My previous post dealt with the scriptural teaching that apparently the Rapture will not be preceded by some catastrophe because the plan of Christ is to come as a thief in the night, when people are not expecting His arrival. For that reason, it seems highly unlikely that the Rapture will occur at the time of some catastrophic event when people tend to think about the Lord’s return. Rather, Scripture describes the time of His return as mirroring the days of Noah when people were given no clue other than the preaching of Noah that the flood was imminent. Consequently, we must conclude that the Rapture will not be preceded by some major warning.
This conclusion leads to the question of whether Scripture leaves us totally in the dark regarding the time of the Rapture, when Jesus will return for His church.
Scripture accentuates the fact that we can’t know the day or hour.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. (Matthew 24:36 NKJV)
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (Matthew 25:13 NKJV)
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32 NKJV)
These and other passages inform us that no one can say that the rapture will occur between 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock on the evening of October 29, 2014. Even a top-secret clearance will not get you that type of information.
However this prohibition regarding knowledge of the day or hour does not exclude the prospect of scriptural information regarding the general time of the Rapture or landmarks that would give a broader sense of when the Rapture will occur. In fact, the specific and repeated use of the terms day and hour seems to indicate that the Lord is leaving open the possibility that more general signposts might be available.
God gave us one passage in Scripture that provides us with just those sorts of indicators. It is the Parable of the Fig Tree, which is embedded in the middle of the Olivet Discourse.
Because this teaching provides us with vital information, especially significant for the day in which we live with the day of the Rapture approaching, I plan to take several posts explaining this passage, to include demonstrating from Scripture that the Lord’s approach could be at any time and must be within the lifetime of many of you.
Let me begin that study today by providing you with some background regarding the Olivet Discourse, which will help us grasp its message.
The Olivet Discourse is found in three locations in Scripture: Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It was given by Christ on Tuesday evening of Holy Week.
That week began on Sunday (Palm Sunday) with the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. By the time He arrived in the city and looked around it was already late, so he returned to Bethany, a trip which took Him eastward, down into the Valley of Kidron and up the Mount of Olives on the other side.
The next morning, Monday, Jesus returned to Jerusalem with his disciples, became hungry during the trip, and spotted a fig tree. Though it had leaves on it, it had no figs, for which reason Jesus cursed it. Arriving at Jerusalem he found merchants in the Temple changing money and selling livestock, and He drove them out. Then He taught the people who had come to worship. As the day ended He headed back out to Bethany.
On Tuesday morning Jesus and His disciples again began the trek from Bethany to Jerusalem. On the way the disciples spotted the fig tree that Jesus had cursed and noted that it was totally withered. They proceeded on to Jerusalem where Jesus found the Sanhedrin, the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees all waiting to debate Him. He showed the error of each group in order, and then with His disciples watched the people giving alms in the Temple, noting that the widow’s small gift comprised a greater gift than all the rest because she had given all she had.
As evening approached, Jesus and His disciples again began to leave the city. At this point we find the disciples drawing His attention to the beautiful stones out of which the Temple was constructed, which precipitated the interchange leading to His giving of the Olivet Discourse.
I plan to discuss the content of the discourse in my next post.