Endure To The End
24:13 He who will endure: Those who remain faithful while in the midst of persecution, apostasy and tribulation will be delivered from the end of national Israel (See Rv 2:10). They will be spared (10:22). Jesus even promised the disciples that not a hair of their head will be lost in the destruction (Lk 21:18). However, the condition not to fall victim to the calamity that was coming was to heed Jesus’ warning concerning the destruction (See Lk 21:36). We can now see why Jesus was giving these immediate disciples the information of this discourse. Those who believed these pronouncements would not fall victim to the certain destruction of Jerusalem. The faithful would save their lives if they heeded these warnings. Those Jewish Christians who were still clinging to Judaism had to make a decision. They had to relinquish loyalty to Jerusalem and the temple and cling to Jesus. We can see in the contexts here why Jerusalem and the temple had to go. There was too much Jewish sentimentality connected to both the city and the temple. By A.D. 70 God would have been patient with Israel for forty years after the cross. In A.D. 70, it was time to cut national Israel off. Jewish Christians had to move on, on to a Christianity that was neither culturally nor nationalistically linked to Judaism or held up by an attachment to physical structures, leaders, or a particular cultural group (See Jn 4:20-26). The end, therefore, would be a paradigm shift that would purify Christianity of Judaism. Throughout history God does such things in order to bring us back to Him.
Preaching To The Empire
24:14 This gospel … will be preached: The good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection would be preached to all parts of the Roman Empire, before the destruction of A.D. 70. All the world: “All the world” is here certainly a reference to the Roman Empire as the phrase is so used in Luke 2:1 when Caesar Augustus sent a decree throughout all the world. This was not a decree that was sent to the entire world. The idiomatic expression “all the world” referred only to those who were under Roman jurisdiction. This same meaning is in Romans 1:8 when Paul said that the faith of the Roman Christians was known throughout the Roman Empire (See Rm 10:18; 15:19,24-28; Ph 1:13; Cl 1:6,23). The Roman Christians’ faith was certainly not spoken of throughout the rest of the geographical world. Reference to “the whole world” is again to the perimeters or jurisdiction of the Roman Empire. In Romans 10:18 Paul does use the phrase “all the earth,” or “ends of the world,” to refer to the complete world. Keep in mind, however, that Romans 10:18 was a quotation from Psalm 19:4. In prophetic language it is stated in the past tense. Paul quoted it in the past tense as it was written by David. This does not mean, therefore, that at the time Paul quoted Psalm 19 in Romans 10 that it had been completely fulfilled. In Romans 15:24-28 Paul desired to go to Spain and preach the gospel. The gospel had evidently not yet gone to Spain. Therefore, when he made the statement of Romans 10:18, the gospel at the time of his writing the letter of Romans had not yet literally gone to “all the earth” or “ends of the world.” In the context of Matthew 24, therefore, we would understand that the meaning of “all the world” refers to the extent of the Roman Empire. The practical reason for the preaching of the gospel to the Roman Empire before the destruction of Jerusalem is obvious. During the Passover/Pentecost feast, Jews of the Roman Empire would make the long journey to Jerusalem to celebrate this great Jewish feast. On the particular Passover/Pentecost feast of the Acts 2 events, there were Jews in Jerusalem from the eastern extent of the Roman Empire, that is, Parthia and Media. There were Jews from the southern extent of the Roman Empire in North Africa. There were Jews from all Asia and Italy. This journey to Jerusalem for Passover and Pentecost was a very precious event in the lives of devout Jews. In the context of Matthew 24, therefore, Jesus was giving a warning to the disciples throughout the Roman Empire in order to save their lives. When the gospel was preached to the Jewish inhabitants of the Roman Empire, they were to give up the Sinai law that mandated that Jewish males appear before the Lord on the Passover (Ex 12; 23; Nm 9). Those Jews who obeyed the gospel would be taught the prophecy of Matthew 24. They would thus stay away from Jerusalem. When the Roman army did come to Jerusalem in A.D. 70, they came at the time of the Passover. Those Jewish Christians who lived outside Judea believed the message of Matthew 24, and thus, were not there. Those resident Christian Jews of Jerusalem had fled before the coming of the Roman army (Compare At 8:4).
The Abomination Of Desolation
24:15-18 Abomination of desolation: The abomination of desolation would be the pagan Roman army in Judea. The army would be there to desecrate the temple. The presence of Rome’s army would be an abomination to the Jews. However, it would be the will of God, who was by proxy, bringing judgment on Israel through the power of the Roman army. Luke records, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Lk 21:20). Daniel had prophesied of this event in Daniel 9 & 11. Jesus was saying, therefore, that we must understand that the A.D. 70 event was the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy (See Mk 13:14). Daniel said, “And the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it will be with a flood, and until the end of the war desolations are determined” (Dn 9:26,27). Forces “will defile the sanctuary fortress. Then they will take away the daily sacrifices and place there the abomination of desolation” (Dn 11:31). “And there will be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation …” (Dn 12:1; see 12:11). Antiochus Epiphanes first desecrated the altar of Jerusalem by offering a pig on the altar. However, the final desecration would happen when the Roman army would destroy the altar in the destruction of the temple. Flee into the mountains: At the beginning of the time of destruction, the resident Christians of Judea must flee. They must heed Jesus’ warnings in order to perceive that the end of national Israel was near. The urgency by which they must flee is here revealed. In the ancient cities one could actually go from house to house on the roof tops of the houses. The houses were joined together so that one could simply go from one roof to another. Jesus says that they must not take the time to return to their houses for coveted possessions when they see the chance to escape the city. They must flee with what they have in hand. Jesus also warned that no one is to go to Judea during these days (Lk 21:21). This warning was possibly to those who might travel to Jerusalem and be caught in the war that was to rage throughout Judea. Jesus’ warning, therefore, was to save lives, the lives of those Jewish Christians who might still be honoring the Jewish feasts. The Roman army of Titus was under the command of Cestius Gallus. For some reason during the destruction of the city, he removed his encircling army from the city for a brief period of time. This gave all resident Christians of Jerusalem time to flee. This was possibly the time Jesus said that they must not come down from their roof tops. They must take the window of opportunity and flee from the city.
Pray For Flight
24:19,20 Pray: It would be difficult for pregnant women to flee during the war. Those with small nursing babies would also have difficulty in the flight from Judea. The prayers of the saints evidently had some determining factor as to when this destruction would occur, for Jesus asked them to pray that such not happen in winter when the journey of flight would be difficult. They must also pray that their flight not begin on the Sabbath, for fanatical Jews would close the city gates on the Sabbath and hinder any from leaving the city.
24:21 There will be great tribulation: Daniel prophesied that no nation from the beginning of time would have suffered as Israel was about to suffer at the hand of the Roman army. He wrote, “And there will be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Dn 12:1; see Dn 9:26). It would be a destruction that would occur over a few months, but a destruction that would terminate a nation forever. The siege occurred during the Passover, the time when the most “faithful,” or at least fanatical Jews were in Jerusalem. These Jews were trapped in the city. Over one million perished. The rest were sold into slavery. It was a time that the Jewish nation suffered more in just a few months than any nation before them. In fact, it was a time when national Israel, as a chosen nation of God, died.
War Shortened For Christian’s Sake
24:22 No life would be saved: God would shorten those days of the war. If the rate of killing Jews continued as it did during the battle, the slaughter of all Jews throughout the Roman Empire would have resulted in their annihilation. The killing would have spilled over into the community of Christian Jews. But for the sake of the Christian Jews, God would not allow the killing to continue past the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore, the destruction was contained in Judea. For the elect’s sake: Titus expedited the battle against Jerusalem in order to hurry back to Rome. However, the battle continued for about five months. Josephus records that the Roman army crucified about 30,000 Jews outside the city walls. Titus did such in order to discourage the Jews within the city, and thus, expedite their surrender. But the Jews persisted until both the city and temple were destroyed.
24:23 Do not believe it: Jesus again emphasized the concept that believers not be led astray by the deceptions of false messiahs. In time of national calamity He knew that the people would seek for a national savior. There would be those self-proclaimed deliverers who would seek to lead the nation in rebellion against Rome. Jesus tells the disciples not to follow such false guides. When the disciples later asked in Acts 1:6, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel,” Jesus knew that they still retained nationalistic hopes. In the context of Matthew 24, therefore, He gives teachings upon which they could reflect when the countdown started toward A.D. 70. They could reflect on what Jesus said in this discussion and know that His intention was not to establish a physical kingdom reign here on earth. It was never His intention to do so. It will not be His intention to do so when He comes again. Jesus’ kingdom reign was always planned to be from heaven, not from this earth.
False Messiahs And Prophets
24:24 False christs and false prophets: False christs and prophets would arise in the time of calamity in order to call people after futile causes, particularly the survival of national Israel. They would deceive people by assuming that they could work signs and wonders. These magical tricks of wonder would be so good among the false messiahs and prophets of the Jews that even some Christians would fall victim to their deceptions. Show great signs and wonders: These “signs and wonders” could not be real miracles simply because Jesus says here that Christians might be deceived into believing them. The point is that they would not be deceived if the supposed miracles were true. One is not deceived when he believes that which is true and real. This context is similar to Paul’s warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 where he stated that there would come those who worked lying wonders. In the 2 Thessalonians text the word “lying” modifies power, signs and wonders. All supposed miracles of Satan are false. Those who work deceptive powers, signs and wonders, are the instruments of deception. But Paul warns that “such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Co 11:13). They are not deceivers because they work true miracles. They are deceivers because they claim that what they do is the miraculous work of God. Jesus said, “Be not deceived.” The elect: All Christians are elect of God (1 Pt 1:2,10; 2:6), for in the end they will be elected out of the world for eternal salvation in heaven.
24:25 I have told you: Jesus told the disciples these things beforehand in order to prepare them to believe in Him when His prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem was fulfilled. He made a similar statement in John 13:18 after quoting Psalm 41:9 in reference to the betrayal of Judas (See comments Jn 18:19). The false workers about whom Jesus spoke existed in the times preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. Such false religious workers have prevailed throughout history. Christians, therefore, who would be disciples of Jesus must heed His warnings concerning such people (See 2 Pt 3:1-4). Peter stated that in the last days of national Israel, there would be those who would mock Christians for their belief in the consummation of national Israel by the coming of the Lord (2 Pt 3:1-4). The words of Jesus in Matthew 24 were in the mind of Peter when he made the statements of 2 Peter 3. He stirred his audience to remembrance by reminding them that they were in the last days. He wrote the letter of 2 Peter between A.D. 65 and 67. This was only a short time before the destruction was to begin. He reminded the people that Jesus was manifested in the last times of national Israel (1 Pt 1:20). The Hebrew writer stated to the Jewish Christians that God had spoken through Jesus in the last days of Israel (Hb 1:2). This was the “fullness of the time,” (Gl 4:4) and the end of the age of Israel (Ep 1:10). It was in the last times of national Israel that God sent forth His Son. The last days in these statements does not refer to the last days of the world, but to the end of national Israel in A.D. 70. It was the “last times,” the last times of national Israel. Jude and James also wrote just a few years before the fall of Jerusalem (See Jd 17). The few years preceding A.D. 70 were the last times of national Israel. God was bringing judgment upon the wicked vinedressers (the Jewish religious leadership) who attempted to steal the fruit and inheritance of the vineyard (See 21:33-45). National Israel had rejected God, and thus, God was rejecting national Israel. National Israel’s persecution of the “Israel by faith” was coming to an end. James wrote to suffering Jewish Christians of the Roman Empire around A.D. 62 or 63. He comforted the persecuted “Israel by faith” (the church) by saying that the coming of the Lord was at hand (Js 5:7,8). James was not talking about a “coming of the Lord” at the end of time. Discussion concerning a coming at the end of time would not have been an encouragement to his immediate readers. The “coming” in the context here is about judgment in time upon the nation of Israel. National Israel was the primary persecutor of Christians before A.D. 70. Jesus’ “coming in judgment” upon Israel was at hand, that is, it was near unto happening. In Matthew 24 Jesus was explaining the calamity of national calamity that would come forty years after the establishment of the church in A.D. 30.
24:26,27 Do not believe it: Before the end of national Israel there were those false christs (messiahs) who led gullible Jews into the wilderness in hope of deliverance from Rome. Jesus is here warning the disciples not to accept anyone who would lead them into believing that the Christ would come in time in a manner that would be characteristic of His final coming. When Jesus comes at the end of time it will not be a happening that must be communicated by people to people. It will be a happening that will be at the sound of the last trumpet, with the voice of an archangel (1 Th 4:15,16). In other words, Jesus says that if they are told that “the Christ” has come, they should not believe it, for the next personal coming of Jesus will be worldwide and heavenly announced.
Consumption Of The Carcass
24:28 Carcass … vultures: The carcass was the Jewish national carcass of Israel. The gathered vultures was the Roman army that came to consume the nation. When the disciples started seeing the gathering of the Roman army over Palestine as vultures gather over a dead carcass, they would know that the destruction of the spiritually dead Israel was about to happen.
Downfall Of National Israel
24:29 Immediately after … those days: The great tribulation of verse 21 would precede the final destruction of the city. Therefore, immediately after the tribulation of those days, the splendor of the Jewish nation would fall by the destruction of Israel’s pride, the city of Jerusalem and the temple. Sun will be darkened: Jesus uses apocalyptic judgment language from the Old Testament to portray the fall of the nation. Such language was commonly used by inspired writers in the Old Testament to symbolize the fall of nations (See Is 13:6-18; 14:12; 24:23; 34:4; Jr 4:23,24; Ez 32:7,8; Dn 8:10; Jl 2:30-32). The sun usually represented the king or monarch of the nation. The heavenly bodies represented the rest of the government officials. We must not allow ourselves to become inconsistent in understanding Jesus’ use of this figurative language by affirming this to be a literal falling of the sun, moon and stars. If taken literally, to where would the sun, moon and stars fall? We should consistently interpret such language as it was used in the Old Testament. It is symbolic language that refers to the fall of an earthly kingdom. Powers of the heavens will be shaken: When God shakes the heavens, there is great change on earth among the nations. This is the meaning of the figure in Haggai 2:6,7 from which Jesus draws this figure, “shaking the powers of the heavens.” God was going “to shake” heaven and earth in order to sift out of national Israel those who could not be shaken because they had submitted to the kingdom reign of Jesus in their hearts. This is precisely what the Hebrew writer stated when he wrote a few years before A.D. 70 (See Hb 12:26,27). National Israel was being physically removed in order to allow the “Israel by faith” to shine forth as the true people of God. These are the people who cannot be shaken (Hb 12:28).
The Sign Of The Son
24:30 Sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven: Jesus had earlier spoken to His disciples on the subject of His coming judgment. He had said that this coming (presence) would be “in the glory of His Father with His angels [messengers]” (16:27). Jesus had said in chapter 16 that some of His immediate disciples would experience this coming (16:28; Mk 9:1). So the sign here in verse 30 is discussing what Jesus had previously prophesied. When the Roman army eventually came, such would be God’s final signal that we believe in Jesus who made this prophecy. The fulfillment would be God’s last proof of Jesus as the Messiah. See: The word “see” (horao) could be translated “perceive” or “discern.” When all these things happen, men would perceive the judgment of Jesus on Jerusalem. Son of Man coming on the clouds: “Coming on the clouds” is judgment language from the Old Testament (Is 19:1; Jr 4:13; Ez 30:3; Dn 7:13). When Jesus brings this judgment through the Roman army, then people will perceive the judgment power of the Son. The disciples would thus witness the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. They would understand that Daniel 7:13,14 had been fulfilled. Daniel 7:13,14 speaks of the ascension of Jesus, for Jesus ascended unto the Ancient of Days who is the Father. However, before Jesus ascended to heaven, all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Him (28:18; Jn 13:3; 17:2). Many would not realize this until the physical fulfillment of the prophecy Jesus was making here in this chapter. When Jesus came in judgment on Jerusalem, then men realized that Jesus was exalted as King of kings and reigning over all things (Ep 1:21; 1 Tm 6:15; see Ph 2:9-11). Jesus was Lord of lords and King of kings before A.D. 70 (1 Tm 6:15). However, true Israel by faith did not “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (13:43) until after national Israel was shaken. When national Israel was taken away, the true Israel (the church), that could not be shaken, shined forth in the kingdom. This was a marvel, “a sign,” that the disciples would experience in their lifetime. If reference in this verse is not to the ascension of Jesus to the Father by the coming in the clouds, then the figure is to coming in judgment. It is a figure from the Old Testament that signified God’s coming in judgment upon the unrighteous (Is 19:1; Jr 4:13; Ez 30:3). This could possibly be what Jesus is here signifying. He indicates this same thought during His trial when He stated to the high priest that he would see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God and coming in judgment on the clouds of heaven (26:64). Of course the high priest would not literally see Jesus at the right hand of the Father with all authority. Only Stephen had that privilege (At 7:55). However, the high priest of Israel at the time of the judgment would see this power manifested by the judgment of God through the proxy of the Roman army. Those unbelieving Jews who experienced the destruction of Jerusalem certainly wondered why God was judging them. The disciples before A.D. 70 recognized the kingdom reign of Jesus. This kingdom reign would be manifested after A.D. 70 by the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy here in Matthew 24. The destruction possibly encouraged many disheartened Jews to turn to Jesus. This is possibly what Paul referred to when he mentioned their conversion in the context of Romans 9-11. A partial blindness had truly come among the Jews. It happen from the time of the establishment of the church in A.D. 30 to the time of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, a time of 40 years, which was possibly symbolic of the 40 years of wilderness wanderings when the unbelieving Jews fell in the desert of the Sinai wilderness. This was the time when the fullness of the Gentiles was completed in the sense that the early evangelists went to the Gentiles because they were rejected by national Israel (See comments Rm 11:25,26). Israel would be saved in the same manner as the Gentiles, that is, through obedience to the gospel. However, because of the stubborn nature of some Jews, they had to experience the destruction of the symbol of their religious heritage, before they would understand that God was finished with national Israel. The Messiah had come and Israel must accept the new King and kingdom of the Messiah.
Sending Forth Of Evangelists
24:31 He will send His messengers with a great sound: The Greek word angelos is translated “messengers” in this text. It is so translated in Matthew 11:10, “Behold, I send My messenger [“angelos”] before Your face ….” It is so translated in Luke 7:24, “When the messengers [“angelos”] of John had departed ….” Also, Jesus “sent messengers [“angelos”] before His face” to Jerusalem (Lk 9:52; see 2 Co 12:7; Js 2:25). Because some translators have believed that Matthew 24 refers to the end of time, they have translated the word angelos to refer to heavenly angels. But the context does not warrant this translation. Jesus was not historically leaping from a context of events that would transpire in A.D. 70 to events that might occur over two thousand years later. They will gather together: Jesus did send His messengers forth (28:19; Mk 16,15-20). The disciples were dispersed from Jerusalem in Acts 8:4 in order to take the message of the gospel throughout the world. Those who would believe were gathered together into the body of Christ, the new Jerusalem that had come down out of heaven (See comments Rv 21). Those who recognized that all things were fulfilled (5:18) came to Jesus. They converted from Jewish theocratic nationalism to spiritual revivalism. They realized that the new Israel was spiritual and was not confined to race (See comments Gl 3:28,29). Sound of a trumpet: The messengers (evangelists) went forth with the sound of a trumpet. This was symbolic language taken from the Old Testament. The trumpet was sounded in Israel as a warning of impending danger (Nm 10:2; Jl 2:1ff; Is 27:13). The disciples went forth not only with the message of hope in the gospel, but also the message of Matthew 24. Those Jews who did not obey the gospel would possibly suffer their own physical destruction in the calamity of A.D. 70. If those who refused to obey the gospel did not suffer the destruction of A.D. 70, then they would in final judgment face another destruction (2 Th 1:7-9).
Parable Of The Fig Tree
24:32,33 When you see all these things: The meaning of the parable from the fig tree was given in order to illustrate the nearness of the destruction as indicated by Jesus’ statements of verses 5-29. The fig tree puts forth her tender branches and leaves in the spring. Such indicates that summer is coming. The happening of the events of verses 5-29 would indicate the nearness of the destruction of Jerusalem. The disciples would understand that the coming of the Lord in judgment in time was at hand (Js 5:9).
Fulfillment Of “This Generation”
24:34 This generation: Some of those of Jesus’ generation, the generation to whom Jesus was speaking, would not die before all that He had just said had occurred. This verse is certainly parallel with what Jesus said in 16:27,28. Thus the disciples would go from city to city, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. This would be their message of hope. However, the messengers would also have on their lips a message of doom for national Israel. In their preaching, the unbelieving Jews would persecute them from city to city (10:23). Because of the Jews’ persecution of the messengers, God would bring judgment upon national Israel in order to confirm His messengers. Before Jesus arrived at this context of His message to the disciples in Matthew 24, He had stated, “Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (23:36). All these things are fulfilled: “These things” refer to the events of the coming destruction. These things would “come upon this generation.” God would bring the punishment of judgment upon the generation to whom Jesus personally ministered because they had personally rejected Him (See 12:41,42; Jn 1:11). Jesus’ generation would receive a more harsh judgment because they had personally witnessed the presence of the Son of God. The harsh judgment would be that they would not die a natural death, but in the calamity of the fall of national Israel. The destruction of Jerusalem, therefore, was not only God’s intended time to terminate a dispensation of work through Israel, it was His judgment upon a generation that personally rejected His Son.
The Word Endures Forever
24:35 My words will not pass away: Jesus seems to comfort the disciples at this point in this most terrifying proclamation. No matter what the national calamity might be, they must trust in the word of God that endures forever. Peter possibly reflected on the thought of this statement of Jesus when he wrote just a few years before Jerusalem’s destruction that the word of God endures forever (1 Pt 1:24,25). Because of his nationalistic thinking, it is doubtful that Peter realized what Jesus was saying to the disciples in Matthew 24. Nevertheless, he, as well as the other disciples at hand, would soon realize that they could not put their faith in any nation, even though it had been ordained by God some 1,400 years before to bring the Blessing of Abraham into the world (Gn 12:1-3). The only thing that would permeate the destruction of all things would be the word of God. Eventually, the present heaven and earth would pass away (2 Pt 3:10,11). But the pronouncements of the Lord endure forever. Jesus assumed that they will wholeheartedly trust in His proclamations concerning national Israel.
Time Of The Destruction
24:36 That day and hour no one knows: “That day” is here a generic term as “the Sabbath” is in verse 20. In other words, this was “that time of destruction.” The indication is not in reference to a specific 24-hour day, but to the time when the destruction would occur. While on earth, Jesus did not know this time, for the saints had not yet prayed that it not be in the winter or on a Sabbath. The exact time had not yet been determined by the Father. Neither did the angels know. At the time Jesus was making these pronouncements, it was not necessary that either He or the angels be aware of the actual time of the destruction. Luke’s account of Jesus’ statement helps us to better understand the flow of the text in order to understand “that day” to refer to the context of the destruction of Jerusalem. Luke recorded that it would come at an unexpected time in the lives of the disciples (Lk 21:33-36). Therefore, they must watch in reference to what Jesus had just told them. Those Jews who were consumed in the affairs of the world would certainly not believe in Jesus or His prophecy, let alone expect the coming judgment upon Jerusalem. In fact, Peter stated that they would be mocking this belief of Christians (2 Pt 3:3,4). Of course, the scoffers had forgotten the flood of Noah’s day. They had forgotten Sodom and Gomorrah. Those who flee from the judgments of God willingly forget that they must be accountable for their sins. Regardless of their forgetfulness, however, God would bring this judgment upon Jerusalem. The key word here is “watch.” Mark records more information that Jesus gave at this point in the discourse (See Mk 13:33-37).
Wicked Taken Away
24:37-39 Coming: The “coming” in judgment on Jerusalem about which Jesus was talking would be as the days of Noah. Both the flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of Jerusalem were “comings” of the Lord in judgment in time. However, the final coming of Jesus in judgment at the end of time will be different. The flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of Jerusalem may be typical of the final coming. However, we must understand that nothing has ever happened in the history of man that will fully explain what will happen at the end of time. Therefore, all illustrations to the “end of time” judgment must be understood in a way that cannot be fully comprehended by comparing happenings of events in time with events that will transpire at the end of time. The New Testament writers took that which was literal, and had actually happened in history, to illustrate that which will happen at the end of time. We must keep in mind, however, that these historical events that are metaphorically used to illustrate final judgment do not fully explain what will happen when Jesus comes again. Days of Noah: Jerusalem’s destruction will be as it was in the days of Noah (See Gn 7:6-23). God sent the flood because of the wickedness of man (Gn 6:5). Such wickedness would be characteristic of the unbelieving Jews who crucified the Son of God. They were hardened against repentance, though they personally experienced the miraculous confirmation of God directly from heaven (Jn 3:2). Men were more concerned about the material aspects of existence than spiritual matters. The Pharisees lustfully consumed the financial help the children were to give to their parents (Mk 7:9-13). The rich Sadducean Jews had “lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury” (See Js 5:1-6). They had cheated in the wages that were due to their laborers (Js 5:4). As it was in the days of Noah, so it would be in the days of Israel before A.D. 70. Eating and drinking: In verses 37-40 Jesus was saying that people would be living their own normal wicked and materialistic lives prior to “that day” of destruction. It was this way in the days of Noah. It would be the same in the destruction of national Israel. And, it will be the same at the end of time. Those who reject the pronouncements of the word of God see only those things of this world. They refuse to submit to the “coming of the Lord” in judgment.
The Righteous Are Left
24:40,41 One will be taken and the other left: Here is another similarity between the times of Noah and the destruction of Jerusalem. When the flood came, righteous Noah and his family entered the ark. The flood then came and took away the wicked. Only the righteous were left safely in the ark. So it would be in the destruction of Jerusalem. The wicked would be taken and the righteous would be left. Jesus said that two men would be in the field. One would be taken and the other left. Some have taught that when Jesus comes at the end of time the righteous will be taken from the earth and the wicked will be left. In their attempt to force this passage to refer to the end of time, they twist the Scriptures (See 2 Pt 3:15,16). Simply keep in mind that Jesus’ use of the flood of Noah’s day to illustrate the events of the destruction of Jerusalem is to show that in the destruction “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” for it would be the righteous who would be left (13:43). The wicked would be taken. At the end of time when Jesus comes, He will take the righteous from the earth (1 Th 4:17). In the context of Matthew 24, however, it is the wicked who are taken. Though the destruction of Jerusalem illustrates the coming of Christ in judgment at the end of time, the context here clearly shows that the end of time is not under consideration.
24:42 Watch: The term “day” is here used with a generic meaning. It is not a specific 24-hour day, as “the day” of verse 36 was not a specific 24-hour solar day. Reference is to a time when all this would take place. Emphasis is on the fact that there would be a specific time in history when all this would happen, though the time of the destruction of national Israel would occur over a period of days and months. The point is that believers must continue to watch lest they become caught up in the affairs of the world. And such is a general exhortation to all disciples. Involvement in the affairs of this world will always lead one to being distracted from the fact that Jesus is coming again.
24:43,44 In this context Jesus gave “generic signs” from which the disciples could deduct the end of national Israel and fall of Jerusalem. No specific details were given. No names were stated. No calendars were distributed to the disciples. He gave just enough information to generate “watching” on the part of those who accepted what He said. Those who believed would need no more information. After the establishment of the church in A.D. 30, the apostles evidently stayed in Jerusalem for as long as fifteen years. The reason for this was obvious. Jerusalem was where devout Jews came to offer sacrifices at the altar every year at the Passover/Pentecost feast. It was the prime opportunity to evangelize the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In A.D. 58 or 59 Paul made a last trip there in order to make a final plea to Jews who might obey the gospel (At 21). Their vehement rejection of the gospel, and attempted murder of Paul, was evidence that at this time (A.D. 58,59), the Jerusalem Jews were ripe for the judgment of God. What Jesus had pronounced in 23:34-36 was ready to happen, and would happen only a few years after Paul’s Acts 21 visit. The “righteous blood” of all the innocent prophets of God was about to be brought on his generation of defiant Jews. You also be ready: In Jesus’ pronouncements of this chapter He wanted to give the faithful adequate indications of when to stay away from Jerusalem and Judea. They must not become caught up in the nationalistic frenzy of the times. It would be best that they sell “their possessions and goods” and be ready to flee the city (At 2:45; see At 4:32-37). Residents of Jerusalem were going to lose their possessions anyway in the coming destruction.
The Faithful And Wise Servant
24:45-47 Faithful and wise servant: The faithful and wise servant understands the responsibility of his relationship to the master’s household. So it was with those disciples who remained faithful and wisely understood their duties to serve the Lord. They would not be diverted to the cares of this world, nor drawn away by the politics of nationalistic Israelites. Their citizenship in heaven would be stronger than their connection to the physical “seed of Abraham.” Spiritual loyalty to Jesus would rise above nationalistic pride. Therefore, they would take heed and watch for the coming of the master of the household. In the historical context of the prophecy of Matthew 24, the disciples would take heed to their Master’s prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Evil Servant
24:48-51 Evil bondservant: The evil servant will not be spiritually awakened by the imminent coming of the Lord in his lifetime. He puts the thought out of his mind and carries on with the ordinary things of life. In Jesus’ personal conversation here with His disciples He was emphasizing the fact that this coming of the Lord would happen “in this generation” (See 16:28; 23:36). Jesus was not leading them to believe that the final coming and end of the world would be in their lifetime. The New Testament does not teach the imminent final return of Jesus. That is, the Holy Spirit did not inspire the New Testament writers to believe that the final coming of Jesus would happen in the lifetime of the 1st century disciples. However, Jesus and the inspired writers did teach the imminent coming of Jesus in time in judgment upon Jerusalem (See Js 5:7,8). Therefore, Jesus urged His disciples to look for this coming. Those who would not heed these warnings of Matthew 24 would suffer the weeping and gnashing of teeth in the destruction of their prized city. They would realize after it was too late and that they lost out on an opportunity to believe on Jesus.
[Tomorrow’s lecture: The Revelation of Comfort]