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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 24

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The Destruction Of Jerusalem

And The End Of The World

Matthew Twenty-Four

Jesus, foreseeing the terrible destruction that would come upon Jerusalem lamented, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate." ( Mat_23:37-38 ) He knew that the city and the temple would be destroyed. This destruction came in AD 70. Some questions in Matthew twenty-four relate to that destruction while others relate to the end of the world.

Verses 1-14

Questions about the destruction of Jerusalem Mat_24:1-14 : As Matthew twenty-three ends Jesus laments the terrible things which would come upon that generation. ( Mat_23:36 ) He knew that even the temple would not be spared. As the disciples were standing and commenting on the magnificence of the the Temple, Jesus told them that there was coming a day when "...not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." ( Mat_24:2 .) This prediction of destruction brought grief to the disciples hearts. This event happened when the Roman General Titus came against Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and destroyed the city completely.

The questions asked by the disciples were "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" ( Mat_24:3 ) They assumed that what Jesus was talking about would be at His second coming. They asked about "when" and "what signs would be given?" We will later see that the things before Mat_24:34 would take place in the lifetime of those in that generation. “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Jesus warned them of the possibility of being misled. This is our Lord's number one warning! "Take heed that no one deceives you." ( Mat_24:4 ) How can you make sure you are not deceived? You check it out in God's Word and carefully study for yourself. Jesus said that there would be false Christs, wars, famines, earthquakes, and the gospel would be preached to the whole world. All of these would be things people would try to use as signs but these things would not pinpoint the destruction of Jerusalem or the end of the world, "but the end is not yet."

Verses 15-33

Sign concerning the destruction of Jerusalem Mat_24:15-33 : Jesus gave a real sign for the Jews to look for as the destruction of Jerusalem approached. The real sign Jesus gave was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel (Daniel 9) -- "Abomination of desolation." The destruction of the Temple spoken of by Jesus was the same as the "Abomination of desolation" predicted by Daniel. Jesus explained all of this with the words of Luk_21:20 , "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near." A foreign army would come to make Jerusalem desolate. When the army came they were to flee to the mountains without going back into the city. They were to leave from the field where they were. Do no go back to your house. This quick departure will be difficult if you have small children, or if it is winter or on a Sabbath. All of this fits perfectly the coming of the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem in AD 70. So far, all of this depicts a local, escapable judgment. It certainly does not fit a worldwide, inescapable judgment! All of this fits perfectly about what we know of the Roman army coming to destroy Jerusalem in A.D. 70. None of these things would fit the end of the world and final judgment. Those Christians understood this teaching and as a result many escaped Jerusalem.

Many think these things refer to the end of the world. But, this cannot be because these things would happen "immediately'' and these things are before Mat_24:34 . Remember, in Mat_24:34 Jesus starts His discussion of the end of the world.

Some say this has to be the end of the world because of the natural disasters described in the text. These natural disasters were used commonly in the Old Testament to talk about the fall of nations. (1) Babylon, Isa_13:1 , Isa_13:6-13 , (2) Egypt, Isa_19:1-2 , Eze_32:2-9 , (3) Tyre, Isa_23:1 , Isa_24:21-23 , (4) Edom, Isa_34:4-6 , (5) Nineveh, Nah_1:1-5 , (6) Israel, Amo_8:9 , and (7) Judah, Jer_4:5-6 , Jer_4:23-28 .

Here they are used to talk about the destruction of the Jewish nation. The destruction of Jerusalem was "the sign" Jesus had given. All of these things took place immediately after the fall of Jerusalem and during that generation.

Verses 34-44

This Generation Shall Not Pass Mat_24:34-44 : Jesus said you can use leaves coming on a fig tree to know that summer is near. He used that illustration to let the people know that the desolation was coming when the saw the sign (foreign army surrounding Jerusalem). Those that observe that sign could know. "...This generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." ( Mat_24:34 )

Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." ( Mat_24:35-36 ) "That day" is used to refer to the final day of Judgment, Jesus said (1) no one knows when it will be, (2) no signs will be given, and (3) no fleeing from this event. "That day" will be a day of separation. Christians will certainly prepare themselves for "that day." "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." ( Mat_24:44 )

Verses 45-51

The faithful must watch and prepare Mat_24:45-51 : The servant who watches for the Master's return will have a great motivation to faithfulness and will be blessed. "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing." ( Mat_24:46 ) A failure to focus on "that day" will cause one to be unfaithful. ( Mat_24:48-51 ) Jerusalem was destroyed as the Lord promised.

The final Judgment will also come as the Lord promised. The precise time of Judgment Day is not revealed for us to know, so that we must at all times be watching for it. Therefore, we as Christians are obligated by the Lord's Word to watch for His coming. Are you ready for the Judgment day? ( Amo_4:12 , Act_2:38 , Mat_10:22 )

The seriousness of judgment and eternity says that sinners should come to Christ and live for Him. Purify your heart by faith ( Joh_8:24 ), change your life through repentance, ( Act_17:30 ), change your relationship with God through baptism. Then, from that watery grave of baptism arise to a walk in newness of life in Christ. ( Rom_6:3-4 ) Are you ready for the Judgment day? If not prepare now. “For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” ( 2Co_6:2 )

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 24". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/matthew-24.html. 2014.
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