Monday, November 12, 2018

Some will not taste death...

Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”  Matt 16:28

I've always wondered about this verse. What did Jesus mean? Clearly he's talking about His 2nd Coming, when He appears in the clouds and lands on the Mount of Olives, defeats Satan and his armies, and then sets up His Kingdom on Earth. (Very excited about that, by the way!)  

Obviously, that has not happened yet, right?  Neither do I believe that anyone who was present at that time listening to Jesus is still alive somewhere on earth. So what then? 

The Bible interprets the Bible, so we must always do two things when we don't understand a Scripture. First, read it in context, and 2nd, look for other Scriptures that refer to the same thing. 

Before Jesus made this astounding statement, He was talking to His disciples about his impending death. He also told them that in order to be His disciple, people would have to take up their cross and follow Him. That they had to lay down their life in order to gain eternal life. There's an entire sermon there, but I'll leave it for now. Anyway, He went on to make this statement:
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.  Matthew 16:27

Clearly we see that Jesus is talking about His 2nd coming. 

Now let's read on after verse 28:

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.  Matthew 17:1-3

It starts a new chapter, but remember the chapter divisions were added later by men.  There's a couple of really mind-blowing things about this event. Let's address them one by one. 

"After six days" 

(Note: Luke's Gospel records that this occurred "some 8 days after", but both Matthew and Mark say definitely 6. Both Matthew and Mark were written earlier than Luke.)

Why is that in there? Why is it important for us to know that this happened after six days? There is not one word in the Bible that God didn't put there. There are codes, typologies, and yes, numbers that mean something. Six is an important number because God created the world in six days and then rested on the 7th.  We know from 2 Peter 3:8 that to God one day is as a thousand years, right?  Hence, we know that God's plan for mankind encompasses 6000 years. The last 1000 years will be the Millennial reign of Christ here on Earth, in other words... a day of rest!

So, after 6 days (note the word, after), Jesus takes a few of His disciples up on a mountain and what happens?  He is transfigured before them.  He sheds his human appearance and is transformed into his glorious spiritual body.  Not only that, but two very important people appear with Him. Moses and Elijah.  One who died a natural death and one who never died but was raptured to heaven!

I personally believe Moses and Elijah will be the two witnesses who return in the end times (See Revelation  11 )  but that's also another post. At this time, however,  I believe Jesus is trying to tell us something. No doubt His disciples were curious what he meant by "someone standing here will not taste death"  before His return. They had probably asked Him about it. Perhaps He was leading them up the mountain to show them the two men who represent best "One will be left and One taken" . In other words, Jesus was giving them an illustration of the coming rapture, and those (standing there, represented by Elijah) who will not taste death before Jesus returns. 

Of course this lends itself to connect this passage with many other Scriptures that reference the rapture where some are taken and others left. (Now, we have our connecting Scriptures) 

Another interesting tidbit is that Jesus was transformed just as we are going to be transformed when He comes to bring us home!

It's also important to note the 6 days,  and hence the 6000 years of human history which must happen before the rapture. We are at the end of the 6000th year. Many have done the calculations using Biblical dates and numbers (Did you ever wonder why God listed all the generations and dates in the Old Testament? Was it just to bore us to death?) 

In closing, perhaps this is one explanation for Jesus's strange comment. Perhaps He was referring to the rapture, after all.  

And let me add a word of encouragement. Unless God takes you home early through accident or disease, those of you reading this will not taste death until you see Jesus coming in all His glory to establish His Kingdom.  I believe that with all my heart!