Lesson 100: The Mount Olives Discourse (Continued)
Matt. 24:29035, Luke 21:8-24
A Blending of the Four Gospel Records. This is lesson # 100. Welcome to lesson # 100. We read in Matthew and Mark in our last lesson what Jesus said about the destruction of Jerusalem. We didn't have time to read Luke's account in Luke 21:8-24. Don't lose the setting. Jesus was talking to four of his apostles, Peter, James, John, and Andrew; sitting on the side of Mt. Olivet, that overlooked Jerusalem and the temple. Jesus had startled them with his announcement that the temple would be destroyed. They asked Jesus privately when this would be and how they could know when it would be. Matthew told us there was another question about the end of the world. So, we're going to read from Luke beginning in ch. 21:8. This is Jesus' answer to those questions. After reading, we'll comment a little more. Are you ready? Let's read, beginning from Luke 21:8. "And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilence; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my names's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not a hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls. And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Alright, first off, you need to convince yourself that what we just read is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem. The reason I say that is simply this: some try to apply these things to the end of the Christian Age and draw erroneous conclusions from it. Now, Jesus in this lecture on Mt. Olivet finally got around to that subject, i.e. the end of the world. But, that which we have read thus far was to involve the apostles and be during some of the apostles life time. So, do a quickie scavenger hunt with me: Luke said in v.7, "THEY ASKED HIM", i.e. the apostles asked Jesus. V.8, He said...YE be not deceived, i.e. apostles. V.9, when YE shall hear...V.10, Then said HE unto THEM, i.e. Jesus to the apostles...V.12, they shall lay hands on YOU, and persecute YOU, etc...V.13, it shall turn to YOU for a testimony.. .V. 15, I will give YOU a mouth.. .V. 16, YE shall be betrayed... V. 17, YE shall be hated.. .V. 18, there shall not a hair of YOUR head perish.. .V. 19, In YOUR patience posses YE your souls...V.20, when YE shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies...V.21, Then let them, i.e. YOU LET THEM, implying the apostles. Now, I don't want to beat this to death. But, I don't want to leave it so vague; that ANYONE would ever mis-use these passages as so often is done. In Luke 21:24, Jesus said very plainly, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles."
Now, if we put Matthew, Mark and Luke together; Jesus answered their question about the destruction of the temple, i.e. the time when not one stone would be left upon another. Now, what were the signs, First (#1), there would be false Christ’s and false prophets. (#2), There would be wars and rumors of wars, i.e. between the Jews and the Romans that ultimately led to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. (#3), There would be great natural calamities: famine, earthquakes. This took place before AD 70, it could be documented if we wanted to take the time. (#4), Another sign was to be an outbreak of persecution upon the apostles and upon the church. Incidentally, not all of these four apostles lived until AD 70. James was the first do die, in the mid AD 40's by Herod Agrippa I. This is recorded in Acts 12:2. It is generally thought Peter died by martyrdom about AD 64, or a couple years before the war of AD 70 began. I don't have any idea about Andrew; but John live until about 100 AD. Jesus told them, "some of you shall they cause to be put to death." (v.16), i.e. before the destruction of Jerusalem. But these apostles taught the Christians to expect this event and thus, as I said before, very few if any Christians were killed in the War of AD 70. (#5), In Mark's account, v.10, Jesus said the gospel would first be published among all nations. Now, we must realize this has reference to the geography as they knew the world at that time. Thus, the seat of the old dispensation, i.e. the capital and worship place of the Jews would not be destroyed until the gospel, or good news of the kingdom was preached throughout the world. Paul said this happened, Col. 1:23. That was written about AD 60.
Mark in v.11. of his account, gave some interesting information about the apostles and the Holy Ghost. Jesus said that the apostles would be given the Holy Ghost to assist them in coping with their persecution. Now, Jesus didn't say anything about taking the pain away; but, Jesus promised them a "mouth" and to give them "wisdom" in Luke's account, v.15. This is a description of what the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit would do for the apostles. Jesus had promised before in Luke 12:11-12, "take ye no thought how or what things ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." Do you remember Matt. 10:19, when Jesus sent them on the limited commission in Galilee? "when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak." So, Jesus here in Luke 21:15 and in Mark 13:11 told the apostles they would not be left to themselves. On Thursday night, which we haven't covered yet; Jesus, comforted all the apostles by giving them more information with respect to this promise.
We could touch on many, many more points; but, let's read a little more. Back-up to Matt. 24:29, let's read down through v.35. Have you turned to that? Are you ready, Matt. 24:29, let's read. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send, his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Remember the questions the four apostles asked, i.e. in Matthew's account? There were basically two questions. The first one was, when would the temple be destroyed? The second was, about the end of time or the end of the world. The other questions dealt with the signs relating to these two questions. O.K. Jesus has already answered that first question in v.4-28. OH! Probably not to the apostles satisfaction, AND not to your satisfaction. But, Jesus in his way answered their question about when one stone of the temple would not be left upon another. The passages we just read; I would call transition material. By that, I mean, Jesus was changing from the first question to the second question. The rest of Matt. ch. 24, deals with the end of the world, or the last question. But, the material we just read; weaves back and forth between the two and touches both questions. In v.29, Jesus said, "immediately after the tribulation of those days...", i.e. AFTER the war of A.D. 70, AFTER the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem was destroyed. O.K., immediately AFTER those days, i.e. AD 71-72-73, AD 80, AD 90, AD 100-125-150, etc. O.K., but, WHAT? WHAT HAPPENED? V.29-30, is highly figurative. Now, Jesus foretold what would happen AFTER the temple was demolish and AFTER Jerusalem was laid desolate. O.K. WHAT HAPPENED? (#1) The sun was darkened. (#2) The moon did not give her light. (#3), Stars fell from heaven. (#4) The powers of heaven were shaken. (#5), Then, there appeared a sign of the Son of man in heaven. Then, finally, after that, eventually the Son of man WOULD COME in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, i.e. finally the end of time will come, i.e. Christ's second coming, of course that hasn't come yet as I work on this lesson. But, what's all that sun, and moon, and stars got to do with it? Well, unless you are pretty familiar with the O.T. and have pondered these terms before; you likely won't make much sense out of it. But, these words are used over and over in prophecy to indicated great social change. Great suffering. Great anguish. Great affliction. Great change. Great stress. If you'll take the time to study the history of the next 100-300 years after Jerusalem was destroy; from the standpoint of the Jews AND from the standpoint of Christians, these words do a pretty good job describing what happened. Thousands upon thousands of the Jews were deported into slave conditions after the war. The Christian religion was outlawed by Rome. Many of those who persisted in the faith were fed to the lions, killed and imprisoned. If you think of Jesus as the light of the world; then, the sun was darkened. The same sort of terms were used to describe the overthrow of Egypt, Babylon, Idumae, and other world and national powers in the O.T. Remember, now, the Jews ceased to be a nation. Also, temple worship that had been in effect of more than a 1000 years ceased. It's never been revived to this day. The Lord brought that system to an end! Stars here, like in the book of Revelation have reference to people. We talk about movie stars, and political stars, etc., in our day. Some stars, i.e. religious leaders fell from heaven, v.29. That is, some who thought of themselves as great shining stars fell from their positions and their places of power. The fact that Jesus foretold these things; proves that Jesus is sitting on his throne in heaven. So, as v. 10 here says, "then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." Jesus' prophecy proves he's there, do you remember the last few verses in Deut. ch. 18? And, just as surely, he'll come again in the clouds of heaven. Many references are made to this in the N.T., for example, Rev. 1:7, which says that Jesus "cometh with clouds". The two angels that spake to the apostles when Jesus ascended said, "Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go." That's Acts 1:11 and two verses before that said "a cloud received him out of their sight." So, Jesus said that the Son of man would come in the clouds of heaven with great power and great glory; Jesus was putting it right down to the way it will happen. Then take a look at v.31. There'll be a great sound of the trumpet and his angels will gather the elect from the four winds, i.e. from the north, east, west and south. Do you remember who the reapers will be in the parable of the tares? (Matt. 13:39)? From one end of heaven to the other! They won't miss any. I remember some years ago; some were saying, Man can't go to the moon; the Bible doesn't say anything about it. That verse we just read said the angels would gather the elect from one end of heaven to the other. That might even include the moon. What do you think?
Then, tune-in on Jesus' parable in v.32. The parable of the fig tree. Jesus said, "When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer in nigh..." What's the point? Do you remember their question? What shall be the SIGN of THESE THINGS? Jesus said, you can tell what season of the year it is by looking at a fig tree. When you see the leaves coming out, you know its spring time and summer is just around the bend. You see, they wanted a sign! Jesus said in essence, YOU GOT IT! Look at v.33. "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all THESE THINGS" What are THESE THINGS? Do you remember us talking about THESE THINGS? Go back and review their questions! So, Jesus said, "when ye shall see all THESE THINGS, know that it is near, even at the door." There's the sign! How, could these apostles tell? False Christ’s, wars and rumors of wars, great natural calamity of famine and earthquakes, persecution of the apostles and Christians, when the gospel was published throughout the empire, etc. Now, hang- on to v.34. Jesus speaking, "Verily I say unto you" [i.e. Jesus speaking to the apostles] "This generation shall not pass, till all THESE THINGS be fulfilled." THESE THINGS would happen in the generation of the apostles, Peter, James, John and Andrew. NOW, those people who try to apply THESE THINGS to the end of time and to the "rapture" and to the "thousand year reign" and all of that; have got A LOT of explaining to do here. Is there a generation of apostles around someplace that are 2,000 years old? I don't believe it! AND, that "rapture" stuff is NOT IN MY BIBLE. I've done and looked! Jesus never used that word "rapture", Peter never used that word, "rapture", Paul never used that word! It's not in there!! You can't find it! So, I think we better stick to the text. It happened and it's going to happen just like Jesus said. Jesus said we can depend on it! In v.35 Jesus said his word would last longer than the earth and it will last longer than heaven. That's a pretty sure thing.
Well, that old clock has got us again! So, we'll save the rest of Mark and Luke's account until next time. In that Mt. Olivet discourse; Jesus first got into the things the apostles wanted to know, about the destruction of the temple and the collapse of the city of Jerusalem. But, in the last part, Jesus finally got into the end of the Age. That's the part WE want to know. We'll get to that in our next lesson. Have a good day!