Lesson 99: The Mount Olives Discourse (Beginning)
Matt. 24:4-28, Mark 13:5-23
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson #99. In our last lesson we attempted to introduce Jesus' private sermon on Mount Olivet which he gave to four of his disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John. Jesus had startled them by announcing the destruction of the temple at the very moment when they were taken by its outward glory, the great stones, the architecture, and all that. We talked about the actual destruction of that temple, 37 years after Jesus said this. It was destroyed by the Romans, both the temple and the city. You need to see this from one broad view. In the O.T. the temple was referred to, hundreds of times, as the house of the Lord. God called it "mine house." It was the house of God, etc. But, you need to realize in THIS LESSON, that when the kingdom was established that John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching; that temple was no longer the house of God. The Jewish nation was going to be removed. In the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, that Jesus had given that very morning, Tuesday morning, in the temple; Jesus told the Jewish leaders: "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you..." (Matt. 21:43). Then, in Matt. 23:36, near the end of Jesus' last public sermon that same day, Jesus told the Jews, "All these things shall come upon this generation." As Jesus ended that sermon and lamented over Jerusalem; Jesus said: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Notice, that Jesus did not say, the temple of God, or My house as he had referred to it back on Monday during the cleansing of the temple (Matt. 21:12-13). Jesus said, "your house is left unto you desolate." Jesus had told the Samaritan woman at the well, about three years before: "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." (John 4:21) Thus, that time was fast approaching. But, God allowed the temple to stand for another generation after the kingdom or the church was established. But, ultimately, even the temple structure was destroyed in AD 70. Like I said, you must see this from the broad perspective.
Alright, let's begin in Matt. 24:4 and read down thru v.28. This is Jesus' answer to the questions of the four disciples. Are you ready? Matt. 24:4 beginning. "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all THESE THINGS must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilence, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there shall no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christ, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 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. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together."
Alright, do you have the apostles' questions in mind? When will THESE THINGS (the destruction of the temple) be? What will be the sign? And what about the end of the world? Jesus said, "Take heed", i.e. BE CAREFUL! Don't mix it all up. How many times have you heard v.6, about wars and rumors of wars, etc applied to the end of the Christian Age? But, Jesus said BE CAREFUL! And in v.6, the same verse; he said: "but the end is not yet." Do you see that? You see, Jesus never, NEVER, gave that statement as a sign or a clue to the end of time. Now, notice something here, there would first be wars and rumors of wars, v.6, nation would rise against nation, v.7, famines, pestilence, earthquakes, v.7, i.e. great natural calamity; but, "all these things are the beginning" (v.8). Then (v.9)l "THEN"! What does THAT mean to you? After that! You see, v.9 starts off by saying, AFTER THAT, after the wars, after the famines, after the pestilence, after the earthquakes; THEN,, something will happen to you apostles (v.9). Then, you'll be afflicted [i.e. the apostles], you'll be killed [i.e. the apostles], you'll be hated [i.e. the apostles] (v.9). You see, Jesus was speaking to the apostles; four of them, Peter, James, John, Andrew. All of this would happen to the apostles. THEN, after that, v.10, "shall many", i.e. others shall be OFFENDED, and shall BETRAY one another, and shall HATE one another...FALSE PROPHETS shall arise (v.11). INIQUITY shall abound, "the love of many shall wax cold." (v.12). But, you see, all of this would happen during the apostles' life time. The gospel of the kingdom would be preached to all the world (v. 14). Then, after that, "shall the end come." (v.14), i.e. beyond those things there will be an end. When? Well, that verse doesn't say, just...THEN, i.e. beyond those things. The end would come, yes; but NOT right away. Jesus obviously did not tell them it will be more than 1950 years before the end. He simply said, it will be after wars, after pestilence, earthquakes, etc. It will be AFTER THAT!
Now, notice in v.15, "When ye therefore..." Hey, now what does that mean? YE, in the King James language simply means "you", Y-O-U. Who was "you?" Jesus was talking to the apostles, four of them, Peter, James, John and Andrew. "When ye therefore shall see..." In v.15, Jesus gave those four apostles some instruction, when you see something, you do something! What would they see? "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet". What were they to do? "Stand in the holy place...", i.e. be prepare, get equipped, be ready to act. Who must do this? The apostles! What should they do? (#1), "Let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains" (#2), "Let him on the housetop not come down to take anything of out of his house" (#3) "Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes." Now, can you see; that, Jesus is talking about a local calamity? a local situation? a local tribulation? NOT the end of the world. It has to do with Judea and the local residents that the apostles would know. What does all this say? Act swiftly! Now, let me ask you; which one of the questions, the apostles asked there on Mt. Olivet, does this help answer? What were the three questions? (#1) When will the destruction of the temple be? (#2) What will be the sign of Jesus' final coming or second come? (#3) What will be the sign of the end of the world? That's Matthew's list (v.3). Obviously, it's NOT Jesus' second coining! Obviously, it's NOT the end of the world! So, that leaves question number one, When will the temple be destroyed? Thus, Jesus is telling these four apostles; this is the way it will happen. This is WHEN it will happen. This is how you can tell. What's the que? When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet... In other words, there is O.T. prophecy concerning this. Now, look at the parenthesis at the end of v.15, "(whoso readeth, let him understand)." Part of Daniel 9:26 reads like this: "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." So, Daniel said plainly the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed. When was the city and the sanctuary destroyed? i.e. when was Jerusalem and the temple, destroyed? AD 70. In a war! We talked about that in our last lesson.
Now, look at v. 20 in Matthew. "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither the sabbath day," O.K. why not the winter or the sabbath day? Very simply the winter would be a difficult time to have to leave the city of Jerusalem in such haste as was mentioned above; to go to the mountains, to take no clothing or anything out of their houses. The cold rainy season of the winter would add to that tribulation. Why not the sabbath day? The gates of the city were closed on the sabbath day. What about women nursing little children, v.19? It would be even more difficult for mothers with little children to escape, suddenly and under such inclement weather. Conditions would be terrible for those who remained in the city (v.21), "then shall be great tribulation, such was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." That statement is hard to fathom; but, Jesus said it! The greatest tribulation, i.e. the greatest anxiety and human trouble, that ever was or ever will be. In the year of AD 70 the Romans starved the city to death, went in and burned the city and the temple and plowed it like a field. But, we're told that most, if not all the Christians, escaped. Why? Jesus forewarned them, right here. V.22 is saying that if God had NOT restrained the Romans, they would have exterminated the Jewish race. Then in v.23-24 Jesus pointed out that about that time and even after that time; many false prophets would arise claiming to be the Christ. History again bears out that this happened. Look at v.25, Jesus said, "Behold, I have told you before." Then after the destruction of Jerusalem, many false claims would be made that Christ was here or there. Jesus said pay not attention to that garbage. When Jesus comes again it will be like "the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." i.e. instantaneous. Did you ever see a streak of lightening cross the sky? That's the way Jesus will come in his second coming. Jesus said it! Can it be said any plainer than in v.27? Do you remember in Luke 17:20 where the Pharisees demanded to know, "when the kingdom of God should come?" Jesus told them it would NOT COME with observation. But, in contrast to that down in Luke 17:24, Jesus told his disciples that his coming would be observable. How? "As the lightening, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day." So, this agrees with every other statement that Jesus made. Christ's second coming will be sudden and unexpected. In Luke 17, Jesus gave more details with respect to his second coming; but, when his disciples asked a question that indicated that they were off base; Jesus closed the conversation with the proverbial cliche: "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." Notice that Jesus used the same cliche here in Matt. 24:28. To me the meaning would be something like this, sin will allure its punishment very much as the vultures and the scavengers are attracted to their spoils.
Let's read quickly Mark. Mark 13:5-23, find it quickly. Beginning in Mark 13:5, let's read. "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take not thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains: and let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: and let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elects's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: for false Christ’s and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed; behold, I have foretold you all things." Of course, you know that Luke has a comparable section; but, for lack of time in this lesson, we'll hold Luke's account until our next lesson and use that reading to re-introduce the section. You noticed, I'm sure, that Matthew and Mark are very much alike, as far as we read. That Jesus was talking to the apostles about their own careers and about a local calamity such as the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is quite clear. Notice how many times Jesus used the words "ye" and "you" and "yourselves", speaking to the apostles. Thus, Jesus in the section we just read, discussed the first question, "Tell us, when shall these things be?", back up in v.4. Take some time to review this on your own. We'll get back to this in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day!