October 25, 2013
Scripture and Commentary, Saturday after the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity
Morning – Psalm 21, 23, 2 Kings 11:1-16, 2 Tim. 4:9
Evening – Psalm 18, Ecc. 12, Mt. 24:1-14
Commentary, Matthew 24:1-14
Having completed His denunciation of the self-righteous religion of the Pharisees, our Lord leaves the
Temple heading for Bethany and the Mount of Olives. His disciples have just heard some of the
most astonishing words they have ever heard Him speak. Jerusalem,
desolate? It cannot be. So passing through the Temple they venture to call the Lord’s
attention to the beauty of the building.
Jesus is unimpressed. The Temple and its sacrifices
were a symbol of His one great sacrifice on the cross. But the Temple
organisation has become a self perpetuating sheep killing business with very
little regard for the meaning of the sacrifices. Jesus says to the disciples, “There shall not
be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (vs. 2).
The disciples are even more shocked at these words. Is Jesus actually saying the
will be destroyed? This is the House of
God. If the Temple is destroyed, where will the
sacrifices be made? If the Temple falls, they
surmise, the current age of history will end with it. They keep silent until they reach the Mount of Olives.
There they ask, “when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign
of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (vs. 3).
It is important to understand the disciples’ question. They are not asking about the Second Coming, nor are they asking about a “rapture” of the Church. They do not even know there is going to be a Second Coming of Christ. They still think Christ has come to drive the Romans out and give the world to
Israel. Their question is about how
they will know when He is coming to Jerusalem
to begin the war with the Gentiles. They
seem to think the fall of the Temple
has something to do with that war. Nor
are they asking about the end of planet earth.
The Greek word translated, “world” in verse 3 actually means “age.” They are asking when the current age of
Gentile domination will end, and the new age, or the new “world” of Jewish
domination will begin. These are the
issues that trouble them, and they are the issues Christ addresses in the
He warns them against false Messiahs (vs.5). Many will come claiming to be the Messiah and urging the people to take up arms against the Romans. Don’t follow them. Wars and rumours of wars (vs. 6) means the disciples will hear of uprisings and revolts against
Rome, led by men claiming to be the Messiah.
They are not to be troubled by such reports, nor are they to join the
battle. These things will happen, but
the end of the age is not yet. In other
words, such wars are not signs of the end, they are just wars.
Nor are the wars limited to
Israel. “For nation shall rise up against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and
earthquakes, in diverse places” (vs. 8).
These are not signs of anything except the fallenness of man and the
natural course of history in a world that is infected with sin. They are the “beginning of sorrows,” not the
There will be persecution, and hate will be poured out on those who follow Christ (vs. 9-10). Family members who are not Christians will turn against relatives who are. False prophets will arise and deceive many (vs. 11). Some Christians will leave the faith, and only those who persevere in it will be saved (vs. 13). But even these things are not signs of the end of the age of Gentile domination. When the Gospel is preached in all the world and unto all nations, “then shall the end come” (vs. 14). “All the world” and “all nations” were popular terms used to describe the
Roman Empire, and that is probably the Lord’s meaning
here. The Gospel will be preached to the
Jews first throughout the Empire. But many
of them will reject Christ and persecute the Christians unto torture and death Only when the Jews have heard and rejected
the Gospel will the Lord allow Jerusalem to be attacked and conquered and the
Temple to be destroyed.