Whenever I mention things that concern the “end times” I realize only later that it is not enough to simply state what I believe. I must also support what I am writing. Yesterday, when I spoke of how Herod Agrippa fitted into the “beast” of Revelation 13, I noticed some things would not be understood in today’s Christian environment due to the error in what most Christians believe about the times referring to Jesus’ second coming. Therefore, before continuing in Acts, I plan to share a little more about the “end times” prophecies and what they meant when they were given, and what they mean for us today.
In Matthew 24 the disciples came to Christ and asked him: first when would the Temple be destroyed and secondly what would be the sign of his coming (or parousia – G3952; meaning “presence”), and finally they asked when would the end come.
We might ask what prompted the disciples to ask these questions at this particular time? The answer may be found in Matthew 23! Jesus was speaking to the multitudes warning them of the example of the scribes and Pharisees and pronounced a number of woes upon the leaders of the people for particular attitudes and works on their part. Then in verse-34 Christ says he will send to them (to all the people) prophets, wise men and scribes. These they will kill, crucify, scourge in the synagogues and persecute from city to city. Why? So that, upon this generation, (i.e. you the people – verse-36), may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from the beginning of time.
Christ said all these things would come upon this generation – the one to whom he preached and sent the apostles etc. (I’ll speak more of this in a later post). Then he lamented over Jerusalem in verse 37, and in verse 38 he said “Behold, your house (i.e. the Temple) is left unto you desolate.” This statement in the Greek is very emphatic. In John 2:16 when he suddenly came to the Temple, he called it, “My Father’s House.” Now it is “your house!” To get the full impact of what his words conveyed, we must read Leviticus 14:33-42.
Leprosy is a type of sin, and in Leviticus the high priest had the responsibility of judging the livability of a house in Israel suspected of having leprosy in its stones and mortar. Here in Matthew 23 Jesus, the High Priest, was pronouncing judgment. The house (Temple) is desolate and its stones would be thrown down as though it were leprous. The inference was unmistakable, considering the shock and questions of the disciples in Matthew 24:1. Jesus departed the Temple and the shocked disciples came to him and pointed out how great the stones were among the buildings of the Temple complex. Jesus just reiterated the judgment: “…there shall not be one stone left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
Then Jesus said: “You shall not see me henceforth, until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.’” Concerning this statement, the apostles asked: “…what will be the sign of your coming,” and “…of the end of the age (or generation),” referring to this generation in verse-36, or to the age that included the death of Able to the death of Zacharias. In either case the end of the age or generation was 70 AD.
Matthew 24 goes on and foretells the events which characterize this generation. Therefore, it is an answer to the questions Jesus’ disciples asked concerning what he spoke in Matthew 23. An understanding of this will put the Olivet Prophecy in perspective. It also places boundaries around it so one cannot get carried away with vague imaginations. Matthew 23 is the skeleton upon which the meat or flesh of Matthew 24 is placed!
May our Lord and Savior open up our hears and minds to see the truth of his holy word and keep us from teachings that have not come from him (2John 1:9).