This is not the End- Matthew 24

lightning-2

It is interesting that Matthew 24 is more about what is not the end than what is.

V. 1-14 are signs of various kinds that the end is not yet here.  On a popular level, people will respond to natural disasters and political turmoil as if those are evidence that the end is at hand. but the text says that these are not the end, or that they are the beginning of the birth pains (v. 6, 8)  This is a process of ending that does not have a specific end time – ask anyone who has given birth how predictable that is.  The real warning in these verses is that one should not be lead astray (v. 4, 5, 10, 11).

v. 15 – 22 speaks of an event that does indicate the end – the “abomination of desolation” which is tied to  verses in Daniel (8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11).  This is specific and yet not specific.  Many scholars think Daniel was speaking of the desecration of the temple which occurred under Antiochus Ephiphanes IV in 168 BC, but Jesus was looking for something later, which is partially realized at the destruction of the temple in 70 AD under the Romans – in both cases the holy place was taken over and desecrated and/or destroyed by the conquering army.  Yet Matthew 24 deals with two questions, the destruction of the temple that Jesus spoke of (v. 2) and when would be the end of the age.  So there is yet to be a final and greater fulfillment of this abomination of desolation at the end of the age.  The tribulation in 70 AD does not seem to fit the idea that it was the worst event that ever has or will be (v. 21).  So we have another sign with an end date, but a warning to be on guard.

v. 23-31 assures believers that there can be no mistake on when the Son of Man returns – so we should not look for hidden or far of events to be that fulfillment. When he returns, it will be self-evident – as clear as lightning in the night sky.

So we have to say that the real purpose of this discourse is not to give you a date to circle on your calendar. The purpose is to give both warning and hope.  It is a warning that the world will have all sorts of trouble, both normal and natural troubles, and even intense troubles.  It is a warning against falling astray or falling for false teachers and prophets, who will always be around.  Yet the hope is that when things are seemingly out of control, they are not.  The date and time with the Father knows will come about. (v. 36).

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