“What shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?(Matt:24:3)”
This was a private discourse between the disciples and Jesus. While studying the Book of Revelation the words of Jesus would serve as a template to which visions of John must corroborate. Testimony of Jesus Christ even though transcribed into an audio-visual medium cannot run counter to his prophecy. Many Bible scholars and teachers have spoken on the topic of eschatology and there must be some point for each but all these must hold true to the official and only true version and is from the Son of man who is the Word made flesh.
Consider the verse “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away(v.35).” The Spirit uses certain expression to add emphasis and while we study the text we shall do well to take note of the Spirit’s direction and also narrative mode that is hallmark of the Holy Spirit. Following are the characteristics of the present discourse:
Time is God’s Time so the Spirit presents the narrative of the Son from specific to general. In this case is the Doom of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple refers to specific events and these were fulfilled in 70 AD. Note the emphasis in “Verily I tell you…” Being God’s Time when the Spirit prefaces the narrative from God the Son ‘These are the beginning of sorrows (v.8)’and ends with “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (v.13) we are given in broad brushstrokes the conflict that God predicted, “And I will put enmity between thee (serpent) and the woman and between thy seed and her seed (Ge.3:15)”It continues without let up: If Satan deceived the woman then it shall be even so in the present.”For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ..(24:5).” It shall be thus in the period leading to the end of the world.
This conflict between children of disobedience (Serpent’s seed) and children of light is a spiritual warfare and persecutions are the outward manifestation of it. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ep.6:12-NIV)”. As with heavenly realms so shall these be let loose on the earth.
1. It shall be from one’s own family “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household (Matt.10:36;Lk.12:51). Abel for an example.
2.Persecution within the church: we have the example of Zacharias and Stephen (Lk.11:51).
3. Persecution from the world for which the case of Apostle John is an example(‘Companion in tribulation’-Re.1:9).
Being set in God’s Time when Jesus cites them we need to see them as articulated events. For example when Jesus warns his disciples before sending them to preach what awaited them (Matt.10:16-23) we read towards its end, “But he that endureth to the end shall be saved (v.22). Events of persecution are telescoped into one other and by principle of Association those who are persecuted are extension of the apostles where the only difference shall be the time element. It is global in scope. Today child of God may be an evangelist or pastor but never mind, they are associates of the apostles and to God by this principle (Matt.10:40)
(To be continued)