MATTHEW 24 RECONSIDERED
Some religious groups (or denominations) consider the entire chapter as fulfilled sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Other groups believe the majority of the chapter, other than the destruction of the temple at the beginning, as being far future events. The truth is most likely a combination of the two views. As will be pointed out, some events discussed by Jesus, will have a type of double fulfillment (i.e. near future and far future).
Matthew 24 NET Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts and walking away, his disciples came to show him the temple buildings. (2) And he said to them, “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!”
When Christ goes OUT FROM any society, individual, or institution, its overthrow is certain, and the consequence is always destruction. Christ’s prophecy of the overthrow of the temple was so remarkably fulfilled that the actual site is now uncertain. It is said the intentions of Titus were not to destroy the temple, but Titus’ order to spare the temple was not heeded. God’s will, not Titus’ order, prevailed which included the destruction of Jerusalem.
In view of the size of the stones used in building the temple, it must have appeared highly improbable that every one of them would be thrown down, and yet that is exactly the way it happened. The fire which ravaged the cedar beams and furnishings within melted the gold with which much of the temple was overlaid. It ran down into the crevices of the mighty stones, and the soldiers literally left no stone unturned as they sought to recover the yellow metal that had adorned Herod’s temple as loot.
The destruction of Jerusalem has previously occurred during the assault of Babylon around 604 BC. Jesus prophesied of the soon coming destruction that occurred in 70 AD. However it has been prophesied through Isaiah 29 that Jerusalem and surrounding areas will be destroyed for a third and final time and it will “happen suddenly, in a flash” similar to a nuclear explosion.
Isaiah 29:3-5 NET I will lay siege to you on all sides; I will besiege you with troops; I will raise siege works against you. (4) You will fall; while lying on the ground you will speak; from the dust where you lie, your words will be heard. Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld; from the dust you will chirp as if muttering an incantation. (5) But the horde of invaders will be like fine dust, the horde of tyrants like chaff that is blown away. It will happen suddenly, in a flash.
Jeremiah 19 speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem with words claiming, “I will smash this nation and this city as though it were a potter’s vessel which is broken beyond repair”. Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt two times since Jeremiah’s prophecy but the third time as spoken by Isaiah will completely fulfillment the prophecy of Jeremiah and Isaiah.
Jeremiah 19:11 NET Tell them the LORD who rules overall says, ‘I will do just as Jeremiah has done. I will smash this nation and this city as though it were a potter’s vessel which is broken beyond repair. The dead will be buried here in Topheth (or Tophet) until there is no more room to bury them.’
(3) As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Note that there are three questions raised by the disciples:
1. When shall these things be?
2. What shall be the sign of thy coming?
3. What shall be the sign of the end of the world?
The disciples asking these questions most likely considered all three event to occur simultaneously, however, they were mistaken. However, Jesus answered all three questions, by giving the sign of His coming, by outlining the prominent features of the destruction of Jerusalem, and making that event a type of his second coming, and setting forth a number of details that would be applicable to both events. That is, that the destruction of the temple and his second coming could be considered as dual prophecies with the first being a type of the latter as are several Biblical prophecies.
Although Jesus answered all three questions, to some degree, He did not answer them in the specific order they appear in the above verse.
(4) Jesus answered them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. (5) For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many. (6) You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. (7) For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. (8) All these things are the beginning of birth pains.
Jesus began His answer with an admonition of false Christs speaking false information. The complexity of their question was unknown to the apostles and would not be fully revealed to them except through their experience of unfolding future events.
There has always been wars and rumors of wars and this is to be expected but does not necessarily imply the end is close at hand. These things occurred prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and will continue to occur up until the end.
Famines, wars, and earthquakes seem to have multiplied during that period, but hardly any period of world history failed to exhibit the same occurrences. The lesson that all these types of events may be ignored except as basic characteristics of human wretchedness and misfortune and not necessarily signs of the end.
(9) “Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name. (10) Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another. (11) And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, (12) and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold.
These conditions were present prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and they are aptly present and apparent during these modern times. The rising persecution and hatred from without and the deteriorating conditions within the body of his disciples were to mark the beginning of both events.
All Christians should remain faithful regardless of the above listed circumstances which will occur until the return of Christ.
(13) But the person who endures to the end will be saved.
Faithfulness on the part of Christ’s followers is required, regardless of the state of prosperity or adversity in the church, and without respect to hardships, doubts, and difficulties that may appear. Jesus was not claiming that salvation is by works. He was simply arguing that genuine faith evidences itself in persistence through even the worst of trials.
(14) And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
It has been said the Gospel was preached throughout the known world at the time of the apostles. It will presumably be preached throughout the whole world at some time in the future. This may be the great outpouring of the Spirit predicted by Dr. Stephen Jones that is to come in a short while.
Colossians 1:23 NET ….. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.
The pouring out of the “Spirit on all people” is prophesied in Acts 2:17.
Acts 2:17 NET ‘And in the last days it will be,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.
(15) “So when you see the abomination of desolation — spoken about by Daniel the prophet — standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (16) then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. (17) The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house,
Daniel 12:11 NET From the time that the daily sacrifice is removed and the abomination that causes desolation is set in place, there are 1,290 days.
This verse has at least two applications. The first is when the “regular sacrifice” was abolished shortly after the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon in 586 B.C. The second is when the “regular sacrifice” was abolished by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 B.C.
Some exegetes claim it was again fulfilled when the first century priests continued their rituals and sacrificial system after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the King and the Melchizedek high priest.
Dr. Stephen Jones Daniel, Prophet of the Ages, Book 3
However, when we study the time 1290-year time cycle, it is clear that it started in 586 B.C. when the temple was destroyed. In fact, there are two ways in which this cycle was fulfilled in history, one by solar reckoning, and the other by lunar reckoning. By solar reckoning, the starting point is the fall of Jerusalem in 604-603 B.C., ending with the construction of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem in 688-691 A.D.
The abomination of desolation is usually held to mean the encirclement of the Holy City by the Roman armies prior to its destruction. The second cycle of 1290 years ended in 1978-79 with the Camp David Accord between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The framework was agreed upon in 1978, and the Accord itself was signed formally in 1979.
Commentator and exegete James Coffman claims, “The abomination of desolation is usually held to mean the encirclement of the Holy City by the Roman armies prior to its destruction” but this is not likely. However, Titus lifted the siege for some reason allowing the Christians to escape as foretold by Jesus.
(18) and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. (19) Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! (20) Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.
Jesus admonition to “pray” regarding the precise time of the flight proves that even in times of calamity the child of God, through prayer, may lighten their suffering and misfortune, and soften the occurring adversity. The prayers of the Judean Christians was answered and they escaped to Pella.
(21) For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen.
Josephus lists the thousands slain in various cities and villages. He places the number slaughtered at the fantastic total of 110,000! 30,000 Hebrew men were crucified upon the walls and in the vicinity of Jerusalem, so many, according to Josephus, that all the green trees in the area were cut down to make crosses and all lumber was confiscated.
(22) And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
That degree of mercy was originally fulfilled in the relatively short duration of the siege which lasted only five months allowing the Judeans to leave the area. If there is a future fulfillment is not known.
(23) Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe him. (24) For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (25) Remember, I have told you ahead of time. (26) So then, if someone says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him.
The former admonition of verses 4 and 5 are again restated to the disciples. Even as then, a constant stream of men claiming to be God’s chosen servants, leading multitudes into sin and infidelity with pretended claims continues. The first appearance of Jesus Christ was not done in a corner or closet but within sight and sound of everyone who desired to view. Thus, if anyone claims to be the returned Christ, they are not to be believed.
The mark of secrecy or hidden things, known only to the so-called “insiders,” was a certain and distinguishable characteristic of false Christs and false teachers. However, not even the first advent of Christ was distinguished by any type of concealment.
(27) For just like the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. (28) Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
Vespasian and Titus were returning from a campaign in the east when they decided, on the way back to Rome, to make an end of rebel Jerusalem. Thus, the power of the Roman army came from the east to the west. This is merely an historical note not necessarily related to the prophecy.
The primary meaning of the prophecy would apply to the extraordinary, worldwide, glorious revelation of Christ at his second coming. Does this mean that Jesus Christ will appear as some type of 3D image in the world’s sky? Most likely not. However, through some method, the event will be known worldwide.
A literal explanation of the carcass and the eagles would not be appropriate. The carcass, as a first century prophecy, might be the Judeans for their rejection of the Messiah. It can be said they were not only morally dead but judicially dead as well and did not deserve to remain in the land. As an added note, it is said, the decorations of the Roman standards was the eagle.
Extending the figure of the carcass and eagles to its final fulfillment at the end of the age, when the people of the world have become morally dead, God might manufacture certain types of destruction.
(29) “Immediately after the suffering (or tribulation) of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.
Verse 29 represents the most difficult phrase in Matthew 24. It appears to link this verse immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ’s reference to the prophecy through Daniel, a little earlier, indicates a long separation between the two events. Therefore, the words of this verse should be understood as a reference to the end of time and the final judgment, of which things the destruction of Jerusalem was only a type.
A similar account given in Luke 21 contains a phrase that separates the two events by many centuries. He says the Jerusalem survivors will be scattered “among all nations” and “Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”.
Luke 21:24 NET They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The word “Gentiles” is also translated as “nations” or non-Judean (Jewish) people. It can be said that Jerusalem has been populated by Gentiles until the Six-Day war on June 7, 1967 that enabled so-called Jews to occupy parts of Jerusalem.
Reference to the sun darkened, the moon with no reflective light, and stars falling from heaven may present a problem and should not be taken as literal but rather as metaphoric imagery. It the sun is darkened, all plant life would eventually die, meteorological catastrophes would occur, and depending on the cause, the earth could drift out of its present orbit.
Similar language can be found in other Old Testament prophecies.
Isaiah 13:9-10 NET Look, the LORD’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners. (10) Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer give out their light; the sun is darkened as soon as it rises, and the moon does not shine.
Isaiah 34:4 NET All the stars in the sky will fade away, the sky will roll up like a scroll; all its stars will wither, like a leaf withers and falls from a vine or a fig withers and falls from a tree.
Joel 2:10 NET The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine.
This universe-type of language always refers to the removal of certain people, certain events, certain types of government, and certain types of control systems. In the Revelation certain described earthquakes, if literal, would completely destroy the world. These types of events are used to describe the destruction of governments, nations, political and religious systems.
A darkened sun could be symbolic of the destruction of Mystery, Babylon i.e. the world central banking system currently directed by the Federal Reserve. It could be the draining of the USA’s deep state swamp, the rogue CIA, or countless similar entities around the world.
The absence of sunlight could be indicative of the absence of Christian faith producing various types of sinful activity. The darkness of the moon could be the coming disillusionment of Islam or it could be a heightened from of radical Islamic activities.
Falling stars most likely indicates the fall or removal of certain people misdirecting the affairs various parts of the world (i.e. government leaders; billionaires; black nobility entities; corporate directors; etc.).
(30) Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
The second coming will be a personal and glorious return of Christ in some manner. It will not be a representation of an enlightened social conscience, or in some marked increase of benevolence among men and nations, nor will it be some sudden forward advancement of civilization. As mentioned earlier in this article, it will not be an image of Jesus Christ in the sky. Although the result is not known, it will be an event that will leave no doubt in anyone’s mind.
The beginning of verse 30 appears to indicate it will be a sign, an unmistakable sign, that will be recognized by everyone. Everyone on the planet will “mourn” (to strike or beat one’s breast in grief) when they see this sign. It will not be a joyful experience for many. It is a mourning that would NOT occur if some invisible, psychological, or spiritual return occurred.
Mark 14:62 NET I am (i.e. the Messiah), said Jesus (to the religious leaders), and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.
Everyone will know and understand that Jesus was and is the Son of God.
(31) And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The angels will be the “clouds of Heaven” not saints who have died.
The feast of trumpets is the first of the autumn feast days that signifies the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is the appointed time for the resurrection of the dead that is generally referred to as the “rapture” by dispensational pre-tribulationists.
God instructed Moses to design two trumpets. Both were blown to assemble the entire community. Only one trumpet was blown to call the leaders. The leaders will be the overcomers; the elect; the saints of the most High God. The use of only one trumpet is authenticated by Paul.
Numbers 10:1-4 NET The LORD spoke to Moses: (2) “Make two trumpets of silver; you are to make them from a single hammered piece. You will use them for assembling the community and for directing the traveling of the camps. (3) When they blow them both, all the community must come to you to the entrance of the tent of meeting. (4) “But if they blow with one trumpet, then the leaders, the heads of the thousands of Israel, must come to you.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 NET (16) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
1 Corinthians 15:52 NET in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
(32) “Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. (33) So also you, when you see all these things, know that he (it) is near, right at the door.
This verse may be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. Some exegetes state that the return of Christ cannot be predicted in any way or manner. However, that may not be completely true. Dr. Stephen Jones has determined through the historical aspects of the Revelation and by other means of counting Jubilee years that the dissolution of Mystery, Babylon is occurring now and the Feast of Trumpets which is the resurrection and calling up of the elect may be soon. Of course, the exact day and hour and possibly the year cannot be predicted.
There are other predictable aspects such as 2nd Timothy 3:1-9 which prophesies of the reprobate lawless actions and manners of the world citizens prior to the harpazo gathering. Peter adds the appearance of outspoken atheists and anti-Christian individuals.
2 Peter 3:3 NET Above all, understand this: In the last days blatant scoffers will come, being propelled by their own evil urges
(34) I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
This verse provides the groundwork for those claiming that Matthew 24 is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and that it only refers to the 1st century event. Thus, this verse cannot apply to the second coming but to the destruction of the Jerusalem, for he said this generation would not pass away until all “these things” be accomplished. Generally speaking “this generation” will not all die until Jerusalem is destroyed.
Most people (including me) understand the word generation to mean a group of people living at the same time, but the Greek dictionary definition can be defined in that manner but it is not the first choice definition – it is the third.
1. fathered 2. that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family – the several ranks of natural descent, the successive members of a genealogy 3. the whole multitude of men living at the same time 4. an age
Considering that many aspects of this chapter signifies a dual or double prophecy – some belonging to the 1st century and simultaneously referring to the end of the age. In describing two events, separated by centuries of time (2000 years), some expressions would of necessity have double meanings.
(35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
A new heaven and a new earth are prophesied.
Revelation 21:1 NET Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more.
But the words of Christ will endure forever.
1 Peter 1:25 NET but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was proclaimed to you.
(36) “But as for THAT DAY and hour no one knows it — not even the angels in heaven — except the Father alone.
When Jesus uses the words, “that day” He is referring to the last days that include His return and compared to “these things” which should be considered as indicative of a near and future fulfillment of prophecy.
(37) For just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. (38) For in those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. (39) And they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man. (40) Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one left. (41) There will be two women grinding grain with a mill; one will be taken and one left.
Verses 40 and 41 give two instances of “being taken and left behind”. LaHaye’s Left Behind series is based on the dispensational pre-tribulational rapture doctrine where the wicked are left behind and the righteous are taken by rapture. However the information given in verses 39 and 30 show that the 8 people in the Ark were protected and remained on the earth for repopulation. The unlawful unbelieving people outside the Ark were taken away by the flood and died.
The Left Behind movie is the opposite of reality. The ones taken will die and the ones left behind will enter the Millennial Kingdom of God.
Proverbs 2:21-22 NET For the upright will reside in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, (22) but the wicked will be removed from the land, and the treacherous will be torn away from it.
Isaiah 13:9 NET Look, the LORD’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners.
(42) “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. (43) But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. (44) Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
The important idea in verses 42 and 43 is to constantly “watch”. Since it is impossible to know the day or the hour, all true disciples must ALWAYS be ready.
(45) “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time? (46) Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes. (47) I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions. (48) But if that evil slave should say to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ (49) and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards, (50) then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, (51) and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The audience of the admonition to “always watch” has changed from a general householder guarding against thieves to a slave or servant of the Lord. The servants maintain control of the Master’s (or Lord) household and possessions (i.e. the Kingdom of God). They should always maintain their faithfulness and Kingdom duties or they will be judged as a false disciple and will not receive part in the first resurrection.
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