Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Matthew chapter 24 part 1

In chapter 24, of Matthew, Jesus has just finished with the scribes and the pharisees. He is leaving the temple for the last time before His crucifixion. The disciples were speaking to Him about the temple. In Matt.23:38, Jesus tells the crowd that their house will be left "desolate".

 In verse 24:1, the disciples were having trouble believing what they were hearing. They started to point out the amazing features of Herod's temple. It was such an incredible sight. It was considered the most beautiful building in the world at that time. It's beautiful, glistening white granite walls seemed to glow in the sunlight. The gold trimmed buildings sparkled in the sunlight and were like a heavenly vision in the sunset. It dwarfed every other building in Jerusalem including the royal palace.  Jesus answers them in verse 24:2 He says "truly, not one stone will be left upon another" (some of the stones were 24 feet long, no wonder they had trouble with what He was saying)
I wrote about this in Matthew chapter 22. Jerusalem was besieged by Rome in 70 A.D. The temple was burned. All of the gold melted and ran down between the stones. The Roman soldiers took the temple apart, stone by stone,  to get the gold. "Not one stone was left upon another" Luke 19:43-44, Matt. 24:22.
This gives you an idea of how big the temple was. This wall was part of it's platform.
The wailing wall in Jerusalem is the only thing left of Herod's temple. It wasn't actually part of the temple building. It was part of the west wall and the platform that the temple was built on. I say this because there are Jews that say that the wailing wall is proof that Jesus was a false prophet because it was not torn down. (Josephus says  of the temple ruins, " passers-by would not have even supposed that the place had ever been inhabited")

In verse 24:3, Jesus and the disciples, are sitting on the mount of olives. From this vantage point the temple would have risen from the city in all it's splendor.  It was definitely the focal point of the view from where they were sitting. The verse says that they came to Him privately. They asked Him when these things would take place. When will be the sign your *(according to Eerdmans, presence, or arrival as messiah, or come into your ownership of)coming be? They were still waiting for the kingdom age to come in their lifetimes and for Jesus to usher in His kingdom. They knew He was the messiah. They had been wrong all the other times when they thought that the time had come for Him to set up His kingdom. Now, He starts to speak plainly to them about the things to come.

Matt. 24:4, He says "see to it that no one misleads you".  This statement got their attention and got them ready to listen.

With verse 24:5, we jump off into the great unknown. I have been praying over this, and reading different commentators . I am sorry to say that I am no closer to explaining it than I was before I started the quest to understand it. Many of the commentators do not agree with one another. Other people have taken parts of the information in this chapter, and built whole doctrines around what they believe to be the truths held in this passage. Some of these views require that a person ignore some of the facts presented in other parts of scripture. This has caused many divisions in our faith as believers in Jesus Christ. So, I make it my goal to be very careful with this passage. I will not be giving anyone elses views on this passage in this Blog. (Please read this passage carefully yourselves).
From Matt. 24:5-13, these verses are timeless and span the length from their time to ours easily. (but remember, Jesus IS timeless, just as the heavenly Father God is timeless. They don't have the constraints of time as we do.) (2Pet. 3:8-9) 

Verse 24:5. many have claimed to be Jesus or God.

war junk
Verse 24:6 at the time in history that Jesus spoke these words, war between nations was as common as it is today.

Verse 24:7 we still have famines and earthquakes, as did they.

Verse 24:8 I have spoken to people who point out to me that because of famines and earthquakes, the Lords coming is near, right at the door. But in this verse, the Lord says that these are just the "birth pangs"

Verse 24:9  This verse actually came true for all of the apostles. John was the only one to live to old age. That was because when he was dunked in boiling oil by the order of the Roman emperor Tertullian, John didn't boil. So they sent him to the island of  Patmos where he wrote the scriptures attributed to him. Jesus said this to the apostles but we need to know that He spoke this to His followers in general. Not just His apostles. The Book of Acts contains many  accounts of  Christ's followers who were persecuted.

The persecution continues and increases in some parts of the world. 
We should expect to be persecuted. Jesus said that it would happen. In the west we are lulled into a false sense of security thinking that it could never happen to us. I believe that it can and will. We need to be prepared and prepare our children.

Verse 24:10 Where ever there are people who are being persecuted for their faith, there will be people who will save themselves by  betraying them to the persecutors. The Roman Historian Tacitus (56AD-117AD) recorded that Christians were rounded up because of informants. Then the informants were rounded up and given the same fate as the Christians. This is why I said ,we should be prepared and we should prepare our children.
Verse 24:11-12 He speaks of false prophets and the love of many growing cold. These verses are here to guard us and instruct us.  We need to know our bibles. Knowing the word of God is the only thing that will keep us as the world grows closer to destruction. If we know our bibles, we will never be fooled into thinking that Jesus has returned and is hiding in a Hindu shrine.(just for fun, google "Jesus hiding in a Hindu shrine" and see what you get.)   (Matt.24:26) . Also, if we know our bibles, we will remember that Jesus said in Matt. 22:37 "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. When Jesus speaks of love growing cold , He is speaking of the love that a person has for God. When that love grows cold, naturally the love of His people will also grow cold. We really must endure to the end. (Matt. 24:13)

This next verse, Matt. 24:14, has set many Christians to their life's work. This verse as well as Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8, have shaped doctrine, given many missionaries their inspiration and has launched whole Church entities whose sole driving mission is evangelism. (As a side note, in the years following the death and resurrection of our Lord, the apostles and early church leaders thought that they had taken the"good news" to the ends of the earth. They had reached the whole world as they knew it.)

We move on now to  verse 24:15. In this verse Jesus speaks of the "abomination of desolation".  I have to put this next set of passages in the simplest terms possible because I have to admit, even after reading some commentaries, God's Word for the Biblically Inept-prophecy edition, and a Blog called "The Watchman", I'm still no closer to telling you what I think. I'm going to try to tell you only what I believe to be true facts.  You need to pray over these passages on your own and trust God for His leading. 
In verse 24:15 Jesus says " when you see the abomination which was spoken of through the prophet Daniel standing in the holy place" (let the reader understand). This  "let the reader understand " according to 
Eerdmans commentaries, may or may not have been actually said by Jesus. In Mark 13:14, this phrase also appears. it is Eerdman's contention that both writers would not have included it in their writings unless Jesus actually said it. What do you think? We need to look at Daniel 9 to decipher what Jesus is talking about here. It is verse  9:27 in Daniel that Jesus is talking about. This verse can be confusing because in approximately 167 B.C. Antiochus  Epiphanies committed what was considered, to many Jews, to be the fulfillment of this prophesy. He slaughtered a pig on the altar of the temple and brought his god, Zues, and stood it in the  temple to be worshiped.  Obviously, Jesus now says that this prophesy was still unfulfilled. 
There are some other important verses to read with Matt. 24:15 and Daniel 9:27, read Rev. 13:5-8 and 2Thess. 2:1-12. The only comment I will make on the subject of the anti-christ, is that  I have read and heard it said that we should be looking for the "spirit of the anti-christ" and that he might not even be a person just a spiritual transition that over takes the world. One of anti- Christian fervor, or a denial of all the things we hold sacred. I personally don't agree with this. I think that Paul's account in 2 Thess. makes it clear that he is indeed a real person. Plus, in Matt. 24:15, after referring to the abomination of desolation spoken of in Daniel, Jesus says "standing in the holy place". In Dan.  12:11 it says "and the abomination is set up". When these verses are combined with what we are told of the beast and his sidekick in Rev. 13, my conclusion is that the antichrist is a man who after defiling the altar "sets up" the image referred to in chapter 13 in the book of Revelation. In Rev. 13:14-15 we find out that the "beast" deceives the people of the earth with signs and wonders and they are convinced to make an image of him. The image or idol is then given the miraculous ability to speak and of course the idol's sole purpose is to require human kind to worship the "beast".I believe that it is this "image of the beast" this speaking idol that is the abomination that is placed in the temple. (the next verse (rev.13:16) is about the "mark" of the beast, but we won't address that)   Jesus was drawing a parallel with what the disciples knew of the abomination of desolation, which, as I said before, was what Antiochus Epiphanies had done to the altar and temple. Antiochus Epiphanies had indeed stood at the holy place and defiled the temple and set up his abomination for worship. I think that Jesus was letting them know that the prophecy spoken of in Daniel had yet to be fulfilled.  That there was  another man to come and do as A.E. had done. Let me know what you think.
On to verses 24:16-22.

In these next verses (Matt.24:16-22), we will be talking about the physical and spiritual aspects of what is written in these verses . Jesus is speaking of events that seem to follow the defiling of the temple. As you all know, there is no temple now. But there are devoted Jews who are working to assemble all of the tools needed to rebuild the temple and reinstate the sacrifices written of in the old testament. (  I say this because the temple will need to be rebuilt for all of this to take place. 
To start these verses, 24:16 is actually the same sentence as verse 15. It is a continuation of the thought that Jesus is conveying. He says "those in Judea, flee to the mountains" . If you look at this map, you will see that Judea is a region which contains Jerusalem. He is calling for the whole region to flee, not just the city. By contrast He is not calling for the whole world to flee, just Judea. I personally feel that this warning is given in direct response to what will be happening in the spiritual world at the time when these things take place. Read Rev. 12:13-17. This is a spiritual picture of what will be happening to the Jews on earth at this time. (of course I'm open to comments) . Jesus tells them in these verses, not to go back to their houses for  anything, not even a coat!! Verse 24:19 is a "woe" Of sympathy and foreboding , The Lord knows how hard it will be for pregnant women and women with nursing infants to flee for their lives with no provisions. 
I find verse 24:20 particularly interesting. He doesn't tell them to pray that these things will not occur. He tells them to pray that the weather might be warm and that the events will not take place on the Sabbath. Jesus knows that there is no turning back from these events.
We will finish Matthew 24 part 1 with these last 2 verses, Matt. 24:21- 22. To me, these two verses are pivotal verses in any Christians spiritual life. Jesus says that there will be days of great suffering that have not been seen since the beginning of the world and never will be seen again. He says, unless those days had been shortened, no flesh (or life) would have been saved, but for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. I read one commentator who believes that 80% of all life on earth will be killed in those days of "tribulation". Jesus is truly warning us. He is informing us so that we will be ready. He wants us to be serious about knowing Him and knowing His words to us. We can be prepared for what is coming. That is why I write this blog. It is an attempt to help you know God's word and be prepared. (prepared for the future God has ordained and be ready for what ever God is calling you to, and He is calling you to something)
Here are some other scripture references about the "Great Tribulation. "   
Isaiah 13:6-13
Daniel 12:1
Zephaniah 1:14-18

I will finish here for now. I know that this doesn't answer all of your questions about the end times. I hope that you are encouraged to be ready.  Amazing things are coming!

Keep reading your bibles! Pray for remembrance!
I am praying for all of you!

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