In these next two posts we are going to deal with Jesus message in the Olivet Discourse, who is it for?
Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
Interestingly Jesus said that all nations would hate the “you” of this verse. Up until recently Christianity has not been hated by all nations. Today as we look even at the US Government we can see that this is openly changing.
The question has become — Who are these who are the “you” of this verse? They will obviously suffer for Jesus name — so believers, definitely they are. Jesus is speaking here to His disciples, who obviously are not going to be the “you” of the Great Tribulation, which as we know precedes the coming of the Lord. Yet, somehow these men to whom this is spoken do represent the believers in this prophecy. But how?
Looking back, These same men certainly were persecuted for Jesus following His words to them. They were persecuted not as Israel, but as part of the church. Most of them were killed for Jesus.
Matthew who wrote these words did not see fit to explain who the “you” of the coming Great Tribulation would be in these future days spoken of here. — before Jesus would be coming. Why did he not do that if the “you” spoken to him as a disciple was not meant for him, and thus not meant for you the church. Or is it? Why did he not explain this “you” to be Israel and not him or you, if Israel is really the “you” in this verse? We are told it is Israel. But, the “You” of this verse pointed to Matthew the author of this book, who of course, is one of the believers that these disciples including himself represented. Yet, we are told that this “you” represented Israel, because he at the time of Jesus speaking this was in Israel and not the church.
So it is said by the Dispensationalists, that the “you” was him, but him as a representative of Israel. They state that Matthew wrote this Gospel with Israel in mind. But, the fact is he wrote it years after the church body was established. A body which included according to Paul in Ephesians, both Israel’s Old and New Testament saints.
So, we are to understand the “you” to be a future Israel (the Nation) according to those believing this; but it really is an unsupported “truth”, which states this to be for a future Israel.
With this understanding there are several problems.
1. We are always told that when interpreting and seeking for understanding about what is being said from the Scripture, we must know the audience for whom it was written, and the culture surrounding the time period. The Jews of the church, who actually received and read this letter (written years after the body of Christ was formed), and who helped preserve it as Scripture, were at the time of its writing no longer associated with non believing Israel, but instead with believing Israel in the church. They were not the unbelieving side of Israel, which still existed in that day, and who had been cut off for their unbelief.
The believing church originally was them (it was Jewish). It was made up early on of Jews who had not been cut off from the Olive Tree for their unbelief. Why not? — because they believed. They were called the remnant (ROM.11).
2. A second problem for taking the “you” to be Israel the nation is found in Luke. His gospel is said to be directed to Gentiles not Jews. He being a Gentile, who traveled with Paul, and who also wrote the book of Acts, says when relating the Mt. Olivet discourse:
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that “ye” may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (KJV)
It is true that Luke does not present the Olivet discourse in the exact same words as used by Matthew or Mark the Jewish writers of scripture. They were 1st person. Luke is telling their account to us as a reporter, because he was not actually there as the “you”. His account is definitely to us the church, yet he never informs us that the “you” spoken to the disciples was meant for Israel, and not for us.
So, none of the gospel writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit to do what the Dispensationalists do with this message. Inspiration is not dictation, but it is truth. So, just who the message is directed to should still be clearly understood in each of the gospels, as it would be understood by the writers, and understood by the recipients of their letters. The church for whom these gospels were written was made up of believing Jews and Gentiles. These churches are told how to escape the things that shall come to pass. They must pray.
There are only three ways possible for the living at that time or any other time to escape these things when they come. One perhaps could be said to be by Rapture, but no matter how much we pray for Rapture it will only come at God’s specific appointed time. Besides they (at the time of this writing) were actually in persecution; and praying for Rapture, if it was done by them, certainly had not effected their escape from that persecution. For some of them the escape was death. Yes, some of them died in it. Certainly no one knew the time of Jesus coming except the Father. Jesus told them that was the case.
So praying for escape through Rapture was not their answer, but praying for strength even through death was their escape.
There Is an additional way to examine this problem for the Dispensationalists. How is it that prayer would be needed by a believer in order for one to be “worthy” to escape by Rapture? Paul says that all who are alive in Him (in Christ) will be caught up (Raptured). There is no distinction between believers when it comes to Rapture. So the Rapture is just not the escape spoken of. It could not be the escape that the Lord had in mind. All who are “in Him” are Raptured if alive when He comes. Prayer to be worthy to be Raptured is not taught by any scripture writer. So the prayer encouraged by our Lord was to pray to escape these things, and it is likely akin to His telling us to endure unto the end.
These verses on the Olivet discourse often are taught as though there are two churches in view. One before the Rapture and one following. There are very few things concerning prophecy that today are agreed upon by the whole church. One is that God’s Holy Spirit has inspired these writers, and another is that Jesus is coming back.
This leads to the third point, since there is no born again believer who does not believe that the Holy Spirit has inspired the scriptures and that they are the word of God to us; then we should at least agree that The Holy Spirit is God, He is all knowing, He will lead us into all truth. The truth of the scriptures is what He is promised by Jesus to teach you. Why then did He the Holy Spirit not reveal to these writers in His inspiration to them that the “you” or the “ye” in these passages means “Israel” if it does; and that it is not you the believer. So, who is reading it? it was written and delivered to believers wasn’t it? Why did He not have just one of these writers say that “you” does not mean “you the believer”?
There is no license given to men, who are God’s teachers in the Church, to change the messages of these writers, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and who wrote messages read not to Israel, but to the churches who were one with the believing saints of Israel (Eph. 2). Not all Israel will be saved. Paul told us this in Romans.
If you can! — Please show me one passage of Scripture that refutes Paul’s teaching telling us that we the Gentile “believers” (not all Gentiles as Dispensationalists teach it) are the grafted in with the Jewish body of believers in the olive tree. We are right there with the Old Testament remnant of believers. These remained in the Olive Tree following Jesus’ first coming, as taught in Romans 11. They were never cut off for unbelief.
Yes, Israel today back in the land represents the cut off Jews, and when she finally calls out to Jesus to save her; then she will be added back into this tree of believers. She will then reside with saved Jews and Gentiles as the possessor of her own covenants and promises. Without salvation she will never possess them.
Show me just one passage of scripture that reverses what Paul tells us in Ephesians 2-4, that we are now partakers with the saints of Israel in the covenantal promises given to the saints of Israel.
Also show me one passage of scripture that reverses the teachings of Paul in Ephesians telling us that there is no more Jew or Gentile in the body which is “one new man” in Christ.
We are right now one with them in the commonwealth of Israel. What future event is there recorded in scripture that is taught to change these facts. How can a pre-Tribulation timing for the Rapture, keep these truths in tact. Part 2 is coming.