50. And Then The End Will Come

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

I suggested to you last time that Matthew 24 is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted of all chapters in the Bible. This is because people read into it what they expect to see, and do not come with an appreciation of covenant language and covenant understanding.

Good news?

We will look at the whole of Matthew 24 in due course, but for today I want to concentrate on two particular sections. Here is the first:

Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:11-14).

This is Jesus prophesying, and He is talking about an awful time. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, needing to endure. Then He says, “This gospel shall be preached…”. And I thought the gospel was supposed to be good news! If this is how it is, then no wonder some Christians are so miserable and pessimistic. No wonder some have a siege mentality and are just holding on, waiting for Jesus to come and rescue them.

And verse 14, I have heard that preached on so many times. We have been taught that Jesus cannot come back yet, because not every people-group has heard the gospel. The end cannot come until we have preached the gospel to every nation.

The end of what? That is the question we ought to be asking. The end of the world? The end of time?

Clearly not, because we’re still here. Why do I say that? Let’s look at the second passage I want to highlight today.

Amen, Amen

So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (Matt 24:33-34).

“So you, too…”- Jesus is speaking to his disciples directly here – “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (my italics). That phrase ‘Truly I say’ is the ‘Amen, Amen’, the ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you’ of the older versions, and it means ‘Listen carefully and pay special attention to what I am about to say – this is particularly important.’

‘This generation’. That means a period of up to about 40 years. You really have to twist the meaning of the word to make it mean anything else, which hasn’t stopped some people doing exactly that.

So everything that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 right up to verse 33 – ‘all these things’,  including preaching the gospel to the whole world –  were to happen in the next 40 years or so, during the lifetime of most of those disciples. False prophets, people being misled, lawlessness, love growing cold, enduring to the end – it has all already happened. Now, there is an application of that, and in a sense of course it is always happening, has happened throughout the history of the church.

But the fact is, it happened already. And the end came.

Now that has blown many of your theologies right out of the water. Around the world, prophetic people are struggling to fit what God is showing them into an eschatology that simply doesn’t work, because it is based on a false premise, and a misinterpretation of this passage of scripture, amongst others. As I say, that is because people have not approached it with a proper understanding of covenant and covenant language.

Next time, we will look at how ‘all’ was fulfilled in that generation, and explore the question ‘the end of what’? Once again, we will be looking at some very familiar scriptures, and you will likely already have a very clear understanding of what they mean, because of what you have always been taught. And once more, I’m going to ask you to look again…

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49. Jesus, the Centre of all History

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Jesus is the centre of all history

Take eschatology, the study of the last things: it is all about Jesus. It is not about us, it is not about the church, it is not about the world – it is about Jesus. He comes to sum everything up. He holds everything together. All the Old Covenant looks forward to Jesus. All the New Covenant looks back to Him. So every time we look at a scripture, we must interpret it through Jesus’ message and His Person. You cannot take it in isolation.

Some people say, ‘Paul said this in the epistles, and it contradicted Jesus’. No. it did not. It can never contradict Jesus. What Jesus said, what Jesus did, that is it. And we need to understand that, and interpret everything in that light.

All history was consummated in Jesus and it will be consummated in Him. Therefore, for as many as are the promises of God, they all find their ‘yes’ in Him  (2 Cor 1:20). Every single promise you can find in the Bible finds its answer in Christ. Every single one is fulfilled in Jesus. That is a really important principle to get hold of.

I want to give you some scriptures now which are foundational, and which will help us as we go on to look at some more complicated and difficult questions – in particular when we look at Matthew 24, which is Jesus’ teaching about what was to come.

That He may send Jesus

… and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Acts 3:20-21).

So everything that has been prophesied through the mouth of a prophet, including everything we have written down as prophecy in the Bible, it will all come about before Jesus leaves heaven. Until everything is restored into the order God intended, until all the prophecies are fulfilled, Jesus will remain in heaven. And only when it is will He come back.

He cannot come until all that has been done. He is not going to come, and then do it after He has come. He is going to do it before he comes. He is going to fulfil and restore all things before He comes.

“He must be received into heaven”. Now, what does that mean? So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). When He was received into heaven, He was enthroned: He sat on the throne. When you sit on a throne, it means you are ruling, you are reigning from that place of ultimate authority and power. That is where Jesus is. And He will remain in that place until He has restored all things.

Reigning

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet… (1 Cor 15:25-27). Jesus will return to abolish death. Death is the last enemy.

Here is another scripture which talks about all things being in subjection:

…which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:20-22).

So that is where Jesus is, right now, in this age. He is reigning in authority and power. If Jesus is the Head, and we are His body on the earth, then His feet are our feet. And if all things are in subjection under His feet, then they are under our feet too. God gave Him as Head over all things to the church. I don’t have the space to go into every detail of this here, but you can follow it through in the psalms, look at what it means to be a footstool, begin to get familiar with this prophetic language and see what it is saying.

Through the church

We read in Ephesians 3:10 …that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church…’  I love that word ‘manifold’, because it means multi-coloured and multi-faceted, all expressing who God is; all expressing the wonderful wisdom of God. Being made known through… us, through the church. Being made known to whom? It continues: … to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which God carried out in Christ Jesus. So His eternal purpose was to manifest, to demonstrate, His wisdom. And He accomplished that in Christ and through the church.

Are you starting to grasp how all this hangs together? Is it starting to challenge some of the underlying assumptions you have been making?

It gets harder! Next time, as I said, we will begin to look at Matthew 24. That is a scripture which has been completely misinterpreted and misunderstood by the church, probably more so than any other chapter in the whole Bible. That is because it has been interpreted by Greek (western) logic and by people trying to make it fit with events they see happening around us today. As we shall see, that is a mistake.

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48. A Thousand-fold Increase?

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Kingdom and covenant

Our prophetic understanding must come in the context of God’s Kingdom and of covenant. Kingdom and covenant are two sides of the same coin. In order to get understanding of the purposes of God, we need understanding of both. Right from the very beginning it was God’s purpose to have a people who would demonstrate His Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven’; and covenants were the agreements He initiated with men to enable that to take place.

In 2011, when I first spoke about this subject, quite a bit was said and written about it being ‘year 11’. In particular, some people felt God was highlighting Deuteronomy 1:11 which says, “May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand-fold more than you are and bless you, just as He has promised you”. Some began to see ‘111’ everywhere as they began to focus on what God was saying. They got hold of that scripture and encouraged us to believe God not for a hundredfold increase, but actually for a thousandfold.

Does it mean that?

Firstly, of course, it is possible for the Holy Spirit to take that scripture and speak it to us personally and say ‘This is for you’. But if we don’t hear it that way, how do we approach the questions which will come up: ‘Is that right? Does it say that? And if it does, is it intended for us?’

Notice that it speaks of ‘the God of your fathers’. That is covenant language. ‘The God of your fathers’ refers back to Abraham, and how God made a covenant with him through which all families on the earth were to be blessed. Deuteronomy 8:18 tells us that it is to confirm that covenant that God gives us the power to make wealth. In light of that, I would say that yes, we can claim Deuteronomy 1:11 as a promise that God will increase us a thousandfold.

But is that exactly 1000, or does it just mean ‘a lot’? Let’s consider the scripture which says that God ‘owns the cattle on a thousand hills’ (Psalm 50:10). Does He not own the cattle on the 1001st? I think we know the answer to that. So a thousand is not necessarily exact, it is a large number – and in this case it really stands for ‘everything’.

Limiting God

My point is that if we are going to understand prophecy correctly, we cannot simply take everything literally and so limit God. People raised the objection that when Deuteronomy 1:11 was written, there weren’t actually any chapter or verse numbers: they were added later. That doesn’t stop God using them to illustrate something to us.

This is part of approaching scripture and prophecy with a Hebrew (eastern) rather than a Greek (western) mindset. Literal, deeper, personal, and hidden meanings – all can be true, and all found within the understanding of one verse of scripture.

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