Stay Awake!

NOTE: Learn more by listening to the Apologetics.com broadcast = http://www.apologetics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=320:eschatology-101-repent-the-end-is-possibly-nearer&catid=43:kkla-995-fm-los-angeles&Itemid=74

INTRO – Acts 1.6 == "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."


There was a time when the Disciples thought he was going to install the kingdom – Triumphal entry; which is immediately followed in the synoptic gospels with the cleansing of the temple, the cursing of fig trees, parables that denounce and accuse the religious leaders of betraying the Messiah, and laments over Jerusalem. WOE


The King riding on the donkey turns into the Judge denouncing the nation for their rejection and unbelief, and this culminates in the discourse we call the Olivet Discourse because it takes place on the Mount of Olives which is just beyond the Kidron valley east of Jerusalem.  In light of what we discussed last week related to the Jewish eschatological Hope, we will see Jesus including these 4 features in this discourse, as he gets all Old Testament on the Capitol City of Israel.


Take your handout - which lays side by side the 3 gospels containing the Olivet Discourse and it has underlined what each account has in common.  The reason for this is to show the parallel structure and to show a common understanding of what each author understood Jesus to say, and how they tried to communicate the “Signs and the times” to their intended audience.



I’m also going to make comment on the most interesting details of Matthew 24 because it is the longest and most detailed of the discourses.  Matthew is writing to an audience that is primarily Jewish.  An audience that would have a great degree of familiarity with the Old Testament and the way the Jews thought the world would end -- and how it would also be immediately redeemed by the Messiah.


So Jesus has just had the very harsh WOE discourse against the Scribes and Pharisees and says, ‘I’m not coming back here again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  Well, didn’t that just happen with the Triumphal entry?  Jesus DID receive his just praise – but it was from a people seeking political salvation and not spiritual salvation.  When Jesus returns again to those who will receive him rightly, they will do so because they truly desire His lordship over their entire being and destiny. “Blessed is HE who comes in the name of the Lord!”


Vs. 2  = The universal announcement regarding the temple’s destruction.  This wonderful edifice erected by Herod the Great upon this tremendous foundation which still stands to this day… But the actual temple, the structure which marked God’s dwelling with His people, would be erased from the face of the earth – that was a foreboding thought for the disciples because it would once again, as it did the previous time, indicate that God had abandoned Israel in order to prepare a new group of people to return to the land.


Vs 3 = essentially has two questions:  When will the temple be wiped out, and how will we know that it is the final ‘end of days?’  And with these 2 questions, we have an outline for the discourse.  The greatest amount of the discourse describes the destruction of the temple, and the end of the discourse describes Jesus coming to usher in the eternal estate.


Passage to verse 9 == save time by telling you that these predictions are also references to Old Testament passages à being led astray by false prophets, wars, curses, famine and earthquakes… Jesus is reminding them of Old Testament ‘birth pains’ that indicate the judgment of God coming upon rebellious Israel.


Passage to verse 15 == Here we have to ask 3 simple question, first, “Why were the DISCIPLES going to be hated so?” (Skip that one and ask the Second) “Had the gospel been proclaimed throughout the world by the time the New Testament had been completed?”  Well, we don’t know of anyone getting to Alaska with the gospel, but as far as the writers of the NT were concerned – they actually did bring the gospel beyond Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Romans 10:18 …"Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." Colossians 1:6 (the gospel) which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing== (and the Third question) “What is Jesus is referring to when he says,  “THE END” will come; the end of what?” Well, if you accept the twofold outline that Jesus is only referring here to the destruction of Jerusalem, then it’s the end of the Capital city and the Temple is of what Jesus is speaking.


Vs, 15 – The Abomination of desolation mentioned in Daniel 9 and 12 is described as the cessation of offerings and sacrifices.  Luke’s account explains that desolation clearly to his Gentile audience: Jerusalem surrounded by armies coming to destroy the Holy City.  I could spend time reading the historian Josephus’ documentation of what the 143 day siege with 80,000 troops which  started on April 14th AD 70, and

what the subsequent fall was like; but it would turn your stomach (it did mine)… It is far worse than what we read in all those depressing OT passages this morning!

Passage to vs 21 == Interesting mention of Sabbath and winter because critics have claimed that this prophecy is SO ACCURATE that is must have been written after the event.  Christians did leave Jerusalem when they saw the Roman forces bearing down on Jerusalem.  It was the Jewish political sect known as the Zealots that forced people to stay in the city – so the advice to not go back to get your cloak was right on.  But if Matthew was written after the event, why not have Jesus nail the time it happened prophetically in some Tuesday in Spring?  Jesus knew it would be an awful event, they didn’t need harsh weather and labor on top of the horrors to come upon them – but Jesus did not know the literal moment of that future event.


Vs 21 is a Jewish idiomatic phrase which doesn’t mean what it sounds like in our language.  I’m just saying that when the Bible wants to describe a King, or ajudgment, or a final plague of Egypt, this type of phrase is used:  “The greatest of… and there will never be another like it.”

Exodus 11:6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.

It’s a literary device to emphasize how great what ever is being described really is – and the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 was terrible – not as terrible as Nazi and Communist atrocities – but in the Hebrew way of expressing the magnitude of a person or event, this is the phrase that is used.


Vs. 22 == Let me reference YLT Zechariah 14:2 And I have gathered all the nations unto Jerusalem to battle, … And the remnant of the people are not cut off from the city.  This is another allusion to Jerusalem being sacked but the true remnant of God being saved.


Passage to vs. 28 == HERE WE come to the most difficult section of the passage.  Even RC Sproul calls it one of the most difficult passages to reconcile.  And here I need to remind you of a preferred method of interpretation: A 2 fold outline referring to the destruction of the Jerusalem described with all the OT allusions for judgment promised for unfaithful OT Israel… AND the real Day of the Lord yet to be described.  The problem is that the language used by Jesus, which is apocalyptic and from the Old Testament, is ALSO the language we Christians associate with the DAY of the LORD for which WE are longing!  This is why I’m not going to force someone to sign on to my adopted perspective, but I want to articulate a preferable understanding of what Christ is saying, especially as it relates to what he has accomplished and what he promises to his people! 


SO the first part of this outline I believe clearly predicts the tribulation of Rome coming against Jerusalem, but also refers to the crucifixion, resurrection, and Reign of Christ rather than the physical and bodily Second Coming of Christ – But I have a dilemma – Cross referencing what Jesus says with all the OT Apocalyptic language (which will take a lot of time) – or getting to the heart of why this passage creates confusion… which if my suggested outline is true, erases MOST of the  confusion à So I’m aiming to get to the big point.


What’s interesting is that this next section is all about interpreting “Signs” in the sky, in the heavens – and with this, I would say that all of these heavenly activities are not intended for earthly fulfillment, but reflect heavenly realities – I am pioneering this observation here today, so get ready!


Read, Vs. 27… Jesus has just mentioned that false teachers would come after him; but his disciples should not expect Jesus to be found somewhere physically on the earth, His true return will be world wide and glorious.  But it is a symbol of Jesus as the heavenly King coming to establish a new order of a spiritual reality.


Read VS 28 … Birds flying in to eat corpses is Old Testament language signifying that God’s judgment through warfare has taken place


Vs 29… We read the words, “immediately” after the tribulation of “those days” referring to the destruction of the Jewish identity of Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus then speaks apocalyptically of the heavenly bodies in tumult,– but not in a literal way, but in a ‘literarily’ way!  Matthew, far more than the other gospels, relies on apocalyptic literature for the Olivet Discourse.  With this apocalyptic language, Jesus tells his disciples, the first audience of this message, that the dawning of a new age and a new order of things will arrive because of Jesus the Messiah’s atoning death and victorious resurrection and commissioning of the church.  Peter does the same thing when he preaches at Pentecost in Acts 2, listen to what he says, Acts 2:19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

None of that heavenly activity took place, but apocalyptically, it revealed that God was now doing something so new, it was like the universal polar shift!


Read Vs. 30 & 31 is even difficult for me to not want to reserve this for the literal second coming of Christ– but as an another “sky” event, here is an alternative view…

-the appearing of the “sign” of the son of man described in Daniel is also described in the book of Hebrews, chapter 9 where Christ’s appearing in the heavens for us is as the eternal High Priest, therefore we have the fulfillment of all the Temple ceremonies to provide satisfaction for sins.

-the tribes mourning is their response to the proclamation of the crucifixion in Zechariah 12 and documented Acts 2

-the coming on the clouds is the reality that Christ now rules above every authority with great power and glory as a result of the resurrection and ascension, this depicted in part in Jer. 4.13 and Rev 1.7

-the angels are actually “messengers,” Christian missionaries proclaiming the Good News as a trumpet announces the call to action, and even the New Year of Jubilee – freedom for all the captives who will be gathered from the farthest regions of the world to come back to the Lord.  This is clearly mentioned in Isaiah 27:13 – However, the New Testament is filled with trumpets announcing the Second Coming, and appropriately so!  But this is not the Second Coming!  WHAT it is is an aspect of the 4 expressions of the Jewish Eschatological Hope of the Old Testament we mentioned last week, which I’ll demonstrate in a moment;


But we need to mention a Fig tree first from vs. 32, & 33 being an illustration for the disciples that this future destruction of Jerusalem will be accompanied by signs.  In the nearly 40 years between Christ’s ascension and the fall of Jerusalem, they were to anticipate these signs:  False christs, wars, famines, earthquakes, Christians being hated and persecuted, apostasy, the gospel going out to all the world, and armies assembling against Jerusalem.  This is all the blooming fig!


And then Jesus says in vs. 34 -- Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Jesus intended the all of the Olivet Discourse to apply to the first audience hearing and receiving the record.  SO even though there is plenty of physical prophecies to be anticipated, there is also a spiritual dynamic which Luke calls in his account :: The Kingdom of God :: and THAT being contrasted with the end of the Jewish religious order, completed with the redeeming work of Jesus.


THIS GENERATION is THE key phrase! The Greek language forces it upon those listening to Jesus who would see these trials and fulfillments.  The most sobering passage speaking of THIS GENERATION is Matthew 23:36 where Jesus states that the generation of his day would be held responsible for all the righteous blood of God’s saints ever spilled because of their rejection of God’s presence with them in Christ.  Later this generation would say in  Matthew 27:25 …"His blood be on us and on our children!"  This generation rejected, this generation would pay.


We conclude with reading from Matthew 24:35 ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’

And this concludes Jesus expressing the 4 aspects of the Jewish Eschatological Hope

1-trials would come

2-The Messiah would come to gather, judge and save

3-He would establish His eternal kingdom

4-He would dwell with his people forever


All of this is truly accomplished in Christ, and mentioned in the Olivet Discourse.


The last piece is the second part of the outline! Jesus references a future day known as THAT DAY!  The future day when Christ would physically return for his true bride.  Each Gospel account marks this transition between the destruction of Jerusalem to be experienced by the immediate generation and then transitions to THAT DAY signaling the end of the age that is only known by the Father; but for all those who anticipate that day, we who belong to Christ are to stay awake!