Matthew Chapter 24

 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

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.

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. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Behold, I have told you before.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 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. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken:  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware ofAnd shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Whoo boy talk about a loaded chapter!

I know we’ve dipped into prophecies a bit here over the past year, and there is so much to pay attention to in all of the Bible prophecies, but this chapter is laden with signs and times so let’s dig in and see what we shall see.

Actually before we start, I just want to reiterate something. I’ve heard so many people over the years, even fellow believers who question any of us when we say that Jesus is coming soon.  They say, every generation has said that. Every generation has claimed to be the generation.  No one knows.

They are right in that no one knows the day or time, except for God.  I have seen many non believers twist words from this chapter and elsewhere when Jesus says, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  Trying to justify that Jesus was saying His disciple’s generation.

Yes, some things were fulfilled in the disciples time- the Temple as Jesus claimed, was destroyed and literally no stone was left on top of another. There were already false Christs and antichrists during the disciples times, and most of them were persecuted, handed over to authorities and martyred.

However, what separates us, our generation from those of the disciples and Christians ever since is mainly two things. Very important things. The rebirth of the nation of Israel- the budding olive tree, (the dry bones coming alive) and technology that wasn’t around in our parent’s/grandparent’s generation that could make so many things possible.  There will be more on that subject on Thursday.

The generation which sees the beginning of the prophecies fulfilled is the generation which will not pass until all of them have been fulfilled.  There are so many events happening in our lifetime, much have been building up over the past two decades, that one can almost literally look at news headlines and see the same thing written in the Bible.

OK now, back to Matthew 24…

The disciples asked privately when the things Jesus had said would be.  They were curious, as they couldn’t conceive of the Temple being utterly destroyed.  It would make sense that they’d want to know when and if it’d happen in their lifetime.  Just as those of us who believe He is coming again wonder when.

Jesus didn’t answer them to quell their curiosity, but like everything, teaching them of the things that would pass before the end of the age was important for a couple of reasons. One mostly so they could understand the signs of the times, and also to give them hope that once the prophecies were fulfilled,  He would be coming in Glory- to make things right.

It’s interesting though the finality of the coming destruction of the Temple, and Israel in these few little verses. When taken with the end of Matthew 23 when Jesus laments over Jerusalem and the Temple,  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.  And then continuing in the beginning of this chapter where Jesus departs the Temple and city, but He did not leave His disciples.

And His disciples didn’t leave Him.

I’ve seen artists renderings of what the Temple must have looked like, but can’t even begin to imagine coming upon the city and seeing that white stone shining bright against the sky and city. What an amazing and impressive sight it had to have been. And surely the disciples having seen it before, were still impressed every time.  Seeing Jesus’ attitude towards the city and His departure, I guess they figured pointing out the grandeur, strength and glory of the Temple would have lifted His spirit, so  it must have come as a shock of wonder to think it’d ever be destroyed.

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?  They don’t only want to know more about the Temple but of His coming in Glory. Still, they had the idea of somehow breaking the yoke of oppression from the Romans and being able to be free.  They probably didn’t realize that the destruction of the Temple and all it signified also meant freedom from the yoke of the religious leaders’ as well.

Jesus remarking of the destruction of the Temple and system of man’s rules, power and of things built of human endeavors was a reminder that things in this life are temporal, no matter how important or grand they may be.

Whether the disciples figured if the Temple should be destroyed, the world could not stand it, and would be destroyed also, or whether they were only curious of Jesus’s coming again, its not for certain, but Jesus describes in full detail the things that must take place and is in fact instructing His church of what will happen, but yet warns them even as they see certain things happening or hear rumors, it’s not yet.

Jesus doesn’t say when, He says what.  It’s one thing to give hope for things to come, leading to His return, but if He had set a specific day and time,  there’d be no incentive to occupy until He comes.  One only has to look at the date setting by numerous cults and offshoots of Christianity to see that if a day and time is set, people tend to sit and wait.

Jesus answers to caution them more than to satisfy their curiosity. He prepares them for the events instead of describing the events, and reminds them that these will mark the end of time.

He cautions first not to be deceived, but reiterates that important warning three times in this chapter- first by deceivers claiming to be Christ. Then by false prophets . But then again people claiming they had seen the Christ and/or prophets, which will perform signs and wonders to deceive.  When troubles and trials are great and threatening, people will always look for someone to deliver them out of their troubles. That’s when Satan will send people out to delude them and the people will follow and  say, Lo, here is a Christ, or there is one.  Many will be deceived.

Do not be troubled, when the whole world seems to be gearing up for war.  At the time after Jesus, before, during and after the Temple’s destruction, the Empire was pretty much at peace, but then with destruction came skirmishes between different regions, different tribes and a crackdown by the Romans to squash Christianity and keep Jews in their place.

Do not be troubled, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus through rumors and wars, preach the peace of the gospel to a war weary world.

But even then, the end is not yet. Next comes pestilences, famine and earthquakes- which on top of wars can break even the strongest minded.  Famine too, I’ve often thought, not only physical food shortage, but shortage of truth and wisdom.  It’s during those times and will be again that people demand those in authority to save them.

It’s also times that try men’s souls, to see if they are faithful in their belief, or only fair weather believers. How many will remain faithful even unto persecution?  In our time, it seems those in the west are more worried about government protecting our religious rights, turning to elections to keep things comfortable, while those in other countries are suffering real persecution and remaining strong in their faith in prison, torture, being driven from their homes, churches burned, bombed and torn down, and even during death.  How many will fall away as the world seems to fall apart and into chaos, praising a strong leader who claims he will make things better- and how many will stand on Jesus?

The love of many will wax cold, boy oh boy do we see this in so many ways.  From those who celebrate abortion, even so far as planned parenthood sending out mother’s day cards- to brutal beating deaths of older people by gangs just for the thrill of it, and those who record fights on their cell phones to be first to post on social media. Covering up and protecting sexual deviants in the church… The world has always since the fall had such vile and evil behavior, but it’s as rampant as ever in our times, or maybe just because we see it glorified on ‘news’ and social media sites.

But even among the church, love often waxes cold, pastors become burned out, those religious who perform works in hope of salvation become disillusioned and faithless, people offended by the church leave disgusted with religion, but never knowing the relationship with Jesus.

And yet still, the Gospel will be preached throughout the world- this is another prophecy that even in early missionary days wasn’t able to be fulfilled until our time.  With the internet, Bibles being smuggled into closed nations, translated in thousands of languages, even the most barbaric, isolated tribes are hearing and even having their own languages made into written form for the people to learn (as the Auca/ Wiodanni of South America) of God’s Carvings.

The end will not come until every person has at least heard the Gospel.

There are so many more things in this chapter, if folks want to discuss them in the comments, that would be great. I’d like to end this here though- one, because of length and also because I’d like to hear other’s views on the rest.

But the main points I take away from Jesus’ warnings is that no matter how bad things will get, no matter the time, always know that He is sovereign, and will be coming again.  Keep looking to Him and remember His other promise, Lo,  I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen

Have a blessed Wednesday all!