In the Old Testament, God promised the Jews a worldwide Kingdom. Four hundred years later when the New Testament opens, had that promise been fulfilled yet? No. And neither has the subject been dropped!
Because soon Jesus will offer Himself as its King, and if accepted by the Jews, He’ll usher it in quickly. That’s why the Kingdom is the central focus of the Gospels. Matthew is chock full of references to it. At least 53 of them from what I counted.
But we know Jesus was, instead, rejected.
They didn’t want Him to be their King. So now, after His Triumphal Entry/rejection in Matthew 21, instead of preparing people for entrance into the Kingdom as if it were just around the corner, Jesus shifts to speaking of the future Tribulation time, that now postponed seven-year window which must happen before the Kingdom can arrive.
Moving forward, we see Matthew 24 focusing in on those seven years.
Matthew 24:29-31 are about Jesus’ return.
V.32-51 tell them to be prepared, ready, for He’ll return when you’re not expecting Him:
v.33 ‘even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.’
V.36 no one knows the day or hour.
V.37-39 continues the theme of preparedness/alertness by comparing that time to Noah’s time.
V.39 ‘and they did not understand until the flood came [too late] and took them all away.’
V.42 ‘THEREFORE be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.’
Another parable in v.43-51 with that same theme.
v.44 ‘For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.’
V.51 the one not expecting His return who’s doing wrong ‘cut him in pieces.’
This then leads into chapter 25, speaking about end-of-Tribulation judgments: who enters the Kingdom and who doesn’t.
Notice how all these references are outside our Church Age books of Romans through Philemon.
Church Age: No Jew/Gentile distinction. Not taught by Jesus or the Eleven; Paul only. No works/perseverance/fruit/endurance requirement. We’re sealed so those aren’t necessary. (We certainly should show/do all those, but out of gratitude; not required as proof of belief.)
The Kingdom of God chart on this site might also help you understand this time frame.
First and foremost, the basis for salvation in the Tribulation is the same as ours: faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us at the cross. For us believers in the Church Age, that’s all we need. We’re sealed by the Holy Spirit. Believers, both Jew and Gentile, in the Tribulation do not have that sealing/guarantee, so they must show proof of that faith. So when you look at the chart, remember all those accepted into the Kingdom must first have that basis of trusting in Jesus. The chart is only for purposes of showing you what proof of one’s faith the parables are expecting Tribulation believers to demonstrate. I hope that makes sense.
Now, notice how two of the judgment columns in the chart involve Jews (Virgins and Talents) and one involves Gentiles (Sheep/Goats).
Looking first at the Gentile column, we need to ask: Is this judgment for just the living Tribulation Gentiles, or is it for the dead Tribulation Gentiles, too? I believe it is just for the living Gentiles. My breakdown looks like this: living Gentile believers go into the Kingdom while living Gentile unbelievers go to hell and await the Great White Throne Judgment that occurs after the Millennium. Dead Gentile believers are probably the wedding guests in heaven (see Who’s the Bride?) while dead Gentile unbelievers have the same fate as living Gentile unbelievers of hell, judgment, eternal damnation.
Now for the two Jewish columns. I believe it’s either one of the following two possibilities.
One, both columns represent only living Jews at the end of the Tribulation, just showing the two different requirements of alertness and action.
Or two, the Virgins column (alertness) is the criteria for the living Jewish believer, and the Talents column (action) is for the dead Jewish believer.
My thoughts all along had been the first option, but now I’m thinking option two is probably right. You’ll need to check out Who’s the Bride? to go deeper into this subject.