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Taking the First Steps Toward Understanding the Tribulation II

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TAKING THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD

UNDERSTANDING THE TRIBULATION

Volume II

An Exposition of Matthew 24:32-25:46

by Pastor Douglas Shearer

Senior Pastor Emeritus • New Hope Christian Fellowship

 

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This volume is meant to be a follow-up to Volume I - an exposition of Matthew 24:1-14, Jesus’ description of both the lead up to the Tribulation and the Tribulation itself. Volume II examines the judgment that follows the Tribulation. It’s given in six parables extending from Matthew 24:32 through the end of Matthew 25.

 

item9Jesus has just sketched out for the disciples a description of The Tribulation. It’s a description that extends from Matthew 24:1 to Matthew 24:31 - a total of 31 verses in all. Volume I of this series exposited the first fourteen verses - skipping over verses 15-31 - which we’ll pick up in later volumes.

Here, beginning with verse 32, Jesus turns from a description of the Tribulation to a different but related matter:

How can we prepare ourselves for The Tribulation and the judgment that follows?

His answer is spelled out in a series of six parables beginning with Matthew 24:32 and continuing to the end of Matthew Chapter 25. The first parable, the Parable of the Fig Tree, serves only to establish the backdrop for the second and third parables - and, therefore, adds nothing substantive to the answer Jesus is laying out. The second and sixth parables are addressed to mankind generally; while the third, fourth, and fifth parables are addressed to believers. However, all six parables revolve around the single issue of readiness and judgment.

An Inclusio

What we have here, therefore, is a classic “inclusio,” a literary device that brackets one set of topics between a second, but related, set of topics (see diagram below for a schematic depiction of the inclusio).

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Inclusio

Matters to Keep in Mind

Several matters need to be kept in mind as we work our way through a verse by verse exposition of each of the parables - some of which have been spelled out in Volume I ...

  • There’s nothing new about the criteria delineated in the six parables. The same criteria are elucidated in many other passages of scripture as well - passages that bear no relationship whatsoever to The Tribulation. It’s just that the issue of readiness and judgment is so overwhelmingly salient in both the lead-up to The Tribulation and The Tribulation itself.
  • The Tribulation Jesus has just finished describing is not what it’s usually made out to be: a time of God’s wrath only. It’s first and foremost a time of God’s grace - his last call to mankind to repent and be saved. Tribulation is, after all, the prod God uses both (1) to turn sinners to himself and (2) to transform believers into overcomers; consequently, the “bottom line” of tribulation is not wrath, but grace and salvation.
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