For the text of Matthew 24, click here.
The chapter begins with Jesus letting the disciples know that the temple was not going to last forever. It’s written as kind of a footnote, but I feel like there was more significance to that for a few reasons. First off, if I was following someone to the Vatican that was supposed to be the person we were all waiting for to revolutionize everything and they said that St. Peter’s Cathedral wasn’t going to be around forever while I was marveling at it, I feel like that would tell me a few other things as well. I feel like it was mentioned by Matthew in this story because it meant something that Jesus not only knew that the temple would crumble but the offhanded manner stresses that the temple itself isn’t the most important thing.
While it was the house of God and holy on account of that, God could be anywhere. Given that Jesus was also a part of God and that He knew they were about to crucify Him, that pile of stones probably didn’t hold a lot of significance for Him that way. It wasn’t a building to marvel at. It was only important because of God and the relationship that Jesus was telling everyone to have with God would supersede the building. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. Also a possibility.
Following this, they ask Jesus about when this will happen and when He’ll come back and the “end of the age”. I’m not really sure what the “end of the age” is supposed to mean. I’ve never really understood that term because what is an age? Is it like a generation with a somewhat defined length? Google has it as a period defined by economics but I know that isn’t quite it here because several of those have come and gone. I also get that the disciples thought Jesus was coming back sooner rather than over 2000 years later. Regardless of what they meant, or how He took it, Jesus’s answer let’s us in on what He sees in our future. I completely understand how the people at the beginning of the 20th century thought those were the end of days.
“See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.Matthew 24: 4-12
9“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then many will fall awaya and betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Sounds like that time frame, doesn’t it?
Of course, I can also see those guys thinking of the persecution they were getting and the civil wars of Rome that followed giving that impression as well. It’s just one of those things that we won’t know until it’s here I guess. The important thing is to persevere through it.
When Jesus tells them of the “abomination of the desolation” which is interesting phrasing in itself, there are a few things I find of note. First of all, He points out that the prophecy from Daniel couldn’t have taken place yet. If it’s a “you will see” then they haven’t seen it yet. Second, He stresses the importance of not going back for the things you think you may need because it will be too late which is extra terrifying consider you are already running for your life. Third, Jesus takes a second to appreciate the extra hardship that being the child-bearing sex can bring in times when you are fleeing for your life. He specifically mentions these women, which I really appreciate.
Then He takes the time to point out that people shouldn’t be looking for Him upon His return. People will be trying to fool others before it happens, but He will be as obvious as the sun from how I read that. Still, the following paragraph doesn’t exactly make it sound super pleasant to be around up to that point but that it be will amazing when it does. I see the word “elect” used a bunch. I know there are several denominations that believe different things about this word and the way we end up in heaven. There’s also the idea from the parable of the wedding feast that one can choose to show up for God but be thrown out for some reason that equates to not wearing a wedding garment. I can see the reasoning based on these sections. Still, who are the elect and how are they chosen?
Fortunately, the answer to that is alluded to at the end of the chapter. It sounds like the chosen are those who are steadfast and do the right thing even when they don’t know when God is coming rather than just because they aren’t sure they’ll get caught. When all this happens isn’t something that anyone except God Himself knows, Jesus even includes Himself as not knowing. So, we’ll see who is chosen when the time comes and I’ll call it available until then too. Or until something else He says makes that sound more stringent.
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