21 April 2007

Matthew 24 Part 8

False Christs and False Prophets

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24

We have again a warning of false Christs and false prophets. During times of great distress people often look for a savior and it was no different for the Jews during the seige of their city. Jesus warns the disciples that there would no personal coming at that time (vs. 26). Josephus records the actions of these false prophets who did indeed deceive the people under pretense of divine inspiration. Of one such false prophet he recorded, But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him....(Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2:13:5. See also 2:13:4 & 6:5:2-4.)

Coming of the Son of Man

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:27

In keeping with the context of this passage, this statement of Christ can not imply a personal, visible coming of the Son of Man. He just related how their claims of messianic sightings would be false. So what is Jesus referring to? His coming would be like the destructive power of lightening. The implication is not on how easily lightening is to see as it flashes across the sky, but instead the analogy to lightening is in reference to judgment: judgment on Israel. In Matthew 26:24 Christ warns the Sanhedrin that they will see the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven. Coming in the clouds, riding a swift cloud, clouds of heaven, lightening and other similar words and phrases are Old Testament symbols for the Lord's coming in judgment. This is apocalyptic language. This language will be examined more closely in the discussion of vss. 29-31. But, as for lightening, there are examples in the Old Testament of lightening referring to an outpouring of God's wrath. (see 2 Sam. 22:15; Zech 9:14; Job36:32; Ps 18:14. NT examples include Rev. 11:19 & 18:18.) Therefore, we can conclude that Christ is referring to an outpouring of God's wrath on Israel which would be accomplished through the Roman armies under Titus.

Gathering Eagles

For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Matthew 24:28

This verse has already been discussed previously in this study. Just to reiterate, the idea is that Israel is already dead and the eagles will move in for an easy meal. As mentioned, the symbol of the eagle was on the ensign of the Roman Legion. Upon conquering Jerusalem, these ensigns were set up in the temple and blsphemously worshiped.

to be continued...

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