Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                           January 16, 2011                           NO. 3

 A Study Of Matthew Twenty-Four (I)  
     A study of Matthew twenty four is very interesting. This is one of the most perverted passages in all of the Bible. Jesus warned about being deceived. In verse four He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you”. In verse 15 He said, “Whoso readeth let him understand”. Therefore, we will examine this passage with caution.
Certain Keys Jesus Gave To Help Us Understand
     Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Mt. 24:34). It is obvious that you and I live in a different  generation from the one our Lord Jesus Christ lived in. Therefore, it is not proper to take statements Jesus made in verses 1-34 and apply them to our generation. Jesus was not talking about “wars and rumors of wars” (Verse 6) in our generation, but “wars and rumors of wars” in His generation. This is also true of the “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes” (Verse 7). In just about every generation, when wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, or earth-quakes occur, some preachers use this passage to tell us the end of time is near. Jesus was not talking about what would happen in our generation, therefore Jesus was not giving signs to tell us the end of time is near. Jesus was giving signs to tell the generation He lived in that the destruction of the temple was near. The temple and city of Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 AD. This took place about thirty-seven years after Jesus gave the signs. The word generation is a translation of the Greek word genea. It is defined “a period ordinarily occupied by each successive generation, say, of thirty or forty years” (W E Vine Vol. 1, P. 42). Mr. Thayer says, “A space of from 30 to 33 years” (Th. P. 112). This would prove that everything Jesus taught up through verse 33 occurred within forty years, from the time He taught it.
     Another important key to understanding this passage is the fact that Jesus did not know when He would return at the end of the world (Mt. 24:36). Jesus did not know, and the angels did not know when the destruction of this world would be. Only the Father knew when the world would end. Jesus did know when Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. Therefore, Jesus could give the disciples some signs which they could see. He said, “when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Mt. 24:33). There will be no signs to tell us when the Lord will return. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Since Jesus did not know when His second coming would be, He could not give us any signs to show us when it would be (Mt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). In view of this we know that all the signs Jesus gave in Matthew 24, were to show when the temple would be destroyed, and not when the earth would be destroyed.
Questions The Disciples Asked
     When the disciples showed Christ the buildings of the temple (Mt. 24:1), Jesus told them, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mt. 24:2). When Jesus sat on the mount of Olives the disciples came to him privately asking him some questions (Mt. 24:3). Mark tells us the names of the disciples. They were Peter, Andrew, James and John (Mk. 13:3). The questions were, “when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (Mt. 24:3)”? Jesus had told them there would not be left one stone upon another in the temple. They asked the question, “when shall these things be”? Jesus proceeded to tell them of some signs they could look for to know when these things would be. We know from history that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. This was when the temple was so completely destroyed that one stone was not left upon another. All of the signs Jesus gave them, and the destruction of the temple, occurred during that generation. The temple was destroyed about thirty-seven years later.
     They asked Jesus, “What shall be the sign of thy coming”? We know the coming of Christ, in the Scriptures, is not always His second coming. We will cite some passages of Scripture to prove this.  In fact, we know Jesus is not talking about His second coming in answer to this question, because Jesus did not know when His second coming would be, and thus it would be impossible to give them some signs to show when. The signs of His coming, which Jesus gave, had reference to His coming to destroy Jerusalem and the temple. When the Roman army came to destroy Jerusalem and the temple, Jesus came with them, and helped them in this destruction. Verse 27 says, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be”. Lightning suggesting the speed of such judgment.This would occur in that generation (V. 34) which proves this is not the second coming of Christ. Jesus explains what He is talking about in verse 28. He says, “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” The dead carcase represents the children of Israel who are dead in sins. The eagles are the Roman army, under the leadership of Titus their General and Jesus Christ. In Ezekiel 17 the king of Babylon is pictured as an eagle that came against Jerusalem when they were taken to Babylonian captivity. Jesus is pictured as coming numbers of times in the Scripture where it is not referring to His second coming. The following passages talk about His first coming (Jn. 1:15,27;12:13; Acts 7:52;13:24). Jesus told the church at Ephesus that if they did not repent, He would come quickly and remove the candlestick (Rev. 2:5). Jesus told the church at Pergamos that if they did not repent He would come quickly and fight against them with the sword of His mouth (Rev. 2:16). Jesus pleaded with Jerusalem to repent. He said, “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zechariah son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the alter. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 23:34-39). Jesus came with Titus and the Roman army in 70 AD and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple so there was not left one stone upon another.
     The end of the world is discussed in verses 36-51. There are no signs given in verses 36-51 to show when the end of the world would be, because Jesus did not know when His second coming would be. He knew the coming of the Son of man would be like it was in the days of Noah. They would be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Mt. 24:37-38). They did not know when the flood was coming, and we do not know when the Lord is coming (Mt. 24:39). In fact, Jesus Himself did not know when He was coming (Mt. 24:36). Jesus, since He created all things (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16,17), knew the earth was round; and therefore when He comes in some parts of the world men will be in the field, while in other parts of the world women will be grinding at the mill (Mt. 24:40, 41). Jesus knew that in some parts of the world it would be evening, in other parts of the world midnight, in other parts of the world the time for the cock to crow, while in another part of the world it would be morning (Mk. 13:35). Jesus knew all of these things, and yet He did not know when He was coming again (Mt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32).
A Verse By Verse Study
     We will first look at verses 1-34, verses that contain signs to  tell the disciples when Jerusalem would be destroyed, and the temple so destroyed that one stone would not be left upon another. The first sign is found in verse 5. Many would come in Christ’s name claiming to be Christ, deceiving many. In verses 23 and 24 Jesus warns again of false Christs and false prophets, which would show great signs and wonders, “insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”. The true Christ did signs to prove His deity (John 20:30, 31). Now the false Christs are showing great signs and wonders to deceive the people. Of course, Simon used sorcery to bewitch the people of Samaria (Acts 8:9). The magicians and sorcerers of Egypt turned their rods into serpents as Moses and Aaron did, but the rod of Aaron swallowed up their rods (Ex. 7:10-12). Paul talked about “false apostles” (2 Cor. 11:13,14). Both Jesus and Paul were talking about the same period of time, the period before the destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in 70 A D. Jesus said, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Mt. 24:6). The wars and rumors of wars were signs showing when the end would come. The end is not the end of time, but the end of the temple, and temple worship. This end occurred in that generation (Mt. 24:34). It took place in 70 A D. Jesus said, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Mt. 24:7,8). Remember, Jesus said all these things would be fulfilled in that generation (Mt. 24:34). He was not talking about the second world war, though many preachers quoted this passage, during the second world war, to try to prove the end of the world was here. Jesus was talking about nations and kingdoms of His generation. He was talking about famines, pestilences, and earthquakes of His generation. He was not talking about the earth-quake that hit Seattle a few days ago. He was not talking about any earth-quake of our generation, or any other except His generation.  All of these were the “beginning of sorrows” of His generation. It has nothing to do with the sorrows of any other generation.  
     Jesus said, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Mt. 24:9).  Remember, this happened in that generation (Mt. 24:34). Also remember to whom Jesus is talking. It was Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mk. 13:3).  These disciples were “afflicted”. James was killed (Acts 12:2). There have been other generations in which Christians have been afflicted and killed, but Jesus was talking about the generation of Peter, James, John and Andrew. There are people today that are offended and some are betrayed and hated, but Jesus was talking about His generation in verse 10. In our generation iniquity abounds and the love of many waxes cold. This is true of most generations, but Jesus was talking about His generation (Verse 12).
(To Be Continued Next Week)
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