Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?” Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. (Ecclesiastes 8:4-5 NIV)
To illustrate that some deception is a learned skill, our picture (above) is of a magician ready to pull a surprise out of his hat. The craft is called sleight-of-hand. After a seasoned magician’s illusion, we typically ask, “How did he do that?”
As with other crafts, magicians are usually mentored. In Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist,” the mentor Fagin worked with The Artful Dodger and other urchins training them to walk London’s streets and to stealthily remove a wealthy man’s pocket of its valuables. Fagin, more than anyone, knew such things must be taught. Skills like pick-pocketing are not naturally acquired.
So it is with the type of deception surrounding Matthew 24. It was not naturally acquired. Taking what we read at face-value is natural and what Jesus intended. Mentoring is necessary to promote an “any moment” rapture since there is no plain, “face-value” way to support it with Scripture. Skill and craftiness are mandatory, if one is to declare Jesus’ Matthew 24 prophecy is irrelevant to Christians.
The same applies to those who teach The Olivet Discourse is not meant to be understood as literal end time prophecy. Naturally, if one is taught to take the Gospel’s preceding and following chapters literally, then Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 (The Olivet Discourse) should be understood literally as well or so one would think. Literal is natural. If the plain sense makes sense then we have the right sense. Beware of teachers who proposes something other than common sense, no matter how clever it sounds.
The same scrutiny that we may give a magic act or a card trick needs to be directed at those who speak for God concerning prophecy. In Matthew 24:4, Jesus warned, “Watch out that no one deceives you!” The Lord’s specific warning was about cunning deceivers in the last days who loudly claim that He is the Christ. Many will be tricked or victimized. With a magician we know they are performing an act, with false teachers and false prophets we will not know it was a skillful performance until it is too late.
Taken alone, this post may be confusing. It would be worth it to review from the beginning. In our 10-part series, we have attempted to expose the most common tricks used to turn saints away from Jesus’ clear foretelling of future events.
Knowing the “5 Major Rules for Bible Interpretation” and slowing down the verbal sleight-of-hand is the key. It is my fervent hope that this blog’s readers will examine the preceding articles and be forearmed against Satan’s deception in the last days.
“Let the reader understand” -Jesus, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14
If this series has done nothing but educate on the Major Rules of Bible Interpretation then I have done my job.
We are here to help. Your insights are always welcome.