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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   The Olivet Discourse - I (24:1-28)

INTRODUCTION

1. A challenging passage in the Bible is Jesus' discourse on the Mount
   of Olives...
   a. Given shortly after He left the temple with His disciples
   b. Recorded in Mt 24:1-51; Mk 13:1-37; Lk 21:5-36
   c. Commonly referred to as "The Olivet Discourse"
   -- Our focus will be primarily on Matthew's account - Mt 24:1-51

2. It's difficulty is apparent as one considers the diversity of
   interpretations offered...
   a. Some maintain that it is entirely about events preceding the
      Lord's second coming
   b. Others say that it is entirely about events related to the
      destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in 70 A.D.
   c. Yet many believe it contains reference to both of these events

3. Even those who say it refers to both events differ as to when a
   particular event is being described in Matthew's account...
   a. Some say that verses 4-28 refer to the destruction of Jerusalem,
      and verse 29 begins the discussion about the Lord's second coming
      (cf. J. W. McGarvey, The Four-Fold Gospel)
   b. Others contend that verse 35 begins talking about the second
      coming
   c. Others say Jesus switches back and forth throughout the discourse

4. I have trouble with Mt 24 describing both events in the light of
   Lk 17...
   a. Where Jesus is talking about "one of the days of the Son of Man"
      - Lk 17:22-37
      1) Note:  He alludes to the fact there is more than one "day of
         the Son of Man"
      2) I.e., the Lord will come in judgment in ways prior to His
         final coming at the Last Day
   b. In the discourse of Lk 17, Jesus uses language similar to Mt 24,
      but in ways that do not allow for a simple division of Mt 24,
      either at verse 29 or 35; notice...
      1) Lk 17:26-29 is parallel to Mt 24:37-39 (found after verses
         29,35)
      2) Yet Lk 17:31 is parallel to Mt 24:17-18 (found before verses
         29,35)
      3) And then Lk 17:34-36 is parallel to Mt 24:40-41 (found after
         verses 29,35)
   -- If Jesus is describing just one event in Lk 17 (which I believe
      He is), then He is likely describing just one event in Mt 24

[At this time, I view "The Olivet Discourse" in Mt 24 as depicting the
destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in 70 A.D., though it certainly
foreshadows His second coming.  To see why, let's start with...]

I. THE SETTING OF THE OLIVET DISCOURSE

   A. THE WORDS OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE...
      1. His parables depicting Israel's rejection of Him, and its
         consequence
         a. The parable of the two sons - Mt 21:28-32 (cf. v.31-32)
         b. The parable of the wicked vine dressers - Mt 21:33-46 (cf.
            v.42-45)
         c. The parable of the wedding feast - Mt 22:1-14 (cf. v.7-9)
      2. His condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees
         a. Who would fill up the measure of their fathers' guilt - Mt
            23:29-32
         b. Who kill, crucify, scourge, and persecute the prophets,
            wise men, and scribes He would send to them - Mt 23:33-34
         c. Upon whom the blood of all the righteous would come, upon
            that very generation - Mt 23:35-36
      3. His lamentation over Jerusalem
         a. The city who kills the prophets and stones those sent to
            her - Mt 23:37a
         b. The city unwilling to accept the love shown her - Mt 23:37b
         c. Whose house would be left desolate - Mt 23:38-39

   B. THE PROPHECY OF JESUS ABOUT THE TEMPLE...
      1. After his disciples were showing Him the buildings of temple 
         - Mt 24:1
      2. Declaring that not one stone would be left upon another - Mt 
         24:2

   C. THE QUESTIONS OF THE DISCIPLES...
      1. In Mark's gospel, two questions are asked - Mk 13:4
         a. "When will these things be?"
         b. "What will be the sign when all these things will be
            fulfilled?"
      2. In Luke's gospel, the two questions are similar - Lk 21:7
         a. "When will these things be?"
         b. "What sign will there be when these things are about to
            take place?"
      3. In Matthew's gospel, the second question is worded differently
         - Mt 24:3
         a. "When will these things be?"
         b. "What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of
            the age?"
      4. Observations regarding these questions:
         a. Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience
            1) He likely recorded the questions as asked by the
               disciples, who presumed the destruction of temple would
               mean His coming and the end of the age
            2) Jewish readers of the gospel would likely have the same
               conception
         b. Mark and Luke wrote their gospels to Gentiles
            1) To avoid possible misunderstanding by non-Jewish 
               readers, they worded the disciples' questions to reflect
               what the discourse is actually about
            2) I.e., the destruction of the temple and the sign when
               its destruction would be imminent

[When the setting leading up to "The Olivet Discourse" is carefully
considered, the subject of Jesus' words become clear.  The destruction
of the temple is the matter under consideration, not the second coming
of Christ.  Now let's proceed to examine more closely...]

II. THE OLIVET DISCOURSE

   A. WHAT WILL "NOT" BE THE SIGN...
      1. Be careful that none deceive you, claiming to be the Christ 
         - Mt 24:4-5
      2. Don't be troubled by wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence
         - Mt 24:6-8
         a. Such things will come, but the end (destruction of the
            temple) is not yet
         b. They are only the beginning of sorrows (not the sign of the
            end)
      3. Anticipate persecution and hard times - Mt 24:9-13
         a. You will be killed and hated for His name's sake
         b. Many will be offended, betray one another, and hate one
            another
         c. False prophets will deceive many
         d. The love of many will grow cold because of lawlessness
         e. But he who endures to "the end" will be saved -- "the end"
            refers here:
            1) Not to the second coming (implying one must live until
               Christ comes again)
            2) Nor to the destruction of Jerusalem (implying once one
               has survived that event, one's salvation is secured)
            3) But to the end of one's life - cf. Re 2:10
      4. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world 
         - Mt 24:14
         a. As a witness to all the nations
         b. Then the end (the destruction of the temple) will come
            1) This would end the Jewish sacrifices, and other remnants
               of OT worship
            2) That which was nailed to the cross, abolished by Jesus'
               death, would pass away - cf. Col 2:14-17; Ep 2:14-16; He
               8:13
         -- Was the gospel preached to all nations prior to the
            destruction of the temple?  Note what Paul wrote prior to
            70 A.D. - Ro 10:16-18; Col 1:23

   B. WHAT WILL BE THE SIGN...
      1. The "abomination of desolation" - Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14
         a. Standing in the holy place (the holy city Jerusalem)
         b. As foretold by Daniel - cf. Dan 9:26-27
      2. When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies - Lk 21:20
         a. Luke therefore explains the "abomination of desolation"
         b. In 70 A.D., Roman armies surrounded and besieged Jerusalem
            prior to destroying it and the temple
      -- Thus Jesus answers the disciples' question:  "What sign will
         there be when these things are about to take place?"

   C. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE THE SIGN...
      1. Those in Judea are to flee to the mountains - Mt 24:16-22
         a. Don't delay by going to your homes and getting your clothes
         b. It will be a difficult time for pregnant and nursing
            mothers
         c. Pray that your flight be not in winter (when travel is
            difficult) or on the Sabbath (when city gates are closed to
            travel)
         d. For there will be "great tribulation", though shortened for
            the elect's sake
            1) Luke specifies the nature of this tribulation - Lk 21:
               23b-24
            2) A Jewish general taking captive by the Romans just prior
               to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 offered this
               summary:
               a) All the calamities which had befallen any nation from
                  the beginning of the world were but small in 
                  comparison with those of the Jews
               b) In the siege of Jerusalem, no fewer than 1,100,000
                  perished (it was during the time of the Passover,
                  when more than 3,000,000 Jews were assembled)
               c) In surrounding provinces 250,000 were slain
               d) 97,000 were taken captive, some killed by beasts in
                  Roman theaters, some sent to work in Egypt, others
                  sold as slaves
               -- Flavius Josephus, Jewish Wars (as quoted in Barnes
                  Commentary on Matthew)
            3) The "elect" were Christians, spared by a shortened siege
               a) The Jews in the city engaged the Romans in battle
               b) Titus, the Roman general, being called to return to
                  Rome, proceeded to end the siege and stormed the city
                  (Barnes Commentary)
      2. Don't be misled by false christs and false prophets - Mt 24:
         23-28
         a. Even those who show great signs and wonders to deceive
         b. For the coming (judgment) of the Son of Man will be like
            lightning across the sky
            1) Do not expect to find Him in the desert or in inner
               rooms
            2) When He comes in judgment, it will be swift - cf. Lk 17:
               22-24
         c. Where the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered
            1) Alluding to Jerusalem surrounded by armies
            2) This is the "sign" to warn them it is time to flee
               Jerusalem and Judea!

CONCLUSION (Part One)

1. So far, all this depicts a local, escapable judgment...
   a. Where Jesus warned those in Judea of what is to come
   b. Where they are given a sign to let them know when to flee
   -- Indeed, many believe that up to verse 29 (or 35), Jesus is
      foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem (and its temple) that
      did occur in 70 A. D.

2. It certainly does not fit a worldwide, inescapable judgment...
   a. As will characterize the second coming of Christ
   b. As Paul and Peter taught Christians throughout the Mediterranean
      world - cf. 1Th 5:2-3; 2Th 1:7-10; 2Pe 3:10-12

3. Our next study will continue "The Olivet Discourse", starting with
   verse 29...
   a. Which certainly sounds like the second coming of Christ
   b. But is it?  Or was Jesus still describing events pertaining to
      the destruction of Jerusalem?

Eusebius (ca. 300 A.D.) in his "Ecclesiastical History" wrote that
Christians heeded the warnings of Jesus in Matthew 24, and fled 
Jerusalem when it was surrounded by the Roman army.

May we likewise heed the words of Jesus and not be misled by false
prophets and false christs, not be troubled by wars, famines,
pestilence, earthquakes, or even persecution, but endure to the end by
remaining faithful to Him, and look forward to His final coming at the
Last Day!
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