Matthew Chapter 24
Verse 43 KJV continued, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.”
In Luke 12:36–38 three time periods of expectation are suggested: “second watch,” “third watch,” and an implied first watch.
“And you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.”
There was a time when many of the Lord’s people thought that the Church would be gone (completed) in 1914. Let us call that the “second watch”—not that it necessarily was, but just to establish the principle. Obviously, the expectations were not realized at that date. Inferentially, then, Jesus will come to take the last members home in the “third watch.”
1st watch as a point of time = 9 p.m. (A.D. 1878)
2nd watch as a point of time = 12 midnight (A.D. 1914)
3rd watch as a point of time = 3 a.m. (A.D.?)
The Millennial day began at midnight, but 3 a.m. is predawn, BEFORE the sunrise, before the Sun of righteousness arises. At 6 a.m. the Kingdom will be inaugurated—at dawn, at sunrise.
Mark 13:35 gives four times of expectancy: (1) “evening,” (2) “midnight,” (3) “cockcrowing,” and (4) “morning.” “Morning” (dawn, sunrise) would be too late for the Master to get his last members in the rapture, so it can be eliminated. Three other times remain, but two have passed, so again the third is when Jesus will come in this sense.
Note: The four times should be considered more from the standpoint of a year, not a day or an hour. A lot can happen in one year.
The four quadrants of time break down as follows:
Evening = 6–9 p.m.
Midnight = 9–12 midnight
Cockcrowing = 12–3 a.m.
Morning = 3–6 a.m.
Notice that 3 a.m. in the “third watch” is the point of time common to both the Mark and the Luke accounts. (In the Mark 13:35 text, 3 a.m. occurs at the end of the third watch and the beginning of the fourth watch.) At that point in time Jesus will come for the last jewels.
Back to Luke 12:36–38. Some are troubled as to how the Church can be likened to servants awaiting the Master’s return from the wedding. They object because the Church is supposed to be at the wedding. However, the emphasis is on the readiness of the household. In order to please their Master, the servants watched very diligently for his return so that they could give the Master a warm welcome. Thus there is no contradiction. The emphasis is on watching, waiting, and praying—on being ready.
Mark 13:34–37 confirms this thought by presenting it just a little differently. “It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
The Pastor answers this question is along similar lines:
“To my understanding, the Lord merely meant this: My disciples, you are aware that in any well-regulated household the servants are always expected to do their duty, but you well know that there is one time, one particular season, in which more is expected of them than at any other time, and such an occasion is when the master of the house has wedded, and is about to bring in the bride. You know that is the time when the servants, above all other times, are expected to be faithful and obedient, and be awake, ready, and attentive. Now, let that illustrate to you the attitude all of my disciples should be in -- just like men who wait for their master with a bride returning from the nuptial feast, that they may open to him immediately.
Now it does not mean that he will come to us from the nuptial feast, or that He will come to the great company from the nuptial feast, but we are to be in that prompt attitude that the very first indication of the Lord's presence will be heard by us; that we will be on the alert, as it were.
And so, you remember, the next verse of the parable says--proving that it belongs to us AT THE PRESENT TIME,--"Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them." We have had this fulfilled with us, dear friends. To such as were on the alert to hear the knock of the divine word (“the more sure word of prophecy”), the testimony of God as to the presence of our Lord, and opened their hearts immediately, and were in the right attitude to receive the Lord, He did come, and He has been feeding us, and bringing forth things new and old, and causing us to rejoice greatly.” (Q 635)
An alternate explanation of the four time periods in Mark 13:35 is as follows:
1) Evening = 6–9 p.m. (1844–1878)
2) Midnight = 9–12 midnight (1878–1914)
3) Cockcrowing = 12 midnight–3 a.m. (1914–?)
4) Morning = 3–6 a.m. (?-?)
Here the beginning of the fourth quadrant (morning) and the end of the third (cockcrowing) correspond to the “third watch” of Luke 12:38. At any rate, Jesus is saying to WATCH, for we will not know ahead of time the hour for the invisible rapture (the translation of the final members of the Church).
“Cockcrowing” represents an important testing, for at that time Peter, who pictures the Great Company, denied Jesus three times. Also, in the beginning of the fourth watch (again this was 3 a.m.), Jesus walked on the water. Peter walked out to meet him amidst the angry, raging sea and started to sink. When he reached out, Jesus saved him, picturing the rapture. The waves symbolize the time of trouble on the Church.
The pressures on the feet members will be very great. Just as Jesus was betrayed by Judas (the Second Death class), denied by Peter (the Great Company), and crucified (put to death by Satan), so the feet members will have similar experiences. Knowing this in advance should be helpful. If these subjects are not being studied ahead of time, how can we be prepared?
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