Bible Warns of Apostasy and Persecution, Part 4
In Matthew 24, Jesus points out a number of things that He knew would be written down and kept until the end of this current age. In essence, much of what He taught in His Olivet Discourse there turns out to be for those living during the final portion of time leading up to and culminating in His physical return to earth. It’s clear that this is so from what He taught as compared to history. Yet, people argue over the word “this” and lose sight of the overall meaning.
There are several signs Jesus pointed out during His Olivet Discourse that should make Christians today take notice. Unfortunately, so much of what He said has been relegated to the distant past (relative to today), that those who try to see the signs in light of Scriptural truth are often mocked and ridiculed. It shouldn’t be that way, but Satan never sleeps.
I’ve gone over this section of Scripture in detail in several books I’ve previously written but I’ll try to summarize things in this article and the next to see how things sync up with the Bible and what it all means for us. To be sure, at least some of what Jesus speaks of did occur within 40 years or so of His death and resurrection. We know this because we can simply compare His Words to history to prove it. We’ll get to that in a moment.
There are numerous other events that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 24 that have only begun to occur in this modern age, within the past 80 to 90 years. How do we know? It’s largely due to understanding the meaning of Jesus’ own words and the broad – yet specific – brush He uses to paint us a picture. Let’s look at the text and we’ll start with Matthew 24:1-2 (NET).
Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts and walking away, his disciples came to show him the temple buildings. 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!”
You may recall that the twenty-third chapter of Matthew was not something that the Pharisees and other religious leaders wanted to hear. Feel free to go back and refresh your memory because in that chapter, Jesus condemns these religious leaders numerous times and ends that chapter by noting Israel’s coming destruction. It is shortly after His speeches, woes, and declarations to the religious leaders (for rejecting Him, Israel’s Messiah), that Jesus was leaving the Temple courts, came across His disciples and they quite innocently pointed out the beauty of the Temple. They may have simply wanted to strike up what they thought to be innocent conversation. Maybe they saw that He did not appear to be “happy” and wanted to cheer Him up by redirecting His attention to the Temple. In any case, Jesus used their comments to teach them about events that would lead to the destruction of the Jewish Temple as well as those that would lead directly up to His return. That event would also end the current age and begin the new one; the Messianic Age.
Now that Jesus had been officially rejected by the religious leaders of Israel, dominoes were going to fall and in Matthew 24, Jesus provided fairly detailed information about those dominoes. He first says – pointing to the same Temple that the disciples had just highlighted – that the Temple would not only be torn down but there would not be one stone left on top of another. Wow, really? Yes, really.
If we move ahead roughly 40 years into the future, we see that this became a reality when Roman armies completely surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed the city. During the process, the Temple was also destroyed. Roman soldiers removed each and every stone of the Temple in order to melt the gold overlay for Rome’s coffers. This all occurred in AD 70 and if you go to the Temple Mount today, you’ll see simply a very flat area where the Jewish Temple used to stand. Of course, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques stand in the same general area now, but there is no sign (save the very foundation itself) that the Jewish Temple once stood on this sacred mount.
Because Jesus has piqued the interest of the disciples, they ask three separate and distinct questions, though some commentators argue they asked two questions, with the second one having two sections (Matthew 24:3). In either case, Jesus responds to their queries.
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?”
As you can see the three questions are as follows:
- When will these things happen?
- What will be the sign of your coming?
- What will be the sign of the end of the age?
It is important to grasp the fact that they actually asked Jesus three individual questions here. They wanted to know when the Temple would be destroyed (“not one stone will be left on another”), they wanted to know what signs might be associated with the Second Coming, and finally, they wanted to know what sign(s) might be connected with the end of the age. It is also very important to understand that according to rabbinic sources, there are only two ages: this age in which we currently live and the coming age when Messiah will reign. When this current age ends, it will do so because the Messiah will return and start the new age.
We will delve into these questions beginning with our next article in this series. Join me then.
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming, temple mount. Tags: jewish temple, matthew 24, olivet discourse, temple mount.