About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 24
last verse in chapter 23 says that the Jews will not see Jesus again until
He returns and they say, “blessed is He that comes in the name of the
Lord”. These words are
prophetic of the end of this age when God will pour out a Spirit of
scolding the Pharisees Jesus simply walks away from them and the temple.
Some of His followers catch up to Him and comment on the
magnificence of the
verse 2 Jesus takes this opportunity to speak prophetically to these
followers. He probably points
to the buildings and ask, “do you see all these things”?
The words “all these things” refer to the
Jesus said here was a direct prophecy that as we’ve noted before came
true in 70 A. D. when Romans soldiers attacked
verse 3 we see Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives, one of His favorite
places to be when He came to
3 is very important to understand the timeline of the rest of this
chapter. While on the
first question concerning “when will this be” refers to the
destruction of the
cannot confuse the answers to these two questions as some have over the
years. Part of what Jesus will
say is in reference to the destruction of
Jesus begins to directly answer the first question about the
people believe what Jesus is saying here is that history will be full of
people coming in my name, claiming to be me or sent by me, and they will
deceive many people throughout the age.
This is a simple fact of history.
Church history seems to be more about false messiahs and false
teachers than about real godly men. I’d
dare say that old Roman Catholicism fits into this category.
don't believe the false Christ's that Jesus is speaking about here are
those who we've seen throughout the centuries.
These false Christ's are specific to the end of this age.
I will comment on this a bit later. One thing I will say now is
that the false Christ's are necessarily people who claim to be Christ, but
claim to be sent by God, but aren't. I
believe the Emergent church found in Evangelical circles as I write, is a
verse 6 Jesus says that you will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but He
tells His disciples not to be alarmed because they must come.
Many people believe that Jesus is simply pointing out that history
has been full of wars, and will be full of wars until He returns. They are
a common occurrence and therefore don’t represent a specific sign of the
end of the age. I don't
believe this. These wars are
specific to the end of this age. I
will show my reasoning in a bit.
need to note that the Greek word translated as "rumors" in the
KJV can easily be translated as "reports".
In my thinking there is a difference, at least in our day, between
a rumor and a report. A rumor
is something that is spread from one person to another, to another, and to
another, and so on. The rumor
may or may not be true. A
report is something that someone states and is meant to be taken as fact.
We watch world events on television. Listen to them on the radio,
and see them on the internet these days.
We call what we watch reports.
What Jesus spoke of here is taking place today.
We don't hear rumors of wars that may or may not be true.
We watch and hear of reports of wars that are true.
This is something we understand much better than the disciples
Jesus spoke to.
says that “such things must happen”.
Why would He say that “wars must happen”.
They must happen because they are a product of the spiritual
warfare that is taking place in the heavenly atmosphere around us.
That’s where the real war is taking place.
Because the number one war is being fought between the
reason why these wars must take place is that they have been predicted by
the prophets in the Old Testament. Such
wars as Ezekiel 38 and 39 and Psalm 83.
These wars are a prelude to the end of this age.
They must come to pass.
There is another reason, and maybe the most important reason, why these wars must come to pass. You can easily substitute the word "necessary" in place of the word "must' in this verse. These wars, and also what Jesus mentions next, is necessary because they are the prelude to the things that will take place at the very end. For example, there are preliminary wars that must take place before the more important wars, or war, at the end of this age. We see the Ezekiel 38 and 39 war, the Psalm 85 war, and others. Are they the preliminary wars, or the wars at the very end? I'm not sure. That being said, there are wars that will lead to the great and final war, the war of Armageddon.
Yet another reason why
wars must happen is that throughout Scripture see that God allows nations
to sin. He doesn't step into
the affairs of men and nations right away, but, when the quantity and
quality of national sins reaches God's predetermined limits, then He step
into national affairs in judgment. Therefore,
sins like wars must take place until God's predetermined limits are met.
verse 8 Jesus says that nations and kingdoms will rise up against each
other in war. He also says
that there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
He tells us that these are just the beginning of birth pains.
need to note the difference between a kingdom and a nation.
people say that these famines and earthquakes have been around for the
last two thousand years and this is what Jesus is speaking about.
It's like the false Christs and the wars I've just spoken about.
I don't believe that.
reason why I believe the false Christs, the wars, the famines, and the
earthquakes spoken of here aren't in reference to the last two thousand
years is because Jesus relates these events to birth panes,
contractions, of a pregnant woman. A
pregnant woman only has birth pains at the very end of her pregnancy.
She doesn't have them at any other time.
These events therefore, mark the beginning of the end, and if you
relate these events to a pregnant woman, these events take place pretty
much at the end of this age.
compares the tragedies of war,
famine and earthquakes to “birth pains”, as a woman would have before
she gives birth. I believe
Paul speaks of the same thing in Romans 8:17-22 when he speaks of creation
groaning. The groans is
associated with these birth pains Jesus is talking about.
fell from God's grace as seen in Genesis 2, when man disobeyed God,
creation fell along with man. Everything
now associated with God’s creation on earth is in a fallen state and
eagerly waits the day at the end of this age when they will experience
rebirth and renewal. Until
then, creation is groaning with pain. These groans are at the end of the
again in verse 6 that Jesus says that "these things must
happen". What does
"these things" refer to? They
refer to the "reports of war".
Yet, the word "things" is plural here.
There is more than one thing that is necessary to happen before the
end will come. What are these
other things? I believe two
other things are famines and earthquakes that Jesus mentions in verse 7.
I might add that Luke adds a couple more things.
In Luke 21 he adds, revolutions, pestilences, and signs in the
heavens to the list. I might
suggest that there are other things that can be added to the list as well,
things that are very disturbing to those who don't belong to Jesus.
verse 9 Jesus tells His followers that they will be hated of all nations
and put to death because of Him. In
verse 10 He says that at that time many will turn away from the faith and
betray each other. In verse 11
He speaks of the rise of false prophets that He spoke about in the
these things happened to the first followers of Jesus. They were captured
and killed for the faith in Jesus.
me say at this point I believe there are significant parallels to the time
leading up to the destruction of
add a bit more to the confusion, if you read Luke's account of this event,
he says that "before" these things happen, that is the wars,
famines, and earthquakes, the disciples will be persecuted.
Matthew doesn't exactly say it that way.
He suggests that after these things happen, the disciples will be
persecuted. This might well
back up my point that as the first century disciples of Jesus were
persecuted, so the last generation of disciples of Jesus will be
do believe that along with the false Christs, the wars, the famines, the
earthquakes, the revolutions, the pestilences, and the signs in the
heavens, there will be an
escalation of Christians being persecuted at the end of this age.
verses 12 and 13 Jesus says that wickedness will get worse, and the love
of many will grow cold, but he who endures to the end will be saved.
This was clearly the state of
verse 14 Jesus goes back to speaking of the end of the age when He says
that the “gospel of the Kingdom” will be preached as a testimony to
Him in all nations before the end would come.
I believe our modern technology will, and is in the process of
bringing this prophecy about. Through
satellites, TV, internet, and computers, the gospel of the Kingdom is
being preached around the world. And
let me point out, that the gospel Jesus speaks of here is more than the
gospel of salvation, it’s the gospel of the present
verse 15 Jesus is specifically speaking to the disciples and not to us or
those who will be living at the end of the age.
At this point I’d would like to suggest that in my thinking there
are similar parallels to the destruction of Jerusalem, what Jesus is about
to speak to, and the things that will happen at the end of this age.
You might say there’s a double meaning to this prophecy which is
sometimes the case in Biblical prophecy.
Biblical prophecy many times has a primary and a secondary
Concerning the timing of
the preaching of this gospel, we know it's just prior to the return of
Jesus. For this reason, many
people place this last great evangelical proclamation to be during the
Great Tribulation when the 144,000 Israeli evangelists will preach
throughout the world as seen in Revelation 7.
The Old Testament book of Joel prophesies about a great final
outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In
context, this outpouring takes place right before the end of this age.
So, it appears to me that the final proclamation of the gospel of
the soon coming
verse 15 Jesus speaks of the “abomination that makes desolate” spoken
by the prophet Daniel, and He tells those listening that this is something
they should understand. In
short this desolation was the
desolation and destruction of the
the fall of
Roman army numbered about 70,000 men while the Jews had about 13,000.
The Jews had built some defenses around
of a lack of good leadership on the part of the Jews, and even a sense of
sloppiness, the Romans decided to move in.
By the end of August the temple
was destroyed. Most historians
suggest that it was not the intention of the Roman army to destroy the
claims that 1.1 million people were killed in the fall of
was a great city, one of the
most wondrous and beautiful cities in the world with all sorts of gardens,
beautiful tree lined streets and much more.
But once it was laid waist, there was little left.
The only thing left was a few towers and the western walls that the
Romans kept for a memorial to this great city.
is sufficient evidence from Old Testament prophecies that the same
abomination will take place at the end of this age, with a rebuilt temple,
possibly with the help of the anti-christ.
If you struggle over the idea that the temple will be rebuilt by
the anti-christ, you must realize that the temple in Jesus' day was also
rebuilt by a gentile Roman who was Herod.
verse 16 Jesus tells those that are in Judea, the province where
verse 17 Jesus speaks to the seriousness of the matter.
He says that if anyone is on their rooftops, don’t even go down
into your house to get some of your things.
Just get out and flea. Rooftops were flat back in those days and
people often used these flat roofs as a place to sit.
verse 18 Jesus says something similar.
If you are in your field working, don’t go back to your house.
Once again, just head for the hills and get out of the path of the
verse 19 Jesus expresses His sorrow over the fact that there will be
pregnant women and nursing mothers who will find it hard to escape the
terror as fast as they might like. Another
reason for Jesus’ sorrow is that things were so bad that woman were
killing their babies for food which had also been prophesied about in the
Old Testament days. This was
actually listed as one of the curses upon
verse 20 Jesus says for His disciples to pray that their journey, or their
escape won’t be in the winter or on the Sabbath, so their trip will be
easier to make. There would
have been time for many Jews to have escaped
verse 21 Jesus says that “in those days there will be great distress”.
He goes on to say that such distress has never been seen in the
world and never will be. He’s
obviously not speaking about the Roman invasion.
He’s speaking of the end of the age and which some people call
the Great Tribulation. At
least this is the Futurist interpretation to this verse.
The wars spoken of in the Old Testament and the book of Revelation
mark a time of destruction that has never been seen.
Nuclear warfare is most likely part of these wars.
verse 22 Jesus says that these days of trouble will be so bad that if they
weren’t shortened, no one would survive. Yet for the sake of the elect
God would shorten these days. He
would bring an end to the bad things that would take place.
Some see a pre-tribulation rapture in this verse.
They suggest that the shortening of the days speaks to such a
thing. But to me that does not
make sense. The elect, or
God’s people have to be going through this trouble in order for God to
shorten those troublesome days on their behalf.
people believe that the wrath of God spoken of throughout the Bible takes
place during the last half of the last seven years. They believe it's just
before that time that the elect are taken from the world
They see the first half the last seven years as satan's wrath and
the last half of the seven years as God's wrath, and the Bible is pretty
clear that the elect will not suffer God's wrath.
See 1Thessalonians 5:9.
At this point I insert an article I wrote that explains who the elect are in this verse.
raised in an Evangelical world that believed Jews were God's chosen
people. When I would ask if
the "elect" people seen in Matthew 24:21 and 22 were Jews or the
church, no one seemed to know. I
guess that was to be expected. It's
a confusing issue. "Divine
election", as theologians call it, has been debated for centuries.
I suggest you consider what I say as you study the issue for
Christians we often begin our study of Biblical issues in the New
Testament. Both hermeneutics
and common sense dictate we start any study in the Old Testament.
So, I begin in Genesis where our English word "chose",
and other related words, are translated from the Hebrew word "bachiyr".
There's no religious significance about this word. It
simply means to pick or choose.
after God judged humanity at
coincidence that the Bible introduces Abraham right after God judged the
newly formed nations of the world. These
nations needed divine help. For
this reason God chose, or elected, Abraham to be the father of a great
nation we know as
this promised great nation God chose Abraham's son Isaac over his son
Ishmael. God then chose
Isaac's son Jacob over his son Esau to continue on the path to nationhood.
The Apostle Paul explained the reason for these choices in Romans
9:11 and 12. "In order
that God's purpose in election (His choices) might stand: not by works but
by Him who calls (NIV). In
other words, God's choices in this matter was based on His sovereign will,
not on any goodness Abraham, and Isaac may or may not have possessed.
Being God, He can choose whoever He wants for whatever He wants.
to God choosing Abraham as Israel's father, He appointed, or chose, Israel
to be His priest or representative to the ungodly nations (Exodus 19:6 -
Isaiah 49:6). This choice is
confirmed throughout the Old Testament as seen in these two of many
Old Testament facts should form the foundation for our thinking concerning
divine election. They're
critical when figuring out who the elect people are in Matthew 24:21 and
22. Here, Jesus spoke about a
time of great distress, unequaled in human history, which would overtake
the world. I believe this
distress will occur during what many call the Great Tribulation.
Jesus then said that if those days weren't cut short, no one would
survive, but, for the sake of the elect, those days would be shortened. Like
its Hebrew counterpart, the Greek word "eklekios" that's
translated as "elect" in this passage has no religious
significance. It simply means
to pick or to choose. So, who
are these elect people that God chose to rescue from this distress?
Jesus and those listening to Him were Jews.
They would have believed that
debate heats up even more when we read Colossians 3:12.
The Apostle Paul called the Colossian believers, which included
both Jews and Gentiles, God's chosen or elect people.
Contextually speaking, Paul used the word "elect" to
refer to that which we call church, not to the nation of
Apostle Peter also used the word "elect" in 1 Peter 1:1.
Here, scholars are divided. It's
debatable whether Peter was addressing Jews, Gentiles, or both Jews and
Gentiles. Because of this
uncertainty, we can't use 1 Peter 1:1 to support any position on this
sense of the word, the New Testament community of Christ is God's chosen
or elect people for the age in which we live.
That being the case, we cannot disregard the long standing Old
Testament fact that I believe Jesus confirmed;
conclude the following. New
Testament believers are God's special chosen people for this age, not
because of any goodness they may or may not possess, but because of God's
sovereign choice as seen in the cross of Christ.
Abraham was God's special chosen man, not because of any goodness
he may or may not have possessed, but because of God's sovereign choice to
make him the father of a great nation.
I now return to my commantary.
verse 22 to 25 Jesus tells us
that in these days of trouble there will be false teachers and prophets
who have power to do miraculous things.
This can be seen in the book of Revelation.
The devil will demonstrate all the power that he has to bring
people over to his side. But
Jesus says not to pay attention to these false prophets.
says that these false miracles would “even deceive the elect, if that
were possible”. This
suggests to me that it might well be possible to deceive some of God’s
people who have little knowledge or faith.
Others might argue the words “if possible” means that it’s
not possible to deceive the elect. Nevertheless,
whatever way you take these words, the miraculous signs are going to be
very powerful, and they will convince the non-believer.
This also tells me that the elect will on be earth when these
miracles take place. They have
not yet been raptured away.
verses 26 and 27 Jesus warns His followers once again about false
messiahs, and really this warning is not really to those listening.
It’s to those who will be living at the end of this age.
He tells those people that if anyone says the Messiah is here or
there, you don’t believe them. The
Messiah will come, but He’ll came like the lightening flashes from one
end of the sky to the other. This
too is seen in the book of Revelation.
Jesus literally returns in the clouds, from the sky, as a
lightening bolt. Everyone will
know it is Him coming. No one
will have to tell anyone that Jesus is returning.
verse 28 Jesus says that “wherever there is a carcass, the vultures will
be”. This appears to be in
direct reference to the very end of the age.
As Jesus returns all the armies of the world that are gathered to
verse 29 Jesus quotes from Isa. 13:10 and 34:4 when He says that
immediately after these days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not
shine, the stars shall fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be
shaken. The words “immediately after these days” refers to the
tribulation and the coming of Jesus when He destroys the armies of the
world and their carcasses will be seen on the ground and in the streets.
This tells us that not only the earth will be shaken and go under
God’s judgment, but the universe around us will experience these things.
answer to the disciples second question is answered in verse 30 when Jesus
says that “at that time the sign of the Son of man will appear in the
sky”. The sign appears to be
the lightening that flashes from one end of the sky to another.
continues to say that when He returns, “all the nations of the earth
will mourn”. The question is
why will the nations mourn? They
mourn because the kingdoms of the world opposed the King of the
verse 31 we see that Jesus will at that time call out His angels to gather
His people from the four winds and from one part of the heavens to the
other parts. Some might
suggest that the saints aren’t on the earth because in this verse it
seems to suggest that they might not be.
They’re in the four winds or the heavens instead.
Yet on the other hand “the four winds” are the
four winds of the earth as seen in the book of
Revelation. Yet as I
think of it, I think these words suggests that all saints will be gathered
from wherever they are. Some
might well be on the earth, while others indeed will be in heaven since
they died prior to this point, or as some might believe, been raptured.
verses 32 and 33 Jesus tells a little parable.
He says that when you see a fig tree in the spring beginning to
grow leaves you know that summer is near.
The point that Jesus makes here is that in the same way that you
see the leaves appear knowing that summer is near, when you see the things
mentioned you know tat the end is “at the door”.
I believe the door is now being opened for the soon return of
things that Jesus mentions hear are the things that He has just spoken
about, and what He has just spoken about are in fairly general terms when
compared to the book of Revelation. Jesus
might not be speaking of all the prophetic events that take place in the
years leading up to the end. He
might well be speaking of the things at the end of the things leading up
to the end, such as when the sun and moon lose their light.
They are at the very end of this age.
34 has been disputed for years. Jesus
tells us that ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things
have happened”. Some believe
that this generation refers to the Jewish people at the end of the age.
They say this because of the parable of the fig tree in the last
few verses. The fig tree is
often prophetic language for
next question in this thinking is, “how long is a generation”?
There’s been various answers to this question.
Many people thought the forty years was a generation.
The problem with this is that it has now been more than forty years
a result of this math problem some say the forty years should start in
over the years people have changed dates and times to try to figure out
when the end will come in reference to what Jesus says here.
I need to note that the Greek word
translated as generation can also be translated as
“a race of people”. In
At this oint I would like to insert an article I wrote concerning verse 34. It is as follows.
Generation That Ends This Age
I was 15 years old when
Happy Together by the Turtles was a hit song in what pop culture called
the "Summer Of Love". One
of my favourite songs in the summer of 1967 was "Windy" by the
Association. I liked the
"59th Street Bridge Song", otherwise known as
"Feeling Groovy". It
was recorded by Harpers Bizarre, but it sure sounded like Simon and
Garfunkel who originally wrote and recorded the song.
Every July our family
attended the Free Methodist Camp just north of
The reason for all the
end time talk was because of the Six Day War in June of 1967 and how it
might relate to Matthew 24. Jesus
told His disciples that when the branches of the fig tree get tender,
summer is near. He then said
that in like fashion when you see the things He predicted being fulfilled;
know that the end is near. "This
generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have
happened". (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32)
There has been much
controversy and confusion over the words "this generation" in
Matthew 24:34. Some say the
word "this" in "this generation" refers specifically
to an Israeli generation. Others
say it refers to all ethnic generations.
Many understand "this generation" to be a generation
lasting a certain length of time, anywhere from 20 to 120 years.
Then there's the debate over when "this generation"
begins. If you can figure out
when this generation begins and how long it lasts, you'd have a good idea
when the end will come.
Most Prophetic Futurists
understand the fig tree in this passage to be
After getting serious
about Jesus in 1970 my heart's desire was to know the Bible.
That's why I ended up at Elim Bible Institute, in Lima,
My dad often talked to me
The Greek word
"genea" is translated as "generation" in Matthew
24:34. "Genea" means
"to become", as in "to become a human", or, "to
become a race of people". For
example, Abraham became a human being and his descendents became a race of
people known as Israelis. Because
"genea" can legitimately be translated a "race of
people" many credible Bible translators translate Matthew 24:34 this
way. "This race of people
will not pass away until all these things have happened".
Note that the NIV Bible has a footnote for Matthew 24:34 that
states this translation to be an acceptable alternate rendering.
Matthew 24:34 means
something quite different when you think in terms of a generation as a
race of people instead of a generation lasting a certain number of years.
No longer do you have to smash your head against the wall to figure
out how long a Biblical generation lasts.
With this in mind, I
refer you to Amos 9:14 – 15. "I
will bring back my exiled people
The important part of
Amos' prophecy for my present purpose is the prediction that once Israelis
return to their land, they would never be uprooted from it again.
Despite present pressures on
Back in the Summer Of Love my dad's generation thought they might be the last generation because they understood "this generation" to be a 20 to 40 year period of time. Well, most of that generation has since departed. If I had have known back then what I think I know now, maybe I could have suggested another way to think, but why would they have listened to a kid blasting out "Judy In The Sky With Diamonds" by the Beatles on his 6 transistor radio.
I now return to my commentary.
in verse 35 says that heaven and earth will pass away but His words will
never pass away. We need to
understand this statement to mean that our present heaven and earth will
pass away and will be replaced by a new heaven and earth as seen in the
book of Revelation. It is on this new earth that the redeem will live
thing is certain about the last day of this age and Jesus states this
certainty in verse 36. He says
that no one knows when that day will come.
The angels don’t know and He even doesn’t know. Only God the
Father knows when that day will come.
Some people have often used this verse to dissuade others from
thinking of end time prophecy, but this should not be.
No one knows the exact day, but we can know the general time
period. We can watch for the
signs of the times and know that the end is near.
verses 37 to 39 Jesus speaks about the flood and the days of Noah.
He says that the general population had no idea the flood would be
coming. They ate, drank, got
married and simply lived their lives as if there would be no disaster.
That had no clue to what would happen.
Jesus says that this is how it will be in the days leading up to
the end. The world will not
even think that the end of the age is near. People
will be living as they’ve always lived, and the end will come as a
complete surprise to them. In
many places of the New Testament we are told that this should not be the
case with Christians. We
should be watching and praying about the end.
We should have our eyes open to the signs of the end so that day
will not come on us unexpectedly.
verses 40 and 41 Jesus says that there will be two men in a field.
One man would be taken away while the other would be left in the
field. He also says that two
women will be grinding in a mill. One
would be taken away and the other will be left.
Those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture say these words
speak of this pre-tribulation rapture.
But that is mere interpretation.
Jesus does not say when this will happen.
The only thing we learn about “when
this will happen factor” from the context is that it is at or near the
end. This could well be at the
very end when Jesus returns to the earth with His angels to gather those
who are His and throw the rest into the
42 is clear. Jesus tells us
all “to keep watch” because we don’t know when our Lord will return.
Keep watch means that we should keep our eyes open for signs of the
end. It doesn’t mean that we
should avoid thinking about these things as some suggest.
Jesus wants us to think about end time events.
see a little analogy in verse 43 to explain what Jesus is saying.
He says that if a owner of a house new when a thief was going to
sneak in and rob him, he would have had kept watch and waited for him to
prevent the robbery. In like
manner we should be alert and have our eyes open for the signs of the end.
44 says that “the Son of man will come at an our when you least expect
Him”. Jesus’ return
will be a surprise, and that is easily understood in our anti-Christian
culture. No one expects Jesus
to return except Christians. The
world thinks we’re crazy to have such a thought.
tells another story to close this chapter.
He begins by asking, “who then is the faithful and wise
servant”? To answer
this question he relates two kinds of servants that a master puts in
charge of his possessions. Both
servants don’t know when the master will return and visit.
One servant does his best in looking after the things that he’s
responsible for. The other
servant thinks that the master won’t be back for a long time and goes
out and gets drunk in much partying and neglects his responsibility.
some point the master returns. The
first servant is ready for his return and everything is in order.
The second servant is out partying and his responsibilities are in
shambles. The master kicks
this second servant out into outer darkness with all the hypocrites.
There is much distress in this place of torment.
analogy is clear. Jesus gives
us all our responsibility in His Kingdom.
We should take our jobs seriously and do what we need to do in
light of Jesus’ return. Yes,
we are to watch out for the signs of His return, but in the mean time, we
don’t neglect the work Jesus has given us to do.
within church circles there are those who have left the faith and partied
all night, so to speak. Whole groups and denominations
have neglected their responsibility and have gone off doing their
own thing. Judgment waits
these people and these groups. They will be thrown into the