04 March 2007

Matthew 24, part 2


From the outset it is crucial to understand the context of Matthew 24. In order to set the stage it is necessary to review the latter verses of chapter 23. Jesus is "conversing" with the scribes and Pharisees when he states in vs. 38, "Behold your house is being left to you desolate." Jesus proclaims a judgment. The House of God will be left desolate for the sins of Israel. This statement stuns the disciples. The temple was the center of worship for Israel. In this entire chapter Jesus has been reviewing the sins of Israel and in vs. 38 he summed it up by the horrible sentence he handed down. "Jesus is emphasizing again that it is 'this generation' that would fill the cup to overflowing and experience the terrible wrath of God (J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, pg. 80). The destruction of the city was the culmination of the enmity between Christ and the Jews.

The Question

"Tell us when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and the end of the age?" Matthew 24:3

The question the disciples posed in verse 3 was a direct result of Christ's devastating comment on the destruction of the temple. Some believe that the language was so strong that it could only be referring to the second coming. Instead, it is so strong because Christ is referring to the temple. It must be understood that the temple was the center of worship for the Jews. There could be no worship without it. Unlike Christianity, in which a person can worship privately alone, in a small group or corporately at a church building, Jewish worship centered around the temple. For Christ to say that not one stone would be left upon another (vs. 2) surely indicated to them the final judgment and prompted their question. Jesus had taught the disciples of the coming day of judgment (11:22; 12:36, 41, 42; 13:39, 40) and therefore the destruction of the temple would indicate to them the end of time. But, as expressed previously, the destruction was to come upon the Jewish nation in A.D. 70 for the rejection of the Messiah. Time would go on.

more to come....

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