Olivet Discourse (Part 2) - Mat 24:14-22Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Sunday, March 2, 2014.
III. Section 2 - Mat 24:14-29 c/w (Mar 13:10-25; Luk 21:14-26) 1. In this section of verses, Jesus focuses on the disciples' primary questions: "when shall these things be?" and "what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?" in which they were referring to what Jesus said about the buildings of the temple being destroyed (Mat 24:1-3; Mar 13:4). A. Speaking of the destruction of the temple, Jesus said: "the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another" (Luk 21:6). i. Jesus refers to the events in this section as "those days" (Mat 24:19,22,29). ii. "Those days" were "the days" when the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed. B. But when Jesus refers to the second coming, He calls it "that day" (Mat 24:36), "the day" (Mat 24:38), and "a day" (Mat 24:50). 2. Before the destruction of Jerusalem would come, the gospel must first have been preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations (Mat 24:14). A. Preach v. - 1. a. intr. ‘To pronounce a public discourse upon sacred subjects’ (J.); to deliver a sermon or religious address (now usually from or on a text of Scripture). 2. a. trans. To proclaim, declare, or set forth by public discourse (the gospel, something sacred or religious). B. Mark's gospel records Jesus as saying that the gospel must first be published among all nations (Mar 13:10). C. Publish v. - To make public. I. 1. a. trans. To make publicly or generally known; to declare or report openly or publicly; to announce; to tell or noise abroad; also, to propagate, disseminate (a creed or system). D. The definitions show that to publish is to preach; the scripture shows the same thing when compared with itself (Rom 10:15 c/w Isa 52:7). E. Publishing the gospel does not mean printing it in books in the languages of all nations, but rather to publicly declare it to them. F. The apostles did that very thing in the first century prior to 70AD. i. The "great commission" was given by Jesus to the apostles (Mat 28:19-20; Mar 16:15). ii. They fulfilled it to the letter (Mar 16:20; Col 1:6,23). iii. On the day of Pentecost there were Jews from "every nation under heaven" which heard the gospel (Act 2:5). iv. The gospel was published in all the world and to every nation. 3. Jesus then gave the disciples the culminating sign to look for in order to know that the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple was nigh: the abomination of desolation (Mat 24:15; Mar 13:14). A. The abomination of desolation was spoken of in the book of Daniel (Dan 9:27; Dan 11:31; Dan 12:11). B. Many wild theories have been offered to explain what the abomination of desolation is. C. But there is no need to speculate. D. By simply comparing Matthew's and Mark's account with Luke, it is crystal clear that the abomination of desolation was Jerusalem being compassed with armies (Mat 24:15-16 c/w Luk 21:20-21). E. This happened, as history records, in 66AD when the Roman general Cestius laid siege to Jerusalem. 4. When the disciples saw Jerusalem compassed with armies, they were to head for the hills (Mat 24:15-20; Mar 13:14-18; Luk 21:20-23). A. It would be so critical to get out of Jerusalem when they had the chance that they were not even to come back into the house from the housetop or the field to get possessions or clothes from the house (Mat 24:17-18). i. This same warning was given to the disciples regarding the second coming of Christ (Luk 17:31). ii. In both cases, it would be very important to not look back. B. It would be lamentable to be pregnant or to have a sucking child in those days during the siege of Jerusalem (Mat 24:19). C. They were to pray that their flight out of Jerusalem to the mountains would not be in the winter or on the sabbath day, as that would make fleeing more difficult (Mat 24:20). D. Fleeing to the mountains while being pregnant or having sucking children during the winter or on the sabbath day would be of no consequence concerning the day of Christ's return. E. But these warnings would be very appropriate for fleeing the city of Jerusalem to escape the desolation. F. God gave the Christians in Jerusalem who believed Jesus' words an opportunity to obey Him and be spared the great tribulation to come when Cestius retreated from besieging the city. G. "And now it was that a horrid fear seized upon the seditious, insomuch that many of them ran out of the city, as though it were to be taken immediately; but the people upon this took courage, and where the wicked part of the city gave ground, thither did they come, in order to set open the gates, and to admit Cestius as their benefactor, who, had he but continued the siege a little longer, had certainly taken the city; but it was, I suppose, owing to the aversion God had already at the city and the sanctuary, that he was hindered from putting an end to the war that very day. It then happened that Cestius was not conscious either how the besieged despaired of success, nor how courageous the people were for him; and so he recalled his soldiers from the place, and by despairing of any expectation of taking it, without having received any disgrace, he retired from the city, without any reason in the world." (Josephus, Complete Works of Josephus - Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Ch.19:6-7, p.631-632) H. The Christians who were in Jerusalem when Cestius left besieging the city remembered and heeded Jesus' warnings and got out of Jerusalem and Judea. 5. There would be great tribulation leading up to and climaxing in the destruction and desolation of Jerusalem (Mat 24:21-22). A. Tribulation n. - 1. A condition of great affliction, oppression, or misery; ‘persecution; distress; vexation; disturbance of life’ B. This tribulation would be unparalleled in world history, both prior and subsequent to it (Mar 13:19). C. The following is a lengthy quote from Ralph Woodrow in his book Great Prophecies of the Bible (pages 70-76) detailing the great tribulation in Jerusalem, in which he quotes extensively from Josephus' Wars of the Jews. D. "Josephus, the Jewish historian who was an eye-witness to these events, wrote a full and detailed account of the tribulation that fell upon that land and people in and prior to 70 A.D. His account, Wars of the Jews, was published about 75A.D., at a time when the events of which he wrote were still fresh in the memory of thousands. Since he was not a Christian, no one can accuse him of slanting his material so as to match the prophecy Christ had given. Nevertheless, the history he recorded fully confirms the fulfillment of the prophecy Jesus gave about the “great tribulation” which came upon that land and people. The references we will give in this chapter are from Josephus. "The trouble in Jerusalem began over differences between the Jews and the Romans. Some of the Jews felt they should revolt against Roman rule; other felt that they should refrain from such actions and hope that a peaceful agreement could be reached. The Jews who favoured revolt became very violent and began to kill those who disagreed with them. Troops were sent in to control the mob. War was on! Not only at Jerusalem, but throughout the land trouble broke out. "“Every city was divided into two armies . . .”, Josephus says, “and the preservation of the one part was in the destruction of the other; so the daytime was spent in shedding blood, and the night in fear — which was of the two the more terrible . . . It was then common to see cities filled with dead bodies, still lying unburied; those of old men mixed with infants, all dead and scattered about together; women also lay amongst them, without any covering for their nakedness: You might then see the whole province full of inexpressible calamities while the dread of still more barbarous practices which were threatened, was everywhere greater than what had been already perpetrated.” (II, 18:2). "The Jews in Alexandria that revolted against the Romans “were destroyed unmercifully; and this, their destruction, was complete . . . houses were first plundered of what was in them, and then set on fire by the Romans; wherein no mercy was shown to the infants, and no regard had to the aged; but they went on in the slaughter of persons of every age, till all the place was overflowed with blood, and fifty thousand of them lay dead upon heaps.” (II, 18:8). "In one hour, over 20,000 were killed in Caesarea and the battle continued until “all Caesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants . . . Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood, nor was it exempted from any kind of misery or calamity.” (III, 4:1). "Such horror was in the land that one prominent man, in order to save his family from a worse fate, took a sword and killed first his aged father and mother, his wife and children — all submitting to it willingly — and then took his own life. (II, 18:3). "In Jerusalem, those of the revolting party were known as Zelots. They “fell upon the people [who disagreed with them] as upon a flock of profane animals, and cut their throats.” In this way, 12,000 of the more eminent inhabitants perished. “The terror that was upon all the people was so great, that no one had courage enough either to weep openly for the dead man that was related to him, or bury him . . . those that mourned for others soon underwent the same death with those whom they mourned for” (IV, 5:3). "Slaughter continued until “the outer temple was all of it overflowed with blood, and that day they saw 8,500 dead bodies there.” Included in this number were “those that a little before had worn the sacred garments and presided over the public worship, which were cast out naked to be the food of dogs and wild beasts.” "Even those who came with sacrifices were slain, “and sprinkled that altar . . . with their own blood; till the dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcasses stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves.” (V, 1:3). "“The noise also of those that were fighting was incessant, both by day and by night; but the lamentations of those that mourned exceeded the other . . . their calamities came perpetually, one upon another . . . But for the seditious themselves, they fought against each other, while they trod upon the dead bodies as they lay heaped one upon another, and taking up a mad rage from those dead bodies that were under their feet, became the fiercer thereupon . . . and when they had resolved upon anything, they executed it without mercy, and omitted no method of torment or of barbarity.” (V, 1:5). "No wonder Jesus said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves, and for your children” (Lk. 23:28), knowing that all these things would come upon that generation! "Jesus had said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” and surely this was true of Jerusalem. Many Jews were killed by Jews, not by the enemy outside the walls. Josephus says that the Jews “never suffered from the Romans anything worse than they made each other suffer.” Such madness and insanity shows the validity of Jesus’ words when he likened that generation to a man who becomes demon-possessed, so that his latter state is worse than the first. (Mt. 12:43-45). "As Jerusalem became surrounded by the Romans, food became scarce within the walls of the city. Many of the Jews went by night into the valleys in search of food. These were caught, “tormented with all sorts of torture” and then crucified in the sight of those on the walls. About 500 every day were thus killed until the number finally became so great that there was not room enough for the crosses, nor enough crosses for the victims. Often several were nailed to the same torture stake. Imagine the torment of those who would see or hear of their loved ones being thus tortured a short distance from the walls. Many had their hands cut off. (V, 11:1, 2). "“Then did the famine widen its progress, and devoured the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms were full of women and children dying by famine; and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; a kind of deadly night, had seized upon the city.” (V, 12:3). "“Thus did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse and worse every day . . . the multitude of carcasses that lay in heaps one upon another was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench.” (VI, 1:1). "“The number of those that perished by famine in the city was prodigious, and their miseries were unspeakable. For if so much as the shadow of any kind of food did anywhere appear, a war was commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell fighting one another about it . . . Children pulled the very morsel that their fathers were eating, out of their very mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do to their infants: and when those that were almost dead were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives . . . The seditious . . . also invented terrible methods of torment to discover where any food was, and they were these: to stop up the passages of the privy parts of the miserable wretches, and to drive sharp stakes up their fundaments! and a man was forced to bear what it is terrible even to hear.” (V, 10:3). "One woman of prominence killed her infant son and roasted him. After eating half of the body, the other half was hid. Shortly after this, certain seditious Jews came to search her house. When they smelled the scent of roasted flesh, they threatened to cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had prepared. She then uncovered the remaining half of the little body, saying: “Come, eat of this food; for I have eaten of it myself! Do not you pretend to be either more tender than a woman, or more compassionate than a mother.” But even those hardened men were horrified at the sight and left the house trembling. (VI, 3:4). "Surely these things were a fulfillment of the warning that had been given centuries before. “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far.., a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young . . . And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down . . . And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters . . . The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward . . . her young one that cometh from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.” (Deut. 28:49-57). "Some who tried to escape from the city after it had been surrounded by the Roman armies, swallowed pieces of gold in order to take them unnoticed. Word got out that such was being done and many of those who tried to escape were cut open by the enemy to see if they had swallowed any gold. “Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night about 2,000 of these deserters were thus dissected.” (V, 13:4). "Finally the Roman armies broke through the wall and an enraged soldier caught the temple afire. “While the holy house was on fire, everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain; nor was there a commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity; but children, and old men, and profane persons, and priests, were all slain in the same manner . . . The flame was also carried a long way, and made an echo, together with the groans of those that were slain . . . nor can one imagine anything either greater or more terrible than this noise . . . Moreover, many, when they saw the fire, exerted their utmost strength, and did break out into groans and outcries . . . Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder; for one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething-hot, as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did nowhere appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it.” (VI, 5:1). "The burning of the temple is especially significant in that the very date on which it was burned by the armies of Titus, was the same date that Nebuchadnezzar had burned it centuries before! This seems like more than a mere accident. “But, as for that house, God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire, and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of the ages: it was the tenth day of the month Ab, upon which it was formerly burnt by the king, of Babylon”! (VI, 4:5). "As the temple burned, the Jews knew all hope for deliverance was gone. The aqueducts and the city sewers were crowded as the last place of refuge for the hopeless. When these were searched, two thousand people were found dead there, and those that yet remained alive were dragged from thence and slain. "The scriptures had warned: “And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you” (Deut. 28:68). Josephus tells how those that survived were led away captives, some being taken into Egypt! “As for the rest of the multitude that were above 17 years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines . . . and sold the rest of the multitude with their wives and children, and every one of them at a low price, and that because such were sold were very many, and the buyers few.” (VI, 8, 9). "There were 97,000 that were sold as slaves and 1,100,000 people that perished during the fierce tribulation of those days. “Now the number of those that were carried captive during the whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished in the whole siege, eleven hundred thousand, the greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation, but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army . . . the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destruction that either men or God ever brought upon the world.” (VI, 9:3, 4). "Josephus summed it up in these words: “I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: — that neither did any other city suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world.” (V, 10:5). "Josephus says the calamities which befell the Jews were “the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations . . . it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were.” (Preface, p. 427)." (Ralph Woodrow, Great Prophecies of the Bible, page 70-76) E. Those who make light of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and do not consider it to be the "great tribulation" that Jesus spoke of in Mat 24:21 have obviously never read the historical accounts of it. F. As Jesus said, those days were shortened for the sake of the elect so that the death toll was not 100% (Mat 24:22). i. Josephus recorded that the death toll was about 92% (1,100,000/1,197,000) with the remaining 8% being carried away captive. ii. “Now the number of those that were carried captive during the whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished in the whole siege, eleven hundred thousand, the greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation, but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread..." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, VI, 9:3) iii. Not all were killed, some were saved by being led away captive into all nations (Luk 21:24). G. Jerusalem would be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Luk 21:24). i. Time is divided into three sections in the scripture which accord with God's covenants. a. 1st time period: Adam to Moses - the time preceding the law of Moses, the old covenant (Rom 5:14). b. 2nd time period: Moses to John the Baptist - the time of Israel being God's nation and kingdom which was governed by the law and the prophets, the old covenant (Luk 16:16). c. 3rd and final time period: John the Baptist to the end of time - the time in which the kingdom of God was preached and setup and was given to the Gentiles who are governed by the new covenant (Luk 16:16 c/w Mat 21:43). 1) This period is the last time (1Jo 2:18; 1Pe 1:20). 2) These are the last days (Heb 1:2). 3) This period is the "end of the world" (Heb 9:26). 4) Last adj. - Following all others; coming at the end. 1. a. Following all the others in a series, succession, order, or enumeration; subsequent to all others in occurrence, existence, etc. 5) There is no time after the last time, which is why it's called the LAST time. ii. The times of the Gentiles began when God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles when Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius (Act 15:7; Act 14:27). a. From this point and forward, the church began the transition from a predominantly Jewish church to a predominantly Gentile church. b. For about 1500 years, it had been the times of the Jews, but beginning in the days of the apostles the times of the Gentiles began. c. Therefore, since the times of the Gentiles began in the last time (1Jo 2:18), the times of the Gentiles is the last time. d. Therefore, there is no time after the times of the Gentiles. e. Therefore, the times of the Gentiles will last until the last day of time. iii. Since we are still in the times of the Gentiles, Jerusalem is still therefore being trodden down of the Gentiles. a. There is strong evidence that the "Jews" in the modern-day nation of Israel are, for the most part, Gentiles (Khazars) whose ancestors converted to Judaism around the 8th century. b. Therefore, the majority of them are not Jews by blood. c. They are not Jews religiously either since the Old Testament religion was completely done away with by God at 70AD and rendered impracticable after the temple was destroyed. d. They are they "of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie" (Rev 3:9). For a master copy of the outline, click here: The Olivet Discourse