Matthew Chapter 24: A Commentary

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Introduction:

There is a vacuum of knowledge of history in the modern church. For a large segment of the modern church, this vacuum has been filled with an end-time narrative….a narrative that is motivated by fear, popularized by hype, divides the body like a sword and clung to with desperation.

Many people appeal to Matthew chapter 24 as if it is describing those times just prior to Jesus’ return. In spite of futurist assumptions that are often read into its text, the text itself explicitly shows that Matt 24:1-28 was intended for Jesus’ audience, those…

(Mat 24:16)  ….who are in Judea must flee to the mountains

It is an historical fact that prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion, Christians fled Jerusalem and many settled in Pella, located in a mountainous region to the north-northeast of Jerusalem. Early Christian historian Eusebius reported that…

“The members of the Jerusalem church by means of an oracle, given by revelation to acceptable persons there were ordered to leave the city before the war began and settle in a town in Perea called Pella.”  Eusibius, History Of The Church, 5:3-4

The text shows that the events described in Matt 24:1-28 take place during a time Pharisaic Judaism is observed…

(Mat 24:20)  “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

During that time, and consistent with the Pharisees observing the prohibition of travel on the Sabbath per Exodus 16:29, the gates to the city would have been closed. This would have made travel difficult in any season. However, there was a “Sabbath day’s journey” (Acts 1:12), approved travel which was limited to 2,000 cubits (about 7.5 furlongs, or a little over half a mile). When Jesus was answering the disciple’s two questions of Matt 24:3, He was on the Mount of Olives, which is 5 furlongs from the temple, well within a “Sabbath day’s journey”, the lawful distance one could travel on the Sabbath.

Since Titus had built a barricade around Jerusalem, this relatively short distance would not have helped Jerusalem’s residents escape the Roman legions that surrounded the city, which explains Jesus’ warning the disciples in advance.  Luke adds Jesus’ prediction of….

(Luk 19:43)  “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,

And later, to the disciples…

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

This actually happened in 70AD, just as Jesus predicted. See Josephus, War, book v. chap. 22. sec. 1, 2, 3.

The text shows that the events would be seen by the disciples….

(Mat 24:33 KJV) So likewise ye, when YE SHALL SEE all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (caps mine for emphasis)

Jesus said those things were to happen “here”. Where was “here”?
(Mat 24:1)  Jesus came out from THE TEMPLE and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. (caps mine for emphasis)

Jesus had just left the temple but was likely not out of the immediate temple area. “Here” would have been the entire temple compound where He said…

(Mat 24:2)  ….. “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone HERE will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (caps mine for emphasis)
And the text shows that it was the disciple’s generation that would see “these” things…

(Mat 24:34)  “Truly I say to you, THIS GENERATION will not pass away until all THESE THINGS take place.

The text itself clearly indicates what, where and when the events Jesus was talking about were to happen and who they would directly affect; the temple at Jerusalem, and signs predicting its destruction made evident to first century disciples.

Some people have gone to great lengths to try to show that “all these things” have not occurred yet. Surely there has never been…

(Mat 24:21)  “….a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”

The person who makes this type of appeal is reading a twenty-first century western worldview into a first century Jewish text. To a modern reader, the worst tribulation we can imagine may be the stuff of disaster movies….A huge asteroid impacting earth; a massive earthquake that levels every structure worldwide and causes mile high ocean waves. There are many who would claim that any imagined disaster could be greater than what happened to Jerusalem in 70AD. From the perspective of our modern, western worldview, they would be correct.

What about from a first century Jewish perspective? To a first century Jew, the greatest tribulation that could ever be experienced by a Jew at that time would have been the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and their religion resulting in world-wide persecution that would last at least 1,970 years. From a first century Jewish perspective, no greater catastrophe could happen.

It is notable that nowhere in eschatological scriptures does Jesus weep for those who are unrepentant, those who are judged and who will suffer in a fiery hellish torment. Neither does He weep for the prophesied end of the world known to the apostles (Mic 1:4, 2 Pet 3:7, 10-12). However, the scriptures do show that Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) and only for Jerusalem, knowing that it would soon be destroyed.

(Luk 19:41)  When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,

While looking at Jerusalem, Jesus said…

(Luk 19:44)  and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Some may appeal to the remarkable similarity in events described in Matthew chapter 24 and the Seven Seals in the Revelation which suggests a future fulfillment. However, this commentary will take a closer look at the text and at history to show that Matt 24:1-28 and Matt 24:29-31 (the return of the Lord Jesus Christ) has already happened and Revelation chapter 6 is describing those same events.

The view put forth here is full preterism. It is a-millennial yet it incorporates an historical, preterist interpretation of selected scriptures (Dan 9:26-27 & Matt 24:1-31) that have long been considered futurist but now are being examined in their proper historical context.

Matt 24:1-28 and the Parable of the Fig Tree were the answer to the disciple’s first question in Matt 24:3 of “When will these things happen?” pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem, including the Jewish temple.

In answer to the disciple’s second question of “What will be the sign of Your coming?” Jesus answered with Matt 24:29-31 which pertains to His return. He then understated His answer to their second question with the following several parables and analogies about His return being unexpected and that it should be prepared for.

The Master of the House (Matt 24:43),

The Faithful Slave and the Evil Slave (Matt 24:45-51),

The Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13),

The Talents (Matt 25:14-30),

The Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:32-46)

…and the Porter. Not found in Matthew, the parable of the Porter is found in (Mar 13:34-37).

Contributing to the chaos of modern day pop-eschatology is a popular misinterpretation of Dan 9:24-27 upon which the belief of an unfulfilled 70 weeks (490 years) prophecy and a supposed ‘seven year tribulation’ is based. However, there is no ‘seven year tribulation’ mentioned in all of Dan 9:24-27. There is no ‘antichrist’ in Dan 9:27. There is also no ‘seven year peace treaty’ between the supposed antichrist and Israel (an alleged treaty that an alleged antichrist supposedly breaks). And finally, there is no ‘rebuilt Jewish temple’ mentioned in the text.

As we will see, such concepts amount to little more than ‘Christian mythology’ and fear-mongering. Additional concepts that fit into this same category are the much feared micro-chip implants (being the mark of the beast), the Illuminati conspiracy, the Bilderberger and Rothschild conspiracies,  the Jade Helm exercise, a sinister one-world government out to get everybody (led by a rogue US government), jet contrails being chemicals dumped on unsuspecting masses, a revived Roman Empire, a Papal antichrist, a European antichrist and among various other notions, the very recent (1830) concept of a pre-tribulation rapture where God beams Christians off the face of the earth at the first sign of persecution and more recently, the “blood moons” and “Shemitah”.

Adding to the hysteria that modern legacy dispensationalist Christians participate in are those who sound the alarm at the first sign of an epidemic, a comet or asteroid that passes earth relatively near, a massive storm, earthquake, fish die-off, wars, rumors of wars or an increase in false prophets. They will turn to Matthew chapter 24, declare that Jesus is surely coming soon and invoke prayers to be removed from the earth in a ‘pre-tribulation rapture’. Such modern day Christian mythologizing keeps the church entertained, and in a state fear, in spite of Jesus’ command to…

(Mat 24:6)  “…..See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

A closer look at Dan 9:24-27 better supports the view that the 70 weeks prophecy is looking forward not to the antichrist, but to the Messiah and the judgment on the Jewish nation. Dan 9:24-27 is referring to the death of the Messiah (vs 26) and subsequent destruction of Jerusalem (vs 27) and the ‘desolation’ of the Jewish city, religion and people (vs 27), an event Jesus told the disciples to recognize in…

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

In Matthew chapter 24, the deceptions, wars, famines, diseases, death and persecution of genuine believers all took place just as Jesus predicted. Jesus’ answer to the disciple’s questions is describing to them what to watch for and what to do when they see it, not as warning signs of His return, but warning to get out of Jerusalem so that they could survive to preach the gospel to the world they knew.

Why would Jesus tell first century Jews to look for something that twenty-first century Christians believe is in the future? The answer to this question is that Jesus was not telling them about far-future events in Luke 21:20 and Matt 24:1-31, but of near future events that would occur within their generation.  What follows is some of the evidence that supports this view.

 

Matt 24:1-2

(Mat 24:1)  Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.

(Mat 24:2)  And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

“…all these things…”   Jesus is referring to the Jewish temple buildings.

Matt 24:3
(Mat 24:3)  As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
While speaking to the disciples on the Mount of Olives in Matt 24:2, Jesus warned the disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem and answered their question pertaining to His return. Matt 24:4-28 was His answer to their first question of…

…. “Tell us, when will these things happen? (Matt 24:3)….while Matt 24:29-31 was His answer to their second question of “…..and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

After warning the disciples of what was soon to happen, and briefly about His return, Jesus then taught with parables and analogies that understated both of His answers. Matt 24:32-35 confirmed the predicted destruction of the city and temple which happened 70AD happening at the time period of His return in judgement, while Matt 24:29-51 confirmed the details of His return.

Matt 24:4-5

(Mat 24:4)  And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.

(Mat 24:5)  “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

One particular deception Jesus referred to in verse five was the expectation of divine deliverance, a political-military Messiah that would rescue the Jewish nation from Roman occupation.

(Mat 24:26)  “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the desert,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.

From the Jewish historian Josephus, we learn that there were many who pretended to be divinely inspired. Deceiving the people, they led many of them into the desert and ultimately, to their deaths.

Josephus says “The land was overrun with magicians, seducers, and impostors, who drew people after them in multitudes into deserts to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God”.

Among these are mentioned Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses; Simon Magus, pretended to be the great power of God (Acts 8:9-10); and Theudas, who persuaded many to go with him to the river Jordan, to see the waters divided. The Lord, therefore, took great pains that His own disciples should not share this deception.

Jesus continued this sort of warning down to the end of verse fourteen, cautioning them also that they were not to take such things as wars, rumors of wars, famines, diseases, and earthquakes as signs of His coming.

Jesus provided many signs of certain judgment to come upon Jerusalem, the temple and the Jewish people, like those described in Matt 24:1-28. Except for the days being like “the days of Noah” (verse 37) and “of Lot” (Luke 17:28-30), Jesus gave no specific signs and no time frame for His return. Rather, pertaining to His return, He said…

(Mat 24:36)  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

Those who interpret Matthew chapter 24:1-28 as signs of end time disasters occurring just prior to the Lord’s return are being misled (verse 4) and are disobeying Jesus (by being fearful vs 6).

Matt 24:6

(Mat 24:6)  “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

“…wars and rumors of wars.”

Those things did take place. During the time leading up to 70AD, there were numerous rumors spreading throughout the region…One of which involved Roman emperor Caligula raising a huge army in order to enforce requirements imposed on Jewish farmers.

Skirmishes going on between Jews and Romans, Jews and Syrians and others were numerous and well known throughout the region.  Jews and those of other nations who dwelled in the same cities together with them slaughtered one another. At Caesarea the Jews and Syrians fought over the right to the city, which ended in the total expulsion of the Jews and more than 20,000 killed.

At Scythopolis, Syrians murdered upwards of 13,000. At Ascalon they killed 2,500. At Ptolemais they killed 2,000 and made many prisoners. The Tyrians also put many Jews to death, and imprisoned more. The people of Gadara did likewise, and all the other cities of Syria in proportion, as they hated or feared the Jews.

At Alexandria the Jews and heathens fought, and 50,000 of the Jews were killed. The people of Damascus conspired against the Jews of that city, and assaulting them unarmed, killed 10,000. (Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible).

“…See to it that you are not frightened…..”

Jesus is reassuring them that they (the disciples) should not be frightened of such rumors. They would not die on account of these wars. Set in the same context, Luke adds.…

(Luke 21:18)  “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.

Jesus also said, “but that is not yet the end” (vs 6)….Not the end of the world, but the end of the Jewish religion.

The eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would not immediately follow those wars and rumors of wars, so they should not use those events as signs of the end or of His return.  Other signs would warn them when it is time to get out and flee the city and from Judea. Around 40 years would come to pass before the end would come. Until that time, the Jewish nation itself would disintegrate from within, beginning with the animosity between Jewish moderates and the Zealots.

Zealots were obstinate, vicious and prideful Jews, savage in their attempts to extricate the Jewish people from the iron grasp of the Roman Empire.

During this time the Zealots responded viciously to all, including other Jews, who did not join their cause and without regard for civility and law. They were the Jewish jihadists of their day. Their lawlessness led to warring against each other, robbing and murdering any who opposed them, thereby harming their own mission of unifying the Jewish state and freeing itself from Roman rule. Theirs was a cause steeped in futility, charged by nationalism, united in religion…and doomed to fail.

Disputes began in people’s homes about which Jewish party to support. These disputes soon divided families and communities and later entire cities were in an uproar, its Jewish residents committing violence upon each other for the cause of the Zealots or that of the moderates.

It was a time of utter lawlessness and chaos. Murders, thefts and all manner of immorality going on, perpetrated mostly by the Zealots, those who were the most active in warring against Rome.

Matt 24:7

(Mat 24:7)  “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

The Jewish nation burned and plundered the neighboring cities and villages of the Syrians, killing a great number of the people. The Syrians, in return, destroyed not a less number of the Jews.

Four years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, a war broke out between Herod and Aretas, king of Arabia. This was the beginning of “kingdom against kingdom” and “nation against nation”. Examples abound.

Many Jews left Babylon on account of a great pestilence (disease), and went to Selucia, whereupon the Greeks and Syrians killed 50,000 of them, one of the greatest slaughters in Jewish history.

Five years later, another conflict resulting in a massacre of the Jews occurred between the Jews at Perea and the Philadelphians. Later, 10,000 Jews died in a mass stampede when a Roman army approached.

In Cesarea, 20,000 Jews were massacred in battles against the Cesareans, 2,000 more in Ptolamais.  In Damascus, 10,000 were slaughtered in a single hour. In Scythopolis, 13,000 overnight.  At Alexandria, 20,000 Jews were killed by Roman soldiers, 8,000 in Joppa. Many more were slaughtered all over Syria, Greece and anywhere the Jews tried to settle. Repeatedly they tried to re-establish their hostility toward Roman occupation, and they were massacred repeatedly.

“…famines and earthquakes…”

There was a famine foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:28), which is mentioned by the historians Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius; which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar, and was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for lack of food. Four times in the reign of Claudius famine prevailed in Rome, Palestine, and Greece (from Barnes Notes on the Bible).

There were several earthquakes in those times. One at Crete in the reign of Claudius, one at Smyrna, Miletus and at Chios. There was an earthquake at Rome, one at Laodicea in the reign of Nero, in which the city was overthrown, as were Hierapolis and Colosse. Another at Rome in the reign of Galba, and a dreadful one in Judea mentioned by Josephus accompanied by a dreadful tempest, violent winds, violent showers, and continual lightning and thunders; which led many to believe that these things signaled some uncommon calamity (from Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible).

Those who turn to Matthew chapter 24 as if it is predicting natural disasters to occur just prior to Jesus’ return are in fact imposing a western, twentieth century interpretation on a Jewish, first century text.

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg.10, says, pertaining to the famines, earthquakes and pestilences….

“Both Tacitus and Suetonius have given an account that similar calamities prevailed, about this time in various parts of the Roman Empire. After Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Titus, pestilential diseases soon made their appearance in the city, to aggravate the miseries and increase the horrors of the siege, which were partly occasioned by the immense multitudes which were crowded together in the city and by the putrid effluvia which arose from the unburied dead and from the prevalence of famine. History bears testimony, that earthquakes, famines and pestilence had never been more frequent, nor more remarkable than they were in those times.”

Luke adds “…and great signs from heaven…”

(Luk 21:11)  and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

There was a comet that left a trail in the shape of a sword which was visible in the sky above Jerusalem for about a year.  There were also reports of armies fighting in the clouds along with the sound of a great multitude in the clouds. This account is affirmed by the first century Roman historian Tacitus, who reported that there were armies fighting in the clouds with weapons glimmering like lightning and the temple doors had opened of their own accord and the sound of a thunderous, great voice came forth from the temple. Incidentally, this event had happened on the Day of Pentecost.

About this time, there was a prophet named Jesus (Jesus was not an uncommon name at that time) who for four years before the war began (62AD), went about the city crying out “Woe! Woe! to Jerusalem!” and “Woe! Woe to the city!, the temple and the people!” for a time of seven years and five months. It is reported that his last prophecy against Jerusalem ended with “And woe to me!” just before a huge rock from a Roman catapult hit him.

God had sent His Son Jesus with the good news of salvation and peace. But in response to the Jews’ incorrigible rejection of Him, God had sent a prophet of woes named Jesus. There was simply nothing else for a prophet to say to the Jews but to warn them about their destruction.

Matt 24:8

(Mat 24:8)  “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Birth pangs transition into painful labor which leads inexorably to the birth finale. Only this time, the birth pangs were of these events described thus far. More severe calamities were yet to come before God’s judgment on Jerusalem and the Jewish religion would be birthed.

Matt 24:9

(Mat 24:9)  “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

The Lord Jesus Christ made things very clear to the disciples many of them (or perhaps many Christians) would escape the judgment of Jews, the destruction of their temple and of Jerusalem, but they would not escape persecution violence. First century believers were saved by remaining steadfast in their faith in Jesus, even when faced with death. Pertaining to these, Jesus said…

(Mat 24:13)  “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Contrary to the popular, modern day belief that God will remove the church in a rapture so as to save it from end time persecution violence, the New Testament model for believers is to endure persecution violence, not escape from it. Once the church’s chief persecutor, the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians believers…

1Co 4:11  To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;

1Co 4:12  and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;

1Co 4:13  when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

And to the Thessalonians (who believed they were in the end times)

(2Th 1:4)  therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.

And to a young pastor named Timothy…

(2Ti 2:12)  If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

A similar admonition of remaining faithful unto death is described in the letter to the church at Smyrna…

(Rev 2:10)  ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

“…you will be hated by all nations because of My name.”

The disciples were hated by all nations because they preached the gospel everywhere they went. Mark established the church in Alexandria, Egypt. Paul established churches all over the Mediterranean coast and also visited Arabia. Peter preached the gospel in Syria, Israel and Italy, and possibly Egypt. Andrew went to what is today western Russia, preaching the gospel in Greece and also Syria. Matthew (and also Simon the Zealot) went to Persia (today’s Iran) and also Ethiopia, where he was martyred.

Philip preached the gospel in northern Africa and much of what is known today as Turkey (Asia Minor). Bartholomew also went to Armenia and Asia Minor. Thomas is said to have preached the gospel in Syria and as far as eastern India. John the Revelator was not martyred, but he did suffer torture and was banished to the Isle of Patmos, from which the Revelation was penned. All the other apostles were martyred for their faith in Christ…just as Jesus predicted in Matt 24:9.

A related passage, Mat 23:34 has Jesus warning the disciples…

“Therefore, behold, I am sending you [Jerusalem, Jews] prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, [brackets mine]

This actually happened. The disciples and other early Christians were those prophets and wise men and scribes, many of whom were crucified and killed. They were persecuted by Jews up to and after 70AD, in synagogues, courts and stadiums.

Peter and John were imprisoned (Acts 4:3), Paul and Silas were imprisoned (Acts 16:24), and also beaten (Acts 16:23).

Jesus had already assured the disciples of affliction, persecution and death on the way to a spiritual, eternal kingdom. This actually happened, just as Jesus told them

(Matt 10:17)  “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.

“…they shall deliver you to the courts…”

The Sanhedrin courts. This was fulfilled when Peter and John were brought before the council (Acts 4:5-7). And Paul was brought before Gallia (Acts 18:12), before Felix (Acts 24:24), Festes, and before Agrippa (Acts 25:23).

Jesus is reported in Luke to add…

(Luk 21:13)  “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.

(Luk 21:14)  “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves;

(Luk 21:15)  for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

This is consistent with Jesus’ teaching in…

(Mat 10:19)  “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.

“…to be punished and to kill you…”

Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:59); James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:2), and in addition, the persecution under Nero took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, in which were put to death, with thousands of others, Peter and Paul. It is said that Peter was crucified upside down and Paul was beheaded. James the son of Alpheus was clubbed and stoned to death. Simon the Zealot was crucified.

Andrew was crucified. It is said that Thomas was run through with spears and Matthew is said to have been stabbed to death in Ethiopia. Matthias (who replaced Judas Iscariot) died by immolation (burning). John the Revelator is said to have survived being put into a boiling vat of oil, then banished to the Isle of Patmos.

Tertullian, one of the early church leaders, called it a “war against the very name”. So true were the Lord’s words, that they would be hated for his name sake.

(Matt 10:22) “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Jesus warns them again in (Matt 24:13) “He who endures to the end will be saved”

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Matt 24:10

(Mat 24:10)  “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

“….many will fall away….”

Even late in the first century there was considerable defection in several Christian churches (Gal 3:1-4, 2 Thess. 3:1, 2 Tim. 1:15) in Asia, which is today’s Turkey (where the seven churches of Revelation were located). This apostasy was undoubtedly due to false doctrines, indifference and threat of persecution violence.

If the recent transfiguration of the UK, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France and other countries into pan-Islamic states is any indication of what is to come, then those in other rapidly secularizing, politically correct, spiritually indifferent Christian nations (like the USA, Canada and Australia) can expect the same, preparing the way for an end time apostasy on a world-wide scale.

(2Th 2:3)  Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

“…and will betray one another and hate one another.”

A parallel passage in Mark reads…

(Mark 13:12) “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.

During the time leading up to 70AD and thereafter, Christianity was turning the world upside down, becoming a threat to the Roman Empire’s cult of idolatry (emperor worship) and loyalties even within families were strained between obedience to Rome or to Christ. It was not uncommon for Christians to have been betrayed to Roman authorities or Jewish persecutors.

Matt 24:11

(Mat 24:11)  “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

This is speaking of apostasy on account of false prophets. Christians have been warned for ages about false prophets. Pertaining to the generation living at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, a time of great persecution, spiritual deception and apostasy, the Lord Jesus Christ warned the disciples about those false prophets to come.

These “false prophets” were declaring that, in the midst of persecution violence, help would come from heaven. No such help ever came. Some openly deserted the faith, as (Matt 24:10) indicates; others corrupted it, as Matt 24:11 shows, while still others grew indifferent about it, per Matt 24:12.

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg.9, says, pertaining to first century false prophets….

“Never did there appear so many false prophets, as the times that succeeded the death of our Savior, especially during the Jewish war, and under the reign of Nero.”

Some false prophets are named in the New Testament were Simon Magus, Theudas, Hymeneus, Philetus and Alexander.

This readiness to follow false prophets affirms Jesus’ statement in…

(Joh 5:43)  “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

Jesus is thus warning them not to believe the false prophets, but to expect persecution violence and to look to other events that would herald the destruction of Jerusalem, an event He alluded to in the parable of the fig tree in (Matt 24:32-34).

Matt 24:12

(Mat 24:12)  “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

By reason of these trials and persecutions from without, and those apostasies and false prophets from within, the love of many to Christ and his doctrine, and to one another, shall grow cold. Some openly deserting the faith, as Mat 24:10; others corrupting it, as Mat_24:11; and others growing indifferent about it, Mat 24:12 (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary On The Bible).

Jesus warned the disciples earlier of such times…

(Mat 10:34)  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

(Mat 10:35)  “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW;

(Mat 10:36)  and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.

In the course of the spread of the gospel, which was hostile to both the Jewish religion and the idolatry of the Roman Empire, hostility and even betrayal into the hands of Roman authorities would come from within a man’s own home.

Matt 24:13

(Mat 24:13)  “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Enduring refers to persevering in the faith even when faced with persecution. The disciples would have been familiar with this teaching, since Jesus had told this to them earlier, before sending them out to preach the kingdom of God (Matt 10:22).

This ‘endure to the end’ type of faith in the face of persecution and death is also expressed in passages like…

(Mat 10:28)  “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Rev 2:10)  ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. BE FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH, and I will give you the crown of life.

Those who endured in their faith to the end, surviving the temptation to desert from the faith, to corrupt it or become indifferent about it, were saved.

Matt 24:14

(Mat 24:14)  “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached…”

This was the gospel that Jesus preached, directed primarily to Jews. It was the gospel that the kingdom of God was identified in Jesus Christ Himself as the Son of God and Messiah. It is not the post-resurrection ‘gospel of the grace of God’ of Acts 20:24, the gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 that Paul preached.

“….the whole world….”

The term “world” in Matt 24:14 is not meaning the entire creation (kosmos) but οἰκουμένη, (oikoumenē) a regional area. The ‘whole world’” to the disciples was Southern Europe, Asia Minor (Turkey), coastal Mediterranean, Britain, Northern Africa, parts of India and the Middle East.

Paul declares that the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven (Col 1:6, 1:23); this is synecdoche, a form of speech that refers to a lesser part by emphasizing a greater part.  Paul also affirmed that the faith of the Roman believers was spoken of throughout the whole world (Romans 1:8), another instance of synecdoche; and that he preached in Arabia (Galatians 1:17), and at Jerusalem, and round about Illyricum(Romans 15:19).

Paul also traveled through Asia Minor, Greece, and Crete and was in Italy, and probably in Spain and Gaul (Romans 15:24-28). At the same time, the other apostles were not idle; and there is full proof that within thirty years after this prophecy was spoken, churches were established in all these regions “for a testimony unto all nations”.

Up to this point the blessing of revelation had been confined to the Jews during the time before Jerusalem’s destruction in 70AD. Jews were the special people of God. Initially, His message had been sent only to them. When, therefore, God sent the gospel to all other people, it was proof, or “a testimony unto them,” that the exclusively Jewish relationship with God was at an end and a new relationship with all who would believe on Him would begin.

(Joh 10:16)  “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

On the Day of Pentecost, God also warned the Jews about the coming judgment against them through the sign gift of tongues. This was prophesied in (Isaiah 28:11). Its immediate fulfillment pertained to a future Assyrian occupation where those with “stammering lips” and a “foreign tongue” (Is 28:11) would give commands to the Jews who were drunk and not listening to God’s appointed prophet.

This prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost where tongues were used as a sign gift (1 Cor. 14:22) to crowds of Jews from a multitude of nations who were gathered, listening to Peter’s first sermon.
(1Co 14:22)  So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.

The “them” are the unbelievers, the Jews. The “this people” referred to in Isaiah 28:11 were Jews.  Peter delivered the first open-air preaching sermon to thousands of Jews from all over the world. Though 3,000 Jews were saved that day, many more did not accept God’s appointed Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
After the Day of Pentecost, subsequent use of tongues was always with a Jewish person present and always for the benefit of some Jewish person or group of Jews to repent and come to faith in Jesus Christ. Tongues are not mentioned in later New Testament texts, consistent with Paul’s prediction that tongues would cease in (1 Cor 13:8). While other spiritual gifts remained, tongues ceased from the historical record after 70AD.

It is somewhat ironic that the gift of tongues, first spoken on the day of Pentecost to a diverse multitude of Jews, was met accusations of the disciples being drunk. This was exactly the condition the Jewish leaders were in when God warned them about the judgment in Isaiah 28:11, one that resulted in an Assyrian invasion.

(Isa 28:11)  Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue,

God also spoke judgment to the Jews of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost through the disciples speaking with stammering lips and foreign tongues. And Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion was destroyed relatively soon thereafter.

“…then the end will come”…

Not the end of the world, but the end of the Jewish nation; the destruction of the temple and the city, which Jesus had grieved over, knowing that its last hour was near.

(Mat 23:37-39)  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”

Beginning with Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost, Peter and other disciples were sent to the Jews, while Paul, a Pharisee himself, eventually became the apostle to the Gentiles.

Jesus’ saying “your house is being left to you desolate” is referring to the house of faith, Judaism, which would become desolate in 70AD.

‘’BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ is looking forward to Jesus’ return, at which time Jews will repent and believe on the Messiah they once rejected (Zech 12:10, 13:6). Since Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem, which is the capital of national Israel, this suggests that the Lord Jesus Christ won’t return until there is a national repentance in Jerusalem or perhaps the entire Jewish state, at which time…

(Rom 11:26)  and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”

‘…all Israel…’ would be national Israel and the church, which has always been the Israel of God having its foundations in both the apostles and the prophets (Eph 2:20). Another passage about Jesus’ mourning over Jerusalem’s soon destruction, this time from Luke…

(Luke 19:41-44)  When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

This actually happened. Roman forces laying siege against Jerusalem built a barricade around Jerusalem measuring 39 furlongs (5 miles) in circumference (See Josephus, War, book v. c. 12). This was to prevent Jews from escaping alive and with their gold, jewels or other valuable belongings. Jerusalem was levelled in 70AD and a multitude of Jews were massacred, mostly by Syrians and Arabs who were incorporated into the Roman army as “provincials”.

Provincials were soldiers pressed into military service for Rome from provinces in the Roman Empire that were too far away to be effectively manned by soldiers of Roman descent. This began toward the beginning of the first century, due to reforms made by Emperor Augustus in AD15. After AD15, the only dedicated Roman units left were the Praetorian Guard, those elite soldiers whose primary duty was to protect the Emperor and generals.

Abundant historical sources affirm that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple, though the Roman army, was caused by mostly provincials, Syrians, Arabs and Persians.

First century senator and historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus wrote…

“Titus Caesar…found in Judea three legions, the fifth, the tenth, and the fifteenth…To these he added the twelfth from Syria, and some men belonging to the eighteenth and third, whom he had withdrawn from Alexandria (Egypt). This force was accompanied by a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews with the usual hatred of neighbors”

SOURCE: Tacitus, “The History”, New Ed ed., bk 5.1 Moses Hadas trans. Alfred Church and William Brodribb (New York Modern Library 2003)

Early Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus concurs with…

“So Vespasian sent his son Titus, who came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings of that neighborhood”

SOURCE:  Flavius Josephus, “The Complete Works Of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem” bk 3, chapt 1, par.3

Josephus elaborates further with…

“Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the entire army, including the auxiliaries sent by the [Arabian] kings, as well as horsemen and footmen, when all were united together amounted to sixty thousand.”

SOURCE:  Flavius Josephus, “The Complete Works Of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem” bk 3, chapt 4, par.2

Modern historian Sara Elise Phang says…

“Increasingly, they [provincials] began identifying their interests with those of the provinces in which they were stationed. By AD69 [the legion known as] Gallica III, like other legions long stationed in the east, contained a very high proportion of men born in the eastern provinces.”

SOURCE:  Sara Elise Phang, “Roman Military Service: Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and early Principate” (Cambridge University Press, 2008, pg 19, 57-58)

Gallica III was the name of one of the legions participating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Thus, when Dan 9:26 says…

(Dan 9:26)  “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

…the “people of the prince to come” are those who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary of the Jewish temple. They were of Arab, Syrian and Persian descent. The “prince” then, is of Arab, Persian or Syrian descent. This points firmly toward an Arab/Muslim antichrist…not a European, secular or papal antichrist.

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Matt 24:15-16

(Mat 24:15)  “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

(Mat 24:16)  then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

Jesus is reported to say in the same context, but in Luke….

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

The “abomination that causes desolation spoken of through Daniel the prophet” is Daniel 9:27. It says “the people of a prince yet to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”. It was to happen sometime after Messiah was “cut off”. The abomination that caused desolation means the Roman army, as Luke explains in Luke 21:20.

(Luke 21:20) “However, when you see Jerusalem surrounded with armies, then you are to understand that she is about to be destroyed”.

He goes on to say…

(Luk 21:22)  because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.

Jesus already made clear that He was referring to Daniel chapter 9. So the “all things which are written” to be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem was all that Daniel had written.

(Luk 21:23)  “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;

The “this people” were speaking of those in Jerusalem…Jews.

(Luk 21:24)  and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Many Jews fell by the edge of a sword, thousands and thousands of them were massacred. Those who were not killed managed to make it outside of Palestine and to the surrounding regions, eventually to “all nations”. The “times of the Gentiles” began in 70AD, and continue today. Jerusalem is not exclusively Jewish but partitioned into sections. Jews cannot even pray on the temple mount (which is presently occupied by the abominable “Dome Of The Rock”) and Israel itself has been invaded by Arab Muslims, mostly in Gaza and the West Bank.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary On The Bible says…

“This abomination of desolation, St. Luke, (Luk_21:20, Luk_21:21), refers to the Roman army; and this abomination standing in the holy place is the Roman army besieging Jerusalem; this, our Lord says, is what was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, in the ninth and eleventh chapters of his prophecy; and so let every one who reads these prophecies understand them; and in reference to this very event they are understood by the rabbins. The Roman army is called an abomination, for its ensigns and images, which were so to the Jews. Josephus says, (War, b. vi. chap. 6), the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there. The Roman army is therefore fitly called the abomination, and the abomination which maketh desolate, as it was to desolate and lay waste Jerusalem; and this army besieging Jerusalem is called by St. Mark, Mar_13:14, standing where it ought not, that is, as in the text here, the holy place; as not only the city, but a considerable compass of ground about it, was deemed holy, and consequently no profane persons should stand on it.”

Since Titus’ armies camped outside of Jerusalem and they would have been the first to be seen, the term “holy place” in Matt 24:15 must be referring to Jerusalem, including the area surrounding it.

Jesus is warning them about what and who is to come, the Roman army and the violence that will occur, so that they will survive to spread the gospel to the entire world. The entire world was for the disciples, what we call the Middle East, coastal Mediterranean, Northern Africa, India and Southern Europe, Britain and Asia Minor (Turkey).

From Jesus’ perspective, the greatest calamity of Israel’s history was about to happen. In around 40 years, the Jewish nation and its religion would come to an abrupt, violent end. Jesus’ death on the cross would mean the end of Old Testament system of sacrifices from God’s perspective. The destruction of Jerusalem, their temple, subsequent massacre and dispersion would mean the end of the Jewish religion from man’s perspective. All of it was about to be destroyed.

“…then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains…”

It is an historical fact that just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, Christians departed Jerusalem en-masse for the mountainous area outside of Jerusalem called Perea, to a community called Pella.

Early Christian historian Eusebius reported that…

“The members of the Jerusalem church by means of an oracle, given by revelation to acceptable persons there were ordered to leave the city before the war began and settle in a town in Perea called Pella.”  Eusibius, History Of The Church, 5:3-4

This saved them from God’s judgment on Jerusalem, but did not prevent their persecution deaths. Thus, when Luke adds  Jesus as saying, in the same context…

(Luk 21:18)  “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.

(Luk 21:19)  “By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Jesus is reassuring the disciples that the destruction that is soon to come upon Jerusalem and the Jewish religion would not be the cause of their deaths. He is not telling the disciples that they will survive the persecution that for them was yet to come but that by enduring persecution violence unto death, they would gain eternal life.

(Act 14:22)  … “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Matt 24:17

(Mat 24:17)  “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.

The roofs of first century houses in the Middle East, Greece and Italy were flat on top, with stairs leading up to the roof from the side of the house. The roofs were usually so close together that they formed a nearly uniform structure where one could step from one roof to another. Thus, the most efficacious way of escape out of the city would be to simply leave one’s belongings in the lower part of the house and run from roof to roof towards the gate of the city.

Though some believe this portion of the text pertains to escaping a nuclear holocaust in the USA, they often fail to see that the events are centered around the “holy place” (Matt 24:15) the temple, or Jerusalem (Luke 21:20).

“Again, such instruction would scarcely make sense if the Savior had been speaking of a modern nuclear assault. But it made perfect sense in view of the fact that the houses of old Jerusalem were flat-roofed and adjacent to one another. Accordingly, Christians might proceed, via “the road of roofs,” to the edge of the city and escape” (cf. Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p. 93)

A parallel passage to this is in Luke 17:31, though misplaced.

(Luk 17:31)  “On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back.

Luke 17:31-33 is not talking about us today, but to Jews of “that day” (vs 31). The “that day” is referring to the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and Jewish religion. It is this writer’s view that Luke 17:22-37 should have been placed in Luke chapter 21.

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Matt 24:18

(Mat 24:18)  “Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.

Another exhortation to get away from the surrounding area of Jerusalem (where a Roman army would soon encamp) and not even go back to the city to get clothing. Those who were prepared would have had sufficient clothing to insulate against the winter cold. This served to preface Jesus subsequent warning of…

(Mat 24:20)  “But pray that your flight will not be IN THE WINTER, or on a Sabbath. (Caps mine for emphasis)

Again, this is paralleled in Luke 17:31-33

(Luk 17:32)  “Remember Lot’s wife.

Remember to not turn back as Lot turned back. If they turn back to get more things, they will surely perish.

Luke adds….

(Luk 17:33) “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

This admonition is contextually linked to what is directly before it, not to turn around to try to get your things, that judgment is coming and it is as inevitable as Jesus’ return. Luke adds…

(Luk 17:33) “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

This is another admonition for the believers to not turn around and try to get their worldly belongings. Jesus spoke a very similar phrase in the context of the disciples following Jesus and evangelism in Matthew 10:36. Though misused by Christian pacifists, Luke 17:33 is not suggesting that we should allow murderous savages to take our lives without resistance.

In Matthew’s parallel account, it was referring to encouraging Christians to escape the city as soon as possible. If they turn around to get their things (Luke 17:31-33 Matt 24;18), they would lose their lives.

Matt 24:19

(Mat 24:19)  “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

This is likely referring to the famine that the trapped occupants of Jerusalem suffered during the siege against it. Opposing Jewish rebel leaders, John of Giscala, Simon Bar Giora and Eleazer of the radical Zealots were fighting each other for control of the city, destroying the grain and other food reserves that were in the city’s storehouses.

By the time Titus arrived at Passover 70AD, Jerusalem was already a shambles on account of the Jews fighting each other and the food stores had burned up. The people trapped within the walls of Jerusalem would begin to suffer famine and violence unlike any time in Jewish history.

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg. 63, says…

“The famine now raged in a terrible manner in the city. It had for some time been silently approaching, and many of the peaceable and poor had perished for want of necessities…..John of Gischala and Simon Bar Gioras and their factions had in their ungovernable fury, wasted and destroyed such vast quantities of provision as might have supplied the city for many years and as Josephus says “they were reduced to a famine of their own making…”

“The faction’s soldiers preyed upon the common people with the most unheard of cruelty. They forced their houses, and if they found any food in them, they butchered the inhabitants for not apprising them of it. And if they found nothing, which was almost everywhere the case, they put them to the most severe tortures under pretense that they had some provisions concealed.

Women forced from their husbands, and children from their fathers, and even mothers from their infants, the little they had, and while sucking children were wasting away in their arms, they took the vital drops that sustained them. So justly did our Lord pronounce a woe on “them who should give suck in those days”

(Mat 24:19 KJV)  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

The famine and depravity got to be so bad that even children were being eaten by their mothers. Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History continues…

“The famine raged in such a dreadful manner that an unhappy mother (a Jewess) was reduced to the extremity of butchering and eating her own child. This lady, whose name was Miriam, or Mary, had taken refuge with a vast number of others in this accursed city from the beginning of the war. As famine increased, the faction Zealots lived almost altogether upon the plunder of the helpless, had often forced into her house and carried off such provisions as she was able to procure.  She had often tried either by prayers to prevail on them or by curses to provoke them to put an end to her miserable life. Those monsters (Zealots) still thought it too great a mercy to be granted to her. Filled at length with fury, the intolerable cravings of hunger and despair, she snatches her suckling child from her bosom, cut its throat and broiled him and having satisfied her present hunger, she hid the rest.

The smell of it soon drew those carrions, the Zealots to her house; they threatened to put her to the most excruciating tortures, if she did not reveal her provisions to them; whereupon she went and brought the sad relics of her mangled infant son, set it before them and bid them to eat heartily, and not be squeamish, since she, the once tender mother of it, had butchered, dressed it and made a meal of it.”

How tragically eloquent our Lord speaks pertaining this time of utter despair and depravity…

(Luk 23:28)  But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

(Luk 23:29)  “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’

Matt 24:20

(Mat 24:20)  “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

Jesus is obviously addressing an audience of a time when the strict Pharasaical rules concerning the distance that might be traveled on the Sabbath day would be still in force. This fixes the context of chapter 24 with certainty as prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, not future.

A complimentary verse in Luke again affirms that the events described are those leading up to and within the time period of the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. Luke reports Jesus as saying…
(Luk 21:23)  “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;

It was extremely difficult for Jews to survive in the city or vicinity of Jerusalem, especially for those who were pregnant nursing babies. But who is the “this people”? Those in Jerusalem.

(Luk 21:20)  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

(Luk 21:21)  “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;

Those who left Judea, the city and even the surrounding countryside were early followers of Jesus who were aware of Jesus’ prophecy about Jerusalem’s prophesied destruction. Christians departed Jerusalem en-masse, many of them going to Pella, a mountainous community to the north-northeast of Jerusalem. History does not record a single Christian dying on account of the destruction of Jerusalem, in fulfillment of Jesus’ telling the disciples…

(Luk 21:18)  “Yet not a hair of your head will perish.

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Matt 24:21

(Mat 24:21)  “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

Many, not knowing about the history of the Jews during this time period, are quick to claim that there have been much worse disasters than a city being destroyed. They will refer to the Holocaust, or the volcano at Pompei, or any number of other events they consider extraordinarily destructive….But it was only for Jerusalem that Jesus wept over… because He knew what was coming.

After the events described in Matt 24:15 and after Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, the greatest tribulation for the Jews that has ever occurred would occur. This tribulation was the most awful in Jewish history, unmatched by anything the Jewish nation ever went through before, not only in the depravity and cruelty of both Jews and those who were hostile to them, but because this tribulation did not end with the city’s destruction. It is ongoing today. For more on this, see entry for Matt 24:29.

Incidentally, Titus encamped his army outside of Jerusalem at the beginning of the Jewish Passover, the time when there would have been the maximum number of Jews inside Jerusalem’s walls. These Jews would have travelled to Jerusalem from a multitude of nations (Acts 2:5-12). According to early Christian historian Eusebius, who is referring to claims made by the earlier, Jewish historian Josephus, Joseph estimates that Jerusalem was filled with up to three million Jews.

Eusebius-The Church History: A New Translation with Commentary, Paul L. Maier, Kegel Publications, 1999, pg 97

The tragic irony probably escapes Jews today, that by rejecting their Messiah (who was their Passover had they accepted Him) their city, temple and religion would instead be destroyed at the time of the Passover…an event celebrating the ancient Israelites salvation from death during the plague of the death of Egypt’s first-born.

Similarly, on the Day of Pentecost, the sign gift of tongues, which were a warning of judgment to Jews (Isaiah 28:11) about a foreign army, was spoken to a multitude of Jews from many nations.

Matt 24:22

(Mat 24:22)  “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

This literally happened. The siege of Jerusalem went on for some time but ended abruptly and in a most unexpected way. Though they had a superior defensible position, Jewish rebels were inexplicably stricken with fear. Instead of fleeing into the towers of Hippocos, Phasael or Mariam-ne, which were yet untaken, and so strong that nothing but famine could have subdued them, they ran like madmen towards Shiloah, trying to escape out of the city through the Fountain Gate. They didn’t succeed but were all found and killed (about 2,000).

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg. 56 says…

“Before Titus left Jerusalem to return to Rome, he took a survey of the miserable city, and its fortifications; and, while contemplating their impregnable strength, could not help ascribing his success to the peculiar interposition of the Almighty, “had not God,” he exclaimed, aided our operations, and driven the Jews from their fortresses, it would have been absolutely impossible to have taken them; for what could men, and the force of engines, have done against such towers as these.”

Rather than continue to fight Titus’ besieging army from superior positions, the Jewish defenders departed the strongest part of their fortresses inexplicably and abruptly, thus, cutting short the number of those who could have been otherwise killed.

By the time the city had been destroyed, untold numbers had been killed in factional battles within the city and over 115,188 dead had been carried out of the city walls as a result of Titus’ siege. Those who managed to escape the carnage inside the city’s walls and seek mercy from Titus were met with an unexpected, vicious cruelty.

The story is retold by the ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. During the attack, there were many Jews who had decided to surrender as non-combatants. As they exited the city, they were met with a gruesome fate.  A report had been circulated among the Arabs and Syrian ‘provincials’ that Jews exiting the city had swallowed their gold and jewels. Josephus recounts…

“The multitude of Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected.”

(Flavius Josephus, “The Complete Works Of Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem” bk 5, chapt 13)

Brown, Priestly and Levi’s History of the Destruction of the City and Temple of Jerusalem and of the Ruin and Dispersion of the Jewish Nation,” pg. 65 says…

“Impelled by avarice, and with unexampled cruelty they ripped open the bellies of two thousand deserters in one night to come at the supposed treasure…….and in very few did they find what they sought after”

The cruelty did not end there. Back in the city, groups of thousands were holed up inside the temple, following after some false prophet who had led them to a gallery compartment. About 6,000 of them were all waiting for a miracle claimed by the false prophet. Roman soldiers happened upon them, trapped them inside and set the gallery on fire, roasting all six thousand Jews inside to death.

On another occasion, 11,000 non-combatants approached Titus’ forces inside the city, desiring mercy. They were starved to death.

These are just some of the many cruelties and battles that were reported concerning the Jews during the time leading up to and during the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. During the siege itself, over a hundred thousand people perished.

Josephus estimates that the losses of the Jewish combatants from all of their battles against each other, Syrians, Arabians, and Roman armies and the total including Titus’ siege against Jerusalem resulted in over 1,237,000 gruesome deaths.

According to Josephus, 1.1 million non-combatants died in Jerusalem, mainly as a result of the violence and famine.

Source: Josephus: PACE: BJ, 6.9.3 (Whiston), Perseus Project BJ6.9.3

Truly….(Mat 24:22)  “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple ended, but the cruelty and depraved violence against Jews did not end. It continued long after, and continues today, the longest standing war against a people in all of human history.

(Mat 24:21)  “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

(Luk 21:24)  They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The times of the Gentiles are still ongoing. Jerusalem is still not under full Israeli control; the West Bank and Gaza are concessions to enemies of Israel and of God and Jews are still unable to worship at what is left of their temple. The temple mount is under Jordanian (Muslim) administration and the abomination of the Dome of the Rock is still standing in the place that it should not be.

“….the elect…”

The elect are in the context of Matt 24:22 and 24 are unbelieving Jews.  The ‘elect’ is used again in Matt 24:31 to refer to Jews who are gathered to Jerusalem from all over the world to repent before the Messiah they have rejected (Zech 12:10, 13:6).

An alternative view is that the ‘elect’ in Matt 24:31 is all genuine believers, the church, including Jewish and non-Jewish believers raptured to be with the Lord at His return.

Matt 24:24
(Mat 24:24)  “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

According to Jesus, it will not be possible to deceive the elect. Though the ‘elect’ are identified later in the New Testament as both Jewish and Gentile genuine believers (Tit 1:1, Col 3:12, 1 Pet 1:1-2, 1 Pet 2:9), genuine believers of all ages would presumably be able to discern the true from the false signs and wonders.

In this writer’s view, Matt 24:24 is stating that during and after the destruction of Jerusalem, the elect will not be deceived by false prophets and those purporting to be a Messiah figure, a Christ. These were charlatans and misguided individuals who capitalized on the Jews’ hope for a Messiah to rescue them from Roman rule and the distress of persecution and wars wherever they went.

Today, false Christs exist with no less of a tempting message for those who believe and follow after them.

There is Apollo Quiboloy (Philippines), Vissarion (Russia) the new age/theosophical deceiver Maitreya and Sun Myung Moon (Korea), who openly declares that he is the Messiah come to earth to complete the mission that Jesus failed to accomplish: the establishment of the “perfect family”. There is also Inri, the false Christ from Brazil and false Christ Alan John Miller in Australia.

Even today there are signs and false wonders. Statues of Mary weeping blood… Maitreya allegedly appearing and disappearing into thin air, the name of allah or Muhammad written in the clouds, on a fish and an infant reported to have been born clutching a Quran. These are all false wonders.

People who believe such false wonders are under a deluding influence. They don’t love truth, so God gives them over to what they want, a lie. Widespread throughout the charismatic and Pentecostal part of the church, there are likewise many false and therefore satanic manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit, including fabricated healings by false healers and televangelists and false tongues, nothing but babbling gibberish.

Note that in Matt 24:11, which is a time period prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, there is only a warning against ‘false prophets’, while Matt 24:24 is a warning against both false prophets and false Christs.

(Mat 24:11)  “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

Matt 24:11 pertains to the disciples who were preaching Christ crucified and risen again. They wouldn’t be in much danger of falling for some false Christ because they had personally experienced the real Christ. But they would be in competition with false prophets, of which there were many.

(Mat 24:24)  “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

Matt 24:24 pertains to the time during and after the destruction of Jerusalem. The ‘false Christs’ of Matt 24:24 were those who capitalized on the distress of the Jews during this time period who were suffering by their own hands, at the hands of Romans and nearly everyone else wherever they went. It would have been very tempting to believe in some false Christ, some false Messiah figure especially if there were compelling signs and wonders.

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Matt 24:26

(Mat 24:26)  “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.

“…Behold, He is in the wilderness…”

The word for ‘wilderness’ can also be translated as ‘desert’.  Jewish historian Josephus informs us that there were many who pretended to be divinely inspired, who deceived the people, leading many of them into the desert, to hopeless deaths. Josephus recorded…

“The land was overrun with magicians, seducers, and impostors, who drew people after them in multitudes into deserts to see the signs and miracles which they promised to show by the power of God” (Josephus, Antiquities. b. 20. c. 7)

Among these are mentioned Dositheus, the Samaritan, who pretended that he was the Christ foretold by Moses; Simon Magus, pretended to be the great power of God (Acts 8:9-10); and Theudas, who persuaded many to go with him to the river Jordan, to see the waters divided. An Egyptian false prophet, mentioned by Josephus, (Ant. b. 20. c. 7), and in Acts 21:38., and in the (lexander. ets are named…a surpriseersecution violence and those who d. Here, Paul is using Jesus’n

(Act 21:38)  “Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?”

Another promised salvation to the people, if they would follow him to the desert, and he was destroyed by Festus (Josephus, Antiquities. b. 20. c. 7).

Also, one Jonathan, a weaver, persuaded a number to follow him to the desert, but he was taken and burnt alive by Vespasian (Josephus’ War, b. 7. c. 11)

“….Behold, He is in the inner rooms…”

Similarly, inside the city were false Messiah figures who would have conducted their teachings or led others to secret rooms or subterranean passages beneath the city.  Adam Clarke’s Commentary On The Bible says for this verse…

“Josephus mentions a false prophet, War, b. vi. c. 5, who declared to the people in the city, that God commanded them to go up into the temple, and there they should receive the signs of deliverance. A multitude of men, women, and children, went up accordingly; but, instead of deliverance, the place was set on fire by the Romans, and 6,000 perished miserably in the flames, or in attempting to escape them.”

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Matt 24:27

(Mat 24:27)  “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Jesus is not tying the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple to His return, but merely making a comparison. Many would wonder after false Christs and false signs and wonders, but Jesus’ return will be with authentic signs and wonders that will make His return as evident as lightning is to those who behold it.

What kind of signs and wonders? The type that false prophets and false Christs cannot produce….such as….

(Zec 14:4)  In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.

And…

(Luk 21:25)  “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

 

Matt 24:28

(Mat 24:28 KJV)  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

The eagle was also part of the motif of Roman legions, with banners and statues of eagles (called an aquila) placed on a pole, one for each legion and carried by an aquilifer. Jews considered these eagle displays to be idolatrous. To a first century Jew, the presence of the Roman army in the vicinity and later inside Jerusalem and the temple itself would have been considered the desecration of a holy place.

Similar to Matt 24:15, Jesus warned in (Mar 13:14)…

“But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

The ‘abomination of desolation’ is as far back as Dan 9:27 referring to the Roman army encamped outside of Jerusalem before the siege, complete with its eagle standards that the Jews considered idols. During and after the siege, idols of eagles and of Tiberius Caesar were placed at the entrance to the actual temple.

The presence of the Roman idols was considered a desecration, but to make something ‘desolate’ means to make it wasted and empty. The Roman destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and persecution of Jews after 70AD was so complete that the Jewish nation itself ceased to exist.

Here in Matt 24:28, the Jewish nation was dead. Only a carcass of what it once was would remain.  The eagles were the Roman armies surrounding it, destroying it and consuming it. It was an outrage. Earlier in the history of the ancient Israelites, Goliath had threatened David with being eaten by birds as an attempt to humiliate him when he said…

(1Sam 17:44) …. Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the birds of the heavens, and to the beasts of the field.

The humiliation of being eaten by birds is reserved only for the most wicked, the most despised in God’s sight, those destined for damnation.

(Rev 19:21)  And the remnant was slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

For Jesus to have just finished describing the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple and then conclude with such a stinging declaration would have been deeply offensive to the Jews.

Matt 24:29

(Mat 24:29)  “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

“….immediately after the tribulation of those days…”

From (Expositor’s Bible Commentary entry for Matt 24:29)

The word “immediately” has given rise to much difficulty, on account of the hasty conclusion to which some have come that ‘immediately after the tribulation of those days’ must mean immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem; according to which all this must have taken place long ago.

It is, indeed, sufficiently obvious that the tribulation of those days began with the destruction, or rather with the besieging, of Jerusalem. But when did it end? As soon as the city was destroyed? Nay. If we wish to get some idea of the duration of those days of tribulation, let us turn to the same place in the same prophecy as given by St. Luke, (Luk_21:23-24) where it clearly appears that it embraces the whole period of the Jewish dispersion and of the standing of the Gentile Church.

(Luk 21:23) “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;

(Luk 21:24) and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

(Expositor’s Bible Commentary entry for Matt 24:29)

[The times of the gentiles are still ongoing. Jerusalem is still not under full Israeli control; the West Bank and Gaza are concessions to enemies of Israel and of God and Jews are still unable to worship at what is left of their temple. The temple mount is under (Jordanian) Muslim administration and the abomination of the Dome of the Rock is still standing in the place that it should not be..]

 

“…THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken”

In addition to the physical necessity of the sun and the moon, God also made them for signs and seasons.

(Gen 1:14)  Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;

These signs, seasons, days and years are integral in the Jewish calendar and for purposes of tracking the times for Jewish feasts.

(Lev 23:4)  These are the appointed festivals of Yahweh, the holy convocations, which you shall designate in their appropriate time.

The moon in particular is used for this purpose.

(Ps 104:19) He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set.

The new moon is accompanied by Rosh Chodesh, a Jewish festival celebrating renewal. Rosh Hashanah, the new year and festival of the rebirth of the world.  The end of Chanukah, which is a time of increasing light, is also at the time of the new moon.

Yom Kippur falls on the dark part of the cycle of the moon and emphasizes deep reflection and longing for light. Even New Testament followers of Jesus (many of them Jewish) retained the keeping of Jewish festivals, evidenced by Apostle Paul’s admonition of…

(Col 2:16)  Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—

And after Jesus’ return, these festivals, based on the cycle of the moon will be restored for all genuine believers to properly honor and worship God.

(Zech 14:16)  Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

The Feast of Booths is also called the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot (Lev 23:33-43). Held during the time of the year when grapes and olives would be harvested, each Jewish family would construct a lightweight structure and the entire family would stay in it. The purpose of Sukkot is to remember the ancient Israelites journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land and that it was God who led them and provided for them.

(Isa 66:23)  “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from Sabbath to Sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD.

There is also the Passover celebration, commemorating the Israelites salvation from Egypt (and death). And among others, there is Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the commandments on Mt. Sinai. All of these Jewish festivals are governed by the cycle of the moon.

The moon is also used as part a picture of God’s judgment. The theme of sun darkening and the moon not giving its light (such as in Matt 24:29) during times of judgment is reminiscent of the ninth plague on Egypt.

(Exo 10:22)  So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.

There are numerous scriptures that use the imagery of the sun darkening and the moon not giving light to herald the “Day of the Lord” in the eschatological sense.

(Isa 13:9)  Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it.

(Isa 13:10)  For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light.

And from Joel…

(Joe 2:31)  “The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

Though one would expect part of the sky to be obscured by clouds of smoke from a fiery destruction of Jerusalem, such things did not happen to the magnitude that Matt 24:29 and the Revelation describe.

“…and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Though there were reports of armies fighting in the clouds (see entry for Matt 24:7), that commotion doesn’t seem to be directly caused by God, who is the only one who has control over meteorological events. While Matt 24:1-28 pertained to the events leading up to and immediately after 70AD, now we see where verse 29 begins the transition to events pertaining to Jesus’ return…events in Matthew 24:29-31 that have a parallel in the Revelation.

(Rev 6:12)  I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;

(Rev 6:13)  and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind.

(Rev 6:14)  The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

The sixth seal begins during a period of massive persecution against believers and just prior to Jesus’ return. It culminates in a judgment of those who are hostile to God, a judgment that involves meteorological events and disasters involving earthquakes, radical changes to the atmosphere, the sun darkening and the moon not giving light. This is a good picture of the “heavens being shaken”. It can only happen at the time of Jesus’ return. Therefore, this writer believes Matt 24:29-31 is a continuation of Jesus’ answer to the disciple’s second question about the time of His return.

Luke has a parallel verse to this, adding destructive and chaotic events in the seas and men’s response to what they believe is approaching doom.

(Luk 21:25)  “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

(Luk 21:26) men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

“…perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves..”

In keeping with the principle of “scripture interpreting scripture”, let us now turn to another scripture for clues as to what “roaring of the sea and waves” could be, if not literal sea and waves.

Jude is exposing men who crept into the assembly of believers but who were in reality hell-bound, unregenerate, ungodly deniers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were antinomians, turning the grace of God as a license for unbridled lust. These men defiled their flesh through immoral activities, rejected all authority and mocked angelic beings and all that they did not understand. They were so devoid of reasoning and understanding that Jude compared them to ‘unreasoning animals’. Jude refers to them as…

(Jud 1:13)  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

And From Isaiah…

(Isa 57:20)  But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud.

(Isa 57:21)  “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Though Isaiah 57:20-21 and Jude 1-25 pertain to other people in other contexts, if one considers the bestial immorality and remarkable lack of reasoning of devout sharia law abiding killers like those from groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, HAMAS and others, “roaring seas and waves” of Matt 24:30 could very well be describing Muslims.

Their reaction in Luke 21:26 is fear, obviously; fear of the Lord Jesus Christ being revealed in judgment and war on “the world” (Luke 21:26). This is not the entire world (kosmos) but the οἰκουμένη, a local or regional location on earth……where they are. Since the bible shows that Jesus will destroy the nations that surround Israel, and those are all Muslim majority nations, the “world” of (Luke 21:26/Matt 24:30) is likely a Middle Eastern region.

They will try to hide in caves or under mountains, but there is nowhere to go to escape the just wrath of a holy God. The Revelation indicates that they do not repent.

(Rev 9:21)  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

Justice is coming and doom is all they have to look forward to.

Matt 24:30

(Mat 24:30)  “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

“…then the sign…”

Jesus is the sign because it is Jesus who will be seen coming in judgment and war.

“…the Son of Man…”

Jews, who were Jesus’ audience in this context, would have recognized the term “Son of Man” as referring to the Old Testament Messiah figure spoken of by the prophet Daniel in….

(Dan 7:13)  “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.

(Dan 7:14)  “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

Jesus’ return fulfills numerous prophecies including that of Dan 7:13-14 above, but also…

(Psa 2:6)  “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

(Psa 2:7)  “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.

(Psa 2:8)  ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.

The judgment and dominion over the nations is also fulfilled in the end time narrative ending with the seventh trumpet at Rev 11:15-19.

(Rev 11:15)  Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

And fulfills Jesus’ example of prayer for those who follow Him…

(Mat 6:10)  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

“All the tribes” will include Jewish tribes.

(Zec 12:10)  “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

This was spoken of earlier in the Revelation…

(Rev 1:7)  BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

The Jews will mourn in repentance (Zech 12:10), while Muslims and those hostile to the God of the bible will mourn fearfully and try to hide in shame (Rev 6:15-17). The rest of the earth will mourn out of regret and fear of judgment (Matt 25:32).

“….COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY…”

Some scriptures affirming that Jesus’ return will be associated with clouds are, from the Old Testament…

(Dan 7:13)  “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.

And from the New Testament…

(Act 1:11)  “….This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

(Rev 1:7)  BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

An alternative explanation for the ‘clouds’ is that they are angels or both saints and angels. Jesus is prophesied to return with angels (Matt 24:31, 25:31, Mark 8:38, 2 Thess 1:7) and also the saints (1 Thess 3:13). Clouds have referred to Old Testament saints in…

(Heb 12:1)  Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

And the Lord Jesus Christ is pictured as sitting on a white cloud in Isaiah 19, where Jesus is pictured as returning to (among other places) Egypt.

(Isa 19:1)  The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a SWIFT CLOUD and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. (Caps mine for emphasis)

And in the Revelation…

(Rev 14:14)  Then I looked, and behold, A WHITE CLOUD, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.(Caps mine for emphasis)

Though being seated can be an expression of spiritual authority (Eph 2:6), here it should be taken both figuratively and literally. Since other scriptures indicate that Jesus will return just as He left, in a cloud (Acts 1:11), and other scriptures suggest a figurative cloud being a group of saints and/or angels, we should accept both.

Jesus is returning in magnificent, awesome authority, power, judgment, majesty, grandeur and war (Rev 19:11). He will return on a literal cloud amid a figurative ‘cloud’ or large number of saints.

(Jud 1:14)  …Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,

Matt 24:31

(Mat 24:31)  “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Matt 24:31 is during the period of satan’s wrath on Christians and God’s judgement on Jews at Jesus’ return. This period is referred to as ‘times, time and half a time’, three and a half years and 1,260 days in the Revelation. It is not a literal three and a half year time period, but merely a general time period signifying a time characterized by persecution violence. It is what many call the ‘tribulation’.

“…four winds…”

The Revelation parallels this in…

(Rev 7:1-4) “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God … Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel”

The gathering together of His elect from all over the world (perhaps a way of indicating God’s recognizing of His elect) is for purposes of sealing them, to supernaturally protect them during the time of His wrath on Islam and others that war against Jesus and those who follow Him.

“…A GREAT TRUMPET…”

This has another parallel in another retelling of the end-time narrative in(Rev 11:15).

(Rev 11:15)  Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

(Mat 6:10)  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Another reference to a trumpet associated with Christ’s return is found in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians, reassuring them that they are not in the time of Jesus’ return, but that at His return….…

(1Th 4:16)  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Another parallel verse from the Old Testament…

(Isaiah 27:13)  It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.

Today, many who are perishing (at the hand of Muslim persecutors) in the land of Assyria (Syria) and Egypt are Christians.

Matt 24:31 also fulfills Jesus’ prophecy in…

(Luk 13:29)  “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.

Since the scriptures indicate that the ‘elect’ are Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Jesus, this verse should be understood to mean believing Israel, those who have been made one in Christ, both Jewish believers and Christian believers.

Some Scriptures that show this to be true are…

Non-Jewsish believers

(Titus 1:1), “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect (eklektos) and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness …”

(Col 3:12), “Therefore, as the elect (eklektos) of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering …”

Jewish believers

(1 Pet 1:1-2), “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect (eklektos G1588) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

Another interesting New Testament confirmation of the church being Israel is found by comparing Exodus 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:9. Directed to Jews…

(Exo 19:6) and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Directed to Christians…

(1Pet 2:9) But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

As believers in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile, we are called the ‘elect’. And in Christ, we will not be deceived, as is stated plainly in…

(Mat 24:24) “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

People who do not question or who are otherwise misled by the antichrist are not a threat to the antichrist/false prophet, who this writer sees as being a charismatic Muslim ‘caliph”. The ‘elect’ cannot be misled by the deception of the antichrist and will not worship him or his religion…And that’s highly threatening to the antichrist. Persecution violence is how he responds to those who threaten his failed kingdom.

We know the elect are those who believe on Christ and have died for their faith on Him. This is verified by other scriptures…

(Rev 12:17)  So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Further support for this is from Dan 7:25.

(Dan 7:25)  ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

And…

(Rev 20:4)  Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

What hostile ideology has always taught and presently teaches its adherents to behead Christians just because they are followers of Jesus? Islam.

So far, in Matt 24:1-28 we saw historical fulfillment in the challenges and persecutions expected by the apostles as they shared the gospel around the known world leading up to and including the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and Jewish religion.

Here in Matt 24:29-31 we see a mini end times narrative that parallels that which is in the Revelation chapters 6-11, the mini-narratives embedded in chapter 11 and the more detailed end times narrative in chapters 12-22. Jesus’ glorious return in war against those who war against Him, those who have persecuted His elect, and in judgment of the church and all unrepentant sinners commences at this point.

(Rev 19:11)  And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

(Rev 19:12)  His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.

(Rev 19:13)  He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

(Rev 19:14)  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.

(Rev 19:15)  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

(Rev 19:16)  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Matt 24:32

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree follows His first, brief description of His end time return in Matthew chapter 24.  It is the first parable He responded with and coincides with the disciple’s first question of “when will these things happen?” in Matt 24: 3.  Now in verse 32, He will elaborate on His answer to their first question…

(Mat 24:32)  “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;

“…fig tree…”

In the Old Testament, the fig tree was symbolic of the Jewish nation (Hos 9:10, Nah 3:12, Zech 3:10).  The disciples would have (or should have) recognized this as a parable describing the Jewish nation, especially since Jesus had just warned them about a future destruction of Jerusalem.

Earlier, Jesus had cursed and destroyed a fig plant that had leaves but was not producing fruit.  Its outside appearance was not matching its real barren condition.

(Mat 21:19)  Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

Since Jesus was talking to Jews of ‘this generation’ (Matt 24:34), it was the Jewish nation soon to be destroyed that would not bear the good fruit of repentance and like the withered fig tree, would be cursed with judgment. This judgment began with the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion and continues to this day, until the times of the Gentiles will be completed (Luke 21:24). This writer considers Matt 21:19 to be yet another verse, along with Matt 24:20, that pins Matt 24:1-28 firmly to the first century.

Another parable in Luke illustrates the fig tree as being Israel and what will happen to it if it does not produce fruit.

(Luk 13:6)  And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any.

(Luk 13:7)  “And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’

(Luk 13:8)  “And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;

(Luk 13:9)  and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'”

Symbolically, the ‘man’ would be God. The ‘fig tree’ would be the Jewish nation. The vineyard would be Judea, or possibly Jerusalem. The fruit would be repentance (Matt 3:8) leading to faith in the Messiah (Jesus, for His three year ministry among them).

Saying to the vine-dresser “let it alone…and if it bears fruit next year, fine, but if not, cut it down.”…illustrates God’s patience, His willingness to extend time for the Jews to repent, which they did not and have not yet done. The vine-dresser is symbolic for Jesus, who would use Rome to ‘cut down’, to destroy the entire vine…pointing to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and the Jewish religion.

“…when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.”

Just as a fig tree’s branches starting to produce leaves indicates that summer is near, the signs Jesus had given them were just as reliable an indicator that the destruction of Jerusalem was near.

Matt 24:33

(Mat 24:33 KJV)  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

The “it” is the relatively soon destruction of the Jewish nation. What were the “all these things”? All that Jesus had described in Matt 4:1-28 and emphasized by the parable of the fig tree indicating a change in season being very near.

“many coming in My name” (Matt 24:5)

“wars and rumors of wars” (Matt 24:6)

“nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” (Matt 24:7)

“great signs from heaven…” (Luke 21:11)

“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name” (Matt 24:9)

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Mat 24:14)

Just as Jesus predicted, all of those things took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple and religion and the gospel was preached to the known world.

Matt 24:34

(Mat 24:34)  “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

From a futurist perspective, one has to strain to try to imagine what the “these things” could actually be and then look for them to happen in the future. This of course helps fuel the imaginations of book authors, movie producers, conspiracy theorists and fear-mongering pre-tribulation rapture adherents. Such people raise the alarm whenever there is news of dead fish washing ashore, earthquakes, big storms, comet fly-bys or when pet dogs get tagged with micro-chips.

Indeed, the pre-trib view and the paranoia it generates would be more amusing if it didn’t also reflect with crystal clarity the poor intellectual and spiritual condition of much of the modern day western church.  Even if the pre-trib view was accurate, their fear of such end time calamities isn’t consistent with even a casual reading of the scriptures. For Jesus said…

(Mat 24:6)  “…. See that you are NOT frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. (Caps mine for emphasis)

 

From an historical perspective, consistent with a rabbinical Jewish practice in which Jesus is referring to Matt 24:20, the generation of the disciples saw all those things take place. And not one of the disciples believed God would zap them off the face of the earth at the first sign of trouble.

The destruction of Jerusalem also fulfilled other prophecies of Jesus. For example…

(Mat 21:43)  “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

(Mat 21:44)  “And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

Those who produce fruit are those who repent. The nation of Israel did not repent and so refused their Messiah. The kingdom of God was taken away from them as a nation and given to people of both Jewish and non-Jewish descent who do repent. In other words, the criteria changed from national identity to identifying those who repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the stone that one falls on, coming to God in brokenness and humility. However, the one on whom Jesus falls on in judgment will be scattered like dust….another picture of what happened to the unrepentant Jewish nation. The Pharisees realized this.

(Mat 21:45)  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.

Sadly, there are rumored plans being voiced (mostly by US evangelicals, so-called Christian Zionists and radical orthodox so-called Jews in Israel), to build a third temple either in place of or next to the Dome of the Rock. Even if the Muslims would allow this, it would be an abominable, large scale public rejection of Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God and an apostasy for any Christians who participated in such sacrifices and rituals. The bible says…

(Heb 9:11)  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;

(Heb 9:12)  and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

(Heb 10:14) For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

The epistle to the Hebrews has in large part to do with reassuring Jewish believers that temple sacrifices are obsolete due to Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. If such a temple was to be built, and both Jews and Christians worshiped and made sacrifices there for sin, it would be a shameful act of apostasy on a scale that Christendom has never known.  The epistle to the Hebrew warns about such a defection…

(Heb 6:4)  For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,

(Heb 6:5)  and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,

(Heb 6:6)  and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

 

And later in the epistle to the Hebrews…

(Heb 10:26)  For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

(Heb 10:27)  but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.

(Heb 10:28)  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

(Heb 10:29)  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

(Heb 10:30)  For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”

(Heb 10:31)  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

Building another temple made with hands would also contradict the identity of the true believer, who is the temple of God both individually…

(1Co 3:16)  Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

(2Co 6:16)  Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

 

…and collectively…

(Eph 2:21)  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,

(Eph 2:22)  in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

(1 Pet 2:5 NLT) And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.

 

As such, some other temple that is not of the Spirit with renewed burnt offerings would be an abomination that would only invite the wrath of God comparable to the devastation and severity of 70AD. And it may happen.

 

Rather than build a temple made with hands and encourage Christ-rejecting so-called Jews to make sacrifices that are not efficacious toward spiritual regeneration or eternal life, it would be a much better witness for Jews if we continue to walk in the victory Christ has won for us on the cross, holding firmly to the public preaching of the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony of Jesus and to not love our lives, even when faced with a persecution death (Rev 12:13).

 

National Israel, the country, should be supported. It is a beacon of democracy, freedom of speech and religion and the only nation in the region where Christians practice their faith in relative safety. Like their ancient Israelite predecessors of the Old Testament, today’s Israel is the most civil, just, humane and ethically advanced nation in the region. Israel is also remarkably economically advanced for such a young nation and is presently the only military bulwark against a complete Islamization of the Middle East.

However, today’s so-called Jews, just Talmudists really, even a nation of them, have no special, privileged status in matters of faith. God has judged the Jewish nation and that judgment is final. By the biblical criteria for what makes a person ‘antichrist’, every unrepentant so-called Jews is an antichrist and on the way to a hellish torment unless they repent and believe on the true God, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The bible says…

(2Pe 3:9)  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Not all will come to repentance and live, but the bible shows in Zech 10:12 that just prior to the Lord’s return, there would be a great repentance among the Jewish people. At that time, they accepted the Savior they had up to that point rejected. This was the good fruit of the apostolic ministry.

(Zec 12:10)  “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

(Zec 13:6)  “And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’

Matt 24:35

(Mat 24:35)  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

This verse should be understood as a continuation of the previous verse, where Jesus affirms that “…this generation will not pass away until all of these things take place…”. Jesus is thus contrasting His word with the Jewish nation. One will exist forever. The other will exist only for a short time.

“Heaven and earth will pass away….”

This is mirrored in…

(2Pe 3:10)  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

(2Pe 3:11)  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness

On the ‘new heaven and earth’, opinions vary on this. This imagery of ‘heaven and earth’ likely came from Isaiah 66:22.

(Isa 66:22)  “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.

 

In its New Testament usage, some think it is referring to the New Covenant. Others think it is just a colloquial way of describing a ‘new beginning’.

The term ‘heaven and earth’ were also used by Hebrews to describe the inner and outer portion of the temple. And first century Jewish historian Josephus reports that Jews referred to the temple at Jerusalem as “heaven and earth.”

Source: Josephus, Antiquities (William Whiston trans., Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1987) BK. 3, chap. 6:4-7; chapt. 7:7, pp 86+

Jesus Himself, right after describing the destruction of the temple in Matt 24:3-28, said…

(Matthew 24:35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

meaning, the physical temple, or possibly Judaism itself will pass away, but His words will not. This has been proven true even until today.

 

If ‘heaven and earth’ was the Old Covenant temple according to Jesus, then a ‘new heaven and earth’ from scripture penned by Hebrew believers like John in Revelation 21:2 and Peter in 2 Peter 3:13 would be the ‘new temple’, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the church.

Jesus also said…

(Mat 5:18)  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Here, Old Covenant Judaism or possibly the temple itself is pictured as ‘heaven and earth’. This verse also implies that all prophecy would be complete when ‘heaven and earth’ pass away. Thus, the destruction of Jerusalem, Judaism and the temple would bring all prophecy to fulfillment.

 

This would also be consistent with how Hebrew believers like the apostle Paul and John used objects (like a ‘city’) to describe Old Covenant Israel (Hagar) contrasted to the “Jerusalem above” (Gal 4:26), the New Covenant kingdom.

Also, the  ‘great city” and “Babylon the great” contrasted with the “new Jerusalem” (Rev 21:2) and “holy city” (Rev 21:10), contrast the Old Covenant Judaism that would soon be destroyed to the New Covenant kingdom that was at that time making Old Covenant Judaism obsolete.

 

The writer of the Revelation, John, says…

Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

This may be describing the general judgment of all that took place when Jesus returned in between 66-70AD. That judgement resulted in the destruction of Old Covenant Judaism and its temple, which were obstacles to those coming to salvation in Christ. Thus, the old temple, being obsolete, needed to be destroyed on account of the new temple, the church. As destruction came to the temple and Judaism itself, those in the city of Jerusalem tried to escape but could not find a place to hide from the destruction of the spiritual city of the ‘great city’ of Judaism.

 

So we see multiple lines of evidence that support the idea that the ‘new heaven and earth’ is not a literal, new sky and ball of dirt, but rather, the new covenant temple, the church.

Matt 24:36

(Mat 24:36)  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

“….that day and hour…”

Not a literal ‘day and hour’, but rather, a period of time, a season. The ‘Day of the Lord’.  Though the term ‘day of the Lord’ has been used in Old Testament contexts to warn of judgment against the Jewish nation by Babylonian invasion or hordes of locusts, this time it is used in a much broader context–the entire world.

“…that day and hour no one knows…”

Jesus knew about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, for He had just finished giving the disciples abundant information about ‘that day’, and that it was soon. Thus, the ‘day’ in this context is referring to the general time period of His return.

Matt 24:37

(Mat 24:37)  “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

A continuation from the previous verse, Jesus is associating ‘the coming of the Son of Man’ with ‘that day’ (of the Lord) of Matt 24:36.  That time period will be…

“…just like the days of Noah”.

The days of Noah were characterized by all manner of wickedness, including murder, demonic oppression and sexual immorality. The bible says about that time…

(Gen 6:5)……the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

(Gen 6:11)  Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was FILLED WITH VIOLENCE.” (Emphasis mine)

(Gen 6:12)  God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for ALL FLESH HAD CORRUPTED THEIR WAY upon the earth. (Caps emphasis mine)

Except for ‘violence’ and all flesh being ‘corrupted’, specific examples of evil in the days of Noah are not mentioned. In the next verse, Jesus provides a different set of characteristics.

Matt 24:38

(Mat 24:38)  “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

Here, Jesus is describing a culture that is so far removed from the righteousness of God that it is unable or unwilling to differentiate between good and evil. Lamech’s boasting about his murders is a good example of that.

(Gen 4:23)  Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, Listen to my voice, You wives of Lamech, Give heed to my speech, For I have killed a man for wounding me; And a boy for striking me;

The word for “killed” (הרג, hârag) in this passage is also used in Gen 4:8, pertaining to Cain’s murder of Abel. Lamech is a picture of pride, violence and immorality within a spiritually apathetic culture. As it was in Noah’s time, people’s conscience will be so numbed by evil that rebellion against God will be as mundane as eating, drinking and marrying. They will boast of their evil, thinking that it is good.  They won’t know judgment is coming until it is too late.

Rejection of God leads people down dark roads and opens the door to demonic influence and a wide range of sinful behaviors. The more someone sins without genuine repentance, the less their conscience can protect them. Soon they even deny the existence of God outright and will thus become capable of doing all sorts of vile, evil acts. This opens the door for demonic influence and destruction of self and others as well as a perversion of all that God intended to be good, including marriage.

The mention of marriage is important here in Matt 24:38. One interpretation of Genesis chapter six suggests that satan attempted to interfere with the blood line from Adam and later, Isaac that led to a sinless Savior and preserved God’s instituted requirement for blood atonement.

(Gen 6:2)  that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

The term ‘sons of God’ is also used to describe angels per Job 1:6. Though Jesus said in Matt 22:6 that angels in heaven do not marry, these are wicked angels who have left their proper abode of a holy heaven and have corrupted themselves further through fornication with human females. It is these angels being referred to in the New Testament epistle of Jude…

(Jud 1:6)  And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,

According to Gen 6:1-8, these unholy unions produced a genetically short-lived species of unusually large and wicked human beings, described in more detail in other scriptures.

(Num 13:32)  So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land THAT DEVOURS ITS INHABITANTS; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. (Caps mine for emphasis)

(Num 13:33)  There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Evidently, the Nephilim were unusually large, powerful and cannibalistic. They are descendants of the “sons of God” (fallen angelic beings) of Gen 6:1-8.

Another group related to descendants of these demonic hybrids, was the Rephaim, who occupied the land prior to the Canaanites but were eventually defeated to extinction. Like the Nephilim, they were of unusually large size.

(Deuteronomy 3:11) For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.

Nine cubits was 13 feet (or 4 meters). Goliath, of “David and Goliath” fame was a descendant of these creatures.

(1 Samuel 17:4-7)A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

God saved a righteous remnant (Noah and his family) who were untainted by demonic unions. Satan then tried to introduce corrupt, pagan cultures into the blood line of the Israelites through interbreeding with Egyptians, Canaanites and Babylonians…each with its own morally corrupt anti-Yahweh culture.

Homosexual marriage is a corruption of a marriage union that God intended to be holy and pure. Those who rejoice in the wickedness of homosexual marriage or who are indifferent to it are demonstrating how close we are to the time of the Lord’s return.

Sadly, like those of the days of Noah and even those Jews who rejected their Messiah…they are so corrupted by unbelief that they mock those who warn them about the wrath to come.

(2Pe 3:3)  Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,

(2Pe 3:4)  and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

They believed life would continue as it was. They didn’t know that everything would change. They had no expectation of God’s judgment upon them.

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Matt 24:39

(Mat 24:39)  and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Some have considered that this verse shows a rapture of the church, but this hypothesis doesn’t seem to work. Those who are taken away are those in judgment, not those who are being saved. The church does not get raptured in judgment, but it endures persecution violence through the so-called ‘tribulation’ period (not necessarily 7 years), then meets the Lord in the air at His return, following Him dressed in white robes (1 Thess 4:17, Rev 19:14), which may be describing holiness and purity, not necessarily literal white robes.

Noah was a ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5), an ancient version of the modern day open air preacher. Even though this righteous man was building a 450’ long ship in a desert, the people didn’t have the spiritual discernment to recognize that judgment was approaching…until it was too late.

Just as it was in the days of Noah, people today resist the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Even many so-called ‘Christian’ churches are in darkness, plagued with false doctrine, worldliness and compromise…rendering them powerless and ineffective. They provide what worldly, carnal people want because these churches themselves are worldly, carnal and ineffective. Many in the first century who were similarly worldy, carnal and false converts were the first to be judged.

(1Pe 4:17)  For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

And the Lord Jesus Christ said…

(Mat 7:21)  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

(Mat 7:22)  “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’

(Mat 7:23)  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Only professing Christians say or do things in Jesus’ name. According to the Revelation, the church was purified (Rev 19:7)….by persecution violence.

When the Lord Jesus returned in judgment, those who heard and responded to the message of repentance and forgiveness of sin and who endured in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the face of persecution violence were saved. For those who resisted the apostolic message of the gospel of the kingdom and Paul’s message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, like those of the day of Noah, and for those who apostatized….it was too late. They only understood what they had rejected when the fires of a hellish torment first licked their wretched souls.

Matt 24:40

(Mat 24:40)  “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

Again, this is not a reference to a rapture. The ones who were taken in Noah’s time were unrepentant sinners….taken in judgment. Following this line of thought, the one who is ‘taken’ here is also taken in judgment. Those who are ‘left’ (or who remain) are those who enter the kingdom of God.

That the saved and the unsaved are in the same field may suggest that the field of opportunity to repent and believe on Jesus was open for all, for both Jews and Gentiles.

Matt 24:41

(Mat 24:41)  “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

In first century Jerusalem, women were the ones who ground grain at the mill, requiring two of them to operate the mill. It was not unusual for one of the women to be a pious Jew while the other was an unbeliever. Here, one is taken into judgment, while the other is saved for the kingdom of God.

Matt 24:42

(Mat 24:42)  “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

Jesus wanted to impart a sense of imminence to His return, especially since none could know of when that would be, even Himself.

(Mat 24:36)  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

Jesus illustrated the call to be ‘alert’ in a parable in the gospel of Mark:

(Mar 13:34 KJV)  For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

(Mar 13:35 KJV)  Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

(Mar 13:36 KJV)  Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

(Mar 13:37 KJV)  And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

If the church is to be raptured before Jesus’ return, why is He admonishing ‘all’ to watch for His return? This is just another line of evidence that shows the exegetical bankruptcy of the ‘pre-tribulation rapture’ view.

The word ‘watch’ is GK ‘γρηγορεύω’, grēgoreuō which means to be alert, stay awake. The theme of spiritual watchfulness and remaining awake and alert is also seen in Peter’s epistle…

(1Pe 5:8)  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

And Paul admonishes the Thessalonians (who erroneously believed they were living in the time of the end) to…

(1Th 5:6)  so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

Being watchful, alert and otherwise ready for His return is so important to Jesus that he repeats this theme in several parables and analogies; the Master of the House (Matt 24:43), the Faithful Slave and the Evil Slave (Matt 24:45-51), the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13), the Talents (Matt 25:14-30), the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:32-46) and the Porter. Not found in Matthew, the parable of the Porter is found in Mar 13:34-37.

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Matt 24:43

(Mat 24:43)  “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

Obviously, the head of the house has much to lose if he does not take precautions against his home being broken into by a thief. In this context, Jesus would be the thief who could appear at any time at night and the head of the house would be symbolic of the professing believer. That Jesus returns at ‘night’ is also significant. Nighttime is typically dark, and darkness is the realm of evil, but the genuine believer is of the kingdom of light.

(Col 1:12)  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

(Col 1:13)  For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

(Col 1:14)  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

We will temporarily divert to additional texts to understate what Jesus is teaching in Matt 24:43. Paul contrasts darkness and light throughout his epistles….

(Eph 5:8)  for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light

Though nobody knows the day or the hour, several texts show that His return will be

  1. when people are not expecting it and
  2. when the world is dark with evil.

Another warning about the imminence of His return in the generation of those Paul was speaking to, the apostle also reminds the Thessalonians…

(1Th 5:2)  For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just LIKE A THIEF in the night. (Caps mine for emphasis)

(1Th 5:4)  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you LIKE A THIEF; (caps mine for emphasis)

Apostle Paul has in mind that Jesus’ return ‘like a thief’ will only be for those in the kingdom of darkness, while genuine believers (who have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light) will still experience Jesus’ return, but would have prepared for it.

The letters to the churches of the Revelation were penned during a time of persecution violence, spiritual deception and temptation to apostatize. Though there were some exceptions, most of the church of Sardis was a church that at one time was not alert and had soiled itself with sin.

To the church of Sardis, Jesus again uses the same theme of imminence He uses in Matt 24:44, by referring to His return being ‘like a thief’. This is part of a rebuke, a call to repentance. Jesus warns…

(Rev 3:3)  ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it (GK τηρέω, guard), and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come LIKE A THIEF, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. (Caps mine for emphasis)

Nobody sins while sincerely expecting the Lord to return in judgment of them. If those who are sinning do not ‘wake up’ (which is linked to repentance), Jesus will appear in judgment as a thief would appear…at some unexpected time. The Lord Jesus also says….

(Rev 16:15)  “Behold, I am coming LIKE A THIEF. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps (GK τηρέω, guard) his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” (Caps mine for emphasis)

Those who ‘stay awake’ (alert) are those who ‘keep their clothes’…which means to ‘guard’ their salvation by remaining in the clothes He has provided (Rev 3:18, Matt 22:11-15). These ‘keep’ (GK τηρέω, guard) thier (white) garments clean, unsoiled by the world. Jesus also admonishes those who ‘wash their robes’, which means to remain faithful even while enduring persecution violence.

(Rev 7:14)  I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

(Rev 22:14)  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

This is easily contrasted with Jesus’ earlier warning..

(Rev 3:5)  ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

In case someone believes Jesus’ return is taking longer than expected or may not happen at all, there is Jesus’ Parable of the Virgins (Matt 25:1-13).

It was normal in first century Palestine for Jewish weddings to take place in the evening….requiring lamps. The groom would pick up the bride at her family’s house, and they would, accompanied by an entourage of guests, proceed to his house where the feast and celebration would be. The bridesmaids (virgins) would meet the congregation of celebrants and join in as it passed by.

In this parable, ten virgins were invited to join the procession; five foolish were with oil in their lamps to help with lighting the evening’s celebration and five wise virgins had with extra oil with them. The groom and his entourage were taking a longer than expected to arrive and the virgins fell asleep. They woke up when they heard a shout, announcing the groom’s arrival (Matt 25:6).

It is significant that Christ’s return is also heralded by a shout, per 1 Thess 4:16.

All the virgins trimmed (turned down) their lamps but the five foolish noticed that their lamps were going out and they didn’t have enough to complete the procession. The other virgin’s lamps were also going out, but they had extra oil to keep them lit.

After the virgins with the extra oil refused to give their extra oil away to the foolish virgins, the virgins with the extra oil joined in the procession, while the foolish virgins went (out into the darkness of night) to try to find someone to sell them oil. The virgins who accompanied the groom to the house followed the others inside and the door to the house was shut.

The foolish virgins arrived later (the text does not say whether they had oil or not), asking to be let in. Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and only those indwelt by the Spirit have access to heaven. Presumably, the virgins had not found oil and had returned to gain entrance some other way. The groom answered the door and said “Truly I say to you, I do not know you” …very similar to the words He says to those who are unrepentant in Matt 7:21.

(Mat 7:23)  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

It is significant that the door was not opened to the unprepared virgins when they returned. Like the foolish virgins who so carelessly spurned their opportunity to gain entrance to the festivities, we only have one opportunity to be ready for eternity, one life to gain salvation which is in Christ alone.

Jesus concludes the Parable of the Virgins by stating…

(Mat 25:13)  “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Matt 24:44

Jesus concludes the parable of the Head of the House with…

(Mat 24:44)  “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

In summary then, Matt 24:43-44 is Jesus’ warning to be ready, to be alert, which is to get into and remain in the kingdom of light, not darkness. What does being alert and being ready entail?

  1. To be in the kingdom of light, not darkness. (1 Thess 5:4)
  2. To be watching for His return. (Matt 24:42,44, Mark 13:37)
  3. To be clothed in garments of salvation, which can only be obtained from Jesus (Matt 22:1-15, Rev 3:18)
  4. To ‘keep’ (GK τηρέω, guard) one’s garments, or rather to guard one’s salvation so that one is not found naked, meaning without garments of salvation, unsaved. (Rev 16:15)
  5. To be faithful (obedient) even during times of persecution violence and spiritual deception (Rev 3:5, 7:14, 22:14).

Pertaining to Jesus’ parable of the Head of the House and the thief, Luke’s account has Peter following up with the question…

(Luk 12:41)  Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”

Matt 24:45

Jesus answers with another parable.

(Mat 24:45)  “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?

Some translations have it as ‘servant’, but the word is actually (GK δοῦλος ‘doulos’), which means ‘slave’.  Slaves were actually like indentured servants at that time, fulfilling a contracted time.

There are two different types of slaves in this parable; the faithful and sensible slave and the evil slave. They are both members of the same household. Jesus is, of course the Master and the He asks “who then is the faithful and sensible slave?”  The text does not answer the exact identity of which this represents, but Jesus provides a description of each for Peter to reflect on.

If the sensible slave represents the disciples the evil slave would represent the Jewish nation that rejected their Messiah at His first advent. In spite of the judgment in 70AD, Jews continue to reject their King and will continue to reject Him until the time of His return, at which point they will repent (Zech 12:10).

Of note, the ‘Great Sanhedrin’ in Jerusalem was eliminated at the judgment of 70AD. Lesser Sanhedrins still existed in limited numbers in declining Jewish communities until finally disappearing from existence by 425AD. If the Sanhedrin is a picture of the evil slave and suffered the greater punishment, the rest of the household of the Jewish nation has suffered on account of their unbelief.

(Luk 18:8)  “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

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Matt 24:46

(Mat 24:46)  “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

Sadly, many professing Christians do not believe God wants them to ‘do’ anything. They are content to dress in their Sunday best, warm a church pew once a week, raise their hands a few times and then go home and watch a football game. Is this what Jesus and the apostles taught? The Revelation shows that Jesus was very interested in the deeds of the first century church, and He is interested in our deeds today as well.

To the church at Ephesus (Rev 2:2) “…I know your deeds…”

(Rev 2:5)  ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.

(Rev 2:19) To the church at Thyatira “…I know your deeds…”

To the church at Sardis (Rev 3:1) “….I know your deeds….”

To the church at Sardis (Rev 3:2) “…I have not found your deeds complete….”

To the Philadelphian church (Rev 3:8) “…I know your deeds…”

To the Laodicean church (Rev 3:15) “…I know your deeds…”

 

Earlier, in the gospels Jesus taught that in order to inherit eternal life, one must ‘do’ things…to follow Him (Luke 18:22), love God and other people (Luke 10:27-28), repent (Luke 13:3), strive to enter through the narrow door, which is Jesus (Luke 13:24), deny one’s self and again, follow Jesus (Luke 9:23) be converted and be like little children (with a humble, dependent faith, Matt 18:3), to confess Jesus publicly (Matt 10:32) and to ‘keep the commandments’ (Matt 19:17), meaning, to continue doing the commandments (also in 1 Cor 7:19, Rev 12:17, 14:12, 22:14).

 

When the apostle Peter was asked “….What shall we do”? His answer was…

(Act 2:38)…… “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Repenting from sin (including unbelief) and being baptized is something we do, not God.

 

The apostle Paul was also asked “What must I do to be saved?” His answer was…

(Act 16:31)  …..”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Salvation by God’s grace is the gift of God (Eph 2:8), but believing is something we do. And it’s not all that we are to do. Belief is evidenced by obedience, demonstrated through action.

God also desires that we live a holy life (Heb 12:14). We must die to self (Col 3:3) and not love the world (1 John 2:15). We must be willing to suffer with Christ (Phil 1:29), endure hardship for Christ (2 Tim 2:3) and work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and through many tribulations (Acts 14:22).  We must show evidence of a genuine salvation by being obedient (Heb 5:9).

 

The first century church knew this and obeyed it. When Jesus returned between 66-70AD, they were found doing what the Master had commanded.

Contrary to the ‘easy believism’ being preached in much of the so-called ‘church’ today (including the “one, two, three say a prayer after me” nonsense), Jesus’ and the apostle’s own statements show that it is actually difficult to be saved and that God has much for us to do.

Jesus did the work of salvation for us on the cross, and it is by the grace of God, through faith that anyone is saved (Eph 2:8-9). Indeed, His work on the cross is the work that we cannot boast about as if it was our own. But even the apostle Peter declared that the “righteous” are “scarcely saved”.

(1 PETER 4:18) IF THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SCARCELY SAVED, WHERE SHALL THE SINNER AND THE UNGODLY APPEAR?

Perhaps due to the difficulty of being saved, the final outcome of our faith is that only few will find eternal life, not many. For Jesus said…

(Mat 7:14)  “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 

Jesus (the Master) has given His disciples authority and power to establish a New Testament era assembly of believers. In contrast to the Jewish leaders who rejected their King, part of the church’s duty was to provide spiritual food for others, the gospel, beginning at the ‘proper time’ (the day of Pentecost) and thereafter to administrate the church under the authority of Christ.

Matt 24:47

(Mat 24:47)  “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

The church and all who are in it are Christ’s possessions. When Christ returns, genuine believers will rule with Him.

(2Ti 2:12)  If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

And in the Revelation, speaking of matyrs  who have been beheaded for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ….

(Rev 20:4)  ….and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

And pertaining to all other genuine believers…

(Rev 5:10)  “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

(Rev 20:6)  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Matt 24:48

(Mat 24:48)  ”But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’

Obviously this ‘evil’ slave is the one who believes the Master could not return soon. Through the inspired word through Apostle Peter and pertaining to unbelievers in the time just prior to Jesus’ return, the Lord says…

(2Pe 3:3)  Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,

(2Pe 3:4)  and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

It was people such as this, mockers, unbelievers and otherwise unrepentant sinners who, thinking Jesus would not return soon engaged in activities consistent with their moral condition; violence and sexual immorality.

Matt 24:49

(Mat 24:49)  and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards;

Unbelief manifests itself in other forms of sin, including persecution violence against those who believe and trust God and even cannibalism. Unbelievers, in spite of their depraved state, still refuse to believe in God.

(Psa 14:4)  Do all the workers of wickedness not know, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the Lord?

“…beat his fellow slaves…”

The text does not say if the beating leads to death or not. However, the context suggests that it is an unjust, criminal offense. Violence toward believers and rejoicing in sin without regard for a future judgment characterized the time period just prior to Jesus’ return.

 

 

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Matt 24:50

(Mat 24:50)  the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,

As the days of Noah became more evident and Christ’s return hastened nearer, what was a Christian to do?  Jesus says…

(Luk 21:34)  “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;

(Luk 21:35)  for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.

His return came upon all, all of Judaism. It come with the swiftness of a trap for those who Jews who were unprepared, unrepentant sinners and worldly, professing Christians. Similarly, here in Matt 24:50, the Master returned when the wicked slave did not expect it. Judgment came with the return of the Master, in 70AD.

Matt 24:51

(Mat 24:51)  and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Luke’s parallel account has it as…

(Luk 12:46)  the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

“…cut him in pieces…”

To be ‘cut in pieces’ (in the KJV ‘cut asunder’) was a form of punishment practiced by the Persians, among other kingdoms. Dan 2:5, 3:29 indicate that dismemberment was a normative practice while 2 Sam 12:31 and 1 Chron 20:3 indicate that people were sometimes sawn in two.

“…with the hypocrites….”

This would have resonated with the disciples, being Jews. The disciples knew that Jesus had called the Pharisees ‘hypocrites’ on numerous occasions.  It would have been an insult to suggest that Jews could be placed in the same place of punishment as unbelievers.

Luke’s account in Luke 12:46 has ‘hypocrites’ being equivalent to ‘unbelievers’, a stinging indictment to those Jews who for several years had had the full revelation of their Messiah King presented to them in the form of Old Testament prophecies and the personal revelation of Jesus’ Himself.  Still, the Jewish leaders remained in unbelief of Jesus being their Messiah King.

“…weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Gnashing of teeth describes what a person does when in intense, torturous, unending pain. It can also describe somebody who curses continually. Both could go on forever in the lake of fire, since the Revelation indicates that when a person dies, they remain in that same spiritual condition forever.

(Rev 22:11)  “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”

Thus, those who curse will continue to curse. In so doing, they will perpetuate the just wrath of God upon themselves in a hellish torment forever. Jesus uses the picture of the furnace of fire to describe the place of where the souls of the wicked will endure this ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ forever.

(Matt 13:42)  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This place of weeping and gnashing of teeth is also called the ‘outer darkness’ (Matt 8:12, 22:13 and 25:30).

(Mat 25:30)  “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(2Pe 2:17)  ‘…the black darkness..”

(Mat 22:13)  “….outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

(2Pe 2:4) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

Luke’s account of this same parable adds the following:

(Luk 12:47)  “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,

The slave who had sufficient revelation of the Master’s will yet willfully did not act on that revelation (did not prepare for the Master’s return) will be accountable for it and punished severely.

(Luk 12:48)  but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

The slave who received little revelation of the Master’s will, but who did not prepare for the Master’s return due to ignorance yet still did deeds worthy of punishment will receive a comparatively lesser punishment.

There are different degrees of punishment in the afterlife, as scriptures clearly indicate (Matt 10:15, Heb 10:29). God punishes sinners commensurate with the degree of willful disregard for His revelation of Himself to them, be it through nature or through the gospel.

Those who have been given much revelation of Him are expected to respond in greater measure than those who have been given little. If they do not, they have no excuse and God is obligated to punish them accordingly. Referring to pagans, the apostle Paul said…

(Rom 1:18)  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

(Rom 1:19)  because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

(Rom 1:20)  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Today, God’s abundant revelation of Himself is not limited to just nature, but includes philosophy, the existence of objective moral values, the historical evidence supporting Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, personal testimonies from Christians, revelation the bible and the good news of Jesus Christ from those who preach the gospel. Nobody will be able to plead ignorance on the Day of Judgment.

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4 thoughts on “Matthew Chapter 24: A Commentary

  1. FX

    Bonjour InfidelRising,

    Thank you for sharing your commentary of Mathiew 24. Very interesting !

    I have one question : how come you do not interpret the 3.5 years mentionned in numerous passages as litteral?

    Blessings from France,

    François-Xavier

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    1. infidelsrising Post author

      The allies of the beast in (Rev 17:12) receive power “for an hour” to wage war against the saints (Christians). How reasonable is it that a ten nation alliance to kill Christians would last for only a single hour? Similar to how the word “day” is used in the sense of an unspecified length of time as in the “day of the Lord”, this is an example of how some references of time in the Revelation are not literal.

      The designation of 3.5 years is used differently in different contexts, which leads me to believe that it is not a literal 3.5 year period, but simply a form of speech called idiom, used figuratively to designate periods of persecution violence. For example, 3.5 years is associated with persecution violence in Rev 11:2,3,9-11, Dan 7:25, 12:7, Rev 13:5 and also Rev 12:6, 14. There are instances where a literal 3.5 years fits and other scriptures where it does not. In any case, it should be noted that all references to a 3.5 year time period involve affliction of genuine believers, either Jewish or Christian. A brief summary of the instances where 3.5 year time period are mentioned follows:

      (Dan 7:25) He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws — and they shall be given into his hands until A TIME AND TIMES AND THE DIVIDING OF A TIME.

      I believe this is referring to the persecution of believers in the time period just prior to Jesus’ return. If the 3.5 year time period of (Daniel 7:25) is mirroring the “forty two months” of (Rev 11:2), both may be identifying a different, exclusive end times persecution of Christians unlike earlier persecutions in its scope and severity. John the Revelator’s application of this figurative use of time periods may have been picked up through his knowledge of the Old Testament, where it is used in end times verses like (Dan 12:7 time, times and half a time) (Dan 12:11, 1,290 days) and Dan 12:12 1,335 days). John was Jewish, and took much of the symbolism, language and imagery in the Revelation from the Old Testament. It should not surprise us that he also uses numbers figuratively.

      (Dan 12:7) It shall be for a time, times, and half a time that he can scatter the power of the holy people.
      From an historical perspective, it is a significant fact that the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV Epiphanes is said to have lasted 3.5 years. That (Daniel 12:7) is referring to an end times period of persecution finds its mirrored match in the Revelation, though not in the literal sense of 3.5 years, but in the sense of describing a period of intense persecution.

      (Rev 11:3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

      The stated time period of “a thousand two hundred and sixty days” should be understood to be a variation of the 3.5 year motif indicating persecution and affliction during the time of their ministry, of which they ultimately succumb but are later resurrected.

      (Rev 11:9-11) Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them.

      In (Rev 11:9-11) it is said of the two witnesses that they were dead for “three and a half days”. Their 3.5 day time of being dead and unburied in the streets may be a literal time since the surrounding context includes those who look upon their bodies. But since chapter 11 is filled with figurative language, perhaps we should not be so quick to depart from a figurative interpretation.

      The “dead bodies” may be just be representing how martyred believers have always been treated by those who despise the truth. The 3.5 days, to be consistent with the “three and a half” motif of other scriptures may simply be describing their death as being martyrdoms.

      The life of these witnesses is characterized by persecution and affliction (the one thousand two hundred and sixty days of Rev 11:3), while their physical bodies lie irreverently ignored, martyrs during a time of severe persecution (the three and a half days).

      (Rev 12:6 KJV) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days.
      (REVELATION 12:14 KJV) And the woman was given wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

      Notice how (Rev 12:6) uses the word for a literal 1260 days (which is 3.5 years), while a few verses later (Rev 12:14) uses “times, time and half a time”? It may be because it is referring to separate events in history, or perhaps looking ahead to two separate events.

      During the persecution of the woman, Israel, according to (Rev 12:6) Israel flees to the wilderness for “times, time, and half a time), what is universally assumed to mean three and a half years. It was not all of Israel, but a portion that went to a place “prepared for the woman”. Some eschatologists believe this is a reference to Masada. It was during the “Great War With Rome”, from 67-73AD, which included the well-known destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 that a group of Jewish Zealots took refuge at the fort of Masada, built by Herod the Great for his own protection in case of a Jewish revolt. The Jewish Zealots occupied Masada from the fall of AD70 to approximately AD74…times, time and half a time, 3.5 years of intense persecution.

      The reference to the woman being “nourished” is that while the Roman legions were preoccupied with Masada, a remnant of Israel would escape Jerusalem. God always has a way to preserve a remnant of His people.

      Sixty-two years later, a second Jewish revolt occurred, this time the so-called Bar-Kokhba Revolt. This occurred during the reign of Rome’s Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian founded a small city upon the ruins of the Jerusalem. Part of the construction included a temple, dedicated to the Greek god Zeus, built on the Temple Mount.
      This was an obvious desecration, Rome’s final attempt to eliminate Judaism from existence, to replace it with the Greek Hellenistic pagan god religions. It would be the last desecration of a Jewish temple until the Dome of the Rock would be built over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in 691AD, a desecration that exists to this day.
      This last hold-out revolt occurred in Bether, Israel, which today is called Bettir. It lasted from 132AD to into 135AD…a little over 3 years of intense persecution of Jewish people. In either case, an intense period of persecution is being affirmed by the use of a 3.5 year designation.

      Revelation Chapter 12 begins with a description of the history of persecution of Jews and Christians (the seven heads and ten horns of the red dragon, satan, of (Rev 12:3), referring to seven periods of persecution of Jews and 10 Roman persecutions of Christians). During their persecutions, the Jews never gave up the word of their testimony and a remnant was saved. From the perspective of the two Jewish revolts and from a perspective of intense persecution, the use of the two different ways to describing 3.5 years understates the severity of the persecution Christians will encounter in the time just prior to the Lord Jesus’ return, which is how Revelation Chapter 12 concludes.

      (Rev 13:5) And there was given to the beast a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and power was given to him to continue forty and two months.

      Obviously this is an aggressive, hostile enemy of the one, true God as the entirety of Revelation Chapter 13 describes. This is the same “forty two months” of (Rev 11:2), where the city (the community of Christians) is suffering intense persecution.

      “..and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months…”

      Luke 21:24 has the exact same wording when it says…(CAPS mine for emphasis)

      (Luk 21:24) And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be TRODDEN DOWN OF THE GENTILES, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

      So we see numerous instances of persecution violence, but each of them are described in different designations of 3.5 years…..times, time and half a time, forty two months, 1,260 …etc

      Luke 21:24 is obviously referring to the real city of Jerusalem, since Jerusalem and the Jewish temple were overrun and destroyed by mostly Syrian and Arabian conscripts in service to the Roman Empire. This is the 70AD fulfillment of Daniel 9:26.

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