April 23, 2017
We now come to the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus had ongoing conflict with the leading Jews, the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, chief priests and elders. This list of leading Jews included nearly all the leadership of Judaism. Their refusal to believe in Him comes to a head.
They will not believe. He now warns them about what is going to come upon them. His own disciples did not clearly understand His words. However, they do so in after days. The Lord uses these sayings of Jesus to protect His elect from the coming slaughter.
Make no bones about it. The destruction comes from within Judaism and also from the Romans but it is clearly the will of our Father in Heaven. That is a hard truth. The coming of the Lord in judgment upon unbelief and disobedience is real. The destruction of Jerusalem was finally accomplished but it was the Lord’s doing. It was His final judgment upon unbelieving Israel for the rejection and murder of the Messiah.
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Calvin mentions that the Temple was obviously splendid by the mere fact that Herod kept 10,000 workmen busy on it for eight successive years.
Jesus had already said, destroy this Temple and in three days, I will rebuild it. He was talking about His own body. Jesus is where we now worship.
In this passage, Jesus is talking about the literal temple. It will be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
At this point, the disciples understand that Jesus is talking about the Temple and that destruction awaits. They recognize Him as a prophet who is telling them about future events. They want to know when it will happen.
Matt. 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Matthew Henry says that “Josephus speaks of several such impostors between this and the destruction of Jerusalem; one Theudas, that was defeated by Cospius Fadus; another by Felix, another by Festus. Dosetheus said he was the Christ foretold by Moses. Origen adversus Celsum. See Acts v. 36, 37. Simon Magus pretended to be the great power of God, Acts viii. 10. In after-ages there have been such pretenders; one about a hundred years after Christ, that called himself Bar-cochobas—The son of a star.”
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
There were factions among the Jews themselves who were fighting. They joined forces to fight against the Romans but were continually fighting among themselves, even during the final stages of the siege in 70 A.D.
There was a great famine in the land prior to 70 A.D. and during the war and siege there were earthquakes and various signs appearing in the sky.
9 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.
These apostles were martyred. This happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. They were hated by all nations for Jesus’s sake. Why? Because Jesus is the Lord of the nations and the kings of earth do not tolerate this well. It is still true in our day.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
This section is not talking about things are the very end of time. Jesus is talking about a calamity that will occur in Israel not many years after His death. Even among the saints, there was betrayal. Paul mentions this in Acts 20 that wolves from among the elders of the Ephesian church will harm the church.
We also see that the seven churches of Asia have various sins rampant in them in the book of Revelation. This was also before the destruction of Jerusalem. It did not take long for corruption to reveal itself in the Church.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
There were false prophets both within and without the Church. In the days leading up to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, there were many false messiah claims. Some men claimed to be the Messiah or claimed to usher Him in through their sect. There were three main sects vying for control of Jerusalem during the siege. They devoured one another in civil war. They did so while promising that the Messiah would show up and save them from their enemies. Of course, these same men, or their fathers and their fathers in the faith, had already denied and murdered the Messiah, Jesus.
Their promises of a the biblically promised messiah were false. They were false prophets and they did deceive many. The factions took up arms and wiped each other out, while at the same time believing that the messiah would arise and deliver them from the Romans. This never happened.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Those who remained in Jerusalem were not saved. Those who withstood persecution and opposition were saved. They were saved souls. Also, many fled Jerusalem and survived the Roman occupation.
14 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.
The gospel spread through the entire Roman empire in the 30 or so years following the life of Jesus. Paul preached from Israel all the way to Rome. It was His desire to even go to Spain and some believe that he did so.
15 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:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
This must be when the Zealots take over the temple and elect their own high priest.
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
There are many accounts of the siege of Jerusalem as a horrifying event. Josephus says that the siege occurred while many were attending Jerusalem during Pentecost. This means that the population swelled to a million people.
The defenders themselves caused a tremendous amount of suffering and misery. There were several factions in Israel. John of Gascala, The Sicarii, The Zealots, Simon of Gioras.
When the final assault occurs in the city, the destruction was rampant. The Roman soldiers were enraged and the defiance and violence of the defenders of the city and when then breached the walls, men, women and children were slaughtered as the Temple burned.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 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. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 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.
The numbers of dead in Jerusalem are simply staggering. Nearly everyone in the city perished. There are reports of 100,000 prisoners taken at the end of the siege. But Josephus puts the number in Jerusalem at the time at 1.1 million. This means a million people died in the siege.
Cestius Callus first siege but when he leaves all the Christians leave.
There were several false messiahs at this time, some within Jerusalem and some hailed as saviors from outside the city.
If it were possible to mislead the elect, these false prophets would do so. However, Jesus makes it clear here that the elect cannot be led astray. God’s choice of them keeps them safe.
The Savior has already come. Do not go after other false messiahs in the dessert or in the Temple. Do not be mislead like the Zealots and others contending for the sacred city and saying that the Messiah will come and save them. It is the Messiah who is now rising up against them.
27 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 Henry discusses this passage as having to do with the spread of the gospel and the Son of man coming in great power and glory rapidly in the world. So, do not heed earthly saviors.
This seems constrained to me and rather out of place. I take it as continuing rather the destruction theme. Do not look for the saviors because the Son of man in coming in the destruction of lightning and fire. The end will be swift and powerful and no earthly power can stop it.
The final destruction will be swift.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
People will flock to the false messiahs like eagles to a carcass. But do not be deceived. There is not life and salvation there, only destruction.
The nation herself has become a dead carcass. The eagles fly to her to devour her. The roman ensign was an eagle.
Eusebius, writing in the fourth century, says all the Christians fled the city to another city called Pella. He says not a single Christian perished in the siege.
29 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:
Immediately after the tribulation- Matthew Henry explains this as meaning certainty. I think that is a stretch.
Better to keep the general context. The very next sections says that we should know these things from the season.
The sun and moon are darkened and the stars give no light is a clear indication of the shaking of the powers. They were shaken on the cross and again here at the close of the Jewish aeon.
30 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.
Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
Tacitus (A.D. 115) - Roman historian "13. Prodigies had occurred, but their expiation by the offering of victims or solemn vows is held to be unlawful by a nation which is the slave of superstition and the enemy of true beliefs. In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure. Few people placed a sinister interpretation upon this. The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world." (Histories, Book 5, v. 13)
A star in the shape of a sword.. “So it was when a star resembling a sword, stood over the city [Jerusalem] and a comet which continued for a year.” Josephus: Jewish Wars 6:289
31 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.
This gathering of the elect began at Pentecost. Here, the indication is that nothing will stop the gospel. This destruction occurred to put an eartly end to the Old order but it had no effect on the advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He will collect His elect from the four corners of the earth.
These words are meant to comfort the saints in Judea and Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’s death. We are to look back at that event and know in His Resurrection that Jesus wins. Furthermore, we win in Jesus.
Throughout the ages, Christians have faced uncertain times. There have been wars and rumors of wars since the destruction of Jerusalem. Christians must rest in the hope that is Jesus Christ. He is the Savior. We should look for no other. At the end of time, the final Resurrection will put all things right.
The Lord will have lost none of His. He will gather all His own. They will abide because He abides. Of course, we should also learn the lesson of the destruction. All those who will not embrace Jesus as the Savior, or turn from Him as the Savior, face as certain destruction as the burning of the Temple. So, remain faithful to Jesus.
The elect face certain glorification. It is certain as the Lord’s watchcare over those saints in Jerusalem when she was burned. The gates were flung open and they were all saved. That is what happens to us when we give our lives to Christ. We are besieged by the enemy, by the world, the flesh and devil. Sin and death have us in their grip. But the grace of God through Jesus Christ, throws upon the gates and we run to our stronghold in Jesus. In Him, we are safe. So, let us flee to Him and be saved.