Let us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 23.
Last week’s look at Matthew 23 ended with Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem. For the sake of our readers, we took a jump forward to Paul’s writing to the Romans regarding the mystery of the Salvation of the Jews. God still has a plan for the Jews that has played an integral part in the inclusion of us Gentiles into the Kingdom of Heaven, and we know that He will do something for the Jews once the fullness of us Gentiles has come in. I feel no need to practice any form of prophetic code-cracking.
Today we’ll move into Matthew 24. This passage is our primary text for forming our eschatology… it is Jesus specifically answering the question “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age”? I am completely baffled that anyone would build their eschatology with any other passage as the foundation.
Matthew 24: 1-2 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Matthew 24: 3-14 (ESV) | Signs of the End of the Age
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The disciples asked Jesus several questions, that they thought would all occur at the same time. Jesus answers the most important questions regarding His return and the signs of the end of the age. The Christian Way is to set our hearts on Heavenly things while walking as exiles and sojourners in this world, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making disciples and baptizing them in the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus glazes over the first question regarding when the temple would be destroyed in the mention of wars and nation rising against nation. That happens roughly around 70 AD. What remained of the Church in Jerusalem was finally scattered to the ends of the Earth. But that Temple was no longer the focus of the Promise to God’s people… Jesus is. The testimony and proclamation of the Gospel of Grace and of Christ’s finished work on the Cross is now the Power of God to save. That physical Temple was destroyed, but Christ had already come and the veil had already been torn apart. The Physical temple was superseded by the Body of Christ.
Matthew 24: 15-28 (ESV) | The Abomination of Desolation
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
This passage is about the Tribulation that will come as the sign of the end of the age. We have indeed seen several instances of great tribulation since the Ascension of Christ, but these are all precursors to what is coming. No one will be able to say “Christ has returned, come here”… no one, because all will see. It will be the end. The mention of “false christs” can also be translated “falsely anointed ones”. In our day, there are hundreds if not thousands of individuals falsely claiming special “anointings”. Rebuke them. Do not fear them. Do not listen to them.
Matthew 24: 29-31 (ESV) | The Coming of the Son of Man
“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 heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, 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. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
NO SECRET RETURN/RAPTURE. Christ will return once, and for all.
Matthew 24: 32-35 (ESV) | The Lesson of the Fig Tree
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
This passage is often plucked right out of this chapter and presented in some twisted attempt to reject the bodily return of Jesus at the end of the age and somehow dismiss this chapter as only a foretelling of the destruction the Temple in Jerusalem. Sometimes it is used to suggest that the Temple mount has to be rebuilt for Christ to return… but that doesn’t fit the narrative here. Once the Temple was built, we don’t see a return to the Tabernacle. Now that Christ has come, there is no reason to keep pushing back toward the Temple. That veil was torn by God. We, the Body of Christ, are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 24: 36-51 (ESV) | No One Knows That Day and Hour
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant 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 put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This month, we’ve had a lot of flat-out stupid claims of prophetic insights made by self-proclaimed prophets and so-called Christian teachers/preachers. The 4 blood moons, the “mystery of the shemittah” and whatever Harold Camping-esque contrivance declared today (Oct 7, 2015) the end of the age… whatever. False christs and false prophets practicing divination and omen reading to spread fear and doubt for selfish gain… to sell books and rations for the apocalypse.
Dear Christian, you are not called to calculate the day or the hour, nor are you called to warn people of a specific date, or sign, or prognostication… you are called by the Grace of God to walk by faith in Christ. Preach the Word, both in season and out of season. You have no say in Christ’s return… none. He will return at a time of His choosing to judge the living and the dead.
Until Next Week
Next week we’ll be working through chapter 25, where Jesus continues to teach concerning His return at the end of this age. We’ll work through 2 parables which are parallels to this site’s theme or tagline from Luke. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,