The End of the Age - A Study of Matthew 24 - Part Two
The End of the Age - A STUDY OF MATTHEW 24 - Part Two
“Rumors of wars” = “wars declared or threatened but not carried out. Threats of wars against Jews by Bardanes and Volageses, Antiquities 20.34. Vitellius, governor of Syria, declared war against Aretas, king of Arabia, but the death of Tiberius prevented the war, Antiquities 18.5:3”. Especially was there the threat of war when Caligula (reigned AD 37-41) ordered his statue to be set up in the temple and the Jews refused. The Jews had every reason to expect a war with the Romans and were in such consternation on the occasion, they neglected to till their land. (Wars, Book 2.10)
Verse 7 - “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” Premillenialists quote verses 6-8 every time there is an earthquake, war or famine and cry “the end is near.” But these things were all fulfilled in that generation:
1. Acts 11:27-30 (AD 42-43)
2. Pestilence at Babylonia (AD 40) Antiquities 18.9:8
3. In Italy (AD 66) Tacitus 16, 13
Luke adds these were to be “signs from heaven” (21:11)
1. In Crete (AD 46-47)
2. In Rome in the day Nero assumed the manly toga (AD 51)
3. At Apamaea in Phrygia (AD 53) Tacitus
4. At Laodicea in Phrygia (AD 60)
5. At Campania (AD 63-63)
Verse 8 - “But all these are merely the beginnings of birth pangs.” As the birth pangs which begin comparatively light, warn the expectant mother that her time to deliver is near, so these events which are like preliminary birth pangs are to warn that the event is coming.
Verses 9-13 reveal a time of suffering and persecution. Verse 9 - “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you and you will be hated by all nations on account of my name.” The book of Acts furnishes abundant evidence for the fulfillment of these details:
Acts 4:3 - Peter and John imprisoned
4:18 - warned not to speak these things
4:21 - threatened
5:18 - Apostles put in jail
5:40 - flogged, warned
7:59 - Stephen stoned
8:1 - Great persecution arose
8:3 - Saul ravaging the church
12:1 - Herod Agrippa, I laid hands on some
12:2 - James beheaded
14:19 - Paul stoned
16:19-24 - Paul and Silas beaten, thrown in inner prison
Other epistles reveal severe persecution (2 Cor. 11:24-27; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2:2; 3:11-12; Heb. 12:4).
Verse 10 - “And at that time, many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” (compare Luke 21:16-17 - betrayed even by parents). “To illustrate this point, one sentence out of Tacitus (Annals 1.15) will be sufficient, who speaking of the persecution under Nero says, ‘At first several were seized who confessed, and then by their discovery a great multitude of others were convicted and executed.’” (Clarke, p. 817).
Verse 11 - “many false prophets will arise and mislead many” (see 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 2:1-4; 1 Tim. 1:20; 4:1; Titus 1:10; 2 Pet. 2; Jude; 1 John 4:1-6).
Verse 12 - “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” In view of such persecutions, Paul repeatedly exhorts Timothy in the second epistle (especially 1:8, 12; 2:1-13; 3:10-12; 4:5).
Verse 13 - “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Note the same instruction in Rev. 2:10).
Verse 14 - “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” Other passages also show that the gospel was preached to the then known world before AD 70, the destruction of Jerusalem (Rom. 10:18 [AD 56-58]; Col. 1:23 [AD 60-62]).
The statement “and then the end shall come” does not refer to the end of the world, but to the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus said this preaching of the gospel in all the world would be for a witness among all nations. The custom of the apostles in preaching the gospel to the world was “to the Jew first and then to the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16). Wherever the gospel was preached, the Jews had the first opportunity to receive the word. God had allowed plenty of time and opportunity for the Jews in the then known world to accept the gospel of Christ. Thus, when the severe judgment which fell upon Jerusalem and the Jews came, it was in keeping with the justice of God.
Verses 15 - 26 - The Abomination of Desolation
“As they observed the general signs of that coming destruction, they were to be especially watchful for one definite sign. When they saw it, they were to know that the time was upon them and were to flee quickly into the mountains for safety.” (Connie Adams)
Verse 15 - “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, (Dan. 9:27; 11:31) standing in the Holy place (let the reader understand).”
The Scripture is always the best interpreter of itself. If only premillennial speculators would let it interpret itself, much harm could be avoided. Luke’s account at this point in the narrative reads: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand” (Luke 21:20). The “abomination of desolation” Luke tells us was the Roman army which encompassed and besieged the city; hence, the desolation.
Abomination - from Greek bdelugma: “denotes an object of disgust or abhorrence, a loathsome or detestable thing” (Vines, p. 14; Thayer, p. 99). Same word in Luke 16:15; Rev. 17:4; 21:27.
Desolation - eremosis: “denotes desolation in the sense of making desolate; to lay waste” (Vine, pp. 299-300). “To make wretched; to devastate or lay in ruin” (Webster).
What is it that was so loathsome and disgusting about the Romans to the Jews?
The fact that they were Gentiles or heathens which ruled over them…often with oppression.
“They carried the ensigns of eagles and images of the emperor whom they worshipped. For these idolatrous symbols to be displayed in the temple, or even in the city where God had been worshipped for so long according to divine order, was an abomination of the worst kind for the Jews.” (Connie Adams). Josephus tells us that when the city was taken, the Romans brought their idols into the temple and placed them over the eastern gate and sacrificed to them there. (Wars, Book VI. 6:1)
When the Roman army approaches to surround the city, the followers of Christ were to take that as a sign to flee quickly.
(We’ll conclude this study in a third and final blog update)