The Word for today:
We continue today in the Olivet Discourse, so called because Jesus spoke these words while on the Mount of Olives. Addressed to the disciples, the discourse gives a prophetic overview of the events to transpire in both the near and distant future. Not all of the discourse is included in Matthew 24-25; parts of it are to be found in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
This is the second of three articles concerning the Olivet Discourse. The reader may want to read yesterday's part 1 before reading today's article.
Today we will look at the questions the disciples asked when Jesus told them that the Temple would be destroyed--that not one stone would be left upon another (Matthew 24:2).
When Jesus informed the disciples that the massive and beautiful Temple would be totally destroyed, the disciples naturally asked, "When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
Much has been made of these questions. Are these to be understood as two questions, or three, or even four?
I respect the scholarly distinction, but we will not delve into the finer points of that issue because, first, it is this Bible student's impression that the disciples didn't even know enough to frame a proper question. This impression isn't mine alone:
"The disciples hadn’t yet grasped the idea that Jesus was going to be crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven until His return to establish His Kingdom. They had no conception of a Church age which would exist between His departure and His return. They were awaiting an immediate establishment of the Kingdom. Jesus knew and therefore formulated His reply around both the things which the disciples understood and their misunderstandings." (1)
Second, it seems to me that, in order to reply with a coherent answer, Jesus found it necessary to override their ill-phrased question. Third, I must selfishly admit that I won't be around during the Tribulation described, so this is somebody else's bridge to cross. I've got enough uncrossed bridges of my own!
So, Stand in the Rain is going to answer the two questions we know are there:
1. “When shall these things be?”—when one stone of the Temple shall not be left upon another--is not answered in the Gospel of Matthew. We must go to Luke 21:20-24 for this answer.
Jesus' answer is "Within your (the disciples') lifetimes, when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies." As we saw yesterday, 'When' arrived in 70 A.D., when forces under the Roman General, Titus, torched the temple, subsequently leaving, literally, not one stone upon another.
2. "What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
This question is answered in Matthew 24:15-28 and Mark 13:14-26. Jesus' answer is "the abomination of desolation in the holy place."
The "abomination of desolation" of Matthew 24:15 is "the beast" of Revelation 19:20; the little "horn" of Daniel 7:8, 24-26; the "devestator" of Daniel 9:27; the "lawless one" of 2 Thessalonians 2:4-8. He is earth's most awful tyrant, Satan's cruel instrument of wrath and hatred against God and the Jews who will testify of their belief in Jesus during the Great Tribulation Period. To him Satan gives the power which he offered to Christ (Matthew 4:8-9; Revelation 13:4).
The disciples thought that "When shall these things be?" and "What will be the sign of your coming?" would happen almost side by side. They could not see the Church age--beginning at Pentecost and continuing through today--which has now intervened for 2000 years.
They did not know that between When? and What? stood you and me--the church, made up both Jew and Gentile followers of Messiah Jesus.
(1) Westcott, David. "The Olivet Discourse," manuscript, 2010.