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THE END OF AN AGE

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The goal of this article is to demonstrate that the context in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 remains the same from the start of Christ's discourse to the end. Where in all three accounts he placed his special emphasis: "In truth I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away until all these things have occurred." Those words and especially the word generation are not translatable in any other way; nor have they been in over 50 different Bible translations. Usually, ignorance of the events of the first century along side misunderstanding of typical Bible symbolism. Cause people to twist his words in an attempt to make them mean a different time than that particular generation in the first century. These chapters will be arranged verse by verse in cells of all three accounts with an appropriate comment. To conserve space by not listing who the author of the listed verse is: Matthew will always be first followed by Mark and then Luke.


*1. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: Then his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 2. And Jesus said to them, Do you see all these things? Truly I say to you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
*1. And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, Master, look at what manner of stones and the buildings that are here! 2. And Jesus answering said to him, do you see these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
*5. And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts, he said,6. As for these things which you see, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.


What one should carefully recognize is that Jesus is answering those who are pointing out the temple buildings. That the very buildings they are looking at and were just inside of will be destroyed. Those very buildings are the reference point of this subject which must be remembered when reading the rest of the chapters. This as it will be seen and confirmed by other verses in this article should be looked upon as literal and not symbolic. Especially in light of the fact that it took place in that very generation spoken to by Jesus in 70 A.D. 


*3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?
*4. Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
*7. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

When looking at the differing accounts here it is important to recognize that all three were written before the fact as a prophecy.  They were not copied from one another or written after they were fulfilled.  The three accounts must be looked at in the same way any court would look at the testimony of three witness to the same fact. If all three used the exact words to describe what they saw or heard it would be said there was collusion between them. What is acknowledged is that three different witnesses to the same fact will describe the same thing emphasizing what they thought was important. These three written accounts are records of witnesses to the same event, Jesus' prophecy. They are not interpreting, nor recording what Jesus said word for word.  They are writing down what he said that stood out as important to those that heard. The Word says of itself  "All scripture is given through inspiration from God...."  What this all means is that one witness (under inspiration) may not have considered a sentence he heard as pertinent. Maybe not even recording it or using language that keeps it short. The other witness may have viewed that same sentence with the utmost importance. Recorded it exactly as spoken or emphasized it with wording to make it more noticeable than other parts of his paragraph. It does not mean there is disagreement between those that heard  but that one thought something should be emphasized while the other did not. Notice the difference between Matthews account (verse 3) and Mark and Luke's accounts (verses 4 & 7.)  Also that "they" asked, as in more than one asked a similar question. Mark and Luke seem to record what the average person might ask Jesus, in response to him saying the buildings they are looking at will be destroyed. "When is this going to happen and what kinds of things and events are going to lead up to it?"  The question emphasized  in Matthews gospel seems to add a totally different dimension to the prophecy. Which has to be looked at very closely to properly understand it.  Some translations insert the word "world" instead of age. The Greek word is the word for age and is not translatable into the word "world." It is an unfortunate thing when Bible translators insert a word that fits their personal beliefs rather than a literal translation. In this case the word "world" instead of "age" makes for a radical departure from the context of the destruction of the buildings they are looking at to a prophecy about the end of the world. The other major translation problem is more of a problem with the enhanced Bibles and certain pop theologies. Mainly this: There is no word "second" before the word "coming" in the original language. In the language of this verse there is not even an implication  of a second coming or advent of Christ, nor of the end of the world. It says and means just what the simple translation of the original language says without adding anything to it to render it "understandable" to the reader. Which brings up the subject of why Matthew would emphasize this while the others did not.  His gospel was written primarily  to reach the Jew, while Luke is focused on the Gentiles in his gospel.  Matthew seems to be always keyed in on Old Testament scriptures to appeal to the Jew and this verse is no exception. When Matthew penned "what shall be the sign of your coming and of the completion of the age," he was referencing Daniel chapter 9 verses 25-27. 
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
These verses in Daniel simply state that when Messiah comes the city and the temple will be destroyed which would herald the end of that age. This destruction was obviously understood by Matthew to accompany the appearance of the Messiah. Without getting heavily into Bible prophecy here it should be pointed out that it was Jesus that confirmed the covenant made to Abraham for a week (7years.) He was cut of or sacrificed in the middle of that week. It was Jesus that caused the sacrifices and oblations to cease because of his sacrifice. He confirmed the covenant for  3 1/2  years in Jerusalem during  his own ministry along with his death and resurrection. Then for an additional 3 1/2 years he confirmed it in Jerusalem through his Apostles.  At that point the political leaders of Israel rejected the Gospel and  drove most of the believers out of Jerusalem, thus began the ministry to the nations. Then in 33 years the war began that resulted in the destruction of the city, the temple and the end of that age. Notice how well this all fits into not only Matthews account but keeps it in the context of  all three writers.  That context being the destruction of the buildings they were looking at and commenting on. Matthew appeals to the Jew by citing  Daniels prophecy that when the promised advent of the messiah takes place. It will herald the destruction of the city, the temple and bring about the end of that age.  Please notice just how accurate the prophecy in Daniel 9:25-27 was. Jesus came to the earth as the Messiah, was cut off, (sacrificed.) Then 40 years later in that same generation, the city was razed to the ground, and the age that included the first covenant ended. This however is not the end of the  3 chapters, and if what this article asserts is the truth. The the rest of the 3 chapters will confirm it and show what signs would bring about the end of the temple, and the age when the revelation of God came into the earth through one race. The question being did the signs come to pass? 


*4. And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
*5. And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
*8. And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near: go ye not therefore after them.

The most important thing to be pointed out in these verses is that Jesus is speaking to them in the second person. Which means those to whom he is directly speaking to are the ones being warned. If this is the standard way the English language is to be understood why should it not be understood that way when it concerns these chapters of the Bible? If he meant a future peoples at a future time would he not have said. "That generation of people or the people of that time or age need to take heed lest they be deceived?" Instead he speaks directly to those that are present.  Saying that they need to take heed because they will be subjected to the temptation of false Christ's with their words and lying signs. False Christ's (people that claimed to be anointed by God which is what "Christ" means) did arise in that most tumultuous time. They did in fact deceive many which can be seen in  written records of that regions history. Unfortunately the Bible is not one of those written records and only deals with the subject as it relates to the apostles acts. Josephus a Jewish  historian lived during this time and wrote of the false Christ's and Prophets.


*6. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
*7. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, be not troubled: for such things must  be; but the end shall not be yet.
*9. But when you hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

Still speaking to them in the second person he tells the first of the signs of the fulfillment of his prophecy are wars, and rumors of wars.  He tells them not to be concerned at that point because the end is a ways off still. This was in fact the way that it happened and is important to remember he is still answering their question about when  the destruction of the buildings and temple they were looking at was going to take place. When he uses the words "the end," he is still talking about the  fulfillment of his prophecy about Jerusalem's destruction. This is the same way it is spoken of by Daniel in his prophecy about the same event, that  the end would come when Messiah came as a man and was sacrificed:  "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." 
Why pop theology would take the end out of the context of the end of that age, and the end of that city as they knew it. Plus the end of the Jewish nation being used to bring the revelation of God into the earth and twist it into endless prognostications of the end of the world. Should be a matter of great consternation to those willing to look a little more candidly at the obvious meaning of the chapters. If Jesus meant the end of the world would he not have said it? And would not the writers of these chapters used the Greek words for  "the end of the world"  to describe what Jesus said?  Why did this all happen just as Daniel Prophesied it would? That when Messiah came and was sacrificed that the city with it's buildings were destroyed. Why did God  from that time on end using the Jewish nation to bring the revelation of God into the earth and commit it to those individuals who were faithful of all races as we see it today? 


*7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in different places. 8. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
*8. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in different places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
*10. Then said he to them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 11. And great earthquakes shall be in different places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

Unfortunately for those who would like to do very little study outside of daily devotions and a popular Christian book here and there. The New  Testament does not have a lot to say on the events in the region but focuses in on the actions of the apostles and their letters to the churches. The fact of the matter is though that these things came to pass with a vengeance upon the whole region.  What little the scripture does record of these events is only there in association with the new churches and their ministries.
Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks broke; 52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Acts 16:26. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
Acts:11:2727. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great famine throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
The point being to this is that because people  read so little of the history of the region, and that some of these historical happenings aren't recorded in the Bible. They assume they did not happen but are happening now since these things are in the newspapers. The fact of the matter is that they did happen then and therefore it fits right into the context that has not changed. The destruction of the buildings and the city that they were looking at. It matters not that there are earthquakes, wars, rumors of wars, famines and pestilences now. There have been and always will be as long as this earth continues and men continue to sin. This is Josephus account of Florus the Roman Procurator that drove the nation to war.


*9. 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. 10. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14. 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.
*9. But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. 10. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. 11. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 13. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
*12. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. 13. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15. For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. 16. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren,  kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. 18. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. 19. In your patience possess ye your souls.

These verses will be commented on with four subjects:

1- Persecution: Since the Bible from the book of Acts on is about the apostles and the churches it is quite naturally full of the record of persecutions. In other words this was fulfilled during the lives of those he was speaking directly to prior to 70 A.D. exactly as prophesied. 

2- False Prophets: There are many warnings in the letters to the churches about false prophets\teachers that were hindering the work of the gospel. They may apply somewhat to this but Christ was probably referring to those that are were directly involved with the destruction of the nation in 70 A.D. The Bible only  references a few of them such as in Acts 21:38 . Historical  references of the region record that many false prophets did arise and led many astray. They were an integral part and cause of the war, the final destruction of Jerusalem, and the extermination of a majority of the population. 

3. The extent of the Gospels reach: The word  "world" in Matthew 24:14 is not an accurate reflection of the Greek word.  In the New Testament the word that is usually translated  "world" as in "planet earth" appears well over  one hundred times. This particular word appears under a dozen times in the NT.  This is the only time Matthew uses it. The proper translation is "inhabitable land." Luke 2:1 is an excellent example of  misuse in it's translation into the word "world":  Luke 2:1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. Caesar did not rule the whole planet therefore the use of the word "world" here is wholly inconsistent with the context of the sentence which is the inhabitable part of the Roman Empire. Likewise in Acts 11:28  And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. The translation of this word to "world" in this instance is also wholly incompatible with the context. This was not a planet wide draught but confined to parts of the Roman Empire. The point to this is although the word can be used in the context of the word "world" this is not the right Greek word to use if one wanted to say "this gospel will be preached to the entire planet." Along side this is the word "nations" which is actually the Greek word for tribe. In today's use of the language we tend to think of the word "nation" as a state or country in geographical terms rather than ethnic group. This is not meant to imply there were not geographical divisions when it came to ethnic groups  but in Acts 2:5 the word of God already records that people from every tribe in existence heard the gospel that day:  And there was staying at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6. Now when this was noised abroad (the Holy Spirit being poured out), the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. Now looking at Matthew 24:14 in light of this it can be seen that it fits exactly what happened in that generation.  "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the inhabitable land (Roman Empire) as a testimony ( as evidence) to all ethnic groups."  

4. Salvation and the end:  The word salvation or "saved" in the Bible is a generic term. Yet most Bible reading Christian's use the word (in relationship to biblical illustrations) to describe the gift of eternal life. This however is and incorrect usage of the word both in the Bible and common language. Salvation or saved means rescue or escape from circumstances that will harm or destroy you.  This is important because many readers will look at the word salvation and always put it in a context of going to heaven regardless of what the context actually is. In the context of these verses saved definitely implies ultimate salvation or going to heaven. Those who hold steadfastly to their faith through all these tribulations are guaranteed eternal life. Still, all three accounts infer being saved from the war in which Jerusalem was destroyed,  implied by Matthew and Mark and directly referred to by Luke; "not a hair on your head shall perish." Many believers and most of the apostles were murdered because of their faith. It is a historical fact though that those who remained alive in Judea when the war started did not perished in the destruction of Jerusalem.  The reason for this is they believed and obeyed Jesus' instructions when the end finally came as written in the remainder of the chapters. 


*15. When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)16. Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains:
*14. But when you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that reads understand,) then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains:
*20. And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation of it is near. 21. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains;.....

Some have thought that these verses were in reference to Daniel 11:31, however this is not possible. Daniel 11:31 was fulfilled exactly as prophesied by Antiochus Epiphanies just before Rome conquered the region. The context of Daniel 11:31 is the time period of Greece's Empire that was divided into four realms. The kings in Daniel 11 and what they did are listed in order under the heading of the Greek empire by an angel making it impossible to mean any other than Antiochus Epiphanies. The details of which will be in articles on Bible prophecy. These verses are again referencing Daniel 9:26-27: 26. And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that makes desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate. -- American Standard. The abominations spoken of were the gods of the Romans that were carried on the standards of their army. Notice carefully in all three accounts that Jesus said when they saw this; to flee to the mountains.  Without going into great detail on how the war began: Under the Roman Emperor Nero, Cestius led the Army to conquer Judea. Jerusalem was surrounded and without much of a battle was days from being easily taken. The vast majority of the people and rulers were ready to open the gates to the Romans and hail them as deliverers, the ones who were leading the revolt were fleeing. The loss of life would have been small in comparison to what was coming but without any reason that anyone could figure out. Probably just as the false prophets were prophesying. Cestius left the siege and marched out of Judea. The rebels followed and harassed his army to the point were Cestius left all his equipment and marched out of Judea by night. See Josephus' account. This was considered a great victory and  undoubtedly a fulfillment of the words of the false prophets. It must have been looked upon as an event of biblical proportions by those who were deceived.   At that point those who considered Christ's prophecy recorded in this chapter did as he had instructed them and fled.  Nero then sent Vespasian to conquer the region, but during Vespasian's campaign Nero died. Three generals attempted to take the title of Emperor for themselves, but Vespasian assumed the throne and left his son Titus to finish the campaign.  It was Titus who took and razed Jerusalem. These two Vespasian and Titus, plus Vespasian's other son Domitian amazingly tie into Biblical prophecy in Revelation chap. 17.  

As one can see it is important to look at all three accounts to get details that might not be mentioned in the others. Jerusalem being surrounded by armies is not an interpretation of what Jesus said but something that Jesus said. Jesus apparently clarified at some point what the abomination that sets up desolation was Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. If you think about the practicality of Bible prophecy how could he not in his great mercy clarify it. How would most people know when flee Judea if he had just left it the way Matthew and Mark said it.  Remember not every word that Christ spoke on this subject was recorded, only what the hearers inspirationally deemed important. (Inspirationally because it is the Word of God.) Luke and Mark were companions of the apostles who where eye witnesses of this discourse and Matthew was there himself.  The writing or record keeping of events was the calling of the Jew and the apostles were keenly aware of this as part of their commission. All three of these accounts were written long before their occurrence, in other words decades. The only reason "scholars" dispute this has nothing to do with physical evidence but simply  because to them real prophecy does not occur. For this to be so accurate, it is obvious to them anyway, this had to be written after the fact. 

 


*16. Then let them which are in Judea flee into the mountains: 17. Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18. Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that are nursing in those days! 20. But pray  that your flight is not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day: 21. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 
*14..... then let them that are in Judea flee to the mountains: 15. And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: 16. And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that are nursing in those days! 18. And pray  that your flight be not in the winter. 19. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created to this time, neither shall be. 20. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he has chosen, he has shortened the days. 
*21. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter into it. 22. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that are nursing in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

There are two subjects in these verses. The first is how to flee Judea, which is basically immediately after the Roman army leaves, don't stop for anything. Again historically accurate.  Those who did not do this would be subjected to the second part of these verses, the destruction of Jerusalem. Here is were many begin to depart from the context of these three chapters partly because of the translations. They think of the words  in Matthew and Mark "tribulation, affliction" as the physical destruction of war. They think (correctly) that the war in Judea 70 AD  hardly compares to the destruction in the great wars of the twentieth century. The Greek word for those two words simply means pressure, it does not mean destruction.  It has far more to do with the demonically inspired  insanity that led to all of it.  It could have engulfed the whole Roman Empire, giving the believers no place of escape if God did not stop it.  Furthermore, one could  say even more tragically; was what exactly was taken from the nation forever and given to others.  This was the most monumental of times, the end of the age, where two worlds collide. It was the climax of all that was written concerning the old covenant, a huge subject that certainly fits the wording used: "There was never a time like this nor will there ever be." It will take dozens of articles to give this subject justice, one must understand the whole thrust of scripture, history, Bible prophecy and the Government of God. The end time pop theologies/eschatology's of the twentieth century make a mockery of it. In a meager way though here is some context from the Bible to show the climactic nature of this event. That will never be nor can be repeated. 

First look at Luke's account, that these are the days of vengeance that all things written may be fulfilled. Vengeance against who is the question; it is answered in the next two verses. "For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles." Surprisingly enough  the context of all three of these chapters say exactly what Luke says about "vengeance."  If you look at the events immediately proceeding Christ's prophecy.  Matthew & Mark however quote Daniel 12:1.....  and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. Historically and just as Jesus said in the previous verses  the believers were delivered from the final destruction of Jerusalem. Luke also mentions the times of the gentiles, which according to Bible prophecy speaks of the time that four gentile empires ruled over and oppressed almost all the believers both in Old Testament and New testament times. These are named in the book of Daniel, as Babylon, Media-Persia, Greek and Roman Empires. Daniel has multiple visions of these empires that expand in detail with each vision. Amazingly the verse that Jesus quotes,  Daniel 12:1  gives a time frame when this final destruction will take place. It plainly states that it will happen sometime near the beginning of the Roman empire after Herod's death.  This hyperlink  Daniel 11-12  will lightly touch on this.
 We tend to have what may be a mistaken opinion that Jesus and his apostles had a knowledge that came directly from heaven that somehow circumvented the Bible to get to them.  Daniel 11-12 is a wonderful example  of how the most likely method that God used to bring this knowledge into the Son of God, and into his apostles was through Old Testament.  Jesus states later in these accounts that neither man, nor angel, nor the Son of God himself. Only the Father knows the day and the hour that these things will take place.  He was however emphatic that it will all happen in to the very generation he was speaking to. This is exactly how  Daniel 11-12 reads; it doesn't give a precise year but it does give a precise century. Jesus no doubt through divine inspiration and a knowledge of his peoples history was able to see that clearly. 


*23. Then if any man shall say to you, Look, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24. For there shall arise false Christ's, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25. Behold, I have told you before. 26. Therefore if they shall say to you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27. For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28. For wherever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

*21. And then if any man shall say to you, Look, here is Christ; or, look, he is there; believe him not: 22. For false Christ's and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. 23. But you take heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

*Luke has no comparable verses.

These seem to be the same warnings but directed towards the time immediately following Cestius leaving the siege of Jerusalem. Perhaps the Lord knew that at this particular time  the temptation to not heed his words and flee Judea immediately would be strongest. It is possible the believers would immediately become targets for murder by the tyrants who would now be in total control of Jerusalem, who would lure them through deceit. Or perhaps it was the  temptation to believe the lying sign and wonder of Cestius's army fleeing Judea, as if God had spared the city and given them victory, and was about to set up a physical Kingdom on earth. One can imagine how false prophets in the same way as they did during Nebuchadnezzar's siege  prophesied the city would be delivered Only this time they seemed to speak the very words of God  in that the city was miraculously delivered.  Matthew account states that his coming is as obvious as a huge thunderstorm.  The result would be vultures feeding on the corpses of the people of the city rather than some kind of miraculous deliverance from the Romans. 


*29. 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: 30. 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. 31. 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. 32. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is close: 33. So likewise, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

*24. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. 28. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: 29. So in like manner, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that it is close, even at the doors.

*25. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26. Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws close. 29. And he spoke to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30. When they now shoot forth, you see and know of your own selves that summer is now close at hand. 31. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know  that the kingdom of God is close at hand.

If not for these particular verses it would seem impossible, even for the most heedless type of Bible reading. To imagine that these chapters are talking about anything other than the destruction of Jerusalem in that generation. Especially in the light that the very next verse in all three accounts states emphatically that all these things will come to pass during the lifetime of those he was speaking too.  Unfortunately the existence of these verses probably renders it impossible to convince some that these chapters are not talking about the end of the world as we know it.  No explanation given will satisfy them otherwise.  At this point the author can only plead to those readers that to take these verses as speaking to something else than the destruction of Jerusalem in 70A.D. Is to falsify the words of Jesus altogether and to render the Bible completely contradictory. Jesus starts the whole discourse by addressing the buildings and the city they were looking at. He addresses his disciples directly in the second person telling them that they would see all these things personally. He told them what to do to escape it all. The historical accuracy of the things he prophesied are undisputable and have been among the most widely read, taught, and marveled at for two thousand years. Then, as if this wasn't enough, he ends the whole prophecy by putting his reputation on the line as the Son of  God  by the pronouncing, (in the next two verses.) That it is easier for the universe to cease to exist, than for all these things to not come to pass in the lifetime of the people he was talking too. Hopefully this  appeal to the reader to not remove these verses from the context of the chapters will  persuade some to not allow very plain scripture that defy any description outside of what the context is. To be overridden by speculations as to the meaning of scriptures that are prophetic/poetic or illustrative in nature. Even though it may be difficult to understand how language like that can fit the history of the first century. These verses will be divided up in the next sections.


*29. 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:

*24. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25. And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 

*25. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26. Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 

But in those days, after that tribulation, or immediately after the tribulation of those days should be taken to mean immediately after all the tribulation that leads to the war. Right after Cetius's army leaves off the siege, so what is left of the believers and others who heed Jesus words flee Judea. 
The sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light: If some of the readers have lived in the western United States  during some of the great brush and forest fires this part of the verses should be readily understood. These fires are capable of turning noon time into night, the sun barely being visible behind the blackness that envelopes the whole sky. Likewise the majority of the cities in Judea were burned to the ground as was Jerusalem a city capable of holding almost three million inhabitants during the feasts. The blackness from the fires that destroyed Judea certainly compare to those of recent decades in the west. So far most will see that it is reasonable to say we are still dealing with literal words describing literal happenings, whereas that cannot be said of the next part of these verses: "The stars falling from heaven and the powers of the heavens shaken." Indeed one will find many such references in the book of Revelation that cannot be taken as describing the physical stars in the universe. Luke seems to add to the fact that the sun and moon were darkened by the fires by saying there will actually be signs in those celestial bodies. There were in fact many signs like these recorded in Josephus eyewitness account of the war. Luke also addresses some of the effects all this has on the people of the land. The "sea and waves roaring" is a typical bible symbolism that speaks of the gentile nations. The powers of the heavens obviously being the demonic and/or the angelic powers of the unseen world. 


*30. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the land mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 

*26. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 

*27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

This is the verse that causes most to stray from the context of the prophecy more than any other. There were many signs and prophecies of the coming of the messiah fulfilled and recorded in the New Testament. Signs of the anointed one; or prophecies that were fulfilled  that proved he was the Christ. Things like him being born of a virgin, the date of his birth, being of the house of David, the miracles he did, his crucifixion and resurrection ect. ect.  A sign or prophecy fulfilled that is completely missed in Christian thinking (among others) is Daniel 9:26-27. That the destruction of sanctuary, Jerusalem and the end of the first covenant age will accompany this advent of the Messiah. Jesus himself stated in some of the verses ahead that neither he, the Son of God, nor the angels know the exact year it will happen, but, he said it will happen in this generation. So although Christ did not know the exact "day or hour," he did know it would happen in lives of many that his personal ministry touched. To Jesus, Daniel 9:26-27 plainly prophesied this. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD can in retrospect certainly be looked upon as a sign to the world of the advent of Christ just as other fulfilled prophecies  pointed out that Jesus was the Christ. This alone may be a feeble attempt in some peoples minds to "explain away" what is to them clearly talking about the end of the world. Please take notice that this is not the only time Jesus said these things: In Mark 14:61 ...Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62. And Jesus said, I am: and you will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Or Matthew16: 28. Truly I say to you, There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. There are three more accounts of similar statements. The problem with these verses is not the timing of the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven. For he states clearly that many of them he was speaking to will see it personally, that it will happen in their lifetime, in the first century. No dear friends the problem with these verses has to do with those who are reading them and their own personal understanding. . To say this did not happen in the first century is to falsify the very words of the Son of God. Jesus' prophecies on this matter are recorded a minimum of seven times. The Word of God records seven times that Jesus will come in the clouds of heaven in great power and glory in the lifetimes of the people he was speaking to.  Are we to dismiss the very words of our savior because men and Bible colleges teach otherwise? Perhaps, or a better word may be obviously, the problem is this generations understanding of what "seeing the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory." actually is.  Lets look at how the  Apostle Peter perceives all this Acts 2:

1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3. And there appeared to them tongues like as of fire, that  divided and were distributed to each of them. 4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.......(Peter then explains to those who came to see what was happening) ....16.This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17. And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19. And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

A novel way to explain it might be like this. If someone has seen pictures of a place like Phoenix, AZ when it gets hit by a major dust storm. The sky can be perfectly clear, beautiful bright blue, not a cloud visible not a particulate in the air. Then suddenly, a rushing mighty wind brings a cloud of dust that stretches from mountain range to mountain range. On one side it is the most picture perfect day and on the other side there is nothing visible but a giant cloud of dirt. What is so strange about this is there is no storm clouds visible, it is coming, it is the thing that brought the wind but it will not arrive until later. When it does come it brings destruction. Lighting bolts that stretch from one end of the sky to the other. Thunder that shakes the ground. Miles of trees and utility poles ripped out of the ground, hundreds of roofs ripped off the houses.  The symbolism being that just like this prophecy, the first thing that comes is the rushing mighty wind. You can't even see the storm that is driving it, but the storm with it's clouds and destruction will follow. Hence the illustrative language of the Lord coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Peter's declaration of the meaning and the dating of Joel's prophecy descriptively matches the prophecies in Matthew, Mark and Luke we are reading about. Using illustrative language about the last days of the first covenant age which they were living out. Before great and notable day of the Lord come; these things will happen: First the blessing of the Spirit to those who are obedient to the prophet Moses said was to come. Then those who were heedless to that prophet would be cut off from Gods people. 

A further notation on this is that after the event of the last of the believers fleeing Judea. Jesus now addresses those who will see the rest of the signs in the third person. In other words he is assuming that the ones he has been addressing in the second person saying you will see this, this will happen to you, will no longer be in Judea to see these other events unfold. So now instead of saying "you will see," he says "they will see." 

 


*31. 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. 

*27. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

*28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws close.

These verses are again that illustrative prophetic language that is talking about a specific event or process.  In Revelation 14:14-20 we see similar language to describe the  literal process of winning souls and judgment upon those who reject the gospel. Also along those same lines in Revelation 7: 9-17 we see the multitudes that came to Christ in the Roman Empire following the destruction of Jerusalem. Millions of these people were murdered over those centuries which is referenced in that scripture. "These came out of great tribulation." Some may not accept this, saying it has to be talking of the great catching away at the end of the world.  I would heartily agree to that if the context of these prophecies were speaking about the end of the world.   One has to keep in mind that the plain language spoken in all these accounts is very specific in nature, the buildings and city they are looking at, the generation they are speaking to ect. ect. To deny this is to deny that there are any rules at all in the writing, reading or study of literature. Furthermore this is the word to gather rather than the words used for catching away. It fits much better with the idea of those millions who accepted Christ "the elect" in the world during and after this time period. 

If one wants to keep these verses specifically in the context of the war in Judea though. Revelation 7: 1-9 references the believers in Judea who were "sealed" and delivered from that destruciton. All three chapters convey practical prophesy. It is not written just to confirm that Jesus is the Messiah, and the Bible is the Word of God, by demonstrating Gods miraculous ability to know the future.  In fact it would seem the main reason for his prophetic discourse is to insure that no believers perish in the great judgment at the end of the age. As Abraham of old said when talking to Jehovah the Word about the impending judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah: Genesis 18:25. Far be it from you to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should fare as the wicked, Far be it from you: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? The point  alludes to why they were gathered, to be preserved, and to not suffer the punishment that was to come on the land. Luke uses the word redemption to describe this, that those redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ escape this sentence handed down in  Matthew 23:35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. 36. Truly I say to you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that murder the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! 38. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. There are also more references to this gathering event in the gospels in the form of parables such as: Matthew 13:47. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48. Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49. So shall it be at the consummation of the age: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Christ's parables describe different aspects of the kingdom of God, you can know that one is talking about the end of the 1st covenant age because it refers directly to it. It also fits the scenario of the prophecy being written about perfectly. Notice how uniformly that parable fits this one spoken to the Jewish leadership immediately before this whole prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem:  Matthew 21:42. Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 43. Therefore say I say to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it. The scripture from Daniel that Jesus already quoted about the time of trouble says the same thing about the redemption or deliverance of the redeemed.: Daniel 12:1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  Remember this prophecy is dated by Daniel's vision as being during the time of the fourth Empire (Rome) soon after the death of Herod. Jesus quoted Daniels prophecy in the previous verses and says it will be fulfilled in many of his disciples lifetimes (and in the Apostle John's lifetime.) So he also places the date of it at the same exact time (in history to us) as Daniels vision places it.


*32. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is close: 33. So likewise, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34. In truth I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.35. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36. But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

*28. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: 29. So in like manner, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that it is close, even at the doors. 30. In truth I say to you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32. But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

*29. And he spoke to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30. When they now shoot forth, you see and know of your own selves that summer is now close at hand. 31. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know  that the kingdom of God is close at hand. 32. In truth I say to you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

The parable of the fig tree is self explanatory. What is important is he has ended his prophetic /poetic illustrative communication and is once again speaking plainly,  in the second person, and is beginning to transition into a teaching mode. We then arrive at the words that everyone who has ever read these prophecies should have noticed and should have heeded. This is why  Jesus emphasized the next verse by saying " In truth is say to you." When he made that statement he wanted to get everyone's attention, no more talking or discussions this is important.  "This generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled." Christ puts a date on his own prophecy, ending all speculative interpretations forever.  He did not do this in passing but emphasized it above all other aspects of his discourse by preceding it with " In truth is say to you."   

Gods people as a whole do not understand the great shame and confusion they have brought upon themselves and their cultures because they simply lacked patience. Some things dear brothers and sisters where not meant to be revealed to you now, maybe not even for decades. But men have had itching ears, they desire to know now, and they never gave their great Lord and Teacher and their great companion the Holy Spirit time to reveal to them the mysteries hidden away in the scripture. These words of Jesus in all three accounts should have been the great firewall against all speculation about the meaning of the mysterious illustrative vernacular of the previous verses. It does not matter  how many teachers and preachers, pastors or prophets nor hundreds of millions that follow them declare this prophecy to be teaching about your future. What did matter and what does matter was this verse that should have stopped you in your tracks. You may have gone years before you even began to get a glimmer of light as to the meaning of the poetically illustrative verses but you should have said. "I cannot accept what these men are speculating and prognosticating about this prophecy and the future, Jesus said it is a definite thing that all this would would happen to that generation in the first century." "I don't pretend to understand it, but it would make his prophecy false to say it is in our future, and I know the word of God isn't false."  Regrettably  the last couple of generations when confronted with that choice. To embrace the unalterable Word of God verses the speculative teachings of men with their never ending prognostications about the future. They have chosen the latter. That is said to the great shame of some of the readers, you did not have a need to be taught after that fashion. 1 John 2:26.

 "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away" in a certain sense compares to Luke 16:17. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one title of the law to fail.  Then 32. But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." The best way for the writer to state it clearly would be to paraphrase all of it: " Although the angels and even I the son of man do not know the exact year, month or day that all these things will come to pass; (the Father does however.)  You can rest assured it will all take place in this generation, during your lifetimes. As a matter of fact it would be easier for the universe to pass away than it would for all this to not come to pass exactly as I said it would during your lifetimes."

 It would be good to address a saying that always accompanies any pop eschatology discussions about the end of the world. The verse quoted is: "No man knows the day or the hour." Now while this may be true that no man knows the day or the hour of the end of the world. The fact of the matter is the professional  prognosticators for 2000 years have been 100% wrong 100% of the time. They can't even get  millennia these things are supposed to occur in right.  That particular scripture in it's context meant no man knows the exact date within an approx. forty year time period. They did know, all of them, that it would happen within those forty years. So how does that scripture apply to the rabid speculations about the end of the world? It does not, and every time it is quoted it furthers the error about the times and the seasons we live in today. No man even knows if the world will end in the millennia we currently live in, because the scripture does not address it. What the scripture does address via 100+ chapters of the Old Testament is a "gospel age" that mankind has barley begun to live out. The Word of God has just gotten into the hands of the common man in the last few centuries in comparison to almost 6 millennia of tyranny and darkness. This subject will be fully vetted in future articles on Bible prophecy. They are touched on lightly in articles already written about Bible symbolism. The point of this paragraph is that when that saying "no one knows the day or the hour" is used to discredit someone who believes the end of the world is right around the corner. It doesn't discredit them, it enables them, in a perverse way it agrees with there whole premise in the first place. That Matthew 24 is talking about our future, not the past. It is hard to argue this subject in the sound bite century, but Gods people will prevail when armed with love and the truth. 


Jesus transitioned completely out of the prophetic mode and into the teaching mode (mostly parables) in the next paragraphs and next chapter in Matthew. It isn't that these parables are not important to address in light of this prophecy; but that they deal with a much broader issues than just the specific prophecy and it's timing. As a matter of fact they deal with the subject of the coming or day of the Lord that overtakes and comes upon all peoples sooner or later. Luke who writes his gospel (under inspiration) to the gentile nations emphasizes this  in a condensed form warning them that someday, this will come upon your nation also: 21:34. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you when you are unaware. 35. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36. Watch  therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Not implying the end of the world in his in this verse, but future days of judgment that the nations of the world will, and have faced already. This will be addressed soon  in an article about the coming of the Lord. 

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1st Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.  
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”  NKJV

 

© 2003-2011 Daniel Martinovich