THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, we began looking at Matthew 24 and we examined the first 14 verses, in which Jesus is talking about those things that would take place before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. So, we are going to pick up right where we left off. These next verses that follow will continue to show that Jesus is talking about a local event that would only apply to the people at Jerusalem.
Matthew 24:15 Therefore when you see the 'abomination of
desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place"
(whoever reads, let him understand), 16
"then let those who are in
Jesus is telling them
that when they see the army on its way to surround Jerusalem, don’t waste any
time, get out of there. He tells them to flee to the mountains. Obviously, this
is not talking about the end of time because it wouldn’t matter where you ran,
you cannot escape the final punishment. So, it would be foolish to tell people
to flee if this were describing the end of the world, but it makes perfect
sense when we realize it is talking about the destruction of
Verse 17 shows us that he is talking about those living in Jerusalem at that time because the houses in the city were side by side and they had flat roofs. They used their roofs as a place to pray, sleep, and socialize. Since their roofs were flat and side by side, it would make it possible for them to run from roof top to roof top to make their way to the gate to get out of the city. Also, those in the field were to abandon their possessions and run when these armies came.
Matthew 24:19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
This gives us more proof
that Jesus is talking about the destruction of
Matthew 24:21 "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.
At this point, I want to point out a little bit of history. Starting in A.D. 66, the Jews and Romans began fighting each other. Most believe the Zealots were the instigators of this struggle. Josephus records in his book THE WAR OF JEWS book 2 chapter 19 about how the Roman General Cestius surrounded Jerusalem in A.D. 66, but for no apparent reason he left his siege of Jerusalem. In fact, notice was Josephus writes:
"It then happened that Cestius was not conscious either how the besieged despaired of success, nor how courageous the people were for him; and so he recalled his soldiers from the place, and by despairing of any expectation of taking it, without having received any disgrace, he retired from the city, without any reason in the world." (Wars, II, XIX, 6,7)
This certainly would have been a wakeup call for the Christians of that day who were taught what Jesus had said. From A. D. 66, not only were the Roman fighting the Jews, the Jews were undergoing a civil war.
If you ever get a chance, you can read about these events in the Josephus’ book. From his book, you can learn just how great the tribulation was during that time. When Titus came in A.D. 70, he came during the time of the Passover, so the city was full to capacity with the Jews who had traveled from afar to partake of the Passover and the events surrounding it. They locked up the city when he came, but someone burned their food source in the city, which they could have survived on for a long time, but now a great famine begins within the walls. Since there was a civil war going on inside the city, the dead bodies began to pile up within the temple area, which was an abomination within itself.
In a similar instance, as found in 2 Kings 6:24 -30, a woman was so hungry that she did the unthinkable. She killed her baby and ate it. The Romans crucified around 500 Jews a day. After all was said and done around 1,100,000 Jews were killed and 97,000 were captured.
This is an ugly scene, but it was just as Jesus said it would be. As I said earlier, not one Christian is recorded as being put to death by the Romans during this siege in A.D. 70. Josephus also tells us that the temple was destroyed on the same day and month as Solomon’s temple was earlier in history. I have always found this little fact to be interesting.
One more interesting point is that when the temple caught fire, the gold ran down through the stones of the temple and this is one of the reasons the soldiers did not leave one stone unturned because they wanted to get all the gold they could. Here is where we see history and the Bible being in perfect harmony.
Matthew 24:23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. 24 "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 "See, I have told you beforehand. 26 "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. 27 "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Jesus is re-emphasizing His point from earlier. He tells them, don’t be fooled by false christs or false prophets because when I come, it will be like lightning that flashes across the sky. This shows that when Jesus does come back, everyone will know about it, and it also shows that it will happen suddenly. Again, this teaches against the idea that when Jesus comes back again that it will be in secret.
28 "For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
This is a proverb. I believe the carcass is speaking about the Jewish nation which was dead immorally and spiritually just as Jesus said they were in Mat. 23. We all know that birds of prey will be attracted by a dead carcass, and they will come in and devour it. The word eagle or vulture was used in the OT to describe a foreign nation coming against the Jewish nation for punishment (Deut. 28:49; Hos. 8:1; Hab. 1:8). So, this is talking about the Romans coming to devour the Jewish nation by destroying their city in A.D. 70.
Our next verse can be confusing when you simply read it because it was written in a prophetic language known as Apocalyptic Language.
Matthew 24:29 " Immediately after the 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 the heavens will be shaken.
If we take this literally, it would be a very
scary scene. However, I will show that this is just a pronouncement of the
Let’s begin by looking at Isaiah’s prophecy about the downfall of Babylon.
Isaiah 13:10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. See Isa. 13:19-20
Notice how Ezekiel talks
about the downfall of
Ezekiel 32:7 When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, And the moon shall not give her light. 8 All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, And bring darkness upon your land,' Says the Lord GOD.
Using the whole council of God, we can see that our verse in Matthew is simply describing the downfall of the Jewish nation just as this language was used to describe the downfall of these other nations. Also the word “immediately” shows that this was happening immediately after the tribulations of those days.
Matthew 24:30 "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
This is another verse that can be easily misunderstood as well. It is important to note that it does not say the Son of man will appear in heaven, but that the sign of the Son of Man would appear. Jesus is speaking of the judgment that would happen to Jerusalem by means of the Roman army. Our verse in no way indicates that Jesus was literally going to return at this time. All of this goes hand in hand with what Jesus told the Jews at His trial in,
Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
Here we have Jesus sitting and coming at the same time. This shows us that Jesus would remain in heaven, and the destruction of Jerusalem was yet another sign showing that He was at the right hand of God with full power over His kingdom. Now this phrase “coming on the clouds of heaven with power” is another phrase that we can see used in OT on how the Lord would come against a nation by means of an earthly force.
Isaiah 19:1 The burden against
Here we see the Lord was
going to come into Egypt on a swift cloud. But how did He come? Was it a
literal coming? No, He came into
Matthew 24:31 "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
If you were to read this verse by itself, it would be easy to think that this is talking about the 2nd coming. However, in context, in cannot be talking about that. These types of symbols, like the trumpet and the four winds, are used in other places symbolically as well. The other difficulty with this verse has to do with the word ‘angel’ because this word simply means messenger, so it can mean a heavenly messenger or an earthy messenger.
Since the context of our verses has to do with things on the earth, the most logical approach to this verse is that it is referring to God’s people or messengers taking the gospel throughout the world. The term “four winds” is usually used to describe the entirety of the world.
If I am wrong and the word ‘angel’ is referring to the heavenly messengers, then I would have to say this is simply stating that God’s angels played some part in helping the Christians escape the Roman siege so they could be gathered together at a place of safety so that no Christian died during the siege.
Whatever meaning you apply to this passage, I am confident that it cannot mean the second coming of Jesus and the end of time especially when we consider the next few verses.
Matthew 24:32 Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors! 34 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
Jesus makes it easy for us to understand that all the things He just said would happen in their generation. Just as you can look at a tree that starts growing leaves and know that summer is near, in the same way, those living during that time could know without a doubt when the destruction of Jerusalem was near.
I want to make two more points that ties all this together. The two points come from the following two phrases “these things” and “those days”
This is important because Jesus just said that all these things He just spoke about were to take place in their generation. I want you to notice how these terms are used over and over again in the verses we have looked so far. Lets’ look at our phrase “all these things”
Matthew 23:36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Matthew 24:2 "Do you not see all these things? Referring to the buildings of the temple.
Matthew 24:3 "Tell us, when will these things be?
Matthew 24:6 See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass
Matthew 24:8 "All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Luke 21:26 "men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth
Luke 21:31 "So you
also, when you see these things happening, know that the
This shows without doubt that these signs had to take place in the 1st century and these signs were all fulfilled in the 1st century and have absolutely nothing to do with the end of the world. Finally, our phrase “those days” is also used within these verses as well.
Matthew 24:19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
Matthew 24:22 "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.
Matthew 24:29 " Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened …
Please remember that these things were to happen in their generation in those days. So, no one can use these signs as something we look for today that marks the end of the world.
Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Jesus is just reaffirming that His words are truth
and everything He said would come to pass. So far, only one topic has been
answered by Jesus, which was when would
Next, Jesus is going to answer the next topic, which is when would He come and bring an end to the world, and what signs they can look for?
Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Here we have a major transition from what Jesus had just been talking about and the word “but” shows that Jesus is talking about something completely different. This is more prevalent from the Greek language. I just pointed out that the previous verses were talking about those days (plural) and that there were signs of when those things (plural) were to take place. But notice, this verse is focusing on that day and hour. Jesus spoke many times to His disciples about that day,
Matthew 12:36 "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
"Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the
John 12:48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
These are just a few verses out of many that show that the final judgment and end of the world will happen on the last day. Also, Jesus points out that only the Father knows when that day will occur. The angels don’t know, and Mark’s account tells us that even Jesus doesn’t know (Mk. 13:32), So when someone tells you that they know when Jesus is coming again, you can know for sure that they are wrong because only the Father knows.
Matthew 24:37 "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Again, we can see that Jesus is talking about something different than He did before. Before, there were all kinds of tribulations and horrible things going on, but Jesus says when He comes, which is referring to His second coming, it is going to be like it was in Noah’s day. Everyone is going to be doing their own thing. They are going to be eating, drinking, and marrying. This is describing a peaceful setting because life is going on as normal. But just like the flood began unexpectedly and took the people by surprise, Jesus is going to come back when people are not expecting Him. So, once again, many people are going to be surprised and are not going to be prepared for that day. This is why Peter tells us,
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Just like in Noah’s day, many have been warned that Jesus is going to come, but they fail to take heed to the warnings, which in the end will cost them their souls. Next, Jesus gives us an illustration:
Matthew 24:40 "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 "Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
Those who teach the rapture doctrine will say these verses teach how one will be taken and one will be left behind at the alleged secret coming of Jesus, but these verses do not teach this at all. If we keep things in context and use the whole council of God, we can know that the just and the unjust will be raised at the same time on the same day.
John 5:28 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 "and come forth -- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
As Peter pointed out in 2 Pet. 3:10, the earth will be burned up on the day of the Lord. So, there will be no place for someone one to be left behind on the earth. Jesus is just giving an illustration that life is going to be going on as normal, but when He comes suddenly without any signs, those who are prepared and have lived faithful lives will be taken up to be with the Lord, but the unprepared will be left behind with all the sinners who will be judged and who will spend eternity in hell. Of course, this great separation between the sinner and the saint is discussed in Mt. 25 as well.
Matthew 24:42 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
One of Jesus’ main points that is expressed many times throughout Scripture is to watch and make sure you are ready for the Lord at any time. Once again, He is emphasizing that there are no signs that will show when He will come again, but we must always be ready for His return at any given hour.
Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 "But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' 49 "and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 "and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus drives His point home, but this time, He adds that a faithful servant is one who remains faithful until He comes again. Some will have the attitude that Jesus is not coming anytime soon, so they will sow their wild oats, engage in all kinds of sin, and tell themselves they will get right with God later, but Jesus warns against this kind of behavior because no one knows when He will come again, and you certainly don’t want to be caught living in sin when He returns because that put us in the same boat with the rest of the sinners who will experience weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus has answered His disciples’ questions. He
taught them about the things that must take place before the destruction of
However, I hope you do see how important it is that we remain faithful and ready every day because Jesus could come back today, tomorrow, or any day in the future.