- WARNING: Frigid society: “The love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12). Imploding civilizations that are based on economic inequity, seek to marginalize the poor of the society, just as James explained was the case in Israel at the time he wrote. Such societies become as the society of the northern kingdom of Israel when that civilization of Israel at that time came to an end. God said that “they [the rich elite] sold the righteous [poor] for silver and the poor for a pair of shoes. They pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor and pervert the way of the meek” (Am 2:6,7). God was preparing the northern kingdom of Israel for their demise. He wanted them to know exactly why He was bringing judgment upon them. As with the elite Sadducean Jews of the prophecy of Jesus, God was bringing judgment upon northern Israel because of those who exploited the poor:
“Therefore, because you [rich elite] trample on the poor and you take from him tribute of grain, and have built mansions of hewn stone, you will not dwell in them. You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you will not drink wine from them” (Am 5:11).
The judgment that God unleased on the elite of the last generation of the northern kingdom of Israel, was the same judgment He was going to unleash on the last generation of Israel about which Jesus prophesied. “I will smite the winter house [of the rich elite] with the summer house. And the houses of ivory will perish, and the great houses will have an end” (Am 3:15).
In the last section of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the consummation of national Israel, Matthew 24:14 is probably one of those statements of Scripture that has been misinterpreted more than most statements of the Bible. In the historical context of Jesus’ statements, He had the consummation of national Israel in mind in reference to the fulfillment of the prophecies of both Daniel and Ezekiel.
The prophecy of Matthew 24 would be fulfilled within forty years from the year in which Jesus made the prophecy. In order to spare Jewish Christians as much suffering as possible during the conflicts that led up to the final destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Jesus wanted to sift out of national Israel all those who were children of God by faith. These were those who would believe in Jesus as the Messiah. In order to call out of Israel all those who would obey the gospel, then the gospel had to be preached from synagogue to synagogue throughout the Roman Empire. All Jews had to be given an opportunity to obey the gospel in order to escape the coming consummation of Israel. In order to do this, Jesus promised, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then will the end come” (Mt 24:14). Those who believed and obeyed the gospel would also believe Jesus’ prophecy of Matthew 24.
The phrase “all the world” was in reference to all the world of the Roman Empire. It was all the world that would suffer from Roman’s wrath that she would pour out on rebellious Jews. The “end” would be the end of Israel, the consummation of all that a Jew was nationally. The end would be a tragedy for every Jew.
While in prison in Rome in A.D. 61, Paul wrote to the Colossians concerning “the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was preached to every creature that is under heaven” (Cl 1:23). We must affirm that the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in prophecy of Matthew 24:14 had been fulfilled by the time Paul wrote to the Colossians in A.D. 61. In only a few years after Paul wrote that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven, Rome commenced her campaign to bring national Israel to an end. Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:23 was his indirect affirmation that Jesus’ prophecy of Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled.
In the first consummation of Israel in the days of Amos, God warned the people through the prophets. Amos wrote, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing without first revealing His plans to His servants the prophets” (Am 3:7). And in reference to the end of national Israel in A.D. 70, this He did through Jesus and James. He warned the Jews to get out of Judaism through obedience to the gospel. And in getting out of Judaism, they would listen to the warning of Matthew 24 to get out of Jerusalem. Therefore, the warning to all those of Israel prior to the termination of national Israel in the first century, the words of Amos still rang loud in the ears of those who knew the work of God:
“Therefore, thus I will do to you, O [unbelieving] Israel. And because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Am 4:12).
Those who recognize the fall of civilizations, prepare for such by the renewal of their commitment to the unchanging Jesus Christ. When Christ becomes unfashionable, then the faithful renew their faith in he incarnational Son of God who gave His life that our existence will permeate any fallen civilization of this world.
The beautiful thing about being a Christian in this life is that Christians need not to fear when civilizations either fall through military conflict, or fall to the change of in moral standards and systems of government. Jesus and His moral standards have existed unchanged throughout the fall of numerous civilizations over the past two thousand years. Civilizations come and go, but the Christian can trust in the following words of Jesus regardless of the rise and fall of civilizations.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rv 1:8).
“I Am He who lives. And I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. And I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Rv 1:18).
[I will post when I have more!]