Authored By :
Published On :
February 19, 1998
Last Updated :
February 2, 2020
Faithful Students Of God's Word, Shine The Light Of Scripture On All Doctrines To Verify Them, Bereans Test Paul And Silas' Teachings, Remember The Former Things Of Old, Learn From The Past, Ends Of The World Or Ends Of The Age, God Will Do As He Says, Sure Word Of Prophecy: God Doesn't Lie, The Apostasy: Unbelieving Scoffers Then And Now, Patriarch Job Prophesies Of Jesus Standing Upon The Earth And Also Of The Resurrection From The Dead, The Seventh Trumpet, Biblical Prophetic Pairs, Divine Inspiration Of The Scriptures, Great Anticipation For Jesus' Birth And Earnest Expectation For His Return, Luke The Beloved Physician: Author Of Luke And Book Of Acts, Jesus' Ascension To Heavenly Realm And His Promised Return, Details Of Jesus' Departure And Return, Bethany And Mount Of Olives
As I have pointed out in other articles, I believe that the most important things that we need to know regarding Bible prophecy can be found and understood through a very careful, diligent and thorough examination of the Holy Scriptures. It is our responsibility as faithful students of God's Word to devote our time to the study of the writings of the Prophets of old, to the words of Jesus in the Gospels, and also to the writings of the Apostles, so that we might not only gain a better understanding of God's overall Plan of Salvation, but also so that we can grasp the significance of the amazing events surrounding Christ's Return. After all, it is Jesus' Death, Resurrection and Return which ultimately culminate in the restitution of all things.
In short, as the Scriptures make very clear, we must not only hide God's Word in our hearts, but we must also right divide it, carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture, and also closely examine all teachings and doctrines by holding them up to the light of the Scriptures, in order to determine if they are truly sound doctrine. This is in fact what the Jews of Berea did when Paul and Silas visited their synagogue and preached Christ to them. It is likewise what the Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy -- who was the first bishop of Ephesus -- to do as well. Consider the following group of verses:
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
Psalm 119:11, KJV
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few."
Acts 17:10-12, KJV
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by SOUND DOCTRINE both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
Titus 1:9, KJV
"But speak thou the things which become SOUND DOCTRINE:"
Titus 2:1, KJV
In fact, in regarding to fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy, the Lord Himself commands us to "Remember the former things of old". Likewise, the Apostle Paul exhorted his readers to take note of the Old Testament Scriptures, and to learn from them, so that they would be motivated to lead godly lives, and so that they could better understand the things which were to come upon the Earth. Consider the following group of verses which confirm these points:
"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"
Isaiah 46:9-10, KJV
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:"
Romans 15:4-5 KJV
"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted . . . Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE WORLD ARE COME."
1 Corinthians 10:6, 11, KJV
"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, ARE SET FORTH FOR AN EXAMPLE, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Jude 1:7, KJV
Please note that in 1 Corinthians 10:11 above, there is actually a translational error. While in the KJV Bible the verse reads "upon whom the ends of the world are come" -- meaning the people of the First Century -- in actuality, the Koine Greek word which is translated as the English word "world" is "aion". This ancient Greek word means an age or period of time. In fact, you can see how close "aion" is to our English word "eon". As such, the verse should actually read "upon whom the ends of the age are come". If you care to read a more in-depth explanation regarding what Paul is referring to when he writes "UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE AGE ARE COME", please refer to my seven-part series entitled "Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?". You will find it listed at the end of this same article.
As we learned in Isaiah above, the Lord informs us that He knows everything that has happened, as well as what is yet to happen, because He obviously controls it all. In fact, He plainly declares "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." In short, if the Lord says that something is going to happen, we can be certain that it most surely will. Rest assured that God is a man of His word, and that He does not lie. In fact, His Word is the "sure word of prophecy". God's Word is so important to Him, that King David tells us that the Lord has magnified His Word above His very Name. Consider the following set of verses where these points are confirmed:
"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"
Numbers 23:19, KJV
"We have also a more SURE WORD OF PROPHECY; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts . . . For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
2 Peter 1:19, 21, KJV
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."
Psalms 138:2, KJV
". . . For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word . . . Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."
Psalm 119:89, 14, 160, KJV
"And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
Ezekiel 33:33, KJV
"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."
Ecclesiastes 3:14-15, KJV
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
2 Timothy 3:16, KJV
"God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."
Romans 3:4, KJV
"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
Titus 1:2, KJV
Concerning Bible prophecy, undoubtedly, the most notable and the most anticipated event which First Century Christians eagerly looked forward to, was the return of Jesus Christ to the Earth. Likewise today, there are also many Christians who greatly anticipate the arrival of Jesus Christ. Sadly, just as we see occurring today with so many nonbelievers who scoff at such a possibility, and who mock Christians who hold to such a belief, it was no different during the First Century. Just as we see happening today, as the years slowly passed following the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, some folks became blinded to and hardened against the Word of God. They slowly lost their faith, if they ever had any to begin with.
The end result of this loss of faith was that some of them began to regard Jesus' Return as pure foolishness, and a tale of religious fanatics who had simply been duped by religious superstition. In the Gospel of Luke, even Jesus warned that such a day of unbelief would eventually arrive. Likewise, the Apostles Peter, John and Paul all wrote about this apostasy, or falling away. Peter warns of scoffers. Paul warns of the coming apostasy. John mentions those disciples who even broke off fellowshipping with the Christian Church because of their loss of faith. In fact, some of them even totally abandoned their faith in Christ. Consider the following set of verses:
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8, KJV
"Knowing this first, that there shall come IN THE LAST DAYS scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
2 Peter 3:3-4, KJV
"For DEMAS HATH FORSAKEN ME, HAVING LOVED THIS PRESENT WORLD, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia."
2 Timothy 4:10, KJV
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
2 Peter 2:20-22, KJV
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first [apostasy], and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
2 Thessalonians 2:3, KJV
"Little children, IT IS THE LAST TIME: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that IT IS THE LAST TIME. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us . . . Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 2:18-19, 22 KJV
What may come as a surprise to some people is the fact that this same hope in Christ was also expressed by a man in what is believed by some Christians to be one of the oldest Books in the Bible. That is, the Book of Job. In the midst of his personal affliction, the Patriarch Job was not only aware of the fact that Jesus Christ would stand upon the Earth "at the latter day", but he also foresaw the glorious Resurrection of the Dead, and his own future Redemption from the snares of death and the bonds of the grave. Consider the following set of verses:
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that HE SHALL STAND AT THE LATTER DAY UPON THE EARTH: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."
Job 19:25-27, KJV
Furthermore, the Patriarch Job's words were echoed thousands of years later by the Apostle Paul who also wrote extensively concerning the events of the Latter Days. In the following verses, Paul describes the suddenness with which the First Resurrection occurs. Not only that, he also tells his readers precisely when it will occur. That is to say, at the sound of the Last Trump, which is the Seventh Trumpet that's mentioned the Book of Revelation. In fact, Jesus mentions this very same trumpet in the Gospel of Matthew. Consider the following group of verses:
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMP: FOR THE TRUMPET SHALL SOUND, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
1 Corinthians 15:51-53, KJV
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and WITH THE TRUMP OF GOD: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, KJV
"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, WHEN HE SHALL BEGIN TO SOUND, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
Revelation 10:7, KJV
Please note that in the previous verses from the Apostle Paul's first Epistle to the Thessalonian brethren, the word "prevent" is actually Old English. It is derived from the Koine Greek word "phthano", which means to come before, or to precede. Thus, as the rest of the verses bear out, Paul is simply saying that the Dead in Christ rise first, to be followed by those Christians who are still alive on the Earth at the time of the Lord's Advent.
One thing which has always intrigued me about God's Word is what I like to refer to as "prophetic pairs". In other words, I am referring to connecting verses which are found between the Old Testament and the New Testament. As you may already know, many future events which were concealed, or hidden, in the pages of the Old Testament, find their fulfillment, or revelation, in the New Testament. This is particularly true regarding the hundreds of amazing prophecies which describe the Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection and Return of Jesus Christ. I discuss this topic to great extent in the article called "Who is Moshiach ben David?". I encourage you to read it.
Sometimes, in a few rare instances, even the actual verse references of these "prophetic pairs" share the same or very similar numbers. One example I have mentioned before concerns the prophecy of Micah regarding the Birth of Jesus Christ. This particular prophecy finds its completion or fulfillment in the Gospel of Matthew, as you can see below:
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
Micah 5:2, KJV
After the three magi from the east had inquired of King Herod where the newborn King should be found, Herod the Great was greatly troubled. Thus, he called together the chief priests and the scribes in order to determine exactly what they knew concerning this amazing and prophesied event. In response, they quoted from the Book of the Prophet Micah. Notice that Micah 5:2 is fulfilled in Matthew 2:5:
"And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel."
Matthew 2:5-6, KJV
Certainly, these numeric connections serve to validate the fact that even though the Scriptures were written by many different human writers over a period stretching from the Old Testament to New Testament times, all of these men were inspired by the same Divine Author. That is, God Himself. As the Apostle Peter was inspired to write in his second Epistle, and as the Apostle Paul was likewise inspired to write in his second Epistle to Timothy:
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
2 Peter 1:21, KJV
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
2 Timothy 3:16, KJV
Just as many of the Israelites of the pre-Christian period were very well aware of the ancient messianic prophecies, and as a result looked forward with great anticipation to the Birth of their Messiah, and then hopefully awaited for His Return at the end of that age following His Death and Resurrection from the dead, today, many Christians likewise wait with earnest expectation for the Return of the Lord. In describing Jesus Christ return to the Heavenly Realm almost two thousand years ago, we find the following interesting account written towards the end of the Gospel of Luke:
"And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:"
Luke 24:50-52, KJV
As you may know, it is commonly believed that Luke -- who the Apostle Paul referred to as "the beloved physician in his Epistle to the Colossian brethren -- was likewise the author of the Book of Acts. This assertion is based on the fact that in the introduction to both books, an individual by the name of Theophilus is addressed. Consider this set of verses:
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus . . ."
Luke 1:1-3, KJV
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:"
Acts 1:1-3, KJV
Please notice that Luke uses the phrase "The former treatise" in the opening verses of the Book of Acts. This seems to be a reference back to his own Gospel. In this opening chapter of the Book of Acts, Luke also provides both Theophilus and all Christian readers with a more detailed account of the Lord's departure from this present world, exactly forty days after His amazing Resurrection from the dead, as we can determine by the following group of verses. In other words, Luke is providing an expansion of what he wrote to Theophilus in the twenty-fourth chapter of his Gospel, which I quoted above:
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey."
Acts 1:9-12, KJV
As I point out in the article entitled "Fifty Days Which Changed the World", it was ten days after this amazing event that the Apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. But for our current discussion, what is most important from these two accounts are the exact words which were spoken by the two Angelic Messengers. I am referring to these words:
"This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
As you can see, these two Angelic Messengers were clearly telling Jesus' Disciples that, just as the Lord had departed from them, so likewise would He also one day return. So what where the specific details of the Lord's departure from the Earth? If we were to numerate what we know about the Lord's Ascension into Heaven, it could be summed up in the following five points:
1. Jesus took His Disciples to one of His favorite spots just a few miles to the east of Jerusalem; to a place called Bethany.
2. Bethany was located on or near to the road to Jericho at the Mount of Olives.
3. Jesus stood on, and ascended from, some part of the Mount of Olives.
4. Jesus was taken up into Heaven, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
5. Jesus returns in the very same manner.
Studying any ancient or modern map of Israel will indeed reveal that this is where Bethany and the Mount of Olives are located. In our modern day, Bethany is located in the West Bank, and is known as Al-Eizariya or al-Azariya. This name is derived from the fact that this is the place where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Al-Azariya is located on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives, less than two miles from Jerusalem. These points are also confirmed by the following verses which are found in the Gospels of Mark, Luke and John:
"And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,"
Mark 11:1, KJV
"And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,"
Luke 19:29, KJV
"Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:"
John 11:18, KJV
The following material -- which I extracted from Easton's Bible Dictionary in my Online Bible app -- provides us with additional information concerning the Mount of Olives:
----- Begin Quote -----
So called from the olive trees with which its sides are clothed, is a mountain ridge on the east of Jerusalem from which it is separated by the valley of Kidron. It now bears the name of Jebel et-Tur, i.e., "Mount of the Summit;" also sometimes called Jebel ez-Zeitun, i.e., "Mount of Olives". It is about 200 feet above the level of the city. The road from Jerusalem to Bethany runs as of old over this mount. This mount, or rather mountain range, has four summits or peaks:
1. the "Galilee" peak, so called from a tradition that the angels stood here when they spoke to the disciples.
2. the "Mount of Ascension", the supposed site of that event, which was, however, somewhere probably nearer Bethany.
3. the "Prophets", from the catacombs on its side, called "the prophets' tombs;" and
4. the "Mount of Corruption", so called because of the "high places" erected there by Solomon for the idolatrous worship of his foreign wives. Vulg., "Mount of Offence".
----- End Of Quote -----
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .