JOHN the Revelator knew he was living in “the last days”:
“Little children, IT IS THE LAST TIME: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby WE KNOW that it is the LAST TIME” (1 John 2:18).
JOHN DID NOT EXPECT TO DIE – For did not Jesus say:
“Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man [John] do? Jesus saith unto him [Peter], If I will that he [John] tarry [be alive] till I come, what is that to thee [why is that your business, Peter]? follow thou me” (John 21:21-22).
YET SOMETHING WENT TERRIBLY WRONG – Jesus DID NOT COME in John’s day. But Jesus put in a “fail-safe” in His words, just in case this indeed was to happen. What is that?
NOTE: “fail-safe” is (in this case) another term for Jesus/God”couching” His words in cryptic language, in order that, if future events do not unfold due to no fault of God’s, but due to human failings, then these words can either be taken as meaning something else altogether, or symbolic for a later fulfillment. God did that with the prophecies of The Old Testament (when the Jewish Nation failed to believe); AND Jesus did the same in Matthew 24:3, WHEN: “THE DISCIPLES came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, WHEN shall these things be? and what shall be THE SIGN OF THY COMING, and of the END of the WORLD?”
JESUS TOLD HIS DISCIPLES ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD, without telling them WHEN the end would be. They remained under the impression that the END would be in their time. Jesus had no idea WHEN the END would be, because He said so in verse 36: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but MY FATHER ONLY.”
YET, apparently Jesus, at least thought to Himself, that John will “tarry [be alive] till I come..” – yet, He dared not make TOO POSITIVE a statement, so Jesus told Peter, “…what is that to thee?”
SO WHEN JOHN DIED, there were those disciples that were left to explain what Jesus said to Peter; AND at that time, Christians actually thought they had misinterpreted Jesus’ words. TODAY, most think Jesus in no way shape or form, meant anything like it sounded:
“Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should NOT die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; BUT, IF I WILL that HE TARRY [still be alive] till I come, what is that to thee?” (John 21:23 – read all of 21-24).
Did Jesus use excessive technical expressions, or did they fail to believe Him? Jesus did couch that clue with “but if I WILL” – well it’s also God’s “will” that we believe Him. The Jewish leaders (and people) failed to believe, through much of the Old Testament and down on through Jesus 1st Coming as a man.
NATURALLY, if people are not willing to believe God, then God’s “WILL” is to change His plans, or delay His coming – or however you want to call it, if you don’t want to say that, “God delays His ‘Coming’ or promises,” or what have you, then what else do you call it?
WAS THAT THE CASE – was/is Jesus’ 2nd Coming “Delayed”?
God’s timing is always perfect. He saw that His people would have trouble with unbelief, so all that was built into His plans. NEVERTHELESS, God also wants to show us how things could have been different. So yes, we are responsible, as well.
How is it we can interpret Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 24, which actually described literal events that would happen when John was STILL ALIVE – such as the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jewish Nation, some mere 40 years later (Matt.24:15-22)? We interpret most of Matthew 24 as double fulfillments, because some of the things Jesus mentioned did happen in John’s day, but these same words are also symbolic of OUR LAST DAYS.
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be SOME STANDING HERE, which shall NOT TASTE of DEATH, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
THE DISCIPLES that were still alive, after “PETER, JAMES, and JOHN” were dead, did they have to go back and re-interpret what Jesus meant by THESE words? Seeing that these THREE apostles DID see Jesus in His GLORIFIED BODY in the following Chapter 17:1-2; then our scholars say that is what Jesus MEANT as, “…till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
BUT DID JESUS REALLY MEAN THAT?
AFTER ALL, Jesus said, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father WITH HIS ANGELS; and THEN he shall REWARD EVERY MAN according to his works.”
Yet, are we FORCED to reinterpret His words, because of OUR FAILURE to believe? EVEN Jesus’ three closest friends (Mary, Martha & Lazarus) did NOT believe His words of “LIFE” – yes, REAL LIFE – here and now PRESENT LIFE – with no fear of DEATH, AT ALL!
HERE IS LAID OUT FOR US, JESUS’ GREATEST MIRACLE:
It was recorded for us in John 11. Lazarus became sick while Jesus was just a little way off in another town, IN ORDER that Lazarus would NOT BE PREVENTED from DYING, Jesus stayed away “for the glory of God” (v.4).
When Jesus arrived, Martha confronted Him, and later, so did Mary. Both were deeply hurt and both said: “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (vs.21, 32). These words seemed rehearsed. That is, Martha and Mary must have oft repeated these words to each other.
Jesus admonished Martha for her unbelief: “Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (Vs.23-26).
HERE ARE THOSE WORDS AGAIN:
“I AM the RESURRECTION, and THE life: he that believeth in me, THOUGH he were DEAD, yet shall he LIVE: And whosoever LIVES and BELIEVES in me shall NEVER DIE. Do you BELIEVE THIS?”
Jesus was letting Martha and Mary know that they already have access to LIFE, through BELIEF in HIM, “The RESURRECTION” – and that, it is not necessary that anyone DIE, when a person KNOWS Jesus and THIS TRUTH. BECAUSE, they WHO BELIEVE, and are presently alive, they “shall NEVER DIE.”
This is why “Jesus wept.” Jesus, when confronted by Mary, and with the very exact same words as Martha, knew that these words had been rehearsed over and over again, while waiting for Jesus to “show up.” Instead of joyful belief in the knowledge that we need NOT EVER DIE, they exhibited faithless unbelief, and (in-between all the overdone wailing*) steadily chanted: “if [The Master] hadst been here, [our] brother had not died.” (*usually there were paid professional wailers for prominent citizens).
What may appear as words of “faith” (to us) may actually be words of “doubt.” Jesus, in an instant recognized gross unbelief present at Lazarus’ wake, especially when Mary chanted the exact same sentence to Jesus that Martha had – “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” And “When Jesus therefore saw HER weeping, and the Jews ALSO weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (v.33).
RAMPANT UNBELIEF, such as this, caused Jesus to have to dig down deep into into soul, in order to overcome the demon spirit of unbelief present – “He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.”
It is a demon spirit present, that causes us not to believe Jesus words: “I AM the RESURRECTION, and THE life…. whosoever LIVES and BELIEVES in me shall NEVER DIE. Do you BELIEVE THIS?”
THIS IS THE SAME SPIRIT THAT WAS PRESENT IN THE LEADERS
When Jesus said in John 8:51 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall NEVER see death.”
And in verse 52 “Then said the Jews unto him [mocking], Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall NEVER taste of death.”
Will the 144,000 need to not only believe these words, but run with these words as MADMEN upon housetops?
“Madmen” you say? Yes, let us compare that statement with:
A) John 10:20 “And many of them said, He [Jesus] hath a devil, and is MAD; why hear ye Him?” OR, in Mark 3:21 “And when His [Jesus’] friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on Him [Jesus]: for they said, He is BESIDE Himself.”
B) Acts 26:24 “And as he [Paul] thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art BESIDE thyself; much learning doth make thee MAD.” (Paul, when the enemy of Christ, was then a “mad” fellow AGAINST believers – v.11).
C) Hosea 9:7 “The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a FOOL, the spiritual man is MAD, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.
(also consider Acts 12:15; 2 Kings 9:11)
THEREFORE take warning, in the LAST DAYS we will ALL be “mad.” WE WILL EITHER BE “mad” for GOD, or we will be as “mad” as the DEVIL is now!
1) “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
2) A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
3) A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
4) The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
5) Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
7) They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
8) Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
9) They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
10) The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
11) And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?….
15) Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
16) Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
17) Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
18) Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
19) Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
20) But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.
21) Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things…..
27) And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
28) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29) And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
32) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”