Olivet Discourse (Part 3) - Mat 24:23-31


6. Jesus then warns them again as He did in Mat 24:5,11 that false Christs and false prophets would arise who would show great signs and wonders, whom they should not believe (Mat 24:23-28). A. Consider the following from Josephus which confirms Jesus' words, that false prophets arose and that great signs and wonders were seen prior to the destruction of Jerusalem: B. "A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes." (Josephus, Complete Works of Josephus - Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Ch.5:2, p.741-742) C. "Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year." (Josephus, Complete Works of Josephus - Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Ch.5:3, p.742) D. "Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour." (Ibid) E. "At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple." (Ibid) F. "Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night." (Ibid) 7. The coming of Christ would be public and unmistakable, not secret (Mat 24:26-28). A. Jesus here declared that anyone who says that Christ will/has come secretly is not to be believed (Mat 24:26). B. Pre-millennial dispensationalists to this day teach that Christ will return secretly and invisibly to rapture the church. C. Believe them not. D. Just as lightning in the sky is very visible, so will the coming of Christ be (Mat 24:27,30). E. There will be nothing secret about the coming of Christ (1Th 4:16). 8. Sun and moon darkened, stars falling from heaven, powers of the heavens being shaken (Mat 24:29). A. Matthew records Jesus as saying that these things would happen "immediately after the tribulation of those days" (Mat 24:29). i. Immediately - 1. Without intermediary, intervening agency, or medium; by direct agency; in direct or proximate connexion or relation; so as to concern, interest, or affect directly, or intimately; directly. 2. With no person, thing, or distance, intervening in time, space, order, or succession; next or just (preceding or following, before or after); closely; proximately; directly. ii. These events would happen with no intervening time between them and the tribulation of those days (Mat 24:21-22). iii. Though these events (sun and moon being darkened, etc.) would happen directly after the tribulation, they would still begin happening "in those days" (Mar 13:24). iv. These events would take place in the intermediary time between the great tribulation in 66-70AD and the second coming of Christ (Mat 24:29-30; Luk 21:24-27). v. These events are not limited to the destruction of Jerusalem in 66-70AD because they were to happen after the tribulation of those days (Mat 24:29). vi. These events would not begin happening thousands of years later as an immediate precursor to the coming of Christ, but immediately after the tribulation of those days. B. The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars symbolizes a state of judgment, political upheaval, and decline. i. Old age is described with such terminology (Ecc 12:1-2). ii. The destruction of Egypt was described as a darkening of the sun, moon, and stars (Eze 32:2,7-10). iii. The destruction of Babylon was described nearly identically (Isa 13:1,9-10). iv. The darkening of the sun speaks of judgment (Amo 8:9). v. This period of political upheaval was not limited to Judea and Jerusalem, but would cause "distress of nations" (Luk 21:25), and be accompanied by "the sea and the waves roaring" (Luk 21:25) which are symbolic of disturbances and commotions of among all "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Rev 17:15). vi. As was stated before, this period of political upheaval of all nations began in 70AD and will continue until the coming of Christ. vii. "Nor can it be permitted to make the tribulation and the commotions in the heavens a sign of His second coming, in contradiction of His plain teaching as to that event. Rather, must we assume, in harmony with all that Christ has said on that subject, that the fulfilment of this particular part of the prophecy began from the destruction of Jerusalem, and is to be seen in all of God's dealings in judgment with "the higher powers" (Rom. 13:1), from that time onward. The word "immediately" used by Matthew (not found in the corresponding part of Mark or Luke) signifies merely that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed immediately by a period (of unmeasured length) which would be characterized by commotions of the sort described. Such disturbances have been, as we have seen, one of the outstanding characteristics of the age, and are a special mark of our own times." (Philip Mauro, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, p. 272) C. The stars would fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens would be shaken. i. Angels are powers in heaven (Eph 3:10; Eph 6:12; Col 1:16; Col 2:15; 1Pe 3:22). ii. Angels are called stars (Job 38:7; Rev 12:4). iii. Devils are involved in the political realm (Eph 6:12; Dan 10:13,20). iv. With the destruction of the apostate Jewish order, there was a judgment upon the spiritual forces that had animated it in its apostasy (Mat 12:43-45; Exo 12:12). v. At the time of the war in Judea, there was another war going on in heaven and the devil and his angels (powers in heaven) were shaken and cast out (Rev 12:7-10; Luk 21:31). vi. Josephus records armies and chariots seen in the clouds in those days. vii. "Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities." (Josephus, Complete Works of Josephus - Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Ch.5:3, p.742) IV. Section 3 - Mat 24:30-31 c/w (Mar 13:26-27; Luk 21:27) 1. In Mat 24:4-29, Jesus focused on the first two questions the disciples asked: when would the destruction of the temple be and what would be the sign when it would be fulfilled? 2. In Mat 24:30-31, Jesus then addressed their third question: what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world? 3. Some will take issue with verse 30 referring to the Second Coming since the verse begins with "And then...", which would seem to indicate that the sign of the Son of man appearing in heaven would immediately follow the events of verse 29 in which the sun and moon are darkened, etc. A. Then adv. - II. Of sequence in time, order, consequence, incidence, inference. 3. a. At the moment immediately following the action, etc. just spoken of; upon that, thereupon, directly after that; also in wider application, indicating the action or occurrence next in order of time: next, after that, afterwards, subsequently (often in contrast to first). B. Notice that "then" can refer to the next occurrence in order of time. C. In the context of the questions which Jesus was answering, the next occurrence in time after the destruction of the Jerusalem would be the His Second Coming. D. There can be a large period of time between events connected by "and" (2Sa 12:24). E. There can be a large period of time and much information between events connected by "then" (2Ki 12:16-17 c/w 2Ch 24:13-23). (2Ch 24:14-22 happened between 2Ki 12:16-17) F. The potential objection that Mat 24:29-30 is one sentence divided by a colon is answered by Mar 13:25-26 where the parallel verses are two separate sentences. 4. Whereas Jesus said that there would be warning signs which would give the disciples time to escape the destruction of Jerusalem, there will be no such warning signs which will allow men to know that the coming of Christ is imminent. A. As opposed to the destruction of Jerusalem, the time of which could be known if the warning signs were heeded, the Second Coming of Christ will happen "in such an hour as ye think not" (Mat 24:44). B. The sign of the Second Coming will be Jesus Christ Himself coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Mat 24:30). C. At that time the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout (1Th 4:16). D. All the tribes of the earth shall mourn (Mat 24:30) because He will be coming to take vengeance on the wicked (2Th 1:7-9). E. Jesus will then gather together all of His elect from the four winds of the earth (Mat 24:31). F. This will be the resurrection where all of God's elect will be caught up to meet Christ in the clouds (1Th 4:16-17). G. This day of the Lord will be as unexpected as a thief in the night (1Th 5:1-3). For a master copy of the outline, click here: The Olivet Discourse