Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Gathered Elect in Matthew 24/Mark 13

"And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet 
and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, 
from one end of the sky to the other."  
Matthew 24:31

"And then He will send forth the angels,
and will gather together His elect from the four winds,
from the farthest end of the earth
to the farthest end of heaven."
Mark 13:27

Who are the gathered elect in these two parallel verses?  Are they the scattered tribes of Israel?  Are they the church?  Let's go on a scripture treasure hunt together.  We'll begin in Matthew 24, and then we’ll move to two other passages in Matthew that also reference the end of the age.  Finally, we’ll take a look at several other passages that parallel Matthew 24, because they also reference the coming of Christ - I think you will come to the same conclusion that I did.

In Matthew 24, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about His “parousia”, and the end of the age.  “Parousia” is translated as coming, in the NASB and ESV Bibles.  From the Greek, we know it means presence.  Jesus gives the events that will occur before His second coming, or presence.  His disciples had asked Him what the sign of His coming (parousia) and the end of the age, would be.  In a quick synopsis of Jesus' answer, He says the first big event to be observed prior to His parousia and the end of the age would be the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader undersand) – v. 15.        

We can cross reference 2 Th. 2:3,4, which gives us New Testament revelation as to what will take place.  “The man of lawlessness…the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”  

We know from the book of Daniel that this abomination, this detestable thing to God, will happen at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week - three and half years into the last seven years before Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth. 

Jesus says that when the abomination of desolation occurs, those who are in Judea are then to flee to the mountains when they see it, because  “then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” – v. 21.  Jesus says that “unless those days (of tribulation) had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”  

It’s going to be a horrendous time of killing of those who love Jesus, and of the Jewish people, whom God loves.  (Koloboo’, a derivation of kolazo’ in the Greek is translated as cut short in the NASB and ESV.) Jesus’ parousia, His coming with His angels, curtails the great tribulation.  It ends this time of great slaughter. Jesus will turn the natural lights off (“the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky…”) and then He will appear with His angels and they will gather the elect. vv. 30, 31.  

We are now at the end of the age.

Here's something really cool - in Genesis 1:14 God says, ""Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons..."  A single star shown at Christ's first coming, but at His second coming, the world will be plunged into darkness on the side of the earth that is day, and on the side of the earth that is night, all the stars will look like meteors as they fade away - complete darkness all around the world, then the glory of Jesus will fill the entire sky...  

In Matthew 28, as Jesus gives what is known as the Great Commission, He tells the disciples that He would be with them, always, till the end of the age. Just prior to that He instructed His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations…included in that was baptizing them and also teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.  So what Jesus commanded and instructed His disciples, is for each generation of disciples to learn and obey, and pass on to the next generation of disciples, until the end of the age.  These words, including the Great Commission, are to us and for us - and He will be with us, always, till He returns at the end of the age.  

In Matthew 13, we find another reference to the end of the age in the explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares...

In the verses where Jesus tells the parable, He says the landowner tells his workers to allow both the wheat and the tares to grow together, until the harvest.  The wheat might be uprooted with the tares if they tried to pull them before the harvest.  At the harvest, the landowner will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn” – v. 30.  

When Jesus explains the parable, He identifies the Son of Man, Himself, as the sower.   He identifies the wheat or the good seed as the sons of the kingdom (His true disciples) and He identifies the tares as sons of the evil one – who are sowed by the devil.  Satan is trying, even now, to deceive the church by mingling his children with God’s.  Then in the explanation, Jesus says the harvest is at the end of the age (when His “parousia” occurs) and the reapers are the angels.  This is when the separation of the wheat and the tares takes place – Jesus’ true followers are gathered into the barn and the tares are gathered up to be burned.  The wheat gathered by the reapers (angels) then would be the elect, or the true believers, gathered by the angels in Matthew 24.

Looking at these three passages with references to the end of the age, I conclude that this is not the gathering of the scattered nation of Israel.  That gathering will come after this gathering, after the close of this age.  We'll look at that in another post.  In Matthew 24, when the elect are gathered by the angels, we are seeing the true church being gathered, and, I think we are also seeing the resurrection of Old Testament saints and New Testament saints, as well.  

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the classic rapture passage, Paul, born along by the Holy Spirit, is revealing truth to us regarding…the “parousia”…the coming or presence of Jesus.  Same use of the Greek word in Mt. 24.  At the coming of the Lord, those who have fallen asleep (who have died in Christ), Jesus is going to bring with Him.  He’s going to descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first, then, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with the raised dead in Christ, to meet the Lord in the air.  The word remain can also be translated as survive.  (Strong’s Concordance - 4035.) We who are alive and survive (the great tribulation) will be caught up together with the dead who have been raised to meet the Lord in the air, and then we’ll always be with the Lord.

Let’s take a look at Luke 21:25-28.  “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, (sounds like Mt. 24), and on the earth dismay among the nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”  

Then Luke talks directly to believers, Jesus disciples, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  Jesus is coming to receive us to Himself and to redeem our bodies.  Romans 8:22, 23 references the redemption of our bodies which now groan under the curse.

And 1 Corinthians 15.   Here the Holy Spirit reveals truth through Paul regarding the resurrection.  Christ is the first fruits…then at His coming (parousia – exact same Greek word used in Mt. 24), those who belong to Jesus will be raised – v. 23. 

In John 6 Jesus references the resurrection occurring on the last day four times.  Verse 39 – “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”  Verse 40 – “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”  Verse 44 – “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”   Verse 54 - “He who eats My flesh and drinks my blood (figurative) I will raise him up on the last day.”

Daniel 12:1,2 references Israel's time of greatest distress, greater than the Holocaust, and what follows then is resurrection of Daniel's people...”Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise.  And then there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.  Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake…”  Unprecedented tribulation and then resurrection, just like for the church.

Matthew 24:31 says the angels gather from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.  Mark 13:27 includes the farthest end of the earth.

Therefore, based on the usages of "parousia" in Matthew 24, in 1 Thessalonians 4, in 1 Corinthians 15, and looking at the end of the age passages as well in Matthew 28 and Matthew 13, and if we include John 6 and Daniel 12:1,2, and the truth that the angels gather from the sky and the earth, my conclusion is this gathering is all the Old Testament and New Testament elect saints who are resurrected and the elect believers who are alive and remain at the end of the age.  

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, if you believe that Jesus took God's wrath on the cross for your sin, in your place, and you are trusting in no other name for salvation, other than the name of Jesus Christ, you will be included in this gathering at the end of the age, either by resurrection and being caught up into the air, or surviving the great tribulation and being caught up into the air - to Jesus.  It's going to be quite a day, and night...

“Behold I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”  1 Cor. 15:51, 52

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