Fact: In Matthew 24, after Jesus declared ‘not one stone of this temple will remain on another’ he answers His disciples’ two questions: when will this happen? what is the sign of your coming and the end of the age?
Fact: Jesus was using in the typically dramatic language of OT prophets prophesying God’s coming judgment. He spoke to Jews whom He had taught and not to modern thinkers or English speakers.
Fact: In Matthew 24 the phrase ‘the end of the age’ occurs many times. The Greek word for ‘age’ is aion and not kosmos (‘world’). Hebrews 9:26 says ‘Jesus appeared at the end of the age, to put away sin.’
Here are six passages in Matthew’s Olivet Discourse chapter 24, which raise relevant questions about this phrase.
v15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee
- ‘Those in Judea must flee’ (not ‘in the world’). Jesus told his followers to flee Judea when the Romans occupy the Holy place. Can this be the end of the world if they can escape Judea and survive?
v17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak . . . pray that your flight will not be in winter, or on a Sabbath.
- We have already seen it’s Judea/Jerusalem that is in focus. Jesus talks about people working in the field (rural Judea) and Sabbath keepers (Jews)—right? So how can this be the end of the world?
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short.
- Jesus spoke about a great time of suffering (not the Great . . ) coming unprecedented in the world which would again never be as awful. So doesn’t that mean there is life after this? Further, can you see Jesus talks about the time being cut short so the elect would survive? This is the end of the Mosaic age—what apostate Israel will suffer under the wrath of God. How can this be the end of the world?
v23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. . . . if they say to you ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.
- Jesus tells them His coming is not seen with physical eyes. As in the O.T., His coming in judgment won’t be optically seen. So they are not to take any notice of people exclaiming He is ‘here’ or ‘there’.
v27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
- Lightning is limited geographically. Could a flash of lightning cover much beyond Judea? Its coming is unpredictable, instantaneous, swift. It is mostly seen at night. Jesus ‘comes like a thief in the night’, swift, hidden. Do you imagine the form of the glorious, unapproachable, terrifying Son of Man would be seen? He remains at the right hand of the Ancient of Days—right? Do you really think his enemies would see him and still live? Come on!
The insignia of the Roman might was the eagle and the army carried standards of eagles, idolatrous to Jews.
Graphic descriptions in the writings of the ancient historian Josephus talk about piles of dead bodies and blood flowing in the streets of Jerusalem in AD70. Have you read Josephus’ ‘Wars’?
v 30 then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
- Jesus said ‘tribes of the land’ (not peoples but tribes). Isn’t this all about the apostate Jews who rejected Jesus Messiah realising their fate and mourn ‘seeing’ their doom? Can you see this is a Judean context, the land of Israel? Isn’t this about the end of the long Mosaic age? Facts and logic. Plain thinking?
This very short article raises many implications and many questions will be raised which we cannot deal with here.
What do you really think?
‘Let God be true though all men are liars.’