THE END OF AN AGE
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.
*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. 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.
*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. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in
8. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
*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.
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:
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:
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.
*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.
*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
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
*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.
1st Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be
counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word
© 2003-2011 Daniel Martinovich