Is Matthew 24:31-56 about our treatment of Israel in the end times?

I was reading up on the symbolic nature of the parables and what it meant for the church age and came across in interesting statement about Matthew 25 about the final judgement. It is from https://www.google.com/amp/s/robertcliftonrobinson.com/2018/04/12/the-hidden-mysteries-of-the-messianic-scriptures-and-the-parables-of-jesus/amp/. He states:

“When Jesus returns with His His church, Matthew 25 describes a time when He will separate the nations before Him into sheep and goats. Depending upon how the nations treated Israel and the Jews during the last three and one half years of the Great Tribulation, will determine whether they may enter Jesus’ one thousand year kingdom. Those who helped the Jews, provided food, clothing, shelter and protection will go into the kingdom. The nations which joined the antichrist in persecuting the Jews will be excluded.”

Is this correct? Is Matthew 25:31-46 really strictly about Israel and the Jews and our treatment of them in the last days or does it have present day applications on how we treat all? Or maybe a different meaning altogether? Another question that emerged from this is how will we know when the time of tribulation has come?

Here a few verses from the passage: “"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

“Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:31-32, 34-35, 44-46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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@allegra.brown I have never heard that interpretation. Most people I have heard / read say that Matthew 25 is a description of the final judgment and deals with how we as Christians love others generally; not Israel specifically.

Did he happen to mention why he thinks this verse is talking about our treatment of Israel? I cannot see anything in the text that would lead to that interpretation.

Israel and the Church

Some Christians believe that the Church is the chosen people; that Old Covenant has passed away. In that case we are chosen in Christ; not as a result of our physical genealogy.

Hebrews 8:13 - By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

I respect both views, but I think it is important to understand that plenty of Christians do not think that the modern nation of Israel is God’s chosen people. Rather, all who are in Christ - Jew or Greek, slave or free - belong to God’s chosen people.

Revelation

Generally, the topic of the end times is complex and requires a great deal of study to come to strong opinions. There is the story of a professor who refused to teach Revelation until he had studied the OT for another 20 years because Revelation quotes the OT so frequently. There are 4 ways of interpreting Revelation (below).

1 - Futurist - the idea that most of Revelation will occur at the end of history right before the return of Christ
2 - Partial Preterist - most of Revelation was fulfillment by the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and now we only await the return of Christ and new heavens / new earth
3 - Idealist - Revelation has no historical fulfillment - it is instead a depiction of the great struggle that is ongoing in every generation between God’s Kingdom and evil world empires
4 - Historicist - each section of Revelation represents a different portion of history - so we could break history into chunks of a few hundred years and correlate them to Revelation (Roman Empire, Muslim invasions, Papacy) - this view is not common anymore

Sermon on Olivet Discourse by Steve Gregg

You might also check out his verse by verse exposition of those verses in Matthew: http://thenarrowpath.com/verse_by_verse.php#Matthew

Thread on End Times

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Hi @allegra.brown,

I’m totally of the same opinion with @SeanO, that Jesus was talking of Christians as “the least of our brothers and sisters”, not specifically the Israelites. The Israelites or Jews will be included in this group if they accepted Jesus as their messiah. This interpretation is in light of the overwhelming number of verses which clearly backs the notion that our brothers and sisters are fellow believers in Christ.

@SeanO, I believe Rob thinks it refers to the Israelites/Jews, due to the parable of the hidden treasure in Matt 13:44, he stated:
“In this parable, the treasure is the Jews and the nation of Israel (Ex. 19:5; Ps. 135:4). It was the purpose of God that the Jews would be His representation to the world to make their salvation possible. The nation rejected their Messiah when He came to them and thereby failed to fulfill Gods purpose for them.” And then he further wrote that in the subsequent parable in verse 45, the pearl represents the Church.

I think that’s quite a long shot. Even if the treasure indeed accurately points to the Jews, I don’t see how it has exclusively reinforce his claim in Matt 25.

I wouldn’t go against treating the Israelites or Jews well, in fact we have to treat ALL well according to God’s will. But think of the overarching implication: What about those who lives far from the Middle East, or those who has no Jews living amongst them, how do we have the privileged opportunity to treat the Israelites well? Unless of course God will make sure the Israelites are well accessible to all in the last days.

Thanks for bringing this up. For end days gospel, I personally would not dare to make claims that I cannot sufficiently back up too, like the professor in Sean’s post. I will rather concede upfront that it is a personal guesstimating interpretation.

Blessings in Christ,
Roy

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@RoySujanto Good point! Yes, Jesus is clear in that parable that the treasure is His Kingdom, which is not of this world. And if it is not of this world, then it is clearly not a nation or a people group. It consists of all who long for His appearing.

Matthew 13:44 - The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field…

John 18:36 - Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

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LOL @SeanO.

In the article, Rob actually stated the following, for those who thinks the treasure is the kingdom of heaven, and the person who found it is the sinner:

“The common interpretation for this parable by Jesus is that the sinner gives up all he has in order to gain Christ and find salvation. The problem with this view is clear: This makes salvation a matter of works by the one seeking redemption, contrary to the principle of grace through faith. The sinner can do nothing to obtain his salvation except receive Christ’s death as payment for his sins and believe.”

I concur with your point Sean, that the treasure is His kingdom, as you perceptively pointed out in John 18.

The errancy in his view, I believe, is that he took it literally that we work(giving up everything) to earn the treasure(buy the plot of land). But Jesus, as the custom for Jewish Rabbis, was teaching in hyperbole. That is believers will give up EVERYTHING to “carry their cross” once they learned how precious the kingdom of heaven is, as demonstrated by the martyrdoms of Stephen, Paul, Peter, etc.

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@RoySujanto Well stated! :slight_smile: I think it is a red herring to bring in the works / grace debate to this passage when that is clearly not Jesus’ main point.

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