Editor's comments: Welcome to the study of Matthew 24. This is a controversial section of Scripture. We need to clear our minds of preconceived ideas and take a common sense look at these verses in their context and in comparison to their parallel passages. You are in for a great time. Just consider Mr. Mauro's reasoning in the light of Scripture. If you have not taken The Seventy Weeks Of Daniel you may what to take it as a companion to this study. We are going to look at the Lord's prophecy on Mount Olivet which He connects directly with the last four chapters of the Book of Daniel. **
We saw in The Seventy Weeks Course [if you haven't taken the course, please consider it] that the sixty-nine weeks of the seventy mentioned by Gabriel in his message to Daniel reached "unto the Messiah," i.e. to His baptism [Dan. 9:25]. That great event marked the beginning of the Seventieth Week of the prophecy, the "one week" which is separately mentioned in Dan. 9:27, and the "fulness of the time" of Gal. 4:4 [compare to Mark 1:15]. That "week" was, beyond all comparison, the most momentous period in all time. It was the great and wonderful era of Christ's own personal ministry among men when He glorified God upon the earth, and finished the work He had given Him to do. It was the brief period of earth's history which Peter mentions in Acts 10:38: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Never has there been a "time" like that.
**Editor's comments: The "week" of our Lord's ministry was truly the most important time in world history. On that one Life in those few years hung the destiny of the world. If Christ had failed all would have been forever lost. It is strange that some people look for the fulfillment of these things in the future. All of history - past, present, future - focuses on this point in time. **
Toward the middle of that "week," the Lord, after having preached the glad-tidings of the Kingdom of God, went to Jerusalem in order to fulfill all that was written of Him. He did this by offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of His people. At that season, when Jerusalem was thronged with people for the Passover, the Lord gave His "woes" on the scribes and Pharisees, closing with these words, which have an important bearing on our current study: "Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." [Matt. 23:31-36]
These words call for close attention because they are the immediate context of the prophecy [the Olivet Discourse] which follows. It also has a great bearing on the Seventy Weeks which we study in a different course.
The Lord here speaks distinctly of a terrible retribution which was to come upon that generation. He sums up the different items of wickedness for which they were to be punished. Jesus declared that, in putting Him to death they were about to prove themselves to be the children of those who killed the prophets, and they were about to fill up the measure of their fathers. Nor would the wickedness of that "generation of vipers" stop there. For when the messengers of Christ should come to them with the gospel of God's love and grace, they would scourge, persecute, kill, and crucify them. Thus the Jews would bring upon themselves a retribution of such terrible severity that it would be as if they were visited for all the righteous blood shed that had ever been shed on the earth. The Lord's words are very distinct and plain: "Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon THIS generation."
**Editor's comment: In order for the futurists to make their sensational theories stand they must twist or add to the plain and clear words of Jesus. That is an eternally dangerous thing to do. Jesus could have said "The generation that sees these things beginning to happen..." but He did not.**
Here we have a clear explanation of the words of Dan. 9:24 - "...to finish the transgression..." - and of Dan. 12:10 - "The wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand."
Daniel's people were to be the agents, and his holy city the place, of the finishing of "the transgression"; and the seventieth week of the renewed national existence was to be the time when the transgression should be finished. We have also in these words of Christ [and in vs. 23:38-39] a clear affirmation of that part of the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks which foretold the destruction of Jerusalem.
Write out and memorize Matt: 23:37-39.
1. The sixty-nine weeks of the _____________________ mentioned by Gabriel in his message to Daniel reached "unto the Messiah," i.e. to His baptism [Dan. 9:25].
2. That "week" was the great and wonderful era of Christ's own personal ________ among men when He glorified God upon the earth, and finished the work He had given Him to do.
3. On that one Life in those few years hung the ________________ of the world.
4. The Lord, after having preached the glad-tidings of the Kingdom of God, went to ______________________ in order to fulfill all that was written of Him.
5. Write out Matt. 23:31-36.
6. Jesus declared that, in putting Him to _________________ they were about to prove themselves to be the children of those who killed the prophets, and they were about to fill up the measure of their fathers.
7. Thus the Jews would bring upon themselves a retribution of such terrible severity that it would be as if they were visited for all the ________________ blood shed that had ever been shed on the earth.
8. What generation was to suffer these things? __________________________
9. Daniel's people were to be the agents, and his holy city the place, of the finishing of "the _______________________"; and the seventieth week of the renewed national existence was to be the time when the transgression should be finished.
The Importance Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem
Many today, who study and explain prophecy, do not seem to be aware of the immense significance of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, which accomplished the extinction of the Jewish national existence and the dispersion of the Jewish people among all the nations. The failure to recognize the significance of that event, and the vast amount of prophecy which it fulfilled, has been the cause of great confusion. The necessary consequence of missing the past fulfillment of predicted events is have a mass of prophecies for which we must invent fulfillments in the future. There are two harmful results:
1.] We don't have the evidential value, and the support of faith, of those remarkable fulfillments of prophecy which are so clearly presented to us in contemporary histories; and
2.] Our vision of things to come is greatly obscured and confused by the transference to the future of predicted events which, in fact, have already happened.
Obviously it is useless to start a study of unfulfilled prophecy until we have settled which prophecies have been fulfilled.
**Editor's comments: This is why there is so much confusion about Bible Prophecy and future events. Sensationalists insist on working prophetic events into the future that have already been fulfilled! These events were prophetic when written, but historic from our perspective. There are some prophecies that have not been fulfilled - i.e. The Second Coming - but these are not them.**
A striking example of this dislocation of great historic events is the prophecy we are going to be studying in Matt. 24:21 - "...great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world." This is the same thing that is referred to in Jer. 30:7 as "the time of Jacob's trouble," and in Dan. 12:1 as "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." From the clear indications in these prophecies, and from the detailed records that have been preserved for us in trustworthy contemporary history, it should be an easy matter to identify the period being spoke of as the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The Lord's own predictions and warnings concerning that event, which was then close at hand, were most explicit. And He plainly said, "all these things shall come upon THIS generation." Besides all that, He specified the sins for which that generation was to be thus punished beyond anything known before, or that should be thereafter, thus making it impossible that the "tribulation" and "vengeance" which He predicted could fall upon any subsequent generation.
Yet, in spite of all this, we have today a widely held scheme of prophetic interpretation, which has for its very cornerstone the idea that, when God's time to remember His promised mercies to Israel shall have come, He will gather them into their ancient land again, only to pour out calamities and distresses far exceeding even the horrors of the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70. This is, we are convinced, an error of such magnitude as to change the whole program of unfulfilled prophecy. So our present purpose is to set forth with all possible fulness and care the available proofs, from Scripture and secular history, in order that it will be clearly established that the "great tribulation" of Matt. 24:21 is now a matter of the distant past.
10. The destruction of Jerusalem in _____________ accomplished the extinction of the Jewish national existence and the dispersion of the Jewish people among all the nations.
11. The necessary consequence of missing the _______________ fulfillment of predicted events is have a mass of prophecies for which we must invent fulfillments in the future.
12. It is useless to start a study of unfulfilled prophecy until we have ___________ which prophecies have been fulfilled.
13. These events were __________________ when written, but history from our perspective.
14. Jesus plainly said, "all these things shall come upon ___________ generation."
15. The "great tribulation" of Matt. 24:21 is now a matter of the ______________.
First, we will direct our attention to the fact that, according to the words of Christ spoken to the leaders of that generation of Jews [Matt. 23:32-39], the punishment which was about to fall upon the city and the people was to be of an exhaustive character. The words of Jesus utterly forbid the idea of another and more severe national calamity reserved for a future day. Nobody [as far as we are aware] questions that the Lord's lament over Jerusalem [Matt. 23:37, Luke 13:34] was wrung from His lips in view of her approaching devastation by the Romans. If that is the case, then clearly His words to His own disciples, which immediately follow [Matt. 24] and refer to the "great tribulation," must be talking about the same event.
Before looking at Matt. 24, we would call attention to some additional passages of Scripture which tend to show what a tremendous event in the history of God's dealings with the Jews, and in the carrying out of His purposes for the whole world, was the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
We have already referred to our Lord's lamentation on leaving the city as recorded in Matt. From the Gospel of Luke we learn that, upon approaching Jerusalem on that last visit, Jesus was so distressed in His heart at the realization of the awful calamities soon to overtake the beloved city that He wept over it [Luke 19:41]. Although His own Personal sufferings, His shame and agony, were much closer at hand; yet it was not for Himself, but for the city, that His heart was torn with grief and His eyes flowed with tears.
"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." [Luke 19:41-44]
Here is vivid and accurate prediction of what was about to befall the beloved city. We quote the passage to show how greatly the Lord viewed it. The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was great in its historical relation to the Jewish nation, great in the completeness of the overthrow, and great in the unspeakable sufferings that were to attend it.
Again, when our Lord was being led out to be crucified, He turned to the women who were crying for Him and said: "...Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" [Luke 23:28-31]
So we see that, even in that hour, the sufferings which were to come upon Jerusalem were more to the Lord Jesus than were His own.
16. The words of Jesus utterly ________________ the idea of another and more severe national calamity reserved for a future day.
17. Upon approaching Jerusalem on that last visit, Jesus was so distressed in His heart at the realization of the awful calamities soon to overtake the beloved city that He _________________ over it [Luke 19:41].
18. The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was great in its historical relation to the ________________ nation, great in the completeness of the overthrow, and great in the unspeakable sufferings that were to attend it.
19. The ___________________ which were to come upon Jerusalem were more to the Lord Jesus than were His own.
Old Testament Prophecies Concerning Jerusalem
Remember that in the Old Testament there are many pages of prophecy concerning the capture and desolation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, showing that in God's eyes, it was an important event. It was; however, relatively minor in comparison with the destruction and desolation brought by the Romans under Titus, whether we compare it from the point of view of the sufferings of the people, or of the numbers tortured and slain, or of the extent of the captivity which followed, or of the extinction of the nation, or of the "desolation" of the city, or of the sins for which these judgments were respectively the punishment. For the captivity in Babylon involved only a relatively small number of people, lasted only seventy years, and the people were removed only a short distance from home. The destruction of Jerusalem foretold by Christ involved the complete extermination of national Israel, the scattering of the survivors to the ends of the earth, and "desolations" of the land and city which lasted almost 2,000 years.
The Lamentations of Jeremiah [esp. chapters 4-5] show how distressing were the desolations of Jerusalem in those days, and how they grieved the heart of God, of Whom it is written, "In all their affliction, He was afflicted" [Is. 63:9]. It is also written that He "doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men" [Lam. 3:33]. The afflictions and desolations brought by the Romans were far greater so how more must have been the heartache of God.
20. The captivity in Babylon involved only a relatively small number of people, lasted only _________________ years, and the people were removed only a short distance from home.
21. The destruction of Jerusalem foretold by Christ involved the complete extermination of __________________ Israel, the scattering of the survivors to the ends of the earth, and "desolations" of the land and city which lasted almost 2,000 years.
Feed Yourself Students
1. Complete all questions and memory work.
2. Do an Outline of Matthew 24.
Return to The Great Tribulation Lessons.