To the Jewish nation in the time of the Messiah our Lord Jesus the Temple at Jerusalem was the very centre of Jewish life, culture and worship. The temple was a magnificent structure, and it made the people of Jerusalem and in Israel felt secure because they had the temple which they thought would stand forever. Religious people always feel secure when they have religious buildings to worship in and a religious system of rules and regulations.
In the Old testament times before the destruction of the Temple God had sent prophets to turn his spiritually backslidden people back to Himself and the people had persecuted and killed them eventuating in the destruction of the temple and the devastation of the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586BC.
Now the people in Jesus time had a rebuilt temple which was something to behold. It was grand in its structure and throughout the temple was much gold. However, the nation had rejected God’s final offer of salvation in the Messiah our Lord Jesus and the whole nation was under the judgement of God. They had the Biblical Mosaic system of Judaism still operating but the temple worship was void of the Spirit of God.
Jesus followers were also rejected by the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem as they had rejected the Lord Jesus and God’s final way of salvation for Israel. He was God’s last word to Israel. The Lord Jesus was the last true prophet. Of course He was the pre-existent Son of God and the eternal Word of God who became flesh and tabernacled among us. What the Lord Jesus predicted would happen in the future was a shock to the disciples. Now let’s look at this…
1. Religious Structures will be Demolished
(Vs.1-2 As he was leaving the temple, one of His disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
When the Lord Jesus said this it was as if someone had suddenly and without warning punched the disciples in the stomach winding them! He told them in no uncertain terms that the whole temple structure would be levelled and that not one stone would be left upon another. This occurred 40 years later in 70AD when the Roman Legions sacked Jerusalem and completely destroyed the temple. The heat from the burning temple was so hot that the gold melted down between the stones. It is interesting to note that the Roman soldiers that were specifically involved in destroying the Temple were Arab Auxiliaries and they were very anti-Jewish. Titus the Roman commander tried to prevent the destruction of the Temple but he was too late to stop it from happening.
The Lord Jesus was trying to get his disciples to understand that they needed to trust in God and not in any system or edifice of man, no matter how grand, religious and splendid it appeared. It is the same today by and large within wider western Christendom. Many are more caught up in their religious observances, denominational structures, church buildings and programmes, than they are in their personal relationship with God by looking to Him alone for their security in this world. Within wider Christendom In the western democracies by and large especially within many of the mega churches among young people there is much less interest in Bible prophecy and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus than there was 30-40 years ago.
(Vs.3-4) “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
Everyone likes to know about the future and the disciples were no exception. The Jews were always looking for signs. The disciples then asked Him when the destruction would take place but also what would be the sign of the end of the age? This comes out clearly in Matthew 24:3. The Lord Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple but telescoped His prophetic words to include the signs that would mark the end of this present age, which would culminate with His Second Coming.
2. Spiritual Deception
(Vs.5-6) “Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.
The first thing the Lord Jesus warned his followers about was spiritual deception. In Matthew’s account He warns them about this at least four times. He also mentions that many would come claiming to be anointed Messiah’s but were deceivers. Not only was he implying that these false Messiah’s would come to Israel but that those also with a false anointing would spring up within wider Christendom.
Down through the history of Israel and Christendom there have always been false prophets and teachers and even those claiming to be the Messiah but in the last days they will multiply and be an infestation within Israel and Christendom. Today there is no end to false prophets and teachers inundating Israel and Christendom.
Recently there was a religious rabbi in Israel who they claim was working miracles and many of the religious leaders were thinking and saying he was the Messiah. He of course was just another one in a long line of false Messiahs that have sprung up in Israel down through the centuries. Widespread spiritual deception and seduction is a mark of the end of this present age which we see in epidemic proportions today especially over the internet with the hyper faith prosperity seeker friendly proponents into all kinds of counterfeit miracles signs and wonders by which they are fleecing the sheep of their hard-earned dollars. This is a subject in itself!
3. The Birth Pains
(Vs.7-8) When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. (Luke Chapter 21 adds diseases or pestilence)
Since the first century down through history to the present day there have always been wars, rumours of wars, nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famines, earthquakes in various places and pestilence, but in the last days they will increase in frequency and intensity. Nation against nation describes ethnic conflict within nations and kingdom against kingdom describes war between nations.
In history we have had two world wars and a third is to come and the Bible predicts this. (Revelation 9:13-19). However, the Lord Jesus also said that when these things happen that the end is not yet and that when we see these things increasing on a global scale not to be alarmed but to look up because our redemption is drawing near (Matthew 24:6-8) (Luke 21:9, 28).
Now notice that the Lord Jesus said that these things were “the beginning of birth pains or contractions” (Matthew 24:8). Now we are told in the New Testament that no one knows the day or the hour when the Lord Jesus will come back but we can know when His return can be expected by the birth pains.
When a pregnant woman goes into labour the contractions start and then stop and then when they come again more frequently and with more intensity you know that the baby is on the way. However, when they are coming one upon another without let up you know that the baby is about to be born. So it is with the birth of the Messianic Kingdom on earth which will happen when the Lord Jesus comes back. As we see these signs increasing in intensity and frequency today much more than at any other time in history we know that the birth of the Messianic kingdom on earth is coming soon.
4. Perseverance in Persecution
(Vs.9-11) “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
Faithful New Covenant Bible believers have always been persecuted from the first century down through history to the present day. More Christians are killed for their faith than at any other time in the history of the world. At present it is happening in Islamic countries and in China, North Korea and is on the rise in Europe, the UK and America and in Australia.
While we are not suffering literal persecution by and large in the western democracies there are laws being put in place which will inevitably result in persecution of those who want to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus, and to the Word of God. This is another subject in itself.
Notice also that when persecution comes that the power of the blessed Holy Spirit will rest upon us and encourage and strengthen us, and give us the words to say. Luke tells us that when this happens we are to make up our minds not to worry beforehand because the Lord will give us words of wisdom that none of our adversaries will be able to resist or contradict (Luke 21:12-16). We see this happen with the Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:54-56). See also (1 Peter 4:12-14).
5. Apostasy (falling away from the faith)
(Vs.12-13) “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
This happens in Communist countries today in North Korea and China and in Islamic countries. Children are encouraged to betray their parents if they have Bibles in their homes. The Lord Jesus told us min Matthew that “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Luke tells us that we will be betrayed by parents, relatives and friends and that this betrayal will lead to many being martyred for their loyalty to the Lord Jesus but that not a hair on their head will perish. In other words we may physically die but will be physically resurrected with an immortal, incorruptible body the same as the Lord Jesus Himself has. See (Luke 21:16-19) (Philippians 3:21) (1 John 3:2-3).
Matthew also mentions that with this persecution and because of the increase in lawlessness the love (agape) of many professing Christians will grow cold and fall away from the faith but those who have persevered to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:12-13). Just before the man of sin is revealed claiming to be God, we will not just be seeing apostasy within Christendom and in Israel but see the apostasy that will pave the way for this man of sin or lawlessness to be revealed. He will be preceded by all kinds of counterfeit miracles. signs and wonders but the Lord Jesus will overthrow him with the breath of His mouth and destroy that man of sin by the splendour of His Second Coming (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 8-9).
6. And then the End Shall Come
There will be one last sign that will mark the end of this age and Matthew tells us what it is. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). The gospel of the kingdom is the gospel, but also includes the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus to establish His Messianic rule on earth. Using Bible prophecy can be a very powerful tool in evangelism because everyone wants to know about the future.
7. The Time of Great Tribulation
(Vs.14-18) “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong–let the reader understand–then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter”
About 120 years before the birth of Jesus a despotic Seleucid Greek General called Antiochus Epiphanes also called the mad man whose name meant “god-manifest” desecrated the Jewish temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar and erecting and image to the Greek god Zeus. The word abomination describes something detestable and horrific that should not happen but it did and caused great desolation in Israel sparking the guerrilla war between the Jewish patriots and Antiochus’ forces. What this man did the prophet Daniel foretold would happen hundreds of years before it happened. The Lord Jesus took that event and said it would happen again in the future and it did in 70AD when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and actually destroyed the temple. The Roman soldiers erected emblems to Zeus on the ruins of the temple mount and worshipped them. This was also an abomination causing desolation. Luke describes literally what would happen to Jerusalem which occurred in 70AD but also relates it to the end of this age (Luke 21: 20-25).
In Matthew the Lord Jesus places the emphasis on the abomination which will occur on the site of the temple mount at the end of this age (Matthew 24:15-21). When this occurs those in Jerusalem must escape the city leaving behind their possessions. In 70AD at a brief respite in the Roman siege against Jerusalem those who were true believers and who knew that Jesus’ prediction would come true were supernaturally led through the lines of the Romans encampment to safety by Simeon their leader who had replaced James whom Herod had killed with the sword. This also teaches us that the faithful believers will go into the time of the Big Trouble but be taken out of it right at the end just before the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out on a Messiah hating, Messiah rejecting world.
As believers we must hold loosely the things we possess. The more we have the more we have to let go. Remember Lot’s wife. She was escaping from Sodom but looked back and she perished!
(Vs. 19-20) “Because those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now–and never to be equalled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom He has chosen, He has shortened them.”
When the man of lawlessness sits in the Temple to proclaim himself as God and erect an image representing himself and his empire the whole nation of Israel, the Gentile nations and Christendom itself will be thrown into turmoil and chaos. Politicians and people from every walk of life will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of nations in turmoil. At this time the Lord Jesus said we must be careful not to be weighed down with a lifestyle like that of the world, and that we are to watch and to pray and that if we do then He will enable us to be kept in this world from the clutches of the evil one and his works and to ultimately stand before the Lord Jesus in victory (Luke 21:34-36).
(Vs.21-23) “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect- if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time”
Once again the Lord Jesus mentions that there will be false prophets and Messiah’s with their false miracles signs and wonders that will be so powerful that even those who are truly saved will be in danger of being spiritually deceived and that we must be on guard against this spiritual deception of Satan.
False Messiah’s have always sprung up in Israel in various places, but the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus will be a global event that no one still living on earth will miss, as every eye will see Him when He comes back and His coming will be like the lightening that flashes from east to west (Matthew 24:26-28) (Revelation 1:7).
8. The Rapture and Resurrection
(Vs.24-27) “But in those days, following that distress, “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Matthew and Mark both tell us when the rapture and resurrection will occur and that will be immediately after the tribulation of those days which the Lord Jesus had been speaking about. At this time the constellations will be affected. It will see men and women seeking to hide from the face of God and from the Lord Jesus coming back in the clouds to judge the inhabitants of the earth (Matthew 24:29) (Revelation 6:12-17).
Mark tells us plainly as does Matthew that the elect saints of God, all who are born again, blood redeemed believers will be caught up to meet the Lord at His Second Coming. Mark tells us that the elect are gathered “from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” They are gathered from the four winds of heaven (those believers who have physically died) and from the ends of the earth (those believers who are still alive on earth when the Lord returns) Together they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air to be with Him forever, having received in the twinkling of an eye their resurrected and glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
This confirms 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. The sound of the last trumpet is mentioned in Matthew 24:31 and in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and in Revelation 11:15 where this last and seventh trumpet announces the arrival of the Messianic Kingdom of God on earth.
9. Israel Reborn and Restored
(Vs.28-31) “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth; this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”
What makes this time we are living in different from all past history? In 1948 after almost 2,000 years of exile the nation of Israel was reborn as Isaiah the prophet had foretold. “A nation was reborn in a day!” (Isaiah 66:7-9). Israel is God’s prophetic time clock for the nations. In 70AD it broke down and in 1948 it started ticking again. It has been restored nationally, a partial national restoration at this point in time and its spiritual restoration is yet to come in the future (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Its rebirth makes this time different. The ‘birth pains’ are increasing in frequency and intensity. When the clock hits midnight everything will change!
10. Be Ready at All Times
(Vs.32-37) “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.” “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back–whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”
We do not know the day of the hour when the Lord Jesus will return but we must be ready. We must be spiritually on guard and at our assigned post, and watching for Satan’s spiritual deception. We are caretakers on earth and our primary task is to seek and to save the lost. We are all called and gifted differently but we all need to find out what our gift and calling is and walk in it. The last word in this chapter is “watch.” The Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus and our being spiritually prepared for it must be the end-game for all who are truly saved.
The birth pains have always been around and are increasing rapidly in frequency and intensity and it is so easy to focus on the birth pains but let us work at focusing on the birth of the baby. Once the baby is here who remembers the birth pains in the euphoria of the birth of the baby? The key words for us all as New Covenant Bible believers is to persevere, to stay spiritually alert, to stay on guard against spiritual deception and to watch how we live!
“Behold, I Am Coming Soon”
As the Lord Jesus says to us “Let the unrighteous continue to be unrighteous, and the vile continue to be vile; let the righteous continue to practice righteousness, and the holy continue to be holy.” “Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.“ The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life (Revelation 22:11-17).