Now this is certainly in the category of things that are “hard to be understood” (2 Pet. 3:16), so in regards to this, rather than add my own thoughts about the wrath of God now being poured out on those who remain and finally speaking of the battle of Armageddon, I am going to insert an article about the Resurrection and Christ’s Elect from the A Voice in the Wilderness’s (www.a-voice.org) ministry website.
“And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came forth out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came forth out of the temple which is in Heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came forth out from the altar, who had authority over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe. So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came forth out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, by a distance of one thousand six hundred furlongs.” Revelation 14:14-20
This is the fulfillment of what Jesus said…
“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: The kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced fruit, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares? He said to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Do you want us then to go and gather them up? But he said, No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn. Another parable He put forth to them, saying: The kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the smallest of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.3 Another parable He spoke to them: The kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened. All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world. Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said to them: He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all the stumbling blocks, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:24-43
A very probably explanation is provided by A Voice in the Wilderness:
Resurrection and Christ’s Elect
Two Scripture passages seem to cause confusion for many people; and thus, false doctrines are promoted. Mt24:31 speaks of the Son of Man’s “elect” which are gathered “with a sound of a trumpet”. This, of course, -follows- the “affliction of those days” (vs29) where the stars fall and the powers of the heavens are shaken where God’s wrath is poured out. Around this same time frame, when satan is bound for a thousand years, there is a resurrection that is called “the first resurrection”. (Rev20:5b)
Forsaking all the other -multitude- of clear Scriptures which speak of the Lord delivering the Church out of the world before the 70th week, they think these two combination of verses mean that the resurrection, and thus also the Rapture of the Church (1Th4:16-17), occur at the -end- of the 70th week (“The Tribulation”). If it is -Christ’s- “elect”, it must be the “Church”. If it is the “first resurrection”, it must also be the “Rapture”. Scripture does not contradict itself, but ‘they’ typically choose to believe what they think these two passages say, ignoring the dozens of other passages that clearly teach a “pre-trib” Rapture/Resurrection of the Church. And as a result, they also apply their views of these passages to many of those other passages, making them say things other than what they actually say.
I have often wondered how to answer people about these two passages the way they interpret them. We have addressed it a bit in the past. But in the context of beginning this section in Matthew starting with ch24, having received some e-mails about this raising the question anew, the Lord has now suddenly made it clear. And I think we have a -simple- explanation for how to understand this matter properly. So we’ll interject this parenthetical study into the Matthew series.
Let’s go back to that “painting”. (Study from Mt24:1-8) For the sake of illustration, let us suppose it is a pastoral scene with a couple of “fences” running across it. There is a fence in the foreground, and another further back. The one in front is obscured in a few places by trees, buildings, etc. But you know it’s all part of the -same- fence, whether you see the part over on the left end, or the part sticking out of some bushes in the middle. This fence in the foreground, if we were travelling along, we might call the “first fence”, and as we went further, we would come to the other, which we might call the “second” fence, where the farmer might dump his garbage over that fence. The “first” fence is for the “sheep”; the “second” for the “goats”. Now, keep in mind how we see -sections- of the “first fence” as we look at the painting.
Another example: a tour bus is carrying a group of people on a trip. They stop for lunch. Now it’s time to get back on the road again. It is “boarding” time. One group of people get on the bus and settle in. Another group comes along a few minutes later. Eventually, the final ‘stragglers’ get on board and as they are climbing aboard the tour guide says to the driver, “this is everybody.” After making a head-count, the leader confirms, “that’s everybody”. The bus is now “boarded”. The “everybody” was not that last group of stragglers getting on while he was making the comment, but rather, once they were on it meant that “everybody” was -now- on board.
When Rev20:5b proclaims, “This is the first resurrection” it is like the tour guide telling the bus driver, “that’s everybody”. The last of those belonging on the bus are now on the bus.
They got on at different times, even though it was -one- ‘boarding’. That fence is ‘one’ fence, but we see different ‘parts’ of it.
The same with resurrection. Just like the two fences, there are -TWO- resurrections. (Acts24:15) The “first” is of those who are “saved”. The “second”, while not being labelled as such in Scripture, is understood by the context. The unbelievers are resurrected in order to receive judgment at the “great white throne” (Rev20:11) and end up in the “Lake of Fire”. (vs13) And it says, “This is the second death.” (vs14) The “second death” corresponding to, and coming after the “second resurrection” …the resurrection of unbelievers.
The “first resurrection” happens in stages. The first stage has already occurred; right after Jesus’ resurrection. It says, “and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered into the holy city and were revealed to many.” (Mt27:52-53) The second stage is the Church, when the “dead in Christ” rise (1Th4:16), at the same event as the Rapture when “we who remain alive will be caught up..” (vs17) The final stage is when those saved during the 70th week “beheaded because of the witness of Jesus..and had not received the mark on their forehead..and hand” (Rev20:4) are raised to reign with Christ 1000 years. This final group is the same one mentioned in Rev7:14 “coming out of -the- great tribulation..” When these martyrs are resurrected, the living Jews, yet in unbelief (Is45:2-6), will be gathered back to their land, (Mt24:31) where they will be given new hearts. (Jer31:31-34) All three of these ‘stages’ are part of that -same- “fence”. Part of the “first resurrection”. And when the final group has been resurrected, it is pronounced, “this is the first resurrection”. “This is everybody”…”Everyone is on-board”
Does Jesus mention these like this anywhere else? The “certain man” made a supper. (Lk14:16-24) Those who had been invited (Israel) refused to come when it was ready. So, when they wouldn’t come, the “man” instructs that the servant go to the “streets and lanes” to find people. (Gentiles) (Acts28:28) And when all their ‘number’ had come in (Rom11:25) there was still more room. And the “man” wanting “that my house may be filled” (Lk14:23) instructs that they go to the “highways and hedges and COMPEL THEM to come in..” This is that “everlasting gospel of the kingdom” (Mt24:14) to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Rev14:6) during the 70th week.
All three of these groups end up in the banquet hall; each with their own -stage- of the “first resurrection”. And notice that Israel who initially rejected, the “remnant” (Zec8:11, Rom9:27,11:5) gets in on the final one with 12,000 from each tribe. (Rev7:4) But all participate in the “first resurrection” at their own times, until it is complete. The “bus is boarded” once all the ‘boarding groups’ are finally in their seats; one group boarding, another boarding a few minutes later; it’s all -one- “boarding”. And remember how that “painting” covers 3000 years of time. That whole “painting” of 3000 years is the “Day of the Lord”. That “fence” stretches across various ‘parts’ of the painting. It is -one- fence within -one- painting.
The Mt27:52-53 resurrection fulfilled the O.T. saints. 1Th4:16-17 will fulfill the Church. And Rev20:4,6 will fulfill those “calling on the name of the Lord” (Joel2:32) during the Tribulation/70th week.
Now… let’s understand the “elect” from Mt24:31 a little more clearly.
The argument many give is that, if the “elect” in context belong to the “Son of Man”, that must mean the “Church”, because the Church is made up of CHRIST-ians. We are “in Christ” (2Cor5:17), etc. That Israel was under “God” in the O.T., not “Jesus”.
Paul clears up this misunderstanding for us. Speaking of Israel in the wilderness, their eating and drinking… “that Rock was Christ.” (1Cor10:4) Any -physical- manifestation of God’s presence to Israel in the wilderness was Jesus Christ, because He is “the shining splendor of His glory, and the express image of His essence” (Heb1:3) Israel was following Jesus Christ in the wilderness. And when Jesus came “to His own” (Jn1:11) He was born as a “Jew”. His “own” was Israel. He was born “in the flesh” (1Jn4:2-3) “out of a woman” (Gal4:4) as He came “under Law, that He might redeem the ones under law” (vs5) Who was “under Law”? Israel. Of the “Seed of Abraham” (Heb2:16) as He became “like His brothers”.(vs17)
Ps22:22 says Messianically, “I will declare Your name to My brothers..” His “brothers” being, again, Israel. Israel was a nation of “brothers”, the 12 tribes having been sibling sons of Israel. The term in Scripture “brother” or “brethren” is most often a “Jewish” expression. When Jesus comes back and judges the nations, He will judge based on how they treated “the least of My brothers..” (Mt25:40) Israel.
Thus, when we gave the detailed account of how the “elect” in Mt24:31 is Israel, it should be clear that they belong to Jesus Christ. And again, for those who will accept it; they are ‘gathered’ from the “four winds” to which they had been scattered. The Church was not scattered to the winds like stubble (Jer13:24); Israel was. Thus, the Church is not going to be gathered from those -same- “winds”, back to the land of promise; Israel is. (Ez36:24, Deu30:4, Is11:12, Jer23:3, 31:7-11, 32:37, Ez34:11-16) Remember that Jesus is the “True Vine” (Jn15). Yes, Israel was pruned off that Vine, Jesus, for a time so that the Gentiles might be grafted in. (Rom11) But Israel, when they are gathered from the “four winds” will be grafted back in TO JESUS again. (Rom11:23,26) So, again, Mt24:31 is NOT the Church. It is Israel.
Of course, there will still be those who will simply not accept this; no matter how many different ways we come up with to present it. No matter how many angles we approach the subject. But then, Israel rejected Jesus, too; no matter how many parables He told, or signs He performed. (Jn12:37)
When Jesus said to the woman of Samaria “salvation is of the Jews” (Jn4:22) He said a whole ‘mouthful’. God brought salvation to the world -through- Israel in the Person of Jesus Christ, a Jew.
Sadly… just as Israel rejected their Messiah (Jn1:11), many who claim to be “christian” reject Him, too. How? How do we know this? They reject the “pupil of God’s eye”. (Deu32:10, Zec2;8) Remember how He says, ‘if you did it to My brothers…you did it to Me’? We know we are saved “by grace through faith” (Eph2:8), but our works -manifest/reveal- our faith. (Jas2) “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers. The one not loving the brother remains in death.” (1Jn3:14) We usually think of this expression as referring to love for fellow-Believers; which is only partly true. If we realize that Scripturally, typically, “brothers” is a Jewish expression, we should understand that part ‘n’ parcel of being a Christian is also a love for God’s people. Let us not forget that Israel was a “natural” part of the vine. (Rom11:21,24) The Church came from the “wild olive” and was “grafted in” … “contrary to nature”. Israel was the “elect” beginning with Abraham. They are the ones who were “invited” to the banquet. The primarily -Gentile- Church was invited when the Elect gave excuses for not receiving Christ. And Paul says, “Do not be highminded, but fear..” (Rom11:20)
If you refuse to accept God’s present/future workings with Israel, and to believe what God says, that He will “gather” -them- again (Mt24:31) you are on very shakey, scary ground!! Jesus was a Jew. If you do not accept Israel’s legitimate place, then, how can you claim to accept Jesus’ proper place? In a round-about sort of way it could be said that if you reject Israel, you have rejected Christ. You are not a Christian. If a person is In Christ, he will also love Christ’s “brothers”, Israel.
In closing: the following was sent to me by e-mail. Typically, most things like this that people forward endlessly are so much fluff. This one, while being a bit corny, is somewhat related to what we are discussing. While the Church and Israel are not the same, they are interrelated through Christ. (Eph2:11-14)
A Jewish father was concerned that his son who was about a year away from his Bar Mitzvah but was sorely lacking in knowledge of his Jewish faith. To remedy this he sent his son to Israel to experience his heritage. A year later the young man returned home. “Father, thank you for sending me to the land of our fathers,” the son said. “It was wonderful and enlightening. However, I must confess that while in Israel I embraced Christianity.”
“Oi vey,” replied the father, “what have I done?” So in the tradition of the patriarchs he went to his best friend and sought advice and solace.
“It is amazing you should come to me,” stated his friend. “I, too, sent my son to Israel and he returned a Christian.” So in the tradition of the patriarchs they went to the Rabbi.
“It is amazing that you should come to me,” stated the rabbi. “I, too, sent my son to Israel and he returned a Christian. What is happening to our sons?
“Brothers, we must take this to God.” They all fell to their knees and began to wail and pour out their hearts to the Almighty.
As they prayed the clouds above opened and a mighty voice stated, “Amazing that you should come to ME. I, too, sent My Son to Israel…”