And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures! (Luke 24:25-27)
In the text above Jesus is speaking to the two men walking on the road to Emmaus on the 3rd day after the His death. Somehow His identity was kept from them. We read of an obvious rebuke in regards to the unwillingness of these two disciples to believe the Scriptures concerning His death and resurrection!
If we fast-forward nearly 2000 years I fear lest the men and women of today hear a similar rebuke in regards to Jesus’ 2nd Coming. “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken [of My Second Coming]!
One must ask WHY are our hearts so slow to believe the prophets? I believe there must be a “satanically inspired cloud” over the prophetical books of Daniel, Zechariah, Isaiah and Revelation. Could it be because they foretell the future of Satan more than any other books in the Bible?
I find it interesting that, although many in the church know that there is a special blessing promised to those who “read and hear” the prophecy of the book of Revelation, still multitudes say that “they get nothing out of the book” or that “it is too difficult for them to understand“!
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it… Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”(Rev 1:3; Rev 22:7)
One must also ask, WHY is there a blessing attached to those who “read and hear” the words of Revelation? Are we being blessed because we can “puzzle out” the truth behind the many symbols and figures?
If we are honest with ourselves, I think we would have to agree that most of the church is more inclined to say that those who study and seek to understand Revelation are more like a “Geek Squad” than a blessed people. Prophecy Nerds!
Words of wisdom from John Wesley
I find great satisfaction from many dear saints who, in earlier age, have also wrestled with and gained a victory over this book of prophecy. One of them is John Wesley (d. 1791) founder of the Methodist movement.
Some have miserably handled this book. Hence others are afraid to touch it; and, while they desire to know all things else, eject only the knowledge of those which God hath shown. They inquire after anything rather than this; as if it were written, ‘Happy is he that doth not read this prophecy’. Nay, but happy is he that readeth, and they that hear, and keep the words thereof – Especially at this time, when so considerable a part of them is on the point of being fulfilled.
Many things the book itself explains; as the seven stars; the seven candlesticks; the Lamb, His seven horns and seven eyes; the incense; the dragon; the heads and horns of the beasts; the fine linen; the testimony of Jesus: and much light arises from comparing it with the ancient prophecies, and the predictions in the other books of the New Testament… The introduction and conclusion agree with Daniel; the description of the man child, and the promises to Zion, with Isaiah; the judgment of Babylon, with Jeremiah; again, the determination of times, with Daniel; the architecture of the holy city, with Ezekiel; the emblems of the horses, candlesticks, etc., with Zechariah. Many things largely described by the prophets are here summarily repeated; and frequently in the same words. To them we may then usefully have recourse. Yet the Revelation suffices for the explaining itself, even if we do not yet understand those prophecies; yea, it casts much light upon them.
The real purpose for this unique “blessing” from Revelation (unequaled by any other book in the Bible) is that God gives us these 22 chapters so that we can be “dressed in readiness, and keeping our lamps lit” (Lk 12) when He comes again! Expectant and excited.
Let us take on the admonition of John to “heed the things which are written” (Rev 1:3) — meaning to “spiritually guard” and keep our eyes open to the signs of the times as the end of this present age comes to a close and the age to come begins!
In Matthew 24, Jesus foretells both the near future destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70) and the distance future, “at the end of the age”, destruction of the same city — like an artist that paints a picture of the inside of a house and then looks beyond to the horizon out a window.
“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 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.” (Mtt 24:10-14)
In the foreground of this “picture” is the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem — 40 years down the road. This was followed by a lengthy discourse (for Mtt. 24-25 are one discourse!) that treats of His Second Coming, at the end of the age, to the same city in midst of a terrible onslaught from antichrist.
Knowing the difference is the key to understanding Jesus’ words here.
“Many of the most serious difficulties of this great discourse disappear when it is realised that our Lord referred in it not to one event but to two, and that the first was typical [representative] of the second.” (Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible)
“At that time many will fall away…”
Let’s look now at the beginning of this text because I want to get us to the fact that Jesus predicts that many believers will fall away from the faith.
“At that time” will include the time of the destruction of Jerusalem under Rome (in AD 70) and the time of the end, under antichrist in the future. This is a double-fulfillment prophecy and is an important verse because it transitions us to the end of this age.
To keep our metaphor going of a painting, we are now “looking out the window”!
The next part says that “many will fall away” or as the KJV puts it “be offended”. Here is the critical word; the actual word is to be “scandalized”. The Greek root word is skandalizó: “to put a snare (in the way), hence to cause to stumble, to give offense”.
According to Jesus, believers will fall away, be snared, offended and stumble by the way things develop in the Last Days. I think this is a serious warning for the church to “amp up our A Game” as we see the leaves on the tree turning green telling us that “summer is near” (Mtt 24:32).
“Many shall stumble, fall, and apostatize from a profession of religion. Many who “professed” to love me will then show that they had no “real” attachment to me; and in those trying times it will be seen that they knew nothing of genuine Christian love.” (Barne’s Notes)
Here is the heart of the matter as I see it — the day is soon approaching when believers will fall away from the faith and be offended in their hearts as the common, ordinary pace of life gets impacted by the return of Jesus Christ to THIS earth!
“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among 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. (Lk 21:25-26)
I am not really a gardener but I know that many people are. Imagine this scenario then: those who have put their heart and soul into gardening may question their faith and lose heart when they see that the weather patterns will just not allow for an abundant crop.
Or imagine another scenario of a hunter or fisherman: the earth will be subjected to many different upheavals (earthquakes, pestilence, floods, etc.) in the transition of this present age to the age to come and as the earth prepares to receive the King of kings and the fish just stop biting or the trophy buck doesn’t show up anymore. This may drive those same people away from their faith and harden their hearts toward God.
I think we will be tried and tried in EVERY AREA until we either surrender completely and fully to Jesus or we fall away, offended by the subjection of the earth to His Coming and to the “success” of antichrist in his satanic, horrific attempt to rid the planet of Christianity!
Whether your hobby (passion) is golfing, boating, football, Frisbee, woodworking, BINGO, coin collecting, etc. as the end of the age draws nearer and nearer, all these things will come against the rampant general “lawlessness and cold love” until there is nothing left but Jesus! Rather surrender to Him now than to have it all ripped away in the end…
Jesus directs His listeners to “the days of Noah” to compare the turbulent times at the end of this present age, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.(Mtt. 24:37-39)
“The special point of the analogy is not that the generation that was swept away by the Flood was exceptionally wicked; none of the occupations mentioned are sinful; but that it was so absorbed in its worldly pursuits that it paid no attention solemn warnings.” (Plummer, Exegetical Commentary)
Our Father in Heaven longs for a “pure and spotless Bride” for His Son! He wants us “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor 1:7) when He returns and we must go through many refining fires that will try us and test us. Let us determine NOW to be found faithful and watching as the servant in the parable Jesus told us:
“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.” (Mtt 24: 45-46)
Faithful to the end,