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The Olivet Discourse

In coming posts I aim to show that Jesus, in answering the disciples’ questions on the Mount of Olives, predicted the end of the age and his coming (Parousia) within his own generation. They were left in no doubt that He would come in their generation.

Matthew, Mark and Luke were not mistaken either, writing down what would happen and which history confirms. Paul, Peter, John and James in their writings of the New Testament show they believed His coming was imminent. Soon.

The “last days” in the New Testament refers to the end of an era, an age and not the end of time. The end of the long Mosaic age. The end of one age and the beginning of a new age. A New Covenant.

Futurist commentators say that our Lord’s ‘second’ coming is yet to happen and many of them teach that event is soon. If that is true, it follows from the texts that we face a time of great falling away, a most terrible ‘great tribulation’ while Satan’s kingdom triumphs.

But good news! We do not face what Jesus referred to as ‘the great tribulation’. We will not be ‘left behind’. Such erroneous views promote despair and an escape mentality. Many people want to opt out, some with the wish to be raptured, to escape the spectre of dying. To get out of this terrifying world.

Yet Jesus prayed for his disciples “ I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

We are called to bear witness to Jesus, his death and resurrection and his matchless character, power and authority at the right hand of the majesty on high. He is present with us, his new creation, his holy nation, within our lives, at home in our hearts, in a new covenant of the Holy Spirit.

All Jesus’ predictions, all of them, that we read here in the Olivet discourse came true together in amazing detail. Glory to God and to the Lamb forever for ‘He shall reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet, and then the end shall come’!

We are using as a basis here the Matthew, chapter 24, NASB version —plus some references to parallel texts in Luke and Mark.

Jesus answered two questions put to him by the disciples—a ‘when’ question and a ‘what’ question.

The coming of the Son of Man, the end of the age, is about judgment on apostate Israel, the rejecters of Jesus Messiah, a judgment which will use earthly means, the Roman armies. It is not about the end of the world.

Before we begin, let us understand some important principles which must guide our interpretation.

First, context. This discourse must really be seen in the wider context of the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke. This is especially so in Matthew. The reader should understand the narrative leading up to chapter 24, at least from chapter 21 and understand Jesus’ caustic and condemning words to the scribes and Pharisees and in the parables in chapters 21-23 of Matthew.

Reading of Chapter 23 is critical—for example, the ‘eight woes’ (vs.13-33) followed by the charge that their leaders will persecute those he will send and the terrifying prediction that “upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (vs.34-36). This is the same generation mentioned in Mat 24:34.

As you know, there are no chapter divisions in the original texts. It is a continuous narrative.

Second, this discourse was addressed to four of the twelve apostles at a particular point in time and place. It was not addressed to disciples beyond that generation, let alone to today’s readers. Of course, these four hearers imparted what they learned to other disciples in their lifetime.

We must resist the all too common habit of applying Jesus’ words to us, as if he was speaking to 21st-century readers about our future. Of course, this applies to all the texts in the New Testament, although we are edified by seeing how the truth of the gospel applies to us. There are many words recorded as spoken by Jesus to his disciples which cannot apply to us today. God gave us scriptures for us but they were not written to us!

Matthew 24 is often dubbed “the Little Apocalypse” because of the symbolic nature of verses 29-31. Jesus used cosmic collapse language, understood by Jews, Hebrew thinkers, and was frequently used by the prophets speaking from God about judgment.

It is very important to realise, as scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “Jerusalem remained the focal point of everything that the Jews were and did. Jewish identity was bound up with, and focused upon, a single city, and within that city a single shrine.” Jerusalem Past and Present in the Purposes of God.1994.

Bonhoeffer’s Theory of Stupidity

Peter’s First Letter-2

Once a week we look together at Peter’s first letter to people in various places. We see how he was encouraging them, preparing them. A most important, earth-shattering event was to take place. Terrible judgment was about to come on many back there in Jerusalem and Judea. The fabulous temple there and the Jewish religion as known for centuries, would be destroyed and replaced by a new creation (Mat 21:43-46). This would impact them and many Jews where they lived. Here we look at the first half of chapter 2.

In this part of his letter, Peter calls on his readers to thirst for the “pure milk of the word like newborn babies, if they have tasted the kindness of the Lord” and put aside all malice, envy, slander, hypocrisy etc.

Think how much the Lord has blessed us all abundantly! There’s much more. So let’s keep thirsting after the pure milk of God’s word to grow our salvation!  So important to long for the word of God. Look, it doesn’t matter how mature we think we are. The Lord’s blessing is inexhaustible. He wants us!

Yes, grow up in your salvation. Salvation is not merely getting newborn, started. There’s a big future idea, a whole of life growth of our salvation, as Peter reminded them several times in his letter.

So where to go? Peter says go to Jesus. Where else? Jesus is the One to come to—his open arms. He is the “chosen and precious.” Quoting from Isaiah 28, Peter identifies Jesus as like the most important stone in a building. That’s the cornerstone. It has to be laid exactly, in line, dead level, plumb. Then the building will follow the right design.

“Look, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone and who believes in him shall not be disappointed”.

Jesus said if you don’t gather with him, you are scattering (Luke 11:23). Do you want to be building for God? Well, you have to strictly follow the playbook! Jesus is “the living stone that was rejected by men but chosen by God”. You have to build on the true rock, His words. Anything else is on sand. Anything else is useless. What God has not planted will be pulled up by the roots (Mat 15:13). This is serious.

This building design called for these newborns to be stones too—living stones! Each was being built up into a spiritual house for a special role of offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus.

And so are we today—part of the house that He is building, against which the gates of hell will not stand.

Peter wrote (v7) this precious situation belongs to the followers of Jesus. Quoting Ps 118:22, he showed that the stone which rejected, actually became the very head of the corner! Then he added that others stumble because they are disobedient to the word not following the designer. For these, Jesus the precious stone was “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” (Isa 8:14) and doom awaits them.

These “builders”—the disobedient, were the Jews of that generation and their system, those who rejected their messiah, that wicked generation.

He goes on to tell his readers (v9) “you are a chosen race, you are a royal priesthood, you are a holy nation, you are the people of God’s own possession! Peter used those very same terms from Moses (Deut 7:6) applying them to these newborn Gentiles and Jews. There’s a whole new creation being formed here, a whole new nation. with the bad tenants, Jewish elites and their fleshly system will be destroyed as Jesus had foretold in Mat 21:43 and a new spiritual one will be formed.

Why are his readers new-born? That they “may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” That is our role, our privilege today. We are the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).

He recalls what the prophet Hosea wrote “once you were not a people but now you are the people of God. You once had not received mercy but now you have received mercy (Hosea 1:10). This points to a mostly Gentile readership. These newbies are the true people of God! And so are we who believe today.

Applause!

All this came from the pen of a Jewish born fisherman, but now since born from above through the resurrection of Jesus with whom he had walked for 3 years, a mere 30 years had past. Amazing.

Only 30 years previously! He could never forget when they nailed Jesus to the cross and then God raised Him up as He had foretold.

We struggle to grasp the reality, to feel, to enter in to those historic scenes—it all happened so long ago.

Peter’s readers are the forerunners of a totally new society and they have great responsibility, never seen before. So Peter urges them, aliens and strangers, to keep their behavior excellent among the outsiders. They may be slandered as evil by others but will see their good deeds and glorify God in the day of visitation.

This phrase ‘day of visitation’ is fascinating. It seems Peter had in mind an ‘end-times’ event (see 1 Pet 4:7).

The glorious light of God’s people show that God’s judgments are righteous and this will be acknowledged in the coming judgment.

So their behaviour would be very important. Let’s talk more about that next time.

Our Amazing Hope

Isaiah 51:11

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their hearts. They shall obtain gladness and joy and sighing and sadness shall flee away.

Now, here in Brisbane, Australia, most of us we face all the hype –if not the hope–of the Olympics coming to Brisbane. And people will be waiting for the event.

And as a dear friend of mine said today on his fb page “I guess the closer 2032 comes the greater the excitement”

He then said “and yet as we wait for the return of Christ there will be little mass hysteria but on that day the whole world will know that the King has come.”

Well . . . . ! Not all of us!

No.

Some of us, admittedly not many believers, are NOT actually waiting for the return of Christ, believing as Jesus told his students on the Mt of Olives (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) that he “assuredly” would come before some of his listeners had passed away (see Mat 16:28, 24:34, Mk 13:30, Lu 21:32).

Ha! We are certainly waiting for that wonderful moment, not far off especially for us ‘oldies’, when “we, the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come singing unto the (heavenly) “Zion”,

and everlasting joy shall be upon our hearts.

We shall obtain gladness and joy and sighing and sadness shall flee away.”!

Yes!

Assuredly!

This now is our blessed hope.

An Interesting Inside Story

I saw this comment to a dream by Praying Medic (www.prayingmedic.com) by one David Gracely. July 21, 2021

“If the Communists want to rail against “white privilege” they only have themselves to blame because that is what they want taught in the public schools.

It is called the Theory of Evolution and the full title of Darwin’s book is “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.”

Darwin favored the elimination of the Negro and Australian peoples because he looked upon them as inferior. Hitler took Darwin to heart. So did Karl Marx who wanted to dedicate Das Capital to Darwin, who declined his request.

My generation got the bum’s rush with the teaching of the Theory of Evolution in public schools in the 19t50’s. This is how that came about.

A very bright fellow worked for the Bureau of Standards, then the CIA, and finally worked for NASA, rising as high in the ranks as you could go without getting involved in politics. He was told by his superior to write up a schedule for the space program.

He was a very meticulous man and he wanted to do the job right, and so it took him two years to complete the job. He turned over his work to his supervisor who turned it over to President Eisenhower. Von Braun and his rocket team were ready to go. But President Eisenhower did nothing. The man who had labored so hard to make up the space schedule was not a happy camper with the President’s response. And then the Russians launched Sputnik and were lauded by our MSM to no end. The President asked the military to try to launch but failed at least twice. Finally he gave the green light to Von Braun and his rocket team and they were successful. But the damage had been done.

The cry went up by the liberal educational establishment.

“How come the Russians beat us into space? Why do they have better scientists then we do? Why, they teach their children the Theory of Evolution in school! That’s why they have better scientists. We need to teach our children the Theory of Evolution too”.

And so my generation got the bum’s rush with the Theory of Evolution.

How do I know about this inside story? Well, my dad told me about this shortly before he died in 2005. The man who wrote up that report was his oldest brother, Fredrick Gracely.”

With grateful thanks to David Gracely and Praying Medic–and Almighty God who gave us all we have. Ian.

He rescues me

I was recently asked to share a story in answer to the question “Have you ever been rescued?”

Yes!

The Almighty living true God, the One whom Jesus called Abba (Daddy) rescued me in May 1959.

He rescued me from a life of wondering what life was all about and transformed me into a new existence which biblical writers call “eternal life”.

I was blind, I was lost, I was enslaved to my own desires, imaginings and inclinations. My worldview changed overnight.

Yes, I have been rescued in every way.

God sent a black man from Uganda and his companion from Tanzania. As I listened to his story and saw his joy, I knew I had to have what this man, these people, so obviously had.

Yes, truly I have been rescued.

And I have been continually rescued day by day and year by year since then and today, more than ever, I am thankful.

The mighty God maintains each of my 70 billion body cells every second.

So I am so grateful to Him and to those two East Africans, whom He sent to rescue me.

Living in Fear?

Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

It is clear to me that governments and mainstream media are either deliberately or

unwittingly collaborating the promotion of fear in the Western World.

Read what C.S. Lewis said here many years ago, to the British readers, so as to put things in perspective.

Of course, a much greater threat than Lewis lists here, is threatening us today. I refer to the immense satanic evil of the ominous one-world government that is being openly proposed which will radically change our way of life from freedom to slavery.

Nevertheless, we know that a better world awaits us who believe in the One who died for us and has set us free from fear and anxiety.

All you who read this, if you have not made reconciliation with Almighty God through his death, you must tremble.

But there is an alternative open to you. A way out.

And that is to change your mind, radically, completely and wholeheartedly about Jesus and commit your life into his hands and receive the gift of eternal life.

In doing so you will certainly receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and no longer live in abject fear.

America is feeding the Cuckoo

I heard The Spirit say, ”Sheep Nations must stop feeding the Cuckoo! America is feeding the Cuckoo!”

by Veronica West

As I heard those Words, I was a little confused as to it’s meaning. But as I inquired of The Holy Spirit, He immediately spoke these Words, ”Look to the Cuckoo, a parasitic bird, for its work is an abomination in My Sight. This bird is an imposter which has taken over the nest!”

As I heard those Words, I ran to a trusted bird manual and sure enough, I saw that the female Cuckoo bird watches the nests of other female birds, then the Cuckoo lays in wait, watching until the other female bird lays her eggs.

Then, when she flies off to find food, the female Cuckoo quickly goes and lays one egg in the nest of the other female bird.

Now when the bird returns from finding food, she is totally unaware of what has just happened and she sits and incubates all the eggs, including the Cuckoo egg.

Over time, the Cuckoo egg hatches and as soon as the Cuckoo chick emerges from its shell, it proceeds to throw out all the other eggs from the nest.

The Cuckoo chick is then fed and reared by the female bird until it’s fully grown and ready to fly the nest.

The female bird is totally unaware and blind to the fact that there is an imposter in her nest and that all her babies have been destroyed.

The Cuckoo chick is fed all day long, and the small female bird spends all day looking for food to feed the ravenous Cuckoo chick, who has an appetite of ten small chicks put together…

The Cuckoo chick is an imposter in the nest. It takes full advantage of the ignorance of the small female bird, and from the moment it hatches from its shell, it seeks to kill and destroy any of the other eggs or chicks in the nest so that it can be solely fed and reared in the nest.

Now, as I read about this interesting aspect of the Cuckoo bird being the imposter bird, I heard The Spirit say, ”America is feeding the Cuckoo!”

As I heard those Words, suddenly Joe Biden (an imposter) and the nation of China (also an imposter) both came up before me and I heard these Words, ”Listen! Watch and be alert! Pay close attention! For in this season, the sound of the Cuckoo… Cuckoo… will be heard.

For the time of Divine Exposures and a Righteous Unraveling has begun to take place in the Nations.

Watch, as the works of the sleight-of-hand will be uncovered and revealed.

Watch, as My Governing Hand moves to expose the demonic spirit of an imposter in the midst of you!

Watch, as I move strategically in the days ahead to cut off and stifle the supply lines that have feed the Cuckoo, for cry of the ravenous Cuckoo will soon be silenced!”

Blessings to you all.
~ by Veronika West

An Undeniable and Amazing Miracle

Let me share an amazing story, truly miraculous, which has unfolded early this year.

My son has an IT business with Egyptian-born Atef. Atef and his Philippine-born wife, Emelie were living on the Central Coast of New South Wales with their three young boys when she became pregnant again.   

In November 2020, Emelie was given the most distressing news by doctors at the local hospital. She faced the most dangerous possible outcome because of the baby’s position. The placenta was growing in a verticle crevice left by a previous caesarean delivery. The thin wall of the placenta could easily puncture.

When my wife Joan and I heard this terrible news from Atef, we began praying and then we recruited others praying day and night for the blessing of God upon them, for a miracle. It had to be a miracle.

She was then referred to the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney where she was told that the doctors would be assembling a team of specialists (not just obstetricians) to be on hand for a March delivery as the lives of both mother and baby would be in grave danger due to potential haemorrhaging. An all-day procedure would be necessary. When they asked the specialist about the odds of having a successful outcome, the doctors gave no reply. Could the situation rectify naturally? The specialist said that was impossible. They were told that even if the delivery was successful the growth of the child could be compromised.

Well, our prayers were about to be answered in an extraordinary way.

On the 7th of January, Atef and Emelie went to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital for a scheduled scan of the pregnancy. Then they were told the most astonishing good news.

The scan at the Sydney Hospital revealed that Emeiie could expect to have a completely normal finish to her pregnancy. The specialist was stunned and said this was totally unexpected. He said the womb was completely normal and “it didn’t even look like she had undergone three previous C-sections”.

A few weeks later, the parents made another scheduled visit expecting Emelie to undergo an MRI scan. But after an Ultrasound was performed, the specialist they saw confirmed total normality! He had no explanation but had to acknowledge this was a miracle. There was no need to have the scheduled MRI, nor another visit to Sydney, and she was told she could have the baby at their local hospital.  Wow!

When they made the necessary arrangements for a March delivery at the local hospital, the medical staff were sounding very concerned that the procedure would not be without very serious results despite the recent scans at the Royal North Shore Hospital.  So they proceeded to have a team of specialists ready for the worst-case scenario, an all-day procedure. We kept trusting God and encouraged Atef as well.

The big day arrived. On 11th March, Emelie and Atef proceeded to the local hospital and there a beautiful, perfect baby girl weighing 3.5 kg was born by normal C-Section. There was no abnormal bleeding and the condition of the womb did not look as if there were any previous C-sections. They said, “there was not even any bad scarring visible!”

The climax of an amazing miracle.

Isn’t God wonderful! Atef and Emelie are over the moon. Excited. And so thankful to God and to all who joined in prayer. God loves us so very much. To God be the glory.

Surely, God intended the arrival of this precious little life and He intends many blessings for this family!

Rejoice with us and be encouraged in your faith and prayer life. Keep on asking!

Jesus died and rose and lives for us

Happy Easter! Christ is risen!

By Caleb Stephen and the team at CitizenGO

The everlasting message of Resurrection Sunday speaks life and love every calendar year. 

2021 is no exception. The world still faces a darkness that idolizes killing pre-born babies, destroying the family and promoting harmful curriculums in schools.  

The reality is that Christ has conquered death and given us immortality. We are made for eternity. 

This is why we rejoice: we as sinners have been redeemed. We have been saved at a high price – nothing less than God himself offered up to pay our debt. 

We have been released from the chains of mediocrity, sadness, hopelessness, fear, hunger, suffering, and even death. 

We do not deny that most of 2020 and 2021 have been difficult — with the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Still, it is also true that our Hope transcends these current harsh realities.  

Because Christ has risen and has opened for us the doors of Paradise, a true homeland for you and for me. A place without darkness but also without hatred, bitterness, enmities, or unpaid debts. A homeland of joy, good humor, tenderness, and happiness. In short, a homeland of love for which we are created. To love and be fully happy.  

Do not let the difficulties of these present times rob you of that joy. Remember that Christ is stronger than death and, of course, the coronavirus.  

Happy Easter! Enjoy this Easter Sunday however you manage to spend it. 

There is nothing in this world that can change an empty tomb.