Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10; Luke 21:24
Rejoicing in What We Do Know
Before moving on to the wonderful passage before us and the promise it holds, I must tie up some lose ends from previous passages. Matthew and Mark both report Jesus saying that the gospel will be proclaimed to all the nations before the end comes. There are many who say that the Greek word for “nations,” ethnos, refers to “people-group,” which they define by language. And since there are a thousand or more language groups of people in the world who have yet to hear the gospel, then we are far away from the second coming. I do not subscribe to this interpretation, and believe that ethnos is being asked to bear a weight it was not meant to carry. I submit that the gospel has gone out to all the world (Romans 10:18). The word of God has been confirmed once for all, the Scriptures are that word, and the Church of Jesus Christ is spread all over the globe (and it doesn’t have to be an evangelical church). Of course, we should continue to send missionaries to “unreached people-groups,” but to suggest that God is handcuffed by our feeble efforts to evangelize the world so that His Son must forever wait for the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess – which every knee and tongue will one day do – well, I just don’t think that was what Jesus meant. But I’ve been wrong before.
A second end I left untied concerns Luke’s words that “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” There are many who take this verse in a number of ways, but I shall stay with the obvious. Romans 11 tells us that the Gentiles have been “grafted” into the olive tree while a “partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” If there is a connection between Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25, we must assume that one day, the number of Gentiles will be complete, and then shall there be a great turning of the Jews to the Lord Jesus. Then shall the Church be filled with both Jew and Gentile, as it ever should have been.
What these two little, but very controversial, verses teach us is that we don’t know all the answers. I have taken a broad approach and have tried not to squeeze verses beyond their meaning. But we may rejoice in the knowledge that our Lord is coming again, even if there are matters which we can’t figure out. Our God and Father has revealed enough of His plan that we may believe and rejoice. We are now called to faithfulness and godliness before His Son’s return, or before we go to Him. Either way, we shall meet, and either way, we want to be ready.