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Interpretations of Luke 21 (finis)

I have no intention, with this last post on these things, to do a verse by verse commentary. I have unapologetically used up many of the words the English language has to offer in examining these scriptures in detail; so what follows is more general in nature.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

The companion passage in Matthew has more detail:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…”

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

These statements (both from Lk. 21 and Mt. 24) are generally taught as meaning that these signs were to precede the destruction of the world and the final Day of Judgment. Yet as with the rest, that is completely outside of the actual context. This portion is prefaced with the word “immediately.” What exactly does the concept of immediacy mean (in any language)? Does it portend to speak of a thousand, or two thousand years on? If your employer wants to see you immediately, how long do you typically wait to respond?

Jesus clearly said, as is recorded in all three places, that it would be the residents of Judea and Jerusalem that should flee upon seeing the signs beginning to be fulfilled (Mt. 24:13, Mk. 13:14, Lk. 21:21). It does not matter whether I like that or not, how many people accept it or not, or who teaches otherwise — anything else is outside of the context and cannot be substantiated. The residents of Judea in the first half of the first century AD were being warned. Jesus was specific. Nobody else is mentioned anywhere in the text. I don’t live in Judea and neither do you.

He also said that those angels “…will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” That indicates that they – the Christians – would be protected as they had followed the prescription for leaving the area, does it not? But many must have the time fulfilled by gathering all Christians, although nobody outside Judea had been mentioned. Still this remains what it was intended to be – comments on the signs of the coming judgment on Israel.

The original language also indicates that the word rendered heaven identifies the “abode of God.” Unfortunately then, to the great consternation and amazement of some folks, Jesus did not say a thing about the angels gathering any of the elect from off of the earth, from under the earth or anywhere near the earth. The context is again found to be limited to the coming of the end of the Jewish age.

We should remind ourselves that “no passage of scripture is of any private interpretation.” That God has spoken, and he recorded all and completed his instructions. He does not require us to do anything but to trust and obey. We don’t need to put a spin on things to somehow make it work.

In spite of these things the same passage (particularly Matthew 24) is pounced upon as one of the main proofs for something known as the doctrine of The Rapture. But it is simply impossible to gin up support for this theory too, if you just stick with the text, to the facts and with the details. Whether or not you read this on a rooftop waiting for airlifts, Jesus never said a word about anything resembling the Rapture. In fact, the word rapture does not occur in most of the modern versions (the word occurs once in the Song of Songs in the NKJV). Such things are never hinted at.

The only reasonable conclusion is that Jesus wasn’t talking about the end times – unless you were standing right in front of him when he said these things. And you weren’t.

He wasn’t talking about your rapture or anybody else’s, because the concept is never mentioned. There is no such thing. The plain point is that the end was in sight for Judea, for Israel and Jerusalem; and the rest is a modern day fantasy. Some people boldly teach things not authorized and not found in the scriptures. I am glad to not be in their shoes.

Some readers might suppose that the book of Revelation offers solace for such notions, but you would need to read and study more if you should think so. If you suppose that those who write and post here will be shy when it comes to exposing this kind of nonsense whether supposedly based on Matthew or Revelation, then you would be wrong on that account too. It simply does not matter how many people accept it or who teaches it — if it cannot be substantiated in the scriptures, we will not endorse it.

It simply isn’t in the Bible. Therefore, I would suggest that you should steer as far away from the folks who teach such things as you can.

If you were to spend your time on identifying the things you must do to be found in a covenant relationship with God, and the things you need to do to be counted faithful, even to the exclusion of all other topics – you would gain your prize and will reign with Him forever. The scriptures tell everyone that we can be saved by doing what he has told us to do, while avoiding speculations and questionable doctrines. What I find questionable you might understand with ease, and the other way around. But the problem is not so much of will or faculty as it is that most of us seem to want to know everything, or we want to mind some other business than our own most of the time.

As an aside, whether or not those who are Catholics, Mormons or Watchtower readers and the like, believe it or not, really does not matter  either – there has been no further revelation since God Almighty conceived things and put his plan in motion, since Jesus executed it, and since the Holy Spirit confirmed it, to put it succinctly and simply. There has been nothing new either done or said since then - since it was put forth, sealed and accumulated. “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Peter said, “As his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” Was he telling it straight?