By the time Jesus arrived, God had already determined that it was time for the Old Covenant season to come to a close. The time spanning between the first prophecy of Jesus until His actual arrival was centuries long, but when He finally came to the earth, He performed an extremely quick work.
Revelation 22:7-11 KJV
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. 10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
Though many bible translations rephrase verse 7 to say, “I am coming soon,” the appropriate word to use here is “quickly.” The word, “soon” describes the time between now and the beginning of some future event, but the word “quickly” applies to the pace of an event after it has begun. In Revelation, when Jesus says, “behold, I come quickly,” He is not implying that His return will be without prophetic signs or warnings, but He is saying that when He does come, the events of that season will transpire hastily. In other words, let there be no more delays.
Revelation 22:11 suggests that by the time He decides to come, people will largely be who they’ve decided themselves to be, and their systems will have become irreversibly corrupt. The unjust will continue to be unjust and the filthy will continue to be filthy but the holy remnant will have committed to holiness. Thus, Lord will have no need to prolong the suffering of His righteous remnant or the glorious conclusion of His plan. Knowing this, it is imperative that we get our houses in order, now, before the events of the last days begin advancing at a pace that we are unprepared to keep up or unable to truly change. Now, it is important for us to learn the circumstances which prompted Jesus’ first coming in order to be prepared for the second.
Parables of Two Peoples; The Failure of the Elect
After thousands of years, Israel had cemented its reputation as a nation with a faithful remnant living among a majority of prideful, religious nationalists who couldn’t see God’s purpose through their own selfish agendas. The seeds of selfishness, evident at Shechem, had sprung forth into their ripe, evil fruit, and it was time that the whole tree be cursed. At one point, Jesus cursed a barren fig tree to symbolize the the punishment of Israel who had failed to produce spiritual fruit.
12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city. 20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
Notice, Jesus cursed the fig tree, overthrew the tables of the temple, and walked back by the fig tree to see that it had withered. Therefore, the answer why Jesus cursed the barren tree can be found in the event that it bookends. Jesus had come to earth, namely Israel, to find that His elect nation had corrupted its way. Later, in a series of parables, Jesus spoke of tragic ways that the Jews had failed.
In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus tells a parable of four groups of vineyard workers who are hired in the third, sixth, ninth and eleventh hours of the day. ****Each of them agreed to receive a denarius (penny) for the days labor, but when the time came for the landowner to pay the workers, each of them received the same penny. All of those who were chosen to begin work earlier in the day grumbled against those who were chosen later, assuming that the later workers weren’t as deserving as those who committed earlier. The primary truth revealed by this parable is that much of Israel viewed (and continues to view) their nation as superior to all others and deserving of a greater reward than Gentile nations who have been commissioned to preach the gospel in the “last hour” (1 John 2:18 NAS).
In Matthew 21:28-32, another parable is told of two sons. The first son, who is told to work in the vineyard, initially refuses but eventually repents obeys while a second son verbally claims that he will work but never actually does anything. After the disciples correctly decided that the first son was the obedient one, Jesus then teaches them that the second willing son is like tax collectors and prostitutes who enter the kingdom before the Jews who were called. Once again, several ancillary lessons can be derived from this parable, but the glaring comparison of lip serving Jews to willing Gentiles is reiterated once again.
Then as if the point had not yet been driven home, Jesus continues in Matthew 21:33-46 with another parable about wicked vine-growers hired to work a vineyard. This parable goes into greater detail as it describes the way servants sent by the land owner were beaten, stoned and killed by the hired vine-growers. A second group of servants were sent, only to suffer the same fate as the first, followed by a son who was murdered so that the vineyard which rightfully belonged to him might be seized. The same theme is portrayed here as with the first two parables, but a punishment is declared for the murderous tenants. The landowner, employer of the tenants and father of the murdered son, destroyed the wicked tenants and hired new vine-growers who would surrender his harvest. In the immediate context of Jesus’ parable, the wicked tenants are representative of wicked Pharisee-types, connected through the Old Covenant law to a Father seeking to reap a harvest of souls in the Earth. The servants who were sent and killed represent the Old Covenant prophets who were beaten, stoned and killed for sending a message of truth and the murdered son represents none other than the Son of the Father, Jesus. As this parable goes on to illustrate, the Jews who were punished for their dishonesty and treachery, were replaced by Gentile nations to fulfill their failed responsibilities and reap the rewards of the kingdom.
This same theme is portrayed once more in Matthew 22:1-14 by the parable of the wedding feast, but there is yet another added character. A man, interestingly called a friend, gets into the feast without proper garments but is cast into outer darkness for being an imposter. This “friend”, who was no true friend at all, is a depiction of the spirit of Antichrist who dwells among believers as a perpetrator of good all the while being a deceiver. Judas, one of the twelve, was also referred to as a friend at the moment of his betraying kiss, but revealed himself to be a man of selfish intentions. His actions would symbolize the sentiments of so many of the religious elite during Jesus’ day who unsuccessfully sought to exploit the terms of a divine covenant for selfish prosperity. Rather than receive the determined reward arranged by the covenant, they deceitfully rejected the covenant and killed it’s carrier.
John 1:11-13 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
The principles taught through the symbols and meanings of these parables are highly important to understand and remember, especially as the narrative of Jacob’s inheritance progresses. The lessons of Jesus’ parables serve as a warning for today’s spiritual elect—the church—as much as they were for the physical, elect nation of Israel at the time. The sinful behaviors of religious pride must be avoided at all costs, because the fate of those with a hollow form of righteousness will be the same as Israel’s corrupt leaders. The end of church age will happen similar to the end of Israel’s age; it will be infiltrated by imposters who will persecute true believers, and their end will be eternal damnation. This is the prophesied conclusion of those who refuse to repent in the face of truth. They become agents of the antichrist and murderers of the remnant that they pretend to be associated with.
A Coming Day of Reckoning
Woes are often misunderstood to be words that warn of distress, but they are actually the miserable seasons of distress themselves. A woe is what the warning warns of, and when they are spoken out of the mouth of a true prophet, a time of great suffering and disaster is not just probable but imminent and unavoidable.
For the corruption and malpractice perpetrated by Israel’s wicked leaders, Jesus prophesied a number of woes upon those who had taken advantage of His sheep, and Matthew 23 features a barrage of judgments decreed straight from the mouth of Jesus upon those who behaved as the Pharisees. For the hypocrisy and treachery of Israel’s dealings, Jesus declared that judgment would come. Here are a few among them.
23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.26Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’sbones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
The Pharisees, as with many corrupt leaders of religious institutions, became victims of their own hypocrisy and believers of their own lies. They considered themselves to be righteous in their deeds and proclaimed themselves to be better than the generations who killed the prophets before them. However Jesus, aware of their treacherous dealings, showed that they were no different than those who they criticized, but the same.
In response to their blatant lies in the face of the living Truth, Jesus outlined and described an unthinkable method of severe punishment. His plan would send true prophets, servants and wise men for all these corrupt leaders to persecute and kill, understanding that the blood of all the righteous shed on the earth would fall upon them. Herein lies an important Scriptural truth:
When the innocent blood of Yahweh’s servants is shed, it fills the cup of the God’s wrath and is poured out upon the guilty in due season. As more righteous blood is destroyed, the woeful punishment of the guilty accumulates in intensity.
4And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 5And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. 6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. 7And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
Sealed By the Blood
On a fundamental level, the shedding of blood produces power in the spirit realm. This is why temple sacrifices included the slaughtering of the purest animals. This is why God immediately recognized the blood of Abel which cried from the ground. This is also why bloodletting is common occult exercise and why the false prophets at Mt. Carmel cut themselves in an attempt to conjure the powers of darkness. Additionally, this is one reason why God’s laws include the forbidding of such practices.
Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
Overall, the power of shedding innocent blood is two-fold. Scripture clearly shows that it cleanses the righteous, but the often overlooked fact is that spilled, innocent blood also condemns the unrighteous. There is no blood more blameless than that of Jesus, and the shedding of it would produce drastic results. It would be poured out to bring judgment upon the nation of Israel and those who rejected him, and simultaneously it would provide forgiveness to the world for all of its transgressions and iniquities.
Hebrews 9:22 NASB
And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’
The Power of Forgiveness
As an additive catalyst to the wrath poured out of innocent bloodshed, the strength of Jesus to forgive during the events of His death intensified the impending judgment upon those who would refuse to receive Him. By saying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” Jesus fully relinquished vengeance into the hands of God in heaven, maximizing the effect of the innocent blood He shed. As powerful as it is to save, it is also just as powerful to judge and condemn. This explains why the following passage in Romans instructs us to bless those who persecute us and resist the temptation to pay evil for evil.
14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Forgiveness is the power that heaps coals of fire upon those who abuse the innocent. As believers, we can find consolation through this understanding. We could never repay or bring justice to the enemies of the Lord. Only He can. Every time inexplicable atrocities occur to those who are blameless through Jesus, their blood is added to the cup which is poured out upon the kingdom of darkness. Every martyr is remembered on the day of judgment to be repaid by the vengeance of God. One day the righteous will witness as the angels of God pour the cup of wrath upon those who had pleasure in killing the servants of the Most High. The book of revelation gives an account of souls under the throne of God, pleading for Him to get vengeance for their innocent blood. Even then, they are given white robes and told to wait a little while longer. This can only be so that the cup of judgment can be filled by the guilty
Revelation 6:9-11 KJV
9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Forgiving and accepting forgiveness are powerful acts which preserve our innocence and ensure that we are under the blood’s protection instead of its wrath. Even at the point of Christ’s death, forgiveness was available. His Body, His Bread had been broken and all they had to do was receive forgiveness and minister from it as asked. For those who rejected Jesus and clung to their own indignation, the blood of Jesus was about to be released not to their benefit, but to their recompense.
1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Judgment had now been sealed by the crucifixion of the Lamb, and the events of the coming season of justice is reflected in Jacob’s fifth son, Dan, who’s name means judgment.