Wrong Expectations End in Disappointment

There is a common saying that there are no disappointments in heaven, but in this world everyone will meet with them at some time. This is one of the major causes of mental depression, which is a big problem today.

As Jesus left the temple for the last time, He said to the Jews, “See! Your house is left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:38.

As Jesus departed from the temple that day, His disciples were astounded at this and pointed out to Him the massive stones in the walls. We understand that these stones were so huge that we do not even understand how the builders in ancient times managed to deal with stones so big. They must have weighed hundreds of tons and were cut so precisely that they fitted together without the need of any mortar. Seen from a distance, it looked like one solid, white wall of marble.

The temple was considered by many people in ancient times to be one of the wonders of the world. The Bible records that Herod spent an additional 46 years beautifying it. The disciples thought that by pointing out to Jesus the massive stones, He would admire them, but instead, He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2. His disciples believed that He could only mean that the temple would be overthrown at the end of the world (Matthew 24:3), not comprehending that such an awful thing could happen.

A study of history shows that the prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly to the letter in the destruction of Jerusalem that took place less than 40 years later when the temple was destroyed and burned with fire. As the fire spread, it got so hot that the gold melted, causing it to run down the stones. Later, to retrieve all of the gold, the stones were knocked down until there was not a single stone upon another, literally fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy.

Today, there are many ancient artifacts and various ancient buildings around the Mediterranean, but there is no part of the wall of the temple, because nothing of it was left standing. It was completely demolished.

It was only a few days before His crucifixion and His disciples were perplexed by what Jesus had predicted. They approached Him on the Mount of Olives with the questions, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

They wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed, when Jerusalem would be destroyed and what sign they would have of His coming and the end of the world. They thought that they were just asking one question, but they were actually asking two. Though Jesus did not tell them everything at that time, He did answer both questions, leaving them enough to figure out, as time passed.

He first pointed out the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:4–14). History proves that His predictions were accurate and precisely fulfilled.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus pointed out major events that would take place in earth’s history, before His return again to this world. He predicted a great tribulation for the church (Matthew 24:16).

This was not referring to the tribulation for the world. The great time of trouble for the world is still future, but the great tribulation for the church is in the past. Jesus made this very clear that after the destruction of Jerusalem there would be great tribulation for the church. He said it would be so great for His followers that there had not been anything like it in the past, nor would there be anything like it in the future for His church, or His people.

This prophecy, again, was exactly and precisely fulfilled. For well over one thousand years, Christians suffered persecution such as had never been before. History books tell about the massacre of Saint Bartholomew in France when it is estimated that around thirty thousand lost their lives. We will never know for sure until the Day of Judgment. You can read about the time when the whole nation of the Netherlands was sentenced to death, or the time when in the space of about one year a million people were martyred for their faith in Northern Italy. There are many other accounts of massacres of the faithful during this time. The Society of Friends estimated that fifty, or perhaps even seventy million Christians lost their lives during the Dark Ages because of their faith.

This great tribulation that Jesus predicted, such as had never been and never would be again, specifically referred to the persecution of His followers. Remember, that this does not refer to the great time of trouble such as never was. The great time of trouble for the world is still in the future, but the great tribulation for the church, the greatest tribulation that there has ever been, is already in the past.

Daniel, in his book, and John, in the book of Revelation, have also extensively spoken about these predictions, spoken of by Jesus. These books describe how long the tribulation will last—over a thousand years, twelve hundred and sixty years to be exact. Jesus said it would be cut short for the saints’ sake. As this persecution was to draw to a close, Jesus said there would be a dark day (Matthew 24; Mark 13).

As the 18th century came to a close, so did this period of persecution. Jesus, describing the dark day that would come at that time, said that the sun would not give its light, neither the moon. On May 19, 1780, that was fulfilled.

Jesus also said that the stars would fall from heaven. I am always interested in the order of things in Bible prophecy; it is one of the most intriguing things to study. If the order of things given in Bible prophecy should ever prove to be incorrect, then every skeptic and every scoffer in the world would point that out and say, “See, the Bible predicted this, but it didn’t happen that way; it happened this way.” But they cannot do that. Bible prophecy always turns out to be fulfilled just in the order that the prophets gave it. Jesus said there would be a dark day, and after that, the stars would fall from heaven.

It happened! The stars fell from heaven in November 1833. It was the greatest shower of meteors and meteorites that has ever been recorded. We do not know the exact number, but it has been estimated at 240,000. The shower was so great that night was turned into day on that November evening. The prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly as He predicted.

When they saw these things, Bible students all over the world studied to find out what these signs in the heavens were all about. Looking at the prophecy of Jesus and comparing it with the prophecies in Daniel and in Revelation they concluded that things had been fulfilled right in order, and the next thing to expect would be the second coming of Christ.

These Bible students did not understand everything, but what they did understand they began to preach and the result of this proclamation was that there was a second advent awakening that took place all over the world. People from all different faiths—Protestants, Catholics and other people not connected to any church saw the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. They realized that the next thing to happen was the judgment. This was the beginning of the judgment hour message that was preached.

In those days the believers did not understand exactly what the hour of God’s judgment was. They preached the 2,300 day prophecy from Daniel 8:14 that the hour of judgment would begin in 1843 and 1844.

Actually they were right about the time, but they just did not yet have a correct understanding of the event or what the hour of God’s judgment involved. It was thought that the hour of God’s judgment and the cleansing of the sanctuary meant that Christ would return for the saints, taking them out of this world before destroying the rest of the world with fire.

When 1844 came and Jesus did not come, those expecting Him were extremely disappointed. This was not the first time a disappointment is recorded in Scripture. It happened just six days before the crucifixion and the disciples had proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah. People were coming down from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem witnessing to many miracles Jesus had performed there, proclaiming Him to be the Messiah, just as is predicted in the book of Zechariah. It says that the Messiah would come riding on a donkey and the people would say to the daughter of Jerusalem, “Shout! … Your King is coming to you.” Zechariah 9:9. They quoted the Scripture and told about the miracles. There were so many in that crowd and they were so happy. There were some people who could say, “I was blind until Jesus came and now I can see.” There were others who could say, “I was deaf until Jesus came, and now I can hear.” There were yet others who could say, “I was paralyzed and couldn’t walk until Jesus came, and now I can walk.” Lazarus was in that crowd and he could say, “I was dead; I was in a cave tomb for four days and Jesus came, and now here I am alive.”

As the people related all the wonderful things that Jesus had done, they became very, very excited. Even the disciples thought that Jesus would reign as a king in Jerusalem, but instead of that, in less than a week from that happy occasion, they were sorely disappointed as their hopes vanished and they saw Jesus being lifted up on the cross of Calvary.

They did not yet understand the plan of salvation and that sin cannot be taken away unless someone pays the price. The only person able to pay the price was someone who was above the law. You and I are not above the law. The Bible says we are beneath the law; we are below the law. Even the angels are made under the law. Only Jesus is above the law and for that reason He was the only One who could pay the price for sin. The disciples, not understanding, were disappointed. In the same way, those who were expecting Jesus to come in 1844 were disappointed, because it did not happen the way they had thought. They did not perfectly understand the prophecies.

Interestingly, when we study Matthew 24 and 25, we find that Jesus anticipated this. Notice what He says in Matthew 24: Jesus says, “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:48–51. Then Jesus, talking about the time when He would return said, “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Matthew 25:1.

Jesus told them a story about a wedding. He described an Eastern marriage. I have never heard of a marriage that took place at midnight, but this is a marriage that didn’t take place until midnight.

The story in Matthew 25 is especially about Christ’s followers—His church, His people, those who will be living in the last days in the evening of this world’s history.

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.” The bridegroom is Jesus Christ and the people who went out to meet Him are His followers. They are described as ten virgins.

“They all took their lamps.” Matthew 25:3. These are people who have a pure faith, because they are described as virgins. The meaning of lamp, when we are talking spiritually is found in Psalm 119:105. It says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

The Bible is a lamp, but it does not do any good if it is not lit—if there is no fire coming out of it. Anciently, in order to keep the lamp lit, there was need of oil in the base. Oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Even the Bible will not do you any good if the Holy Spirit does not do its work on your mind. In fact, the apostle Paul says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. It is the Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible, and it is also necessary that the Spirit interpret to the reader the things of God.

Without the Holy Spirit working on your mind, you cannot understand the Bible. People often want the church, the theologian or the minister to explain Scripture because they can’t understand it. But what we really need to do is pray and say, “Lord, You have promised!” Jesus promised that if you ask, you will be given the Holy Spirit and you will be enabled to understand God’s word (Luke 11:9).

The main reason people do not want to receive the Holy Spirit is because the first thing that happens when the Holy Spirit starts working on a person’s mind is that person becomes convicted of sin (John 16). People generally do not want to be convicted of sin, but they want some other way out. They want to go to heaven without being convicted of their sins.

Many believe that they do want the Holy Spirit until their hearts become convicted of sin; then they say, “No, go away!” But, if you are willing, as you read God’s Word, to accept the conviction by the Holy Spirit of sin you can then confess, repent and forsake your sins and be ready for heaven.

All of the virgins had lamps—the Bible. They all had oil, the Holy Spirit enabling them to understand it, but notice what happened. Some of the virgins took extra oil. Jesus said five of them were wise and five were foolish. Those who were foolish had their lamps, but no extra oil with them. The wise took extra oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the Bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

They were expecting the Bridegroom to return, but they didn’t realize there would be such a long delay. They thought it would be 7 o’clock, but it wasn’t. They thought the Lord would return at 8 o’clock but He didn’t. And then they thought 9 o’clock, but He still didn’t come. And then at midnight they heard the cry, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him” (Matthew 25:6). Then all those virgins awoke and trimmed their lamps.

Notice, according to this story, it will be in the darkest period of earth’s history that the Bridegroom returns. This does not mean the darkest period intellectually, but the darkest period spiritually and morally. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you. Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:8–10).

This is a very solemn story indeed. It tells us that there will be many Christians at the end of the world who will find out they are not ready to meet the Bridegroom.

The people who expected the Bridegroom to come in 1844 were disappointed. They had to go back and study their Bibles to find out what had happened, where they had made their mistake. As they continued to study the Word of God they found out a great deal about why they had been disappointed, what was going to happen and what they needed to do.

In the parable of the virgins is seen a delay. The Bridegroom tarried; the Bridegroom delayed his coming. The Bridegroom is not going to tarry forever and when He comes back at the darkest hour of earth’s history, are you going to be ready?

The story teaches us that a large percentage (50 percent) of people who call themselves Christians will not be ready for the Lord’s return. When the Bridegroom returns in the clouds of heaven they will not be ready with their lamps trimmed; they will be out of oil. It will then be too late to make preparation, for just before the Bridegroom returns, the proclamation is made, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly and my reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:11, 12.

Christ believes in lawfulness and hates lawlessness. It means that each person is to choose which side of the great controversy he/she is on and that decision involves the law of God.

Whoever sins breaks God’s law and puts himself/herself on the devil’s side (1 John 3:4–8).

While this great controversy is going on it is still possible to change sides. If you find yourself today on the devil’s side, you could decide to change by surrendering your heart and life over to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and be on His side.

The opposite is also true. If you decide to live a lawless life, breaking God’s law as you please, you will be on the devil’s side of the great controversy (1 John 3).

Right now while there is an opportunity you can change sides, but midnight is coming; the Bridegroom is going to come back and then it will be too late to change. The door of mercy will be shut. At that time you will either be saved already, or you will never be saved.

Make a decision today while there is still time.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.