THE GOSPELS 104
Matt. 24

Roy Osborne
October 2011

THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AND THE END OF TIME

As Jesus comes to the close of His teaching in the Temple, Matthew says that many of the Jewish leaders believed Him but would not admit it for fear of being thrown out of the Synagogue.   Unfortunately, the same is true in the world of Christendom today.  Thousands refuse to recognize errors in the institution of which they are a part, and will not search for further truth, because they are more loyal to the institution than they are to God.  Jesus ends His teaching there with the sorrowful proclamation that those who accept His words will be saved, but those who reject His words are lost.

Walking away from the Temple, His disciples call attention to the magnificent buildings there.  These are Galilean fishermen.  They are like country folks who come to the big city for the first time.  They have seen nothing like the buildings there, and especially the magnificent Temple, which was built of massive marble stones, each weighing over 100 tons.  All this was covered in gold, and when the sun shone, it was too bright for the eye to behold.  The porches in the area in front of the Temple were also wonderful.   They had columns 37 feet high and more than 20 feet in circumference supported by marble blocks each also weighing over 100 tons.  How these stones were cut and put in place is still a mystery of ancient engineering.  No wonder the disciples were discussing this awe inspiring sight.

Then, Jesus made His amazing proclamation, “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down”.   There were many signs that prove Jesus was from Heaven, and this prediction was certainly a very powerful evidence of His origin.  This prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem was made approximately 33 AD, but its fulfillment was not to be for nearly 40 years, when Titus, the Roman ruler, leveled the city in 70 AD.  The accuracy of Jesus’ prediction was far greater than any human could have
foreseen.

Later, as He was sitting with His disciples on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem, they asked Him when He was going to return,  how would they know, and when was the end of the world to be.   The rest of this difficult
chapter is taken up with Jesus’ answer to this question, and also to the warning about the destruction of Jerusalem.  The intermingling of these two things has caused much difficulty in interpreting this chapter.

To sum up the things Jesus said: first He told them that the end was not to be soon.  Many terrible things would take place in the history of the world before the end of time.   Also, He warned them that they would not be around for that
event, for they would have many persecutions and even death before it happened.  In this warning, He said that many would claim that they came in His name and spoke for Him.  We see many who claim such inspiration today, and have seen it in the past.   No one has the authority to speak for Christ, nor does He give any further revelation through any man after His designated
Apostles died.  They alone had the power to perform the miracles that authenticated the words they spoke.  None have had that power since.

Then He switches and begins to talk, in verse 15, about the coming destruction of Jerusalem, and He warns everyone that, when they see the Romans coming and desecrating the Temple, they should flee the city without delay.   The Jews did not heed this warning and 1,100,000 of them died of famine and Roman swords…97,000 were captured and made slaves.   He also warned that, at that time, many would say,”Here is the Messiah”, for the Jews believed the Messiah would come to lead them to victory over the Romans.   He told them not to believe any report of His return at that time, for it would not be.

In verse 36, Jesus goes back to their question concerning the end of time.  His words are very clear: “Of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.   Over the years there have been those who proposed to predict the end of time.  They dare to presume to invade the sacred mind and plans of God, and there can be no greater sacrilege than this.  Anyone who tries to predict the end of time is of the devil, not of God.  The testimony of Jesus here confirms that.

The final warning of Jesus, with regard to the end, is that His followers should remain alert, faithful to His service, and never relax their attention to His presence or His words.   Always maintain that personal relationship with Him in prayer and in the search for the truth.  A Christian should always
behave as if Jesus was with him…for He is.