven.

When Jesus comes with great power and glory, the investigative judgment is complete, and all people have had their destiny decided by the choices they made in life, either to a life with God and Jesus in all eternity, or to eternal shame and eternal death.

The clouds of heaven must be understood as God’s angelic army following Jesus back to earth. What a sight this will be for those lucky enough to experience it. This is what God’s people, at least since the time of Abraham, have been waiting for and hoping for. Abraham saw it in the distance, but only the last generation will experience it. What a privilege they have. At the same time as they have this privilege of seeing the Lord return, they have suffered the hardest persecution that any human being has experienced, but they have endured because they have prepared in the right way. They have not defiled themselves with women, they have followed Jesus wherever He goes, and not least they have been sealed with the seal of the living God as a sign that they belong to God.

f) The Son of Man will not come until all signs are fulfilled, verses 32-35.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is] nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, [even] at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Can these verses tell us something about when Jesus will return? Jesus uses the parable of the fig tree to explain to his disciples that he will not return until all signs have been fulfilled according to the prophecy. Jesus uses this parable because we humans can interpret such signs as the fig tree. When the leaves putteth forth, we know that summer is near. Therefore, we should also be able to know that Jesus’ return is near when all the signs He has given us are fulfilled. Our question is whether we know where we are on the timeline in relation to these signs. What do we know has happened, and what do we know that has not happened?

1) The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple …

This was fulfilled in the year 70. In the year 66, the Jews started a revolt against the Roman oppressors, and in the year 70, four years later, the Roman soldiers, under General Titus, destroyed most of Jerusalem and left the temple in ruins as Jesus had prophesied almost years earlier. There was no stone left upon stone.

2) General signs that apply right from the death of Jesus to His return:

As it says, these are general signs that we have been able to observe throughout history, but today we can for the first time see all these signs fulfilled simultaneously, and to a greater extent than ever before.

Seductions of prophets who stand up and call themselves Christ … In addition to Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, (see above), it can be mentioned that NKR (Norwegian television station) a few years ago made a series of four programs about people who call themselves the Messiah. This series was shown in the autumn of 2017, and featured Moses from South Africa, Matayoshi from Japan, Vissarion from Russia, and INRI Cristo from Brazil. All have thousands of followers or disciples.

Wars and rumours of wars – peoples against peoples – kingdom against kingdom … In the spring of 2020, there were at least 83 armed conflicts going on in different parts of the world at the same time, the largest number being registered.

Diseases… Diseases that were claimed to have been eradicated have returned, new viruses are killing hundreds of thousands of people, and more and more bacteria and viruses are becoming antibiotic-resistant.

Hunger … East Africa in particular is starving, and there are three different reasons for this. In Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan, crops were destroyed by floods. This also led to several disease outbreaks due to contaminated water. In South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe there is a drought, and 45 million people are threatened with starvation. In addition to this, the region has been ravaged by desert locusts (catantopidae) in a number of over a billion individuals that have eaten up Ethiopia’s grain chamber and devoured what drought and floods have not destroyed.

Earthquake … I have mentioned this above, but there is a steady increase in the number of earthquakes. I was in Peru from January 18 to February 21, 2020, and when we arrived in Arequipa, located in the Andes, we were welcomed the first night by a magnitude 5,8 earthquake, and the mountains said goodbye to us the night before we left for Norway with a quake of 5,4. This is the first time I have experienced two such strong earthquakes in such a short time.

Tribulations … We still see that Christians are persecuted and killed for their faith. Pope Francis has now argued that one can start punishing heretics, and then heretics are of course seen through Catholic eyes, and it is not just any punishment he thinks of. Pope Francis made the following statement shortly after him was elected pope: Religious fanatics, even if they are not violent, are terrorists, and it is only an appropriate punishment for them … … Those the pope says are religious fanatics are those who keep the Bible as their only guideline, and these are called for terrorists of the current pope. The Pope does not say in plain words what punishment he considers timely, but if we look around in the world today we see that the death penalty is the only punishment terrorists face.

Lawlessness … Lawlessness is here in the sense of not following God’s law. We cannot expect anything else that secular people do not relate to God’s law. But when the churches reject God’s law then we really have lawlessness in the world. All churches and denominations except a few have liberalized God’s law, saying that what was dark has become light. Everything that God calls abomination, iniquity and abominations in the Bible has been taken into the church and been Christianised.

Love of many shall wax cold … In connection with the refugee crisis that has come in the wake of the war in Syria, soon all countries in the world have closed their borders to those who really need it most. In 2015, all countries in Europe were willing to accept far more refugees than they had planned to do precisely because there were people in need in question. By 2020, the borders have been closed to these refugees. As a result of the crisis in 2015, Turkey reached an agreement with the EU on financial aid worth tens of billions of EURO against closing the border so that Turkey assumed responsibility for the refugees. Turkey has now become bored, allegedly because the EU has not fulfilled its obligations, opened its borders towards Europe. The EU, for its part, has deployed the military to guard the borders and ensure that no one enters Europe.

As we see, all the general signs are fulfilled at the same time, and before our eyes.

Special signs that apply explicitly the end-time.
  • the sun will be darkened … the moon shall not give her light … the stars will fall from heaven … the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world … and the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

When all this has happened, then the Son of Man will return.

We have already looked at this. The only thing left is that the powers of heaven will be shaken, and that the gospel shall reach out to the whole world, to all languages, professions, slaves, free, young and old. We do not know when this will happen, but we know that it may not be long, because all other signs have been fulfilled.

g) No one knows the day or the hour, verses 36-39.

But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

There are a few things Jesus holds back which are not in the signs of his return that we have looked at so far. It is the sealing that will take place just after the whole world has chosen side in the cosmic conflict. Everyone is put to this choice when the Sunday law (s) are introduced, and when everyone has chosen whom they will worship, the eternal God, the Creator of heaven and earth, or an ordinary mortal man, when everyone has chosen what commandments they will keep, God’s Ten Commandments or the Pope’s Ten Commandments, then those who choose to worship God and keep His commandments will be sealed with His seal, while those who choose to follow the Sunday law take the mark of the beast.

There are probably good reasons why Jesus does not mention the exact time of his return. Had He done so, surely all people would have taken a lukewarm attitude to the gospel and said to themselves my Lord doth delay to come (Matthew 24,48), and thus lived a life that will be incompatible with the gospel and the good of God will.

What is new here is that Jesus gives us a new sign. He tells us what it will be like just before His return: But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. How was it in Noah’s time? They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. In other words, they lived a carefree life of hustle and bustle and enjoyment. If we open the window to the world, we will see that it is exactly as it is today. Most people live in hustle and bustle and are preoccupied with other things than listening to those who preach the imminent return of Jesus. Noah preached a flood that would destroy anyone who did not enter the ark he built. But no one would listen to him. Today, it is the Noah of our day who preaches the return of Jesus, but no one wants to hear him either. The result will be fatal for those who will not listen to the message and receive salvation.

h) Watching and preparing is important, verses 40-44.

Then shall two 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. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Jesus also uses a parable in this passage, now to illustrate how surprising his return will be. He must come all of a sudden and unexpectedly, as a thief in the night, (1 Thessalonians 5,2; 2 Peter 3,10). That is why we must always be vigilant and prepared for the coming of Jesus. And along with perhaps the most important message in this chapter And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive youa warning that we find in verse 4, and that Jesus repeats in verse 5: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many …//… and in verse 11 And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many …//… and in verse 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Jesus has given us everything we need to know what is happening, but we must be vigilant and prepared. It is extremely important to remember what Jesus says; take heed that no man deceive you. It is probably not without reason that Jesus has given us these prophecies and warnings. Jesus wants us to be prepared. Many of the signs that Jesus himself gives us tell us that Jesus’ return is imminent.

The parables in Matthew 24 and 25

i) The faithful and unfaithful servant, chapter 24 verses 45-51.

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming*; And shall begin to smite [his] fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint [him] his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

* Some translations omit His coming. This distorts the meaning, as no explanation is given as to what he is delaying, or why he is delaying.

What is the meaning of give them meat in due time? Here are two expressions we need to take a closer look at: a) meat and b) in due time.

a) meat: What kind of food is we talking about here? Is it physical food that we eat every day? Well, I think that is a part of the solution, just look at what Isaiah 58,7 says to us: [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Could it also be spiritual food? Since this is a parable, this must also be understood in a figurative sense. Just before Israel was to take possession of Canaan, God said to them through Moses: And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Deuteronomy 8,3

In chapter 6 of John it says in verse 35: Joh 6,35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst and in verse 48 Jesus says simply and plainly: I am that bread of life.

To put together both physical food and spiritual food, we can look at what Jesus says about this in Matthew 4,4. Jesus answered Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness: … … It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

I think this parable is about each of us, because we have all been called to go out to all the world … When we give them meat in due time, it has a double meaning. We will 1) help the poor, give him food, drink, clothes, we will visit him, comfort him and not hide ourselves from our own flesh who is in need of help, and 2) we will lead everyone that God sends in our way to Jesus and teach them about salvation in Christ.

b) in due time: What does it mean at the right time? It is here and now. It is today, not tomorrow, because we do not know whether tomorrow will come. In 2 Corinthians6,2 Paul quotes Isaiah 49,8, and says: … … Behold, now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.

Our task is this, to give the hungry food, … meat in due time. We are called to preach the gospel and the present truth. The servant is therefore the individual Christian, his Lord is Jesus Christ, and the expression to give them meat in due time means that we must preach the gospel, which is our spiritual food.

j) The wise and foolish virgins, chapter 25 verses 1-13.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish. They that [were] foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh*; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, [Not so]; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh**.

Here, too, there are some translations that omit important information. I am of the opinion that it is not a superfluous word in the Bible, and when there are words that describe an action that is omitted, this will in mostly all cases destroy the meaning of the verse/text. Here the following changes have been done: *Coming is omitted (NIV 1984; Basic English 1964; ASV 1901; Darby Bible 1884/1890), and **the Son of Man cometh (NIV 1984; Basic English 1964; ASV 1901; Darby Bible 1884/1890) is omitted. This makes the text incomplete, and you can read into the text what you want.

What is it then that Jesus is trying to tell us through this parable?

In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Jesus wants us to be prepared for his return, which can happen at any time. The virgins here are a symbol of the Christians, and Jesus clearly distinguishes between the different Christians by saying that some have oil in vessels (for their lamps), while others do not have oil. Oil in the Bible is olive oil, and olive oil is used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, (see Zechariah 4,3ff). Lamps are in the Bible a picture of God’s Word: Psalm 119,105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. This means that the whole of Christianity has the Bible, but only a part of the Christians use the Bible actively, together with the Holy Spirit, in their search for the truth of God. The wise virgins thus had both the Bible and the Holy Spirit when the bridegroom – Jesus – came. So Jesus wants us to study the scriptures so that we prepare ourselves so that we are not seduced by false teaching. In this parable we find what is called the Midnight Cry: verse 6: And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

k) The parable of the talents, chapter 25 verses 14-30.

For [the kingdom of heaven is] as a man travelling into a far country, [who] called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same and made [them] other five talents. And likewise he that [had received] two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth and hid his lord’s money. After a long time, the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine. His lord answered and said unto him, [Thou] wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and [then] at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him and give [it] unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus says in John 15,16: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. Jesus does not let us go without equipping us, and this is what this parable tells us about. The parable of the talents is precisely about how we manage the talent or talents we have received from the Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we are given different talents, or gifts of grace. Some get more boldness, and some get several different gifts, of which five talents, two talents and one talent, but the work each one does is just as much worth even if we are basically equipped in different ways. Thus, according to scripture, we are set in the world to bear fruit, and we do so only when we use our talents.

In 1 Corinthians 12,8-10, Paul tells us what talents or gifts the Spirit can give us … For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

It is all about how we manage the talents we are equipped with. We cannot hide, or conceal what we have been given, and Jesus in this parable asks us to manage what we have received in such a way that we go out and preach the gospel, and share the good news with the whole world, and in that way bear fruit that is worthy of our repentance.

In Mark 16,15 Jesus says to his disciples – something that also applies to us: … Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, and this is linked directly to Revelation 14,6-7: And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

l) The Son of man shall judge the peoples, chapter 25 verses 31-46

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy* angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him**, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Here, too, important words have been omitted in some translations. *holy are omitted in verse 31 and **He is omitted in verse 44.

In this parable, Jesus puts it all into a clear and unambiguous judgment perspective. Jesus is very clear that there will be a judgment in connection with his return. This judgment divides mankind into two groups, not one, not three or more, but only two groups, which here are called the sheep and the goats.

Despite the fact that salvation is free, and that we can do nothing to deserve it, it costs – it costs us everything we are, absolutely everything. We are put into the world to take care of each other and to help everyone who suffers in one way or another. We cannot force anyone to accept our help, but we are obliged to offer it, because it is the deeds we do that we are to be judged by. Jesus says it like this:

  • I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

It is quite certain that we will show our next care in the form of food, water, clothing and the like, and it is equally certain that it is not just physical food, water and clothing that is in question. I think we must also put it in a spiritual context, we must preach the gospel, and in that way also give our fellow human beings the opportunity to be in harmony with God. There are probably many who are hungry and thirsty to hear the word of God, and who feel alienated from the world. And there are many who, because of their way of life, can be said to be naked, sick, and in prison, who need to hear what Jesus can do for them, just see what He Himself says about this in Luke 4,18-19: The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Our task in this regard is to show them the way to Christ, so that He can give them to eat of the bread of life, and drink of the living water and clothe them with shining white cloth which is Jesus’ own righteousness.

Isaiah already prophesied about this about 2700 years ago. Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, [and] them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. Isaiah 42,5-7.