Views from the Pew – Kept from the Hour of Testing

What did you learn from last week’s sermon?

Q1: True or False, is Israel’s history, our (Christians’) history?

Q2: What is the mystery?

Q3: What did the Jews expect to happen the first time Jesus came?

Q4: What must happen first before Jesus’ second coming?

Q5: Does the church need to establish Jesus’ kingdom before He will come?

Q6: In Matthew 25:31-33 about separating the sheep from the goats, are we the sheep or the goats?

Q7: Why are we kept from the hour of testing?

Sermon Summary & Answers

Sunday, Pastor Steve reminded us of where we left off with the condensed history of Israel looking at their past selection Romans 9:3-5, present situation Romans 9:30-33 (they rejected their messiah, yikes!), and future restoration.

Romans 11:25–27
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” “THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.”

God chose Israel and promised them they would be a nation with a king ruling over them, but they rejected His plan, murdered His son, and still His promise abides. He will redeem Israel. He will take away their sins.

So…why are we so interested in Israel, you ask. Is it because Americans just love Israel? No, it is because we are Christians, and Israel’s history is OUR history. Romans 4:12 says, “(Abraham) … the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.” Therefore, “we are Christians, BY FAITH – – a faith that stems from our father, Abraham.”-Pastor Steve Wilson. That’s why Christian churches have an interest in Israel because our history is woven into their history. We have been grafted into the olive tree, which is Israel.

Now that we have an understanding of all this and the Jews’ perspective, we can move on to the mystery Paul speaks of first in Romans 11:25-27. A mystery is a thing that was hidden. So, we have learned that the Jews are a proud, noble people that know their history well, and the promises of God. They know the promise of a land, a nation, and a messiah that would come and end their oppression. They believe and they have hope in the promises of God read in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. All of the prophets have a lot to say about the restoration of Israel and how the desert will bloom and all nations will find their way to Israel where the throne of the world will reside. They anticipated a time of great suffering as the prophets said but then an end gathering of all the Jews returning to Jerusalem. This was the perspective of Jews, and they expected continuous turmoil and persecution until the messiah would lead charge in the Great War and restore Jerusalem to glory forever. At least, that’s what they thought. So, when Jesus arrived, they shouted hosanna, and this is also why they rejected him. Jesus told them He came to die not fight and that the battle was not now, not here. That didn’t fit with their perspective. What messiah would die? The Jews didn’t understand what we understand and what Jesus taught about His coming as baby to serve and die being part of the plan and had to happen first. His rejection by them would usher in salvation for all the nations and by faith many would come.

“To be fair to them — they couldn’t understand that — because it was hidden from them. It was as Paul said a mystery.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

So, the disciples asked Jesus how come we get it, but they don’t?

Matthew 13:11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”

We are able to understand that Jesus’ first coming wasn’t the only coming. There’s a second coming, and at that time Israel will receive the promises. But, first the gentiles must have a period of influence to spread the gospel. We are currently in this mysterious separation of time known as the church age. Paul speaks about this period of time calling it a mystery over and over again, 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, Ephesians 3:3-4, and Ephesians 6:19-20 for which Paul was currently in chains! These chains were not motivated by angry Romans that saw him as threat but were motivated by Jews who hated his message that it wasn’t their time yet. The Jews kept insisting the Romans do something because Paul spoke not only of this mystery but of them killing the son of God! They reject anyone including Christ that talk that way.

That mystery – – that the time for the Jews was ‘not yet’ – – it lay ahead … first, the church – – first, the Gentiles must be gathered in … And preaching this, as he says – – would land him in chains.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

So, this mystery is Christ himself! The future hope of Israel already but not yet. Jesus’ message and Paul’s message didn’t match their narrative! What happens? Persecution always from the Jews! As Christians, we keep preaching this message. While America may enjoy a relationship with Israel and Israel enjoys the same that is not to say that Israel enjoys a relationship with Christians. Any talk of God’s people, Israel, murdering the son of God, will never be popular. We have as a nation deluded the message of the gospel as it regards Israel. Our love for Israel is motivated by a passion for their salvation as God’s chosen people! Their only hope as a nation! But first the church! “First – – the Christian church must have its period of influence – of spreading the gospel.”-Pastor Steve Wilson

Now, Pastor Steve brings our attention to Matthew 24:1-3 known as the Olivet Discourse. In summary, Jesus came out from temple and the disciples were pointing out the beauty of buildings with golden stones, and Jesus said it’ll all be torn down. The disciples asked when if this isn’t the end, now that you’re hear tell us. Their familiar with all that but didn’t know it wasn’t the end. It was all just the beginning or birth pains before the Jews would face a time of trouble and the desecration of the Temple. The gospel will be preached to all, then the end will come, and by that time the Christian church will be gone, and the angels will declare the gospel to the world all at once during the time of trouble. During this gospel time, this salvation time, the worst thing that could happen in the minds of the Jews will happen, the temple will be desecrated. With their worship place and land assailed, all they can do is run, they’ve arrived at the Great Tribulation. Nothing like this has occurred until now, and it’s about to get really, really bad.

Matthew 24:21–22
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Those days will last about 3 and a 1/2 years until Christ returns.

Matthew 24:29–31
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

At this time, Jesus will call to Himself all those who are counted among true Israel, and they should be ready. Then Jesus will sit on His throne as they have anticipated for their entire history, and all nations will be gathered before Him then He’ll separate them.

Matthew 25:31–34
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

So, why do they have to wait? Like it’s been 2,000 years! Paul says the church is why! The mystery is why! You and me! We are why they have to wait!

Amillenials believe there is no kingdom for Israel and that we are Israel. We don’t believe that, it’s just too small. Postmillennials think the kingdom must be established by the church that we are Israel, and we have to fight for it and then Jesus will come. We don’t believe that either. The Bible says, it is a coming kingdom and only Jesus can establish it, which is called premillennial! This is what we believe.

Okay, one last piece of the mysterious puzzle, when you read Matthew 24 and 25, the is church not a part of Israel’s persecution. We are kept from this tribulation. We’re not here; Thessalonians 4:13-18.

The mystery appears – – Paul manifests it – – and that mystery includes a removal of the church – – taking it out of the way – – so that all Israel will be saved, as if from the fires of judgment … Jacob’s distress isn’t our distress … Israel’s tribulation isn’t our tribulation. We, in the church, are kept from this hour of testing. We are gone – – only to come again with Christ – arriving to make war … arriving to establish His throne.”

Pastor Steve Wilson

When Jesus comes back again, there will be saints with Him. We, who are alive, will not go before those who have fallen asleep. The Lord will descend, the dead will rise first. Not a repeat of Matthew, a mystery circumvents Matthew! We who are alive will meet them in the air and will always be with the Lord! Be comforted! The mystery becomes more compounded. Jesus receiving the church isn’t the end. It ain’t over until He destroys all of His enemies! We will be caught up, in Greek, to snatch or steal away!! We call it the rapture!! Jesus has to get us out of the way, so that Israel can be saved! It has to happen this way, so Jesus will turn His attention to Israel, bring His children home, purge them of sin, and save them. They’ll be jealous for such a deliverance at that time, and those that already believed; finally, mercy will be poured out. We will be kept from that hour of testing. It’s for Jacob, for Israel, for the Jews. We will suffer, but God keeps us in those trials not from them, and He tests our faith! May we in our time of testing be found faithful!

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  1. True; Our history is woven into their history. We have been grafted into their family tree through faith, a faith that stems from our father, Abraham. We are motivated by our love for Christ, which extends to God’s chosen people, Israel, and our zeal is for their salvation as a people.
  2. The mystery is that the Jews didn’t understand what we understand regarding what Jesus taught about His coming as a child in a manger, His coming to serve, and coming to die and that this must happen first. His rejection by them would usher in the salvation of all nations, of all peoples, who would, by faith, come to Him as their Messiah. They didn’t understand that and, to be fair to them, they couldn’t understand that because it was hidden from them.
  3. They expected continued turmoil, persecution escalating against Israel then the Messiah would come and a war to end all wars would ensue, and the Messiah would reign, establish Israel as the nation among all nations, restoring Jerusalem to its greatest glory. That was on the minds of the people of Israel when Jesus arrived, which is why they shouted Hosanna as He came into Jerusalem and that is also why they rejected Him. He spoke, not of an immediate fulfillment of their dreams by a military conquest but of His own death.
  4. First, the Christian church must have its period of influence to spread the gospel, the church age, in which that mystery that the time for the Jews was ‘not yet’, it lay ahead. But first, the Gentiles must be gathered in.
  5. No. Postmillennials believe the kingdom will be established by the church that we are Israel, and we have to fight for it, and then Jesus will come. The Bible says there is a coming kingdom and only Jesus can establish it, which is called premillennial! This is what we believe.
  6. We are neither. Jesus has kept us from the hour of testing and had to get us out of the way to deal with Israel, so that Israel can be saved! It has to happen this way, so when God turns His attention to Israel and is about to bring His children home and purge them of sin and save them. They’ll be jealous for such a deliverance at that time and those that already believed, and finally mercy will be poured out.
  7. We will be kept from the hour of testing because the hour of testing is for Israel, for the Jews.