Welcome to the conclusion of our study of Jesus' most in-depth teaching about His second coming, the resurrection and the judgment. These events occurred two days before Jesus' crucifixion.
Here are links to the previous parts of this post:
This is the 23rd part of my series on rethinking Christian eschatology. The posts build on each other, therefore I invite you to begin at the beginning to get the full value and context.
Let's dive in...
Resetting the Context
As a reminder, in order to help us maintain a big picture perspective of the day's events, I've split them into sections. We resume with section 19 in mid-conversation as Jesus was giving instructions to the four apostles—Peter, James, John and Andrew—about Jerusalem and the temple's looming destruction.
- Lesson from fig tree
- Jesus' authority questioned
- Parable of two sons
- Parable of murderous tenants
- Rejected stone
- Religious leaders angered
- Parable of wedding banquet
- Leaders ask about taxes
- Sadducees question Jesus on resurrection
- Greatest commandment
- Jesus asks about ancestry of Messiah
- Woes of Matthew 23
- Lament over Jerusalem
- Widow an example
- Temple to be destroyed
- Disciples ask questions
- Jesus tells of signs
- Exact times unknown
- Jesus urges watchfulness
- Wise and foolish virgins
- Parable of talents
- Concerning last judgment
- Jesus foresees crucifixion
- Priests and elders conspire
- Judas agrees to betray
As I've done with the prior posts, each section includes the combined text (previously provided here) followed by my observations regarding that combined text.
To properly connect us with where we left off in the previous post, the last words of Jesus that we examined were:
“Therefore keep watch. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know on what day your Lord will come, when that time will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
“It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Who then is the faithful servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
“But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth [i.e., land].
“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'”
The servants described in this section whom Jesus put in charge were specifically the 12 apostles. Note the commands given directly to these four apostles:
- "Therefore keep watch..."
- "...you do not know when the owner ... will come back..."
- "...do not let him find you sleeping."
- "Be careful..."
- "...and that day will close on you suddenly..."
- "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape..."
- "...that you may be able to stand..."
- "What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"
Jesus told these men these things because they would happen during the apostles' lifetime and they, like all living at the time, needed to be ready.
(A general application could also be made to all faithful first century Christians prior to Jesus’ return.)
This watchfulness Jesus commanded is a primary reason why the early Christians were commanded to be sober and avoid drunkenness. If they were unprepared, they wouldn’t see the signs and would get caught up in the suffering and slaughter that was coming.
Jesus again emphasized the nearness of these events (“all that is about to happen”) and their direct applicability to the apostles and those the would teach. As we saw with John the Baptist’s message (“the wrath about to come”), in this phrase (see Luke 21:36) we have the Greek word “melló” which indicates a nearness.
Lastly, it is worth noting that, if Jesus had been speaking of a universal destruction in the verses immediately preceding (beginning with, “But about that day and hour no one knows…”), there would be no escaping. And therefore His instruction to watch so that they could escape what was coming would be pointless. This is a clear indication that Jesus was still speaking of what would happen in Jerusalem during the first century.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
“'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. 'Lord, Lord,' they said, 'open the door for us!'
“But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I don't know you.'”
Sadly, this parable, along with the parable of the talents which follows, have been almost universally ripped from their context and misapplied. And I am certainly among the guilty.
Our Bible chapter breaks are among the drivers for this misapplication. (This text begins with Matthew 25:1.) This numeric chapter divide tends to create a mental divide here (often subconsciously) in Jesus’ lengthy conversation with these four apostles. It is vital that we recognize that there is no subject change or break in the dialog here.
Therefore, the “At that time...” in the beginning of this section is directly related to Jesus’ prior instructions about the necessity of their watchfulness and the signs before that which would precede the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Jesus was the bridegroom in the parable and the Christians who were alive at the time were the virgins awaiting His return. Some were prepared with extra oil. Others weren’t. They all were surprised at His delay and fell asleep.
Note the connection in Jesus’ language between:
- The marriage feast / wedding banquet which we have repeatedly highlighted. I told you before that every bit of the Scriptures referring to Jesus’ marriage and the wedding banquet are interconnected. They all refer to these events!
- At the time of the bridegroom’s arrival, the door was closed and those outside suffered a bitter end. Remember Jesus’ words:
22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
(Luke 13:22-30 NIV)
All of these things, just as with the parables of the vineyard and the two sons at the opening of this day’s recorded events (see part 1 of this article), are talking about the same events.
The response that the Lord gave to the foolish virgins was exactly the same response as in Luke 13:27 (above) and later in this same conversation as recorded in Matt. 25:41. “Depart from me. I don’t know you.” This is a strong indicator that Jesus was speaking of the same events on each of these occasions.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.'
“His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!
“The man with two bags of gold also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.'
“His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
“His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
“'So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”
The master here is Jesus. The servants are the apostles and disciples of the first century, prior to Jesus’ return. While a general application can certainly be made to Christians today, it is important that we recognize that Jesus was not specifically referring to Christians who lived hundreds of years after these events.
As I have previously said, the harvest is an important concept that speaks of this same time period. We will examine this in a later post.
Just before His ascension, Jesus would issue what we call the great commission to the apostles. The apostles were to go into all the world (i.e., the Roman Empire, where Jews were scattered, recall) and make disciples of all nations. These new disciples were the bags of gold that the servants earned for the master in the parable.
The wicked servant was wicked because he did nothing but hid in fear. For one of the apostles to hide in fear awaiting the master’s return would have been directly disobedient to their commission to go.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
“Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
“Then the King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
“Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
“They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
“He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment but the righteous to eternal life."
Again, there is no subject change or break in conversation with this text.
Therefore, the second coming that is discussed here is the same “coming” that Jesus had been discussing since the beginning of the conversation—which would happen during the first century.
Thus, Jesus connects the second coming with the resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the first century! This is very different than what most believers have been taught and probably believe(d). For many, what I just suggested from this text presents a major challenge and raises lots of additional questions, which we will address moving forward. Hang with me!
Comparing Matthew 25 with Daniel 12
Before anyone freaks out, consider how similar Jesus’ words here are to the end of Daniel’s final recorded vision:
11:40 “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.
Note: Recall that we have established in previous posts, including our study of Daniel’s earlier visions in Dan. 8 (the ram and the goat) and Dan. 9 (the seventy ‘sevens’), that “the time of the end” is synonymous with “the last days” and that both terms are referring to the end of the old covenant and physical Israel as GOD’s people. In other words, these phrases all refer to the time of fulfillment of the Song of Moses.
Additionally, Dan. 8-9 connects the time period of “the end” with that of the empires of Greece and Rome. All of these things concluded during the first century, which is fully consistent with what I am suggesting Jesus prophesied in this conversation with these four apostles.
41 He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.
Note: The Beautiful Land is, of course, a reference to Jerusalem and Judea.
42 He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission. 44 But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. 45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.
12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.
Note: The opening phrase of Dan. 12:1, “At that time…,” connects the timing of the events from Dan. 11 (“the time of the end,” per 11:40), with the events described in 12:1ff.
Consider how similar the “time of distress” statement from Dan. 12:1, above, sounds to the words of Jesus which we previously covered during in this same conversation:
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
(Matt. 24:21 NIV)
…those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.
(Mark 13:19 NIV)
There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
(Luke 21:23b NIV)
This is a clear indicator that Jesus was speaking of the same time period and events as what Daniel saw and recorded during this vision, some 500+ years earlier.
But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Note: Dan. 12:1b-2 are clearly describing the resurrection of the dead and the great judgment. The “at that time” in Dan. 12:2 clearly connects the timing of the resurrection with the period of suffering unlike any ever before or afterward. These things are fully consistent with Jesus’ teaching here.
3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”
Note: Daniel was told to roll up and seal the words of the scroll because they were pertained to the distant future, 500+ years later. They pertained to the “time of the end,” which we have already defined as the end of physical Israel.
Fascinatingly, in stark contrast the apostle John was told at the end of Revelation not to seal up the words of that prophecy because the time was near (Rev. 22:10).
Why would GOD tell Daniel to seal up a scroll pertaining to events several hundred years into the future but later tell John not to seal up a scroll (see Rev. 22:10) “because the time is near” if its contents dealt with events over 2,000 years into the future—four times further out than Daniel’s?
5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”
7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”
Note: If “a time” is equal to 1 year, then “a time, times and half a time” would be 3.5 years, which was the length of the Roman siege of Jerusalem during the first century.
The statement, “When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed,” sounds a lot like Jesus’ words we studied previously:
“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
(Matt. 24:22 NIV)
This also sounds eerily similar to the following from the Song of Moses:
The Lord will vindicate his people
and relent concerning his servants
when he sees their strength is gone
and no one is left, slave or free.
(Deut. 32:36 NIV)
Yep, they’re all referring to the same series of events.
8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”
9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.
Note: Here is a reference to the abomination of desolation, which Jesus gave to the apostles earlier in this conversation as a sign regarding the timing of these events. There, Jesus explicitly linked the abomination of desolation with Daniel, providing further divine evidence that these things are linked with Jesus’ prophecy regarding the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in the first century.
13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”
(Dan. 11:40-12:13 NIV)
Note: Here again, we see the linkage of the things in this prophecy, including the resurrection, with the time of the end and the last days. All of this is consistent with what I have been presenting from Jesus’ conversation with the apostles. This interpretation—and this interpretation alone—allows all the pieces of Scripture to fit harmoniously without leaving major unanswerable questions.
Now, I've just spent a thousand words or so demonstrating that Dan. 12 and Matt. 25 are referring to the same events.
And I’ve spent 4.5 lengthy posts demonstrating that this entire conversation Jesus was having with these four apostles concerned events that happened in the first century, including the resurrection and great judgment.
What this means, then, is that the great judgment scene and resurrection described in Matt. 25:31-46 dealt only with those who were already dead at the time of Jesus' return. This, too, is different than most Christian doctrine.
Dan. 12:2 clearly spells out that those being judged were dead at the time. Matt. 25 is less clear and must be deduced from harmonizing with Dan. 12 and other Scriptures. Don’t forget, though, that we have already established that Dan. 12 and Jesus’ prophecy to these four apostles during this conversation (including Matt. 25) dealt with the same time period and events.
Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
Additional evidence for what I am suggesting is found in Ezekiel 37, which records Ezekiel's famous vision of the valley of dry bones. Note what GOD said that these bones represented (found in v.11):
1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
Note: The reference to “the four winds” sounds a lot like Jesus’ words from earlier in this conversation:
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
(Matt. 24:30-31 NIV)
As we noted before, this is the second (spiritual) gathering, foretold by Moses in Deut. 30. This gathering would include the saints who were dead at the time, into the land they had been promised. This is precisely the point that the Hebrew writer makes:
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. …
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth [i.e., land]. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. …
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect [i.e., complete].
(Heb. 11:8-16, 39-40 NIV)
The Hebrew writer was telling these Jewish Christians in the late 60’s A.D. to hold on and persevere just a little longer, because they would receive what had been promised—what all the faithful in the “hall of faith” of Heb. 11 died without receiving—the heavenly land/city.
Why did the writer say that only together with those of the first century would all these faithful of past generations be made complete?
Because the resurrection would happen during that timeframe and those dead would receive their inheritance (i.e., the spiritual country, the city designed by GOD), just as the living Christians received their perfect union—the long-promised marriage feast between Christ and His bride, the church. It was all about to happen in those days!
Returning to Ezekiel 37…
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Note: So here GOD prophesied that He would resurrect His people (i.e., the faithful descendents of Abraham) and settle them into the land of Israel. As we have seen from Heb. 11 above, as well as other passages like Joel 2-3, this refers to the spiritual land of Israel, the city they were waiting to receive.
The next verses give us the timing of these things.
15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.
Note: Remember how in previous posts I have emphasized the difference between physical and spiritual Israel and the physical and spiritual land?
Well, this is why!
These things obviously occurred in the time and under the leadership of Jesus.
26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”
(Eze. 37:1-28 NIV)
Note: This covenant of peace is the new covenant (which was made with the houses of Israel and Judah, per Jer. 31:31). This sanctuary is the spiritual tabernacle—GOD’s dwelling place, which the NT plainly tells us is inside the body of the Christian (see 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20).
And you know what else?
Eze. 37:26-27 sounds a lot like Rev. 21:1-3, which says:
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
The Connection with the Judgment of Joel 3
Remember back to when we studied Joel 2-3. Joel 3 foretells a day of judgment upon all nations which would come during the last days. Note also the occurrence of certain phrases which Jesus also used earlier in this conversation. Here is the text again for reference:
1 “In those days and at that time,
when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
Note: “In those days and at that time” here refers to the last days when the Holy Spirit was poured out before the great and glorious day of the LORD, per the preceding verses (Joel 2:28-32) and Acts 2:14-21.
The fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem were restored when the spiritual Israel supplanted the physical city, per the Hagar/Sarah metaphor of Gal. 4.
2 I will gather all nations
and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I will put them on trial
for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel,
because they scattered my people among the nations
and divided up my land.
3 They cast lots for my people
and traded boys for prostitutes;
they sold girls for wine to drink.
4 “Now what have you against me, Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done. 5 For you took my silver and my gold and carried off my finest treasures to your temples. 6 You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, that you might send them far from their homeland.
7 “See, I am going to rouse them out of the places to which you sold them, and I will return on your own heads what you have done. 8 I will sell your sons and daughters to the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, a nation far away.” The Lord has spoken.
9 Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare for war!
Rouse the warriors!
Let all the fighting men draw near and attack.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weakling say,
“I am strong!”
11 Come quickly, all you nations from every side,
and assemble there.
Bring down your warriors, Lord!
12 “Let the nations be roused;
let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
for there I will sit
to judge all the nations on every side.
13 Swing the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Come, trample the grapes,
for the winepress is full
and the vats overflow—
so great is their wickedness!”
14 Multitudes, multitudes
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and moon will be darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
16 The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
17 “Then you will know that I, the Lord your God,
dwell in Zion, my holy hill.
Jerusalem will be holy;
never again will foreigners invade her.
18 “In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias.
19 But Egypt will be desolate,
Edom a desert waste,
because of violence done to the people of Judah,
in whose land they shed innocent blood.
20 Judah will be inhabited forever
and Jerusalem through all generations.
21 Shall I leave their innocent blood unavenged?
No, I will not.”
The Lord dwells in Zion!
(Joel 3:1-21 NIV)
Okay, we need to pause here.
I’ve just thrown a lot at you and perhaps you are a bit blown away at what I am suggesting that the Scriptures are teaching.
If you are like me, it will take you time and a lot of additional study to evaluate what I have put forward here.
It took me 2.5 years of diligent, in-depth private study before I was fully convinced that this is indeed truth and that there are really no other alternative hypotheses whereby the entirety of the Scriptures harmonize as well.
And yet this raises many additional questions that we must address before we are finished with our journey.
I told you upfront that this would be both amazing and challenging.
Okay, let’s conclude with the final three sections here.
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."
It is from this text, as well as the next section, that we are able to pinpoint the timing of this day’s events.
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread was approaching—only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. They were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.
We are faced with the sad fact that Jesus’ woes and bitter spats with the religious leaders had no effect, just as He prophesied.
Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. He asked, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?" They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. He consented, and from then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
With these sad words, the stage was set for the transition to the climax of human history.
Concluding Part 5 Observations
I firmly believe that this day ranks as the fourth most important in human history, behind only the day of:
- Jesus' resurrection (aka Easter),
- Jesus' crucifixion, and ...
- Jesus' birth.
What makes this day so important is the combination of:
- Jesus’ detailed teachings regarding the resurrection and mass judgment at the second coming and, sadly,
- The incredible impact that widespread misunderstanding of Jesus’ teachings from this day has had upon Christianity since the second century.
If you are uncertain about the information I have presented here or feel overwhelmed because of its implications, don’t panic or worry.
All I ask—all I have asked from the beginning—is that you hear me out and then study these things for yourself.
Don’t jump ship now. We have much more to study.
Got questions or comments? Leave them below.