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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                  The Olivet Discourse - II (24:29-51)

INTRODUCTION

1. In our previous lesson, we covered the first half of Matthew 24...
   a. Commonly called "The Olivet Discourse", since Jesus was on the
      Mount of Olives when He delivered it
   b. A challenging passage of scripture, believed to discussing...
      1) The destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 A.D.
      2) The second coming of Christ, which is yet to occur
      3) Or both events, described either in turn or intertwined

2. I've proposed the entire chapter foretells the destruction of
   Jerusalem, based first upon the setting leading up to the discourse,
   which includes...
   a. Jesus' words spoken in the temple
      1) His parables about Israel's rejection of Him - Mt 21:28-32,
         33-46; 22:1-14
      2) His condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees - Mt 23:27-36
      3) His lamentation over Jerusalem - Mt 23:37-39
   b. Jesus' prophecy spoken about the temple - Mt 24:1-2
   c. The questions of the disciples, which when Mark and Luke's
      account are considered, appear to be:
      1) "When will these things be?"
      2) "What will be the sign when all these things will be 
         fulfilled?" -- Cf. Mt 24:3; Mk 13:4; Lk 21:7

3. We saw that in verses 4-29, Jesus describes...
   a. What will "not" be the sign (other than the gospel preached to
      all nations) - Mt 24:4-14
   b. What will be the sign - Mt 24:15
      1) The abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel - Dan 9:26-27
      2) Which Luke explains to be Jerusalem surrounded by armies - Lk
         21:20
   c. What to do when they saw the sign - Mt 24:16-28
      1) Those in Judea were to flee to the mountains to avoid a great
         tribulation
      2) They were not to be misled by false christs or false prophets

[Up to verse 29, Jesus described a local, escapable judgment to befall
Jerusalem.  He does not describe the worldwide, inescapable judgment
taught elsewhere in the Scriptures.  But with verse 29, some believe
Jesus now addresses His second coming (cf. J.W. McGarvey's Four-Fold
Gospel).  As we continue with our study, I propose that the destruction
of Jerusalem is still under consideration...]

II. THE OLIVET DISCOURSE (continued)

   D. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT...
      1. Events to occur "immediately after the tribulation of those
         days"...
         a. Cosmic disturbances - Mt 24:29
            1) The sun will be darkened
            2) The moon will not give its light
            3) The stars will fall from heaven
            4) The heavens will be shaken
         b. The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven - Mt 24:30
            1) All the tribes of the earth will mourn
            2) They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of
               heaven with power and great glory
         c. The elect will be gathered - Mt 24:31
            1) For with a great sound of the trumpet, angels will be
               sent
            2) They shall gather the elect from the four winds, from
               one end of heaven to another     
      2. Such events certainly sound like the second coming of Christ,
         but consider two reasons why they may not be referring to
         Jesus' coming at the Last Day...
         a. The events were to occur "immediately after the tribulation
            of those days" ("in those days, after that tribulation")
            - Mt 24:29; Mk 13:24
            1) They are connected in time to the tribulation described
               in Mt 24:15-28
            2) This "coming" of Jesus was to occur at the conclusion of
               the siege of Jerusalem
         b. The events are similar to those used to foretell God's
            judgment of other nations
            1) Babylon - Isa 13:1,6-13
            2) Egypt - Isa 19:1-2; cf. Eze 32:2,7-9
            3) Tyre - Isa 23:1; 24:21-23
            4) Edom - Isa 34:4-6
            5) Nineveh - Nah 1:1-5
            6) Israel - Am 8:9
            7) Judah - Jer 4:5-6,23-28
      3. For such reasons, I suggest that even in Mt 24:29-31...
         a. Jesus refers to the destruction of Jerusalem
         b. Like other Jewish prophets, Jesus uses figurative language
            to depict:
            1) The judgment to befall the wicked (in terms of worldwide
               destruction)
            2) The provision made for the righteous (in terms of the
               gathering by angels)
         c. Jewish prophets foretold God's judgment upon such 
            nations...
            1) Using figures of worldwide destruction, even though the
               judgment was local
            2) Perhaps because such judgments foreshadow God's Final
               Judgment to come upon the entire world at the Last Day

   [The rest of the chapter includes...]

   E. ADMONITIONS TO BE PREPARED AND PRODUCTIVE...
      1. The parable of the fig tree - Mt 24:32-33
         a. New branches and leaves indicate summer is near
         b. When you see these things (Jerusalem surrounded by armies),
            the time is near
      2. It would happen before "this generation" passed away - Mt 24:
         34
         a. Some define "generation" as a race of people (i.e., the
            Jews) - cf. McGarvey, B. W. Johnson
         b. But note its use by Jesus just prior to this discourse 
            - Mt 23:33-36 (esp. 36)
         -- The destruction of Jerusalem came to pass within forty
            years!
      3. The words of Jesus will come to pass - Mt 24:35
         a. Heaven and earth shall pass away one day - cf. 2Pe 3:7,10
         b. But Jesus' words will by no means pass away
         -- With v. 35, some believe Jesus now talks about the second
            coming; but Jesus is using an illustration to demonstrate
            the surety of His words - e.g., Mt 5:18
      4. Of that day and hour, only the Father knows - Mt 24:36
         a. They might discern the general timing with the advance of
            armies toward Jerusalem
         b. But the day and hour when the siege would begin, only the
            Father knew
         -- So don't delay when the "sign" appears (Jerusalem
            surrounded by armies)
      5. It will be like the days of Noah - Mt 24:37-39
         a. In the days before the flood...
            1) Noah knew what was coming and was preparing, but people
               continued with their normal activities
            2) Only when it was too late did the people know
         b. Prior to the siege of Jerusalem...
            1) Many people probably thought the conflict would end
               peacefully, and so lived their lives accordingly
            2) But once the siege began, it was too late
      6. Some will be taken away - Mt 24:40-41
         a. When the city was stormed, 97,000 Jews were taken captive
         b. Some to be 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)
      7. Therefore, watch! - Mt 24:42-44
         a. You don't know the hour of the Son of Man's coming
         b. Don't be caught off guard, like the master of a house who
            did not know when a thief would break in
         c. Be ready, for the Son of Man will come when you not expect
            Him
         -- The siege of Jerusalem might begin promptly, so flee Judea
            quickly when you see the armies surrounding Jerusalem!
      8. The parable of the faithful servant and the wicked servant 
         - Mt 24:45-51
         a. The faithful servant is blessed if doing the master's will
            when he comes
         b. So the disciples of Jesus are admonished to be productive

CONCLUSION

1. Admittedly, there is much in "The Olivet Discourse" that alludes to
   our Lord's second coming at the Last Day...
   a. But that is no different than the prophecies by other Jewish
      prophets who foretold God's judgment upon other nations
   b. It was a common motif used by Jewish prophets, we should not be
      surprised to see Jesus using the same
   -- And rightly so, for God's judgments upon nations in the past are
      types and shadows of the Final Judgment to befall the entire
      world when Jesus comes again

2. In addition to the setting leading up to the discourse, there is the
   natural flow of the discourse itself that leads me to conclude it is
   entirely about the destruction of Jerusalem...
   a. Jesus' disciples are told what will not be the sign - Mt 24:1-14
   b. They are told will be the sign that His coming is near - Mt 24:15
   c. They are told what to do when they see the sign - Mt 24:16-28
   d. His coming in judgment (the fall of Jerusalem) is described in
      terms reminiscent of other Jewish prophets who foretold of God's
      judgments upon various nations - Mt 24:29-31
   e. Admonitions are given for them to be prepared and productive in
      the meantime - Mt 24:32-51

So I view "The Olivet Discourse" to describe a local, escapable
judgment which occurred as Jesus foretold in 70 A. D.  However, there
is still the worldwide, inescapable judgment at the Last Day - cf. 1 Th
5:2-3; 2Th 1:7-10; 2Pe 3:10-12

Are you ready for that Day?  The admonitions to be prepared and
productive are very similar:

   "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in
   which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the
   elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the
   works that are in it will be burned up."

   "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what
   manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
   looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because
   of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the
   elements will melt with fervent heat?"

   "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens
   and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved,
   looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in
   peace, without spot and blameless;"
                                              - 2Pe 3:10-14
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