THE TIMES TO COME
This chapter will focus mainly on the signs that will preceed the end of this age and the coming of Christ. The main proof texts concerning this topic will be dealt with and an earnest attempt will be made to keep them in their proper context and time frame. There will be no attempt to interpret the scriptures beyond what the writer can plainly see (whether the reader can is another question), and illustrate with either scriptural or historical references.
MATTHEW CHAPTER 24
Matthew 24:2 "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."
The clear reference is to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans under Titus in 70AD, but it should be noted that the scripture still applies today, and could possible apply after another Temple is built.
MATT 24:3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the discipes came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?"
Three questions, requiring two answers. The first question rather obviously referres to the destruction of the temple. The second and third are distinctly separate from the first, thus requiring us to pay close attention to the context of the following answer to see which is being answered and in what manner.
MATT 24:4-5 And Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.
Aplication could be either prior to the destruction of the temple, but in view of the historical facts it would probably be more applicable today (read the newspapers lately?)
MATT 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. "the end is not yet" is referring directly to the "close of the age". Whether the "wars and rumours of wars" referres to their time period or that of the end of the age is an arguable point.
MATT 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings.
The context of this portion of scripture is clearly apocalyptic in nature. It has been argued that the "nation against nation" etc. applied to the time of Jerusalems destruction by Titus. It should be pointed out that the context is of many nations striving against one another such as a worldwide conflict, not mighty Rome stomping on little Judea. Although the campaign of Titus brought much hardship and grief to the inhabitants of Judea, the context of this scripture is on a broader scale "various places", not one general area.
MATT 24:8-9 all this is but the beginning of the sufferings. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my names sake.
To say that this did not apply in the days of the saints living in the time of Nero and Titus would be laughable, but to say that this scripture is fulfilled is to rip it out of its overall context. It would be wise at this time to take into consideration that Christ was talking to his disciples and that he is speaking in that specific time frame, but it should never be ignored that he is in the process of answering very specific questions concerning the 'end of the age' and his second coming. Thus a very good reason for a two fold interpretation of prophecy, for Christ was both answering the question put to him and warning them of what they would face in the not so distant future.
MATT 24:10-14 And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most mens love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.
Again, the 'end' being referred to is the one that is still to come, because the gospel was not preached to the whole world prior to 70AD. Whether the preceeding verses applied then or today is not the question here, but whether the application is more pertinent today. It is not a question of whether we have any false prophets today but more apropriatly "how many", just from a statistical basis the increase in crime and immorallity is appalling. If mens love hasn't grown cold then how do we explain the divorce rate within the body of Christ, never mind the secular world.
MATT 24:15-22 "So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
Remembering the questions that are being answered, it would be clear from verses 21-22 that the application is to "the sign of your coming and the close of the age". The prophecy of Daniel could be applied to the desecration of the Temple in 70AD, but Daniels prophecy also applied to the desecration in the Maccabean period. No, to put that scripture in its proper context we must look at the period of time represented by 'those days'. "great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved;". Has this scripture been fulfilled since it was spoken by our Lord? NO! The tribulation spoken of hear is not on the magnitude of a civil insurection (which was put down with much bloodletting, history also being repleat with countless other examples of such carnage), but a great tribulation that will make the 'flood' look like a beach party!
MATT 24:23-24 Then if any one says to you, 'Lo, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not beleive it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
The best way to understand this scripture is to reference it with II THESSALONIANS 2, and REVELATION 13. Again, it points to a still yet future fulillment.
MATT 24:27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
Has this occured? NO!
MATT 24:29-30 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory;
Has the sun been darkened? Possibly. Has the moon not given its light? Possibly. Have the stars fallen from heaven? Doubtful. Have the powers of the heavens been shaken? Very doubtful. Has the sign of the Son of man appeared in heaven? NO! Have all the tribes of the earth mourned? NO! Has the Son of man been seen coming on the clouds of heaven? NO!!! Context? Still to come.
MATT 24:34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.
Which Generation? The one he is speaking to or the one that would see those things take place? If the scriptures are yet unfulfilled then the context demands that it be the generation that would see the 'great tribulation', not the one he was speaking to. Unless, of course, he was in part answering their first question "when will this be", concerning the destruction of the temple. One may also look again at the possibility of twofold fulfillment, in which there are 'desolating sacriledges', and "the desolating sacriledge", 'many antichrists', and "the Antichrist". Not partial fulfillments, but shadows of things to come (and pale ones at that).
The twentyfourth chapter concludes with an exortation to stay in the grace of God regardless of the time in which you live, whether He should return tomorrow or in another 2000 years.
Return to Main Menu